Cardano calls itself a “third generation cryptocurrency”, which is a way of signaling that it considers itself an advancement on the first and second generation of cryptocurrencies that formed the foundation of the cryptocurrency movement, such as Bitcoin, Ethereum, and XRP.
Cardano was founded in 2015 by the co-founder and former executive of Ethereum, Charles Hoskinson, and was founded in response to the challenges that plague proof-of-work platforms such as Bitcoin and Ethereum.
Cardano claims that, being a next generation platform, it adopts technologies that solve the issues associated with prior generations of cryptocurrencies, most importantly with regard to the proof-of-stake consensus mechanism.
As with all technologies associated with the Cardano brand, the Cardano consensus mechanism has also been christened with a name akin to Greek mythology: Ouroboros.
Ouroboros is an innovative iteration of the traditional proof-of-stake mechanism which is built on three foundations: rigorous academic and peer-to-peer research and collaboration, integrating the strengths of existing cryptocurrencies, and introducing advancements through scientific methodology and mathematical principles.
Cardano’s commitment to introducing innovations that have been rigorously tried and tested using scientific and mathematical methods lends the brand an aura of reliability and robustness, although it can’t be ignored that it took developers until 2021 to launch smart contracts on the platform.
Why do you need a Cardano wallet?
Without a Cardano wallet you cannot safely store or stake Cardano’s ADA token. Cardano wallets come in all sorts of shapes and sizes, from hardware devices to third-party hosting, and there are distinct advantages and disadvantages over each method. Choosing the right Cardano wallet is therefore of great importance and depends on your needs and desires for your ADA tokens.
Before we dive into our recommendations for the best Cardano wallet, let us first break down the types of wallets for Cardano holders out there and who each one will likely appeal to so you can easily decide for yourself which is the best wallet for Cardano.
Types of Cardano wallet
Hardware Cardano wallet
Hardware wallets, also known as cold storage wallets, are typically USB devices that store your private keys offline, which is the safest way to store them.
Storing your ADA tokens on a hardware wallet makes malicious attacks almost impossible to execute. Allied to this high level of security is a high degree of portability, but this combination comes at a price – sometimes hundreds of dollars. Those with large holdings of ADA however may find this a small price to pay for such security. Whales or long term holders will therefore find hardware wallets the best Cardano wallet type for them.
Web Cardano wallet
Web wallets are usually browser based, so aside from a quick browser extension download there are no significant upfront requirements and no financial burden. This may appeal to beginners who want to experiment, but they are not suitable for storing large amounts for a long time.
This is because web wallets come with some risks to consider, primarily the fact that your private keys are kept with the provider rather than with you. This means that someone else is responsible for the security of your ADA coins.
While this poses some risk, Cardano web wallets can be a very attractive choice for users who carry out a lot of crypto transactions on different platforms and want flexibility and ease of transaction.
Mobile Cardano wallet
Mobile Cardano wallets let you carry out transactions or monitor your holdings using your mobile device. Portability is therefore the major benefit they offer, with mobile Cardano wallets designed to be easy to set up and use , and while they may not be the safest type of wallet they still offer high levels of security.
Mobile Cardano wallets are very useful for users who want to have their ADA to hand and use on the move, but you should only keep small amounts of ADA on them. Some mobile wallets even allow staking as well as transacting, which highlights their levels of capability.
Desktop Cardano wallet
Desktop wallets are designed to operate on a PC or Mac and so have a level of portability although not as much as mobile devices. While you can also use a variety of Cardano wallets on your computer, desktop wallets are best suited to these devices because of their size (sometimes 100GB+).
This is because desktop wallets are issued by the platform developers themselves, so a download of the wallet is usually accompanied by a download of the entire mainnet blockchain. In essence, you will become a node in the Cardano network upon download as well as being a desktop Cardano wallet owner and, if you like, staker.
Desktop wallets provide reasonable amounts of security and come with an added benefit of users being able to participate in the Cardano network activities. These kinds of wallets will most appeal to those with a bit of technical knowhow who have goals beyond just storing Cardano.
Our Top 4 Best Wallets for Cardano
Ledger Nano S
The Nano S was the flagship product of Ledger, the world renowned French hardware wallet developer, for many years until it brought out its Nano X. However, for the average ADA holder the advancements won’t be worth the extra outlay, hence why the Nano S is in our list of best wallets for Cardano rather than its newer stablemate. Indeed, the Ledger Nano S remains the bestselling hardware wallet, with a total of about 1.4 million sold worldwide.
The Nano S is a very small and lightweight device, around the size of the average thumb. This makes it easy to carry and hide the device.
