The 10 Most Popular Cryptocurrencies, and What You Should Know About Each Before You Invest

We want to help you make more inform decisions. Some links on this page — clearly marked — may take you to a partner web site and may result in us earning a referral mission. For more information, see How We Make Money. What do Vladimir Putin and Burger King have in common ? For starters, they both have a cryptocurrency named after them. actually, PutinCoin and Whoppercoin might be the only thing they have in coarse. But their namesake cryptocurrencies are among the thousands of different virtual currencies making up a growing marketplace grabbing investors ’ care. Cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin and Ethereum have a growing cut phonograph record of holding and increasing in value over time, though holocene dips have wracked the market, while lesser-known cryptos are considered much more notional and unpredictable. And while PutinCoin and Whoppercoin belong to a class of cryptocurrencies marked more for their absurdity than their potential as either an investment or cryptocurrency, they show good how alone different types of cryptocurrencies can be.

In general, cryptocurrencies can be grouped by utility : What is the determination of the cryptocurrency ? What is its value proposition ? What is it for ? “ They all have different utilities, they all have different founders who have different visions for where that cryptocurrency is going, ” says Mike Uehlein, fall through and fiscal planner of WealthU advisors. Uehlein regularly talks to clients about investing in cryptocurrency .

The Most Popular Cryptocurrencies

There are thousands of cryptocurrencies, most with very little value and unclear likely. many advisors recommend investors stick to Bitcoin and Ethereum — if any — and pass on the smaller cryptos. Leading cryptocurrency news mercantile establishment CoinDesk maintains a Coindesk 20 list of the most democratic cryptocurrencies presently being bought and sold. This list includes cryptocurrency assets and networks by their most common names. Some, like Bitcoin ( BTC ), have one name for both the blockchain network and the cryptocurrency. Others, like Ethereum, are named for the broader blockchain network, but have a different name for their consociate native cryptocurrency ( Ether, or ETC, in the case of Ethereum ). Updated quarterly, the tilt ranks cryptocurrencies based on dollar bulk and other data from third-party cryptocurrency exchanges, where people can buy and sell unlike cryptocurrencies. note : This list was survive update – using the Coindesk 20 – on Nov. 30, 2021 .

1. Bitcoin

As the first cryptocurrency, Bitcoin ( BTC ) is besides the most popular and highly valued, despite high excitability over the naturally of its history. Bitcoin was initially created to be used as a digital payment organization, but experts say it is even besides volatile to be used for that .

2. Ethereum

Ether ( ETH ) is the cryptocurrency of the Ethereum network, an open-source blockchain upon which developers can build apps and early cryptocurrencies. It ’ s besides the second largest cryptocurrency by market capital, behind Bitcoin. Ether ’ s value has risen sharply since its universe in 2013, to closely $ 3,000 for one keepsake as of late May, but still lags well behind Bitcoin ’ s respect of about $ 40,000 per coin .

3. XRP

XRP is the cryptocurrency of the Ripple digital payment network. Built for digital payments, XRP touts itself as a faster and more effective way to ability ball-shaped payments. Ripple and XRP besides allow for third-party development on other uses for XRP .

4. Tether

Tether ( USDT ) is a stablecoin and was one of the beginning cryptocurrencies to tie its measure to a decree currentness, in this character the U.S. dollar. Tether is besides the largest stablecoin by market capitalization .

5. Cardano

Cardano ( ADA ) uses a technology called Ouroboros, a peer-reviewed blockchain protocol. It describes itself as a more secure and scalable way to maintain decentralization .

6. Polkadot

Polkadot ( DOT ) says its mission includes allowing unlike blockchains to exchange information and transactions with one another. Its web site plays up data and identity security and users being in control .

7. Stellar

stellar ’ s native cryptocurrency is the Lumen ( XLM ). Stellar is designed as an “ open network for store and moving money ” that allows people to create, send, and trade digital money. It ’ south designed to sell and trade all digital monies, not just stellar ’ s own consort cryptocurrency, the Lumen — although you ’ ll motivation to own some Lumen to make transactions .

