Looking to kick off your NFT collection, but not sure where to begin? The first thing you'll need is a crypto wallet, which will store both your method of payment and your new NFT. You can't buy an NFT on OpenSea without one. A crypto wallet is also the tool you'll be using to purchase NFTs.
Before we talk about wallet options you'll want to familiarize yourself with these key terms in NFTs and Web3. Once you're ready, let's dive in!
Watch our tutorial to learn how to install a crypto wallet to connect with OpenSea.
What's a crypto wallet, anyway?
As you might have guessed, a crypto wallet is like the wallet in your purse or pocket, but instead of holding cash and credit cards, it holds proof of digital tokens like cryptocurrencies and Non-Fungible Tokens (NFTs). A crypto wallet also allows you to send and receive your NFTs, as well as interact with blockchain-integrated websites—commonly known as decentralized applications (or dapps, for short)—like OpenSea.
Now that you know the core concepts of crypto wallet, let's explore the two most common types of wallets.
A software wallet is like the wallet in your pocket: handy, but not ideal for holding large sums. They're sometimes called "hot" wallets because, software wallets store your private key on an internet-connected device like your phone or computer, making them inherently more prone to vulnerabilities. While they're often user-friendly, software wallets are best for transacting and interacting with dapps.
Installing a browser extension on your computer or an app on your mobile device is the easiest way to get started. It's as simple as visiting an app store or a wallet provider's website and taking a few minutes to set up the wallet. Popular examples of software wallets include MetaMask, Rainbow, or Coinbase Wallet. You can find the full list of wallets supported by OpenSea here.
Software wallets are great for first-time users because they are:
- Easy to install: it takes only moments to import an existing wallet address and private key or create a new one.
- Allow for multiple instances: with your seed phrase, you can have the same wallet on many different devices at the same time.
However, they have one major disadvantage:
- Key storage: because your wallet exists as a piece of software, your private key is stored on your device. This means anyone who has access to your device (in-person or remotely) has access to your private key.
While they're incredibly easy to use and convenient, software wallets require a higher degree of operational security (more on that here).
A hardware wallet is like a safe for your crypto and NFTs. Often referred to as "cold" wallets, these physical devices are purpose-built to ensure your digital treasures stay secure. Hardware wallets are ideal for long-term storage because they create and store your private key on the device, and can remain entirely offline until you want to move your items.
Hardware wallets come in a variety of flavors. Conventional options like Ledger and Trezor can support multiple kinds of cryptocurrencies and remain the industry standard. No matter which one you decide on, you'll want to purchase a hardware wallet directly from the manufacturer's website to ensure you're getting a device that hasn't been tampered with.
To set up and use a hardware wallet, you'll generally plug it into your computer via USB and follow the manufacturer's instructions.
This physical connection is where the hardware wallet has an advantage:
- Physical security: As your private key is stored exclusively on your hardware wallet, only someone in physical possession of the hardware wallet can send a transaction from a hardware wallet address.
However, this advantage comes at a cost. Hardware wallets:
- Need to be plugged in: you cannot sign for any transactions if you leave your wallet at home or if it is misplaced. If it is permanently stolen, damaged, or destroyed you will need to reset the wallet using the seed phrase.
- Are prone to connectivity issues: not all hardware wallets work with all devices. Hardware wallets are also prone to connectivity errors. Some hardware wallets require a "bridge" to be installed on the devices they are plugged into before they can sign for transactions on the blockchain.
All said, the primary benefit of a hardware wallet is that unlike software wallets, hardware wallets are not susceptible to malware and virus attacks, as the private key is never copied to the device that the wallet is plugged into.
A hybrid wallet approach
To maximize both utility and security try using both a software and a hardware wallet.
Many users keep the majority of their cryptocurrency and high-value NFTs on a hardware wallet, which they refer to as their “vault” wallet. In this case, they send over a limited amount of spending cryptocurrency (like ETH) for small purchases and transaction fees. This approach allows you to retain the convenience of a software wallet while taking advantage of the security of a hardware wallet.
Staying safe with your wallet
Before deciding which crypto wallet to go with, make sure you learn about the risks involved with managing one here.
We recommend reading through our security guide for key tips on how to protect your NFTs and stay safe when using your wallet. When you're ready, you can take a look at which blockchains and cryptocurrencies that OpenSea supports, and feel free to learn more about how you can purchase crypto.
Once you've done your research on crypto wallets, check out which ones you can use with OpenSea!