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Crypto Wallets: A Beginner’s Guide

Last Updated June 27, 2023 8:57 AM
Andrew Kamsky
Last Updated June 27, 2023 8:57 AM

Key Takeaways

  • Crypto wallets can be categorized as custodial (provided by cryptocurrency exchanges) or non-custodial (decentralized wallets).
  • Crypto wallets offer enhanced security, accessibility from anywhere, privacy, convenience, lower fees, and full control over digital assets. 
  • The process of holding a crypto wallet involves downloading and installing a wallet, receiving and sending cryptocurrency, regularly backing up the wallet, and keeping it secure with strong passwords, and two-factor authentication.
  • Factors to consider when choosing a wallet include security features, compatibility with the desired cryptocurrencies, user interface, reputation of the wallet provider, fees, and customer support.

What Is A Crypto Wallet

A crypto wallet is a software that allows users to securely store, manage, and send digital currencies. It functions similarly to a traditional wallet, but instead of holding physical cash and cards, it holds digital currencies such as Bitcoin (BTC), Ethereum (ETH), and other cryptocurrenciesCrypto wallets provide users with a unique address that can be used to send and receive cryptocurrencies.

They store private keys that are required to access and control the assets within the wallet. Crypto wallets can be classified as custodial or non-custodial depending on how they store and manage a user’s private keys. A custodial wallet involves a third party, typically an exchange, holding cryptocurrency on behalf of its users. In contrast, a non-custodial wallet refers to a wallet where individuals store their crypto offline or in a personal wallet, maintaining full control over their assets.

Types Of Crypto Wallets

On the basis of who holds the private keys, wallets can be either custodial or non-custodial:

Custodial Crypto Wallets

A custodian, like a wallet provider or an exchange, holds and manages the private keys of custodial wallets on behalf of the users. In this type of wallet, users trust the custodian to keep their wallets secure. Custodian wallets can be hot or cold wallets, as explained below:

  • Hot custodial wallets: These are online wallets offered by exchanges or other wallet providers where the private keys are connected to the internet and remain under the control of a custodian, enabling quick and simple access to your cryptocurrencies. Examples include Coinbase wallet  and Binance wallet .
  • Cold custodial wallets: These are offline wallets offered by exchanges or other wallet providers, offering a better level of security because they are not connected to the internet. However, the custodian has the private keys. BitGo  and Xapo  are examples of cold custodial wallets where the wallet providers control the private keys.

Non-Custodial Wallets

You have total control over your private keys if you opt for non-custodial wallets. That said, you are in charge of maintaining the security and safety of your keys. In addition, non-custodial wallets can be hot or cold wallets, as explained below:

  • Hot non-custodial wallets: These are online wallets where you control the private keys and have easy access to your money, but since they are online, they may be more susceptible to hackers. Exodus and MyEtherWallet  are examples of hot non-custodial wallets.
  • Cold non-custodial wallets: These are offline wallets in which the private keys are held by the user and kept on a tangible object, like a hardware wallet or a paper wallet. Although they are less easy to operate, they offer the highest level of protection. Ledger Nano S  and Trezor  are examples of cold non-custodial wallets.

When it comes to storing and managing your cryptocurrency assets, there are several types of wallets to choose from. Each with its own set of advantages and disadvantages. Here are some of the most common types of crypto wallets on the basis of storage and access:

Hardware Wallets 

These are physical devices that store your private keys and are generally considered to be one of the most secure options for storing cryptocurrency. They are typically offline, reducing the risk of hacking attempts. Some examples of reliable hardware wallets include Trezor and Ledger.

Software Wallets 

These are digital wallets that are installed on your computer or mobile device. They can be either custodial or non-custodial and come in various forms, such as desktop, mobile, and online wallets. Software wallets offer a high degree of flexibility and accessibility, but they can also be vulnerable to hacking attempts. Exodus  and Electrum  are two software wallets that can be used.

Paper Wallets 

These are offline wallets that are generated and printed on paper. They are a form of cold storage and can be a very secure way of storing cryptocurrency assets, as they are not connected to the internet. However, they can also be easily lost or damaged if not stored properly.

Web Wallets

These are web-based virtual wallets that may be accessed via a web browser like FireFox, Chrome, etc. Although they are easy to use, they are also susceptible to hacking.

Mobile Wallets

One may install these wallets on their mobile device. Although they are practical to use, if one’s wallet is not adequately protected, it may be susceptible to hackers.

Ultimately, the type of crypto wallet you choose will depend on your personal preferences and risk tolerance. It’s important to do your research and choose a wallet that best fits your circumstances and needs.

Benefits Of Crypto Wallets

Crypto wallets offer a range of benefits that make them a popular choice among cryptocurrency users. Here are some of the key advantages of using a crypto wallet:

  • Security: One of the most significant benefits of using a crypto wallet is the enhanced security it provides. A crypto wallet allows you to store your private keys securely. It protects your assets from hackers and other cyber threats. With proper security measures in place, a crypto wallet can be an incredibly safe way to store your digital assets.
  • Accessibility: Crypto wallets make it easy to access your digital assets from anywhere in the world. As long as you have an internet connection, you can use your wallet to send and receive cryptocurrencies quickly and easily.
  • Privacy: Crypto wallets offer a high degree of privacy, as transactions are recorded on a public ledger but do not reveal any personal information. This can be especially appealing to those who value their privacy and want to keep their financial activities discreet.
  • Convenience: Crypto wallets are easy to use and offer a high degree of convenience. You can manage your digital assets and conduct transactions quickly and easily from your computer or mobile device, without the need for a middleman or a lengthy verification process.
  • Lower fees: With crypto wallets, you can avoid many of the fees associated with traditional financial institutions, such as wire transfer fees and foreign exchange fees. This can save its user a significant amount of money over time.
  • Full control over holdings: Perhaps the most significant advantage of using a crypto wallet is the level of control it gives you over your digital assets. With a wallet, you have complete control over your private keys, allowing you to manage your assets as you see fit and make transactions without the need for approval from a central authority.