8. USD Coin

USD Coin ( USDC ) describes itself as “ the global ’ s digital dollar. ” Created by a global fiscal firm called Circle, USDC is the result of work that has been invested in by Goldman Sachs, Baidu, and IDG Capital, among others. USD Coin is tied to the U.S. Dollar, which makes its monetary value much more static than early cryptocurrencies. That stability lends itself more toward digital payments, while other cryptocurrencies have more electric potential to increase in value as investments ( along with more hazard of losing value, of path ) .

9. Dogecoin

Dogecoin ( DOGE ) was in the first place created as a meme or spoof cryptocurrency, but that didn ’ t stop it from seeing a surge in value in early summer 2021. Tesla CEO Elon Musk has weighed in on Dogecoin, which helped drive its surge in value and popularity before it fell back dramatically in the second gear one-half of the year .

Chainlink ( LINK ) uses “ real-world data and off-chain calculation while maintaining security and dependability, ” according to its web site .

Pro Tip

Any cryptocurrency that ’ s not Bitcoin is referred to as an “ altcoin. ”

Decentralized Finance 

In its bare terms, decentralized finance refers to fiscal activities conducted without the involvement of a traditional bank. Think about all of the activities in which you ’ d normally use a bank or some other fiscal mental hospital — getting a loanword, indemnity, investing, even using a credit rating card. “ All of these [ activities ] are traditional-finance based and have mediator companies, ” says Ollie Leech, learn editor program at CoinDesk. “ immediately people are creating these products in a wholly autonomous way with [ cryptocurrencies ]. ” It can seem counterintuitive — where else would you go for a loan, if not an established lender ? But that ’ s one of the appeals to DeFi, says Leech.

In the like way people have increasingly brought “ chic ” technology into their homes, proponents say cryptocurrency has likely to automate and digitize more and more aspects of the fiscal system. The appeal of this happening outside the conventional — or centralized — finance system depends on who you ask. many Americans may not understand the appeal of a finance arrangement that operates beyond government control. But things can be identical different in countries with less fiscal stability, says Roger Aliaga-Díaz, principal and aged economist with Vanguard Investment Strategy Group. If cryptocurrencies offer as much or more constancy as a given national currency, it ’ s an entirely different equation than if your national currency is the safe and stable U.S. dollar. precisely like there are different types of accounts and tools in conventional finance — from savings accounts to investment accounts to credit rating cards — that are used for different purposes, different cryptocurrencies can have similarly unique uses in this emerging decentralized finance system. rather of going to a bank to draw out a lend, you might “ go to a decentralized lotion that ’ s not owned or operated by anyone in particular, ” says Leech. Where ceremonious loans involve humans at a bank who take share in process, review, and approving loans, a DeFi loan — with fund in the form of cryptocurrency — could run via app on a network like Ethereum with an algorithm march it. The borrower would put up some cryptocurrency as collateral, which they ’ five hundred get back minus matter to when they repay the loanword. “ The code runs autonomously using smart contracts, ” Leech says. “ So once the developers release the data they ’ re pretty much hands-off, and everything runs automatically thus there ’ south no mediator. ” Ethereum ’ s web site offers a comparison chart contrasting decentralized from traditional finance. Along with these technical foul differences, a big retainer to keep in beware is that the conventional fiscal system is regulated to serve the interests of casual customers, while cryptocurrency and decentralize fiscal systems are largely unregulated, and subject to administration and oversight only by their creators/users. Unlike the money keep in a bank account, money you have in crypto may not be FDIC insured. Some exchanges offer this insurance while others don ’ thymine — something you ’ ll want to look into before buying crypto from one or another. For exchanges that don ’ triiodothyronine extend this insurance, there ’ s no guarantee you will be repaid if there is a hack or the change goes out of business .

Decentralized Finance Traditional Finance 
You hold your money Money held by financial institutions 
Transfers happen in minutes Payments can take days to process
Transactions are pseudonymous  Financial activity is coupled to your identity (social security number, name, address, etc.)
Market is always open Market closes 
Built on transparency – anyone can inspect the system Financial institutions are closed books

With that in mind, here are some of the broad categories of cryptocurrencies that tend to organize the market .

