When you read about cryptocurrency, the focus is likely on Bitcoin, the largest and best-known cryptocurrency. But bitcoin is far from the only player in the game, with thousands of other digital currencies to choose from. Here’s a look at the 10 cryptocurrencies other than Bitcoin to consider to round out your crypto portfolio.
1. Ethereum (ETH)
Ethereum, or ether, is the second-biggest cryptocurrency with a market cap of around $250 billion. This makes it about a third the size of Bitcoin. While it isn’t as big, Ethereum is an extremely important cryptocurrency and blockchain network that powers far more than just Ether. For example, all ERC-20 tokens run on the Ethereum network and require Ethereum currency to transact.
Ethereum launched in 2014 as a more nimble alternative to bitcoin. Ethereum supports smart contracts and other cryptocurrencies, making it an important backbone in the overall crypto ecosystem. Like investing in bitcoin, you can get ether at virtually any cryptocurrency exchange, including non-traditional crypto platforms like Robinhood.
2. Ripple (XRP)
Ripple launched in 2012 and today ranks as the sixth-largest cryptocurrency by market cap, with nearly $27 billion in XRP outstanding. While Ripple is very popular, it’s also one of the more controversial cryptocurrencies. The company behind Ripple landed in hot water with the U.S. government for running an unlicensed security sale. The U.S. government thinks XRP is more like a stock than a currency.
XRP is designed to move funds faster and is cheaper than larger currencies like bitcoin and ether. But its legal issues make it harder to buy in the U.S. and impede its long-term outlook. Regardless, Ripple remains a top-10 cryptocurrency with strong international support.
3. Litecoin (LTC)
Litecoin was one of the first “altcoins,” founded in 2011. It’s is a hard fork of bitcoin, meaning it is based on the same open-source software. Litecoin was designed to be a faster, cheaper alternative to bitcoin but didn’t add other major features. Instead, it’s intended to act as a “lite version of bitcoin,” according to its founder.
Litecoin used to live in the top three but now ranks as the fourteenth largest cryptocurrency, with an $8 billion market cap. Before the major market run-up in late 2020, litecoin was fairly correlated to bitcoin. But in the last year, it has lagged far behind the larger currency in value, making its future questionable compared to some other major crypto coins.
4. Cardano (ADA)
Cardano was founded in 2017, but it quickly grew in value thanks to a different proof-of-stake platform that uses less energy than power-hungry proof-of-work networks like Bitcoin and Ethereum. The total value of Cardano is around $34 billion, making it the fifth-biggest cryptocurrency by market cap.
When Elon Musk tweeted about bitcoin’s environmental impact, Cardano was a big winner, as it can handle more transactions with better environmental sustainability. This is definitely a coin to keep an eye on for the future.
5. Dogecoin (DOGE)
Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you’ve probably heard of Dogecoin. Dogecoin started as a joke among friends in 2013. A couple of programmers forked the Litecoin code to create a new currency based on the Shiba Inu dog meme. That little joke is now worth roughly $24 billion in total, making it the seventh-largest cryptocurrency.
Dogecoin has a loyal army of fans who want to see the price go “to the moon.” They regularly write on Reddit and Twitter about the currency using rocket emojis as a rallying cry to drive up the price. While the price has yet to go literally to the moon, it received the attention of billionaire crypto enthusiasts Elon Musk and Mark Cuban, who have a positive impact on the overall price, outside of Saturday Night Live appearances, that is.
6. Binance Coin (BNB)
Binance Coin is a cryptocurrency created by the global crypto exchange Binance. In addition to trading as a currency, Binance Coin is useful in paying for crypto trades on Binance, where you can get a discount when using Binance coin for fees versus other currencies.
The coin launched in 2017 and currently ranks as the fourth-largest cryptocurrency with a $49 billion market cap. In the United States, traders use the Binance.us platform. The exchange has come under fire recently after being banned in the United Kingdom by financial regulators. But even if you don’t use the Binance exchange, you can still buy BNB elsewhere.
7. Polkadot (DOT)
Polkadot launched in 2020 with a newer blockchain technology supporting multiple chains working in parallel, among other unique improvements over older blockchain models. This quickly launched it to the forefront of the marketplace, where it now ranks as the ninth-largest cryptocurrency with a $12 billion market capitalization.
The flexibility and wide range of use cases make Polkadot an exciting technology to watch, and that excitement has in part driven up the value of its currency. If the Polkadot network lives up to the promise, it’s likely a long-term currency that’s here to stay.
8. Bitcoin Cash (BCH)
Bitcoin cash launched as a hard fork of bitcoin in 2017 when the community split over the future of bitcoin’s scalability. While bitcoin transactions are somewhat slow and expensive, bitcoin cash aims to be spendable for peer-to-peer payments and other online transactions. But unlike some other currencies designed for high-speed transactions, bitcoin cash maintains a limited supply that may drive up the value.
Bitcoin cash currently ranks as the No. 12 largest cryptocurrencies, with a total market cap of roughly $7 billion. If you owned bitcoin when bitcoin cash launched, you automatically received bitcoin cash in your wallet. However, it remains a separate currency.
9. Stellar Lumens (XLM)
Stellar launched in 2014 as an alternative to Ripple. It’s a cryptocurrency with fast, low-cost transactions. Steller Lumans is designed to enable users to convert between their home fiat currency quickly (e.g., USD, EUR) into cryptocurrency and back, without the big delays and costs of older currencies like bitcoin.
Stellar transactions cost 0.00001 XLM, making them a small fraction of what you would pay when transacting in Ethereum, for example. It currently ranks as the twentieth largest cryptocurrency with a total $5 billion market cap. It’s one of the smaller currencies on this list by market cap, but it has great potential going forward.
10. Tether (USDT)
Tether is a stablecoin, which means its value should always equal the value of its underlying fiat currency, in this case, the U.S. dollar. It is always worth $1 if the system works as intended. This makes it a cryptocurrency alternative to the paper currency many of us carry around in our wallets and store in our bank accounts. It launched in 2014 and there are currently $62 billion USDT coins in circulation.
Tether is useful for many reasons, but there are also reasons to question its validity. The currency is controlled by Bitfinex, which is accused of using the currency to run a massive cryptocurrency scheme to hide losses, according to the New York Attorney General. That might lead to you choose a different stablecoin, like Coinbase’s USDC or Gemini’s GUSD.
Building a Diverse Cryptocurrency Portfolio
Most currencies here are available to buy on popular exchanges like Coinbase, Gemini, Unifimoney, and eToro. Each exchange has its own pricing and list of available coins, but most currencies in this top 10 cryptocurrencies list are available on any major exchange, including eToro and Robinhood.
If you maintain a diverse portfolio, you limit your losses if one or two currencies take a downturn. And if you pick well, you may have your hands on the next Dogecoin that turns speculative holders into overnight millionaires. But in this risky marketplace, be careful to avoid investing more than you can afford to lose.
Further Reading: How to Invest in Cryptocurrency