How To Use A Crypto Wallet

Using a crypto wallet may seem intimidating for beginners, but it can be a straightforward process that can be broken down into a few simple steps. Here are some steps on how to use a crypto wallet:

  1. Download and install: First, you’ll need to choose a wallet and download the software or app. Make sure to download from a trusted source and follow the instructions carefully.
  2. Receive and send cryptocurrency: Once your wallet is set up, you can receive cryptocurrency by sharing your wallet address with others. To send cryptocurrency, you’ll need to enter the recipient’s wallet address and the amount you want to send.
  3. Backup: It’s important to back up your wallet regularly to protect against the loss of your private keys or other data. Many wallets offer backup options such as seed phrases, which are a series of words that can be used to recover your wallet if needed.
  4. Keep your wallet secure: Your private keys are the keys to your cryptocurrency holdings, so it’s important to keep them secure. Use a strong password and enable two-factor authentication if possible. Consider using a hardware wallet for extra security, especially if you have a significant amount of cryptocurrency.

How to Secure a Crypto Wallet 

When it comes to securing your crypto wallet, there are several practices to follow:

  • First, choose a strong and unique password and enable two-factor authentication. Store your private keys securely, either offline or on a hardware wallet. 
  • Backup your wallet and keep your device’s antivirus software up to date.
  • Finally, consider using a hardware wallet for added security. 

How To Choose A Crypto Wallet 

Choosing the right crypto wallet can be a difficult task. There are many options available in the market and several factors to consider that can help you make an informed decision. First and foremost, security should be your top priority when choosing a crypto wallet. It is important to choose wallets that offer strong security. Some of the features that amplify the strength of a wallet include two-factor authentication , multi-signature support, and biometric authentication.

The type of cryptocurrency you plan to store is another important factor to consider. Not all wallets support every cryptocurrency, so make sure to choose one that is compatible with the coins or tokens you own.

Accessibility and user interface are also essential considerations. Choose a wallet that has a user-friendly interface, especially if you’re new to the world of cryptocurrency. The reputation of the wallet provider is another crucial factor to consider. Look for wallets that have a good reputation and have been around for a while. This can help ensure the reliability and security of your wallet.

Fees are also an important consideration, as some wallets charge higher fees than others for transactions. Look for a wallet that offers reasonable fees and doesn’t eat into your profits. Finally, consider the level of customer support offered by the wallet provider. A good customer support system can be crucial in case you encounter any issues or problems with your wallet.

Common Mistakes to Avoid with Crypto Wallets

When it comes to managing cryptocurrency assets, avoiding common mistakes is crucial to ensuring the security of your crypto wallet. Here are some common mistakes to avoid:

  • Using an insecure password that can be easily guessed by hackers.
  • Failing to back up your wallet, which can lead to loss of funds if your device is lost or damaged.
  • Sharing your private keys with others can lead to unauthorized access and theft of your cryptocurrency.
  • Failing to verify the recipient’s address before sending cryptocurrency, which can result in sending funds to the wrong address or a fraudulent one.
  • Using a public Wi-Fi network, which can make your device vulnerable to hacking attempts.
  • Not updating your wallet software, which can leave your wallet vulnerable to security vulnerabilities.
  • Falling for phishing scams, which can trick you into revealing your private keys or other sensitive information. 


How do I back up my crypto wallet?

You must safely save your private key, which is a string of words that can be used to restore your wallet, in order to back up your cryptocurrency wallet. You may use a hardware wallet to safely store your private keys offline, or you can write down your seed phrase and save it somewhere safe.

What happens if I accidentally delete my cryptocurrency wallet?

You risk permanently losing your money if you can’t access your cryptocurrency wallet. As a result, it’s crucial to safeguard your private keys and seed phrases in addition to your money. Customer service may be able to help you get your money back if you use a custodial wallet, but this is not always the case.

Are crypto wallets safe?

If you take the proper steps to safeguard your private keys or seed phrase, crypto wallets can be secure. However, there are still dangers present, like malware, phishing, and hacker attempts. Use trusted wallets and safeguard your private keys or seed phrases at all times.

Can I store various cryptocurrencies in the same cryptocurrency wallet?

While some wallets support a variety of cryptocurrencies, others are made to store a single cryptocurrency. Before utilizing the wallet, be careful to verify that it can hold the coin you desire.

How do I send and receive cryptocurrency with my wallet?

You need to use your wallet address, private key, or seed phrase to send and receive cryptocurrency. Give the sender your wallet address so they can send you crypto. Enter the recipient’s wallet address and the desired amount, then sign the transaction with your private key or seed phrase to send crypto.