The Ledger Nano S is our Cardano hardware wallet of choice for the following reasons:
- Simple to setup and use
- Supports a vast array of cryptocurrencies alongside ADA
- High level of security
- Relatively affordable compared to other options ($59)
- Compact and light
- Possible to stake ADA (unofficial and experimental stage only to date)
The Ledger Nano S is not without its flaws. These include:
- Not as robust as the more expensive Ledger Nano X option
- Not open-source
- Operation can be hard for less dexterous people
- Not free
The Ledger Nano S is a great Cardano wallet for those who have large holdings of ADA or who value security a lot. If this is you, and you don’t need the bells and whistles of the Ledger Nano X, this is a good choice for relatively a cheap price.
Yoroi is a beginner-friendly Cardano wallet developed by Emurgo. This convenient web wallet supports hardware wallets like those from popular manufacturers Ledger and Trezor.
One of the key features of the Yoroi web wallet is the way it combines ease of use with a rich variety of features, with one of the most interesting features being the ability to sort your staking rewards by return on Investment, staking cost, and pool size.
Yoroi connects the Cardano blockchain with the Ergo blockchain, benefitting users of that ecosystem too.
Users of the Yoroi Cardano wallet will enjoy the following benefits when they use it:
- Easy to use
- Supports Cardano staking
- Uses Cardano recovery seeds for extra security
- Supports stake delegation, governance through voting, and multi-asset transactions
There are downsides to the Yoroi wallet however:
- Takes a long time to sync new/restored wallets
- Staking rewards require manual claiming and the paying of a transaction fee on each occasion
- Stores your private keys through the browser extension, exposing your data to a third party (the browser developer)
- Not 100% secure
The Yoroi web wallet is designed to satisfy the needs of users who want to use their wallets through a browser, or users who want to be able to access their wallet wherever they are through a multitude of devices. This Cardano wallet is a good option for the casual user who can make the most of the utilities on offer.
Infinito wallet, which is developed by Infinity Blockchain Labs, was launched in 2017. Upon launch it only offered support for a limited range of cryptocurrencies but it has gradually expanded its support and now accommodates a large majority of digital currencies, including ADA.
While use of the Infinito wallet is free, network charges will still have to be paid when coins are moved. In order to help you keep your costs as low as you need them, Infinito grants its users access to a feature called ‘price optimization’ which allows them to set a convenient transaction processing fee; the higher the fee paid, the faster the transaction is confirmed.
Some of the strengths of the Infinito wallet are:
- Supports over 2,000 cryptocurrencies including ADA
- Price optimization feature allows users to set their own transaction fees
- An array of security features, including fingerprint authentication
- Easy to use
- Available in 8 languages and in over 190 countries
- Allows users to earn on their crypto
Some of the weaknesses of the Infinito wallet are:
- Hot wallets are not 100% secure
- A fairly new wallet so it has not been extensively tried and tested
- Can be slow in loading balance and price charts
Infinito wallet is a reliable mobile Cardano wallet which offers users unique features not found elsewhere. Being a relatively new project however (and being a hot wallet) it’s important not to store large holdings of ADA on it.
Daedalus is the official Cardano wallet and so comes with its seal of approval. Developed by IOHK, the developers of the ADA cryptocurrency, the desktop wallet has been built with a variety of security features and is designed to make ADA transactions easy.
Daedalus allows you to create multiple wallets and enjoy the use of its simple interface. Being transaction-oriented it isn’t exactly feature-rich, but it does offer staking, as well as acting as a full node, meaning that you have a stake in the Cardano ecosystem (as long as you leave the computer on). The Daedalus Wallet supports Windows, Linux, and macOS but has no support for mobile.
Strengths of the Daedalus Cardano wallet are:
- Official Cardano wallet
- Easy to install
- Allows users to create multiple wallets
- Supports Mac, Windows, and Linux
- Free to use
- Allows staking
The Daedalus wallet does have some weaknesses however:
- No mobile support, only desktop
- Full node requires 36GB disk space
- After installation, setup takes a lot of sync time
The Daedalus wallet will be the best Cardano wallet for users who are technically adept or for users who want to use the wallet directly from the developers. It will also appeal to those who want to participate in Cardano network activities, such as staking and acting as a full node.
Cardano is a versatile cryptocurrency that seeks to solve the problems that challenged earlier cryptocurrency platforms, although it is taking a while to see the levels of adoption it had presumably intended. Nevertheless, ADA staking can be a means of attracting a level of passive income, which as we have discussed can be done through a number of Cardano wallets.
When consider the best wallet for Cardano, you should consider what level of engagement you want with the Cardano ecosystem and what you intend to do with the coins – those holding for a long time with little interaction should consider the Ledger Nano S as being the best Cardano wallet for them, while those wanting have a more hands on role might prefer the official Daedalus wallet.
Whatever you deem to be the best Cardano wallet for you, make sure you take the appropriate security measures when setting it up and operating it and you should have a trouble free Cardano wallet experience.