Digital Gold

Digital gold refers to cryptocurrency comparable to real gold in its ability to memory and increase in value. There ’ sulfur a circumscribed come of gold on earth, in the same way that digital gold cryptocurrencies have a limited supply. “ People buy gold not because they expect to be able to go to the store and spend it, but because they expect it to hold its value and possibly, credibly, increase in measure over time, ” says Galen Moore, film director of data and indexes at CoinDesk. The primary example of a digital gold cryptocurrency is Bitcoin, though that was not its master purpose. Bitcoin was primitively put forth as an electronic peer-to-peer cash system, but its volatility, among other things, limited its potential for that function. In use, such digital gold cryptocurrencies are bought and held, “ for the same reason people would have diamonds, or some $ 100 bills, or some gold coins in a dependable, ” says Moore. Litecoin is another exercise — it ’ mho been described as eloquent to Bitcoin ’ s amber .


Bitcoin, Litecoin

Digital Cash or Internet Money

Internet money is precisely what it sounds like — you use it to buy things over the internet. Bitcoin was primitively intended to be digital cash, but meditation led to the creation of another cryptocurrency, Bitcoin Cash ( a variation of Bitcoin ). Bitcoin ’ south price was excessively volatile for it to be a suitable currentness, which proponents for Bitcoin Cash argued was the entire point of the currentness to begin with. “ There was a big consider about what the future of Bitcoin was going to be. Was it aureate or was it cash ? The people who wanted it to be more like aureate won out, ” says Moore. The decision was a “ turn point for Bitcoin where it in truth went down to be digital aureate. ” But the group that wanted Bitcoin to remain internet money split off — or forked, in crypto parlance — the currency and created Bitcoin Cash. The network is devoted to digital payments ( with quicker process and lower fees ). In these ways, Bitcoin Cash is “ mean to be cash. That ’ s the measure proposal, ” says Moore. Though Bitcoin Cash is designed and intended for transactions, its price is however volatile and credibly not your best choice for making or receiving payments .


Bitcoin Cash, XRP

Software Platforms  

Ethereum represents another type of cryptocurrency : It operates as a cryptocurrency network and along with its native cryptocurrency, Ether, offers a programmable crypto environment for developers. exchangeable to how smartphones allow third-party apps to be downloaded and used, Ethereum allows developers to create “ dapps ” — Ethereum-based apps that tap into the network. Investors can buy Ether just like they can buy Bitcoin, hoping it increases in respect. Ethereum ’ second programmable network allows for other, more customizable uses. One example is the creation of NFTs — nonfungible tokens — that caught the care of people far beyond the cryptocurrency residential district this year. NFTs are Ethereum-based digital assets, which hold value based on demand and supply on the Ethereum network .


Ethereum, Cardano, Polkadot

Stablecoin or Digital Fiat

A stablecoin pegs its rate to some early currentness or commodity. A digital decree represents a decree, or government-backed, currency on the blockchain, says Moore. One of the most popular examples of a digital decree is Tether, a cryptocurrency whose measure is pegged to the U.S. dollar. Tether is a system that enables you to have a cash-like currency that is always worth $ 1 — but only on cryptocurrency exchanges. A digital decree like Tether comes in handy when you want to cursorily move your assets within a cryptocurrency exchange. For example, if you think the market for smaller, more unpredictable coins is going to crash, you might put your money in a stablecoin like Tether, and then buy back at a lower price after the crash, says Moore. Stablecoins enable the exchange to flow well, says Moore. Taking the previous example, you could theoretically cash out your smaller coins for actual dollars, and then reinvest those dollars after the crash, but it could take days to convert your coins into dollars and back again, says Moore .


Tether, USD Coin

Memecoins, and Other Strange Cryptocurrencies

There are thousands of cryptocurrencies available. Many of them have little to no rate, and no discernible measure proposition, which lands them in the category of memecoins. Experts recommend avoiding investing in this category of coins and sticking with more long-familiar options like Bitcoin or Ethereum, if you decide to invest in crypto at all. Whoppercoin and PutinCoin fall into this category of cryptocurrencies, as does another celebrated memecoin of late fame : Dogecoin. While Dogecoin has seen a raise in demand — and therefore prize — in recent weeks, it still is highly volatile, as evidenced by its drop in respect when Tesla CEO Elon Musk made it the submit of a joke on a recent episode of “ Saturday Night Live. ”


Dogecoin, PutinCoin, Whoppercoin

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