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Getting Started with Ethereum Wallets

15 mins
Fact Checked
by Ish Bautista
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It is important to understand that if you own any Ethereum, you should also own an Ethereum wallet. This could be any crypto wallet that supports Ethereum. To help you get started, here is a comprehensive guide on Ethereum wallets. We recommend some leading options before conducting a deep dive into the various types of ETH wallet options on the market in 2024. Read on to ensure you choose the Ethereum wallet best suited to you.


Top Ethereum wallets to get started

Mobile and wallet extension
Mobile and browser extension

What is an Ethereum wallet?

An Ethereum Wallet is a piece of software for storing, checking balances, and conducting transactions with Ether, Ethereum’s native cryptocurrency. To qualify as an Ethereum wallet, there should be a public Ethereum address and a private key. Every wallet has a public address, which is an alphanumeric string. This address is used to receive Ether.

Your account address is a representation of your public key and it’s like your username on the blockchain…You can always generate your public key from the private key or your account from the private key.

Gregory McCubbin, Dapp University

Ethereum addresses are derived from the public key of the wallet, but unlike Bitcoin, they are represented as hexadecimal strings composed of 40 hexadecimal characters (0-9, a-f), not including the ‘0x’ prefix.

While ‘0x’ is part of the Ethereum address representation, it’s not part of the actual hexadecimal address calculated through the hashing process.

These characters can be uppercase or lowercase, but the case is usually ignored for transfer purposes (though the case can be used as a checksum).

ethereum adress
Ethereum address:

To unlock the funds sent or to transfer them out from your Ethereum wallet, you’ll need a private key, a password of sorts used to confirm ownership and sign-off transactions.

But, Ethereum wallets are more than just a client for sending and receiving Ether. They are also used for writing, maintaining, and deploying smart contracts.

Essential criteria for picking the best Ethereum wallet

ethereum wallet

1. Wallet security

Security is the most significant factor to consider when choosing a crypto wallet. The primary purpose of a wallet is to store your funds. As such, any security breaches can result in the loss of assets. Use all available methods to protect your crypto — and remember, even crypto experts get hacked.

That being said, here are a few security features in Ethereum wallets. Typically, a crypto wallet contains one or all of the following security measures.

Security features:

  • PIN code security lock: A PIN code (Personal Identification Number) is a numerical code used in security systems to authenticate and grant access to an individual’s personal information or secure devices.
  • Password: A password is a string of characters used to verify the identity of a user during the authentication process, providing access to protected resources or information.
  • Seed phrase: A seed phrase, also known as a recovery phrase or mnemonic seed, is a human-readable private key. It is a set of words generated by a cryptocurrency wallet that provides access to the cryptocurrencies stored within. It acts as a backup tool for recovering your digital assets in case the wallet is lost, damaged, or stolen.
  • Multi-factor authentication (MFA): MFA uses a combination of something you know (like a password) and something you have (such as a phone number for SMS, an email account, a one-time password (OTP), or an authentication app on your device) to verify your identity.
  • Biometric verification: Biometric verification is a security process that uses unique biological characteristics of an individual, such as fingerprints, facial recognition, iris scans, or voice patterns, to verify and authenticate their identity.
  • Multi-party computation recovery: This typically refers to the process of creating and managing private keys without any single party ever having access to the complete key. MPC can allow wallet ownership without using passwords or seed phrases for recovery.
  • Multi-signature signing: Unlike standard wallets that require only one signature to authorize transactions, multi-sig wallets require multiple signatures from a predefined set of owners to execute transactions. This setup enhances security by distributing control among several parties.

2. Wallet features

There are many features to consider when selecting a cryptocurrency wallet. This is an important part of the selection process. Before choosing, you should decide whether you are a minimalist, if you engage in a lot of on-chain activity, will you need fiat on-ramps, or are you a crypto maximalist or chain agnostic?

Fiat on-ramps

As stated previously, every Ethereum wallet should at least have the ability to send, receive, and sign Ethereum transactions. This is the bare minimum of features.

Outside of this, you may require support for fiat on-ramps. This means that you can purchase crypto directly from inside the wallet with your local currency. Some wallets will allow you to select providers by region and may require limited or no KYC (know-your-customer).

