When taking your first steps into the Bitcoin and cryptocurrency space, your first challenge is finding a safe, secure way to store your crypto.
Fortunately, there’s a huge variety of Bitcoin wallet providers available. These allow you to create a Bitcoin address (also known as a public key) that can be used for sending and receiving Bitcoin (BTC). Some of these wallets also provide access to the private keys (essentially the key that controls the public address), allowing you to quickly move your funds into another wallet if needed.
It’s important that you don’t get your public and private keys mixed up—you should never give out your private key, as anyone who has access to this can control your funds.
Method 1: Download a mobile wallet
Mobile wallets are fast gaining popularity as a simple and efficient way to store cryptocurrencies. Part of the reason they’re so popular is down to their accessibility and ease of use. Most cryptocurrency mobile wallets are capable of storing a wide range of cryptocurrencies in a single place and can be used on both Android and iOS devices. Popular Bitcoin mobile wallets include Electrum, Jaxx Liberty and BRD.
Your first port of call for a mobile cryptocurrency wallet will likely be the Google Play Store or Apple App Store, depending on your smartphone operating system. Search for terms such as “Bitcoin wallet” or “cryptocurrency wallet” to find a mobile wallet that meets your requirements.
It’s important to pay close attention to the reviews; a number of fake wallet apps designed to steal cryptocurrency private keys and seed phrases have been known to slip past checks and end up on these app stores. We recommend sticking with wallets that have a large number of users and excellent reviews.
You can also check the Decrypt reviews section, which is continually updated with our latest reviews of trustworthy mobile wallets.
Once you’ve chosen a suitable mobile wallet, you’ll be able to create your Bitcoin wallet in the app. This usually involves creating a unique security PIN to control access to the wallet.
You’ll also likely need to write down a 12 to 24-word recovery phrase; this is extremely important as it’s used to restore your wallet if you lose access to your device. People have been known to go to extreme lengths to keep their seed phrases secure, from etching them on metal plates to splitting them up and storing them in separate safety deposit boxes (the approach taken by Bitcoin billionaires the Winklevoss twins).
Method 2: Use a hardware wallet
Arguably the most secure way to create a Bitcoin wallet is by using one of the many cryptocurrency hardware wallets available. These are essentially physical vaults that allow users to store cryptocurrencies in an offline environment and are secured by a number of hardware and software-based security layers.
These security layers can include a bank-grade secure element as with the Ledger Nano X, physical biometric security with the D’CENT Biometric Wallet, or the unique ‘duress PIN’ feature of the Coldcard Mk3. Most cryptocurrency hardware wallets are secure against a wide range of attacks, but they can be costly, making them best suited for those with an extensive cryptocurrency portfolio.
Like most modern cryptocurrency wallets, hardware wallets generally allow users to generate addresses for a wide variety of cryptocurrencies, but Bitcoin, Ethereum (ETH), and Tether (USDT) are supported by most offerings.
To create your Bitcoin wallet on a hardware wallet, you’ll first need to set up the device. During this process, you may be asked to select which cryptocurrencies you want to manage on the device. Alternatively, some hardware wallets, like those produced by Ledger, allow you to quickly add and remove support for different cryptocurrencies using a companion app.
Depending on the device you use, you’ll then be able to generate your Bitcoin wallet either on-device or using the associated app. Again, this will generally involve recording a recovery phrase and setting a PIN to limit access to the device.
Method 3: Register at a cryptocurrency exchange
Cryptocurrency exchanges are an extremely popular way to store Bitcoin, since they also typically offer a free cryptocurrency wallet. A large proportion of the most popular cryptocurrency exchanges allow users to store and manage a wide variety of cryptocurrencies after simply opening an account, but others require users to complete identity verification and an anti-money laundering (AML) questionnaire before this feature is enabled.
Once you’ve enabled the wallet feature on your cryptocurrency exchange of choice, you’ll be able to find or generate a deposit address in your account, usually in the deposit or wallet section of the website. Most cryptocurrency exchanges do not allow users to generate multiple addresses for a single cryptocurrency, forcing them to reuse the same address for each transaction.
Although most cryptocurrency exchanges provide users with a cryptocurrency wallet, it’s important to note that not all exchanges are trustworthy. There are number of fake exchanges that exist for no other purpose than to steal the deposits of the unfortunate individuals who register there.
Because of this, it’s important to do your own research before choosing an exchange, being wary not to use platforms without a good reputation. Some of the most established and trustworthy names in the space include Coinbase, Binance and Gemini, but there are many other options available.