Looking to own some cryptocurrency? Whether it's as an investment, for engaging in trading, or to simply spend (essential if you're a darknet market user), the first thing you're going to need is a wallet to allow you to send and receive funds. Yes, you can hold funds within online exchange platforms such as Coinbase and Binance, but we strongly suggest you setup your own local wallet and don't rely on these services for long-term storage or transferring money to potentially shady sources.
Secondly, many exchanges have KYC (Know Your Customer) measures in place, which require you to hand over many personal details in order to use them (or at least some features). This effectively means everything you do on those platforms becomes traceable directly back to you. If the platform detected you receiving funds linked to illicit activity, or were able to detect you sending funds to a darknet marketplace, they could freeze your account and even pass your details onto authorities. Coinbase for example are quite notorious for blocking accounts - read their Trustpilot reviews and you'll see countless users running into issues.
In a nutshell, make sure you always control your own funds and protect your privacy as much as possible.
Quite possibly the most popular and trusted Bitcoin wallet due to its simplicity, reliability and support for many operating systems. This lightweight wallet is available for Windows, Mac, Linux and Android, although not iOS at this time. Aside from the basic features you'd expect from any wallet (send, receive, secret phrase recovery etc.), Electrum supports a range of add-ons, as well as multi-signature (multisig) payments and integration with hardware wallets such as Trezor and Ledger. Some darknet markets offer multisig escrow payments to vendors as an additional safety measure, and Electrum is arguably the best wallet for doing this, with a wizard that guides you through setting up a multi-signature wallet.
Electrum is a solid choice, but if you're looking for support for a variety of different cryptos within a single program, then perhaps you may wish to consider some of the options below.
The most widely used Monero wallet, which is open source and developed by the community. It offers a suite of features comparable to Electrum wallet, albeit minus multisig. It is available for Windows, Linux and Mac OSX. Mobile users will need to look elsewhere however. The interface is pretty intuitive and there are the options of a basic and advanced mode, according to your personal requirements and level of confidence. The Monero GUI Wallet is actually necessary for some hardware wallets such as Ledger which do not support Monero within their own native apps (in this case, Ledger Live).
The wallet is somewhat more resource intensive than its Electrum counterpart, partly due to the way in which Monero works and the need to download the blockchain to your local device, but that said, any reasonably modern device should have no issues running it comfortably.
If for any reason you're not a fan with the interface of the Monero GUI Wallet, then perhaps Feather Wallet is for you? It emulates the layout of Electrum Wallet and is designed to be faster and more lightweight than the GUI wallet, whilst offering a range of advanced features. Ledger and Trezor devices are supported, although Ledger doesn't list Feather Wallet as an officially supported wallet, to keep this in mind if you're less confident and troubleshooting issues by yourself. Again, this one is only for desktop devices, so mobile users are out of luck. If you're an Electrum user looking to start adopting Monero, then you'll feel right at home with this wallet.
The first multicurrency wallet on this list, Exodus Wallet provides support for over 200 different cryptocurrencies, including Bitcoin, Monero, Litecoin and ZCash. It has a super user friendly interface and also allows for in-app exchanges for every currency supported. No need to sign up or register at any point. Keep in mind that the exchange rates can be rather high at times however, so we recommend seeking out an external exchange if you want to get the best rate. See step 3 of our Monero guide for some tips regarding this.
Exodus is available for all desktop and mobile platforms, and can also be integrated with Trezor hardware wallets. Exodus is probably the most established multi-currency software wallet at this point, and for those currencies that support it (such as Cardano and Solana), you can even stake cryto assets to gain interest - perfect for investors. However, it does does lack some of the more advanced features that come with currency-specific wallets, such as multisig support. Still, if you're a beginner or like to be able to trade many different cryptos in one place, this may be the choice for you.
Atomic Wallet is maybe the closest rival to Exodus, with support for over 300 cryptos and tokens. Like Exodus, it is available for all desktop and mobile platforms, and similarly boasts a very user-friendly interface, and support for staking on selected currencies. One feature that makes it stand out is the ability to purchase a selection of currencies (such as Bitcoin and Litecoin) using a credit or debit card, with a range of real-world currencies supported, such as US Dollars (USD), Great British Pounds (GBP) and Euros (EUR). However, this does require user verification which would then de-anonymise your wallet, so we would advise against this if you plan to use darknet markets or similar.
In-app exchanges are supported, as per Exodus Wallet, and these do not require verification. However, unlike Exodus, not all supported cryptos can be actively exchanged within Atomic, although both Bitcoin and Monero are included. Whether you choose Atomic or Exodus is likely to come down to personal preference, and which cryptocurrencies you are most interested in. Both are good choices.
Unlike previous wallets covered, Cake Wallet is only for mobile devices (both Android and iOS). It is open-source and supports Bitcoin, Monero, Litecoin and Haven. A built-in exchange feature is included, and BTC can also be purchased directly within the app, however heed the warnings above in regards to this. It's easy to use and has a straightforward interface which any mobile user will quickly become familiar with. For those who like to stick to open-source software, this is one of the better mobile options, providing you don't require more advanced features such as multisig.