Web and DApp browser

Another popular wallet feature is an in-app DApp browser. This is a search engine that allows you to explore and use popular decentralized applications directly from within the wallet. They typically whitelist protocols to keep users safe from phishing scams.

If you use a mobile wallet, there is usually an internet browser to accompany the DApp browser. In this way, you can save all of your favorite websites without filling up your bookmarks from your common-use browsers.

ethereum wallets explorer

Multi-crypto and chain support

It is no secret that Ethereum has become a value layer and bootstrapping mechanism for many other blockchains. Because of this, many Ethereum wallets also support EVM-compatible chains. These are chains that can run Ethereum apps but are not Ethereum itself.

In addition to this, Ethereum also has many cryptocurrencies built on top of it. When you consider the tokens on Ethereum, the blockchains built on Ethereum, and the tokens built in the blockchains built on top of Ethereum, currency support is a huge value-add for some users.

Not to mention the fact that there are different types of tokens, like non-fungible tokens (NFTs) and tokens that you can stake. If you need this level of support, you will definitely want a wallet with this feature.

3. Ease of use

Your wallet should have a user-friendly interface for optimal usability. Functions like sending and receiving Ether shouldn’t take complex processes. As you can see in the following, the interface is not cluttered and is well-balanced.

The most popular coins and tokens are cached for you to quickly make purchases. At the bottom of the screen, you can easily navigate between your purchase history, payment on-ramps, settings, and more.

Naturally, the wallet should not have bugs, rendering issues, and generally, anything that does not do what it is supposed to do. Labels and tabs should be clear and reflect the intended use.

4. The wallet’s price

There are several wallet options out there. Some are free, while others come with a fee. Hardware wallets are usually pricey, and you’ll find that most of the options that do have a price generally come with additional security and usage features.


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Types of Ethereum wallets

Ethereum wallets come in different types, based primarily on their setup and how they function. There are generally hardware and software wallets, but there are also quite a lot of sub-categories. We’ll be looking into them in this section.

1. Ethereum software wallets

A software wallet is a program that stores private keys in data files that are easily retrievable by users. When you set your software wallet up, you can access the keys with a password and a user ID or with an encrypted file that was provided to you when you signed up for the service. These types of wallets provide a balance between ease of use and security. Software wallets are susceptible to hacks, but they are still more secure than online wallets, as you get to keep your private keys.

Here’s how most software wallets work:

  • Select a specific wallet and download it to your device
  • Set up your secret Pin and recovery phrase. Both are important, and you will need to keep them carefully
  • Once that is done, your wallet is ready. You can send and receive Ether from then on.

Pros of Ethereum software wallets

  • Software wallets are usually free to use
  • They’re convenient to use
  • Setup and backup are straightforward

Cons of Ethereum software wallets

  • Storage is online, so there’s the possibility of a hack
  • Some prominent software wallets for storing Ether include Coinomi, Jaxx, and Etherwall

Ethereum software wallets can also be divided into hot and cold wallets. With hot wallets, your private keys are stored online, making your funds easy to access for transactions. But, this added convenience comes at a steep cost.

Since your keys are online; your funds are just one security breach away from vanishing into thin air. Cold wallets, on the other hand, stores your Ether offline. The only time you provide your keys is when you want to access your funds or interact with smart contracts. This method also puts the security of your funds in your hands. Cold storage is notoriously secure, but it’s not as convenient as a hot wallet.

2. Ethereum hardware wallets

Hardware wallets combine a software wallet’s usability with a paper wallet’s security. Hardware wallets are popularly known as one of the top Ethereum wallets out there. They include popular names like Trezor, KeepKey, Ledger, Ledger Nano and a host of others. They store your private keys in a USB pen drive-like device, which is only totally offline.

Ledger hardware wallet: Safe and secure storage for your Ether

Ledger is a leading hardware wallet that combines robust security features with ease of use for storing cryptocurrencies, including Ether. It secures your digital assets with a private key controlled solely by you and protected within a certified secure chip. Ledger wallets support multiple cryptocurrencies and provide a balance between accessibility and security, making them an excellent choice for both newcomers and experienced users.

Pros of Ethereum hardware wallets

  • Hardware wallets are easy to use
  • They’re so far the safest form of storage since they store Ether offline

Cons of Ethereum hardware wallets

  • They’re expensive
  • If you lose the seed phrase, you could lose your funds

3. Ethereum paper wallets

If you’re looking to save your token safely, then the Ethereum paper wallet might be the best choice for you. It’s an online program that generates a set of public and private keys. Once created, they are then printed along with a QR code and stored in a physical form.

The paper wallet for Ethereum isn’t connected to the Internet in any way. Your keys are not stored on your computer like a desktop wallet. Your funds remain secure even if a hacker hits your computer with a ransomware attack.

Generally, paper wallets are known to be the safest method for long-term storage of Ether.

There are several platforms where you can create a paper wallet like MyEtherWallet. But, once you’re done creating the paper wallet, you must worry about storage to protect the paper from fire, water, and, sometimes, yourself.

One smart way to keep your paper wallet hidden from others is to keep it in a safety deposit box at a bank or in your home, where you know it’s safe. You can also prevent your private keys from fire by engraving the characters on a piece of metal and keeping them in a safe. That way, in the case of fire or flood, you can prevent it from being damaged.

Here’s how to set up a paper wallet on MyEtherWallet:

  1. Go to
  2. Enter a strong password on your wallet app, and ensure that you keep it on a piece of paper and guard it well
  3. Then, create your “Keystore/UTC” file. The QR code and keys that you get should be written down too
  4. Ensure that your printout contains your wallet address and private key
  5. Your wallet is ready to send and receive Ether

Pros of Ethereum paper wallets

  • Paper wallets are free
  • Backup is easy
  • Since storage is offline, the only threat is your losing the piece of paper

Cons of Ethereum paper wallets

  • Lose your private keys, lose your funds
  • The process of sending money is also more complex

4. Ethereum desktop wallets

A desktop Ether wallet or web wallet runs on your laptop or personal computer. You can choose to download a full client with the Ethereum blockchain on it, or you could use a light Ethereum client instead.

While light Ethereum clients are easier to use, they are not as secure as a full client because they often need additional nodes to send information. Instead, it can get all the information it needs straight from the blockchain and even validate transactions by itself.

They are safer than online wallets. With desktop wallets, your private keys are not stored on a third-party server. They are stored on your computer. It’s a convenient way to store and send Ether from the comfort of your computer. With desktop wallets, your funds are only as safe as the computer you install it on.

Pros of Ethereum desktop wallets

  • Desktop wallets are open-source
  • You can control your private keys
  • it’s easy to buy Ether from a desktop wallet

Cons of Ethereum desktop wallets

  • Full-node wallets will need you to download the entire Ethereum blockchain
  • The login process is usually longer, since the wallet will need to sync with the blockchain first

Besides, you could lose your Ether if the computer itself gets stolen. It won’t be the first time such an event is happening, of course, so while desktop wallets are fine, you will need to see the physical and digital protection of your computer to protect the wallet.

Ethereum, ETH, Security, Commodity Asset, mining


5. Ethereum mobile wallets

Also known as light clients, mobile wallets don’t require you to download the Ethereum wallet before they work. Instead, they rely on nodes to send them real-time information about the network’s current state.

Mobile wallets are great for Ethereum users who are regularly on the go since they can access their assets at any point. But, they have the same risk as a software wallet and are only as secure as the mobile phones where they’re installed. Some prominent examples of mobile wallets include Edge, Exodus, and Guarda.

Pros of Ethereum mobile wallets

  • They’re easy to use
  • Security is also considerable
  • Some of them come with built-in exchanges

Cons of Ethereum mobile wallets

  • They don’t have web interfaces

Ethereum wallets are crucial to security

Choosing the right Ethereum wallet involves balancing convenience and security. Paper wallets, while nearly as secure as hardware wallets and free to create, are vulnerable to physical damage. Online wallets offer convenience for frequent traders but pose a risk by relying on third-party security.

Hardware wallets like Ledger and Trezor provide strong protection against online threats, making them a popular choice amidst rising exchange hacks. The key is finding a wallet that combines ease of use with robust security measures.

Frequently asked questions

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Jimmy Aki
Based in the United Kingdom, Jimmy is an economic researcher with outstanding hands-on and heads-on experience in Macroeconomic finance analysis, forecasting and planning. He has honed his skills, having worked cross-continental as a finance analyst, which gives him inter-cultural experience. He currently has a strong passion for blockchain regulation and macroeconomic trends as it allows him peek under the global bonnet to see how the world works.