Bitcoin is without question the breakout star in the world of cryptocurrency, with widespread, mainstream name recognition even to people who don’t follow the digital assets space. Its high profile makes sense, considering its status as one of the true O.G. cryptocurrencies, and it’s by far the most valuable crypto by market cap. But there are many, many Bitcoin alternatives on the market (also known as altcoins). Thousands in fact. With more being introduced all the time. Here are 10 of the top cryptocurrencies other than Bitcoin.
Why you should own (or at least pay attention to) cryptos besides Bitcoin
We’re not saying there’s anything bad about holding Bitcoin. But you could be missing out on a lot of what the crypto and blockchain world has to offer by exclusively focusing on a single coin. Some reasons to consider broadening your crypto horizons include:
Not putting all your eggs in one basket is time-honored investment advice for a reason, and it applies to crypto investing just the same. If 100% of your assets are in a single instrument, your net worth rises and falls exclusively by its fortunes. A diversified portfolio is better able to weather market ups and downs because its assets are spread among an assortment of investments. Check out the latest rates on top cryptocurrencies.
Onramps to other crypto use cases
There’s a big, wide world of crypto projects out there, and many aren’t compatible with the Bitcoin blockchain. Most decentralized finance (DeFi) activity, including its ecosystem of decentralized apps (dApps), are built on Ethereum. A large proportion of the emerging Web3 ecosystem, which includes things like nonfungible tokens (NFTs), also takes place exclusively on ERC-20-compatible blockchains like Ethereum.
Joining a new community
Bitcoin has plenty of ardent fans, but some coins have communities that are on a whole other level, with tens or even hundreds of thousands of ferociously loyal participants. Some are drawn to the tongue-in-cheek nature and viral popularity of so-called “meme coins” like DOGE and Shiba Inu. Others get involved in a project they believe is building something with potential to disrupt the status quo or improve on legacy systems or processes.
More flexible spending options
Although it may be the cryptocurrency most commonly used for transactions, some merchants may choose to accept certain coins over others. Retailers have steadily grown to accept a number of cryptocurrencies other than Bitcoin, with some preferring to transact business in alternatives like Litecoin (LTC), Ether (ETH), Bitcoin Cash (BCH) or Dogecoin (DOGE).
Top 10 Bitcoin alternatives
There are thousands of cryptocurrencies today, so paring the list down to just 10 top cryptocurrencies was no small feat.
- Ether (ETH)
- Tether (USDT)
- Dogecoin (DOGE)
- Litecoin (LTC)
- Polygon (MATIC)
- Solana (SOL)
- Cardano (ADA)
- Shiba Inu Coin (SHIB)
- USD Coin (USDC)
- ApeCoin (APE)
Ether (ETH) is the native cryptocurrency of the Ethereum blockchain. It has the second-highest value by market cap of any cryptocurrency, and its blockchain is home to the majority of DeFi and Web3 activity. It was conceived in 2013 by programmer Vitalik Buterin as an alternative to Bitcoin. Learn about Ethereum’s transition to proof of stake (aka The Merge).
Tether (USDT) is widely considered the first stablecoin ever launched. Like all stablecoins, Tether’s value is “pegged” to the U.S. dollar, which it maintains through a reserve of assets held in U.S.-controlled bank accounts. Tether’s price stability makes it a popular hedge against crypto market volatility. As of November 2022 it was the third most-valuable crypto by market cap. Read BitPay’s guide to stablecoins.
One of the original “meme coins”, DOGE started out sort of as a joke when it launched in December 2013. Since then, DOGE has spawned a robust and enthusiastic community of supporters, known as the DOGE Army, which remains active to this day. Dogecoin is often used to tip content creators, but a number of merchants now also accept DOGE payment.
Litecoin (LTC) launched in 2011 as a “lighter” version of Bitcoin, enabling faster and cheaper transactions. At the time of launch, it commonly billed itself as “silver to Bitcoin’s gold”. It’s highly liquid, and accepted at a wide variety of merchants.
Polygon (MATIC), formerly called Matic Network, was developed as a way to address slowdowns on the Ethereum network traffic in light of DeFi’s growing popularity. The Layer 2 scaling solution allows for cheaper and faster transactions on Ethereum, which it achieves using multiple sidechains. Its relation to Ethereum has been compared to how the Lightning Network speeds up transactions on the Bitcoin blockchain. Read more about how Polygon works here.
Solana is a public blockchain platform which hosts decentralized, scalable applications. Similar to Ether, Solana’s native crypto token, also called Solana, is used for transactions on the network, and for a number of DeFi and Web3 applications such as staking and minting NFTs. Its network design enables it to offer faster and cheaper transactions than rival networks like Ethereum.
Cardano is a decentralized app development platform. Its native cryptocurrency, ADA, is used for the network’s proof-of-stake (PoS) consensus mechanism and to reward staking pool participants. Its blockchain allows for the creation of smart contracts as well as the minting of NFTs.
Shiba Inu Coin (SHIB)
Shiba Inu Coin (SHIB) is another “meme-coin”, which, like rival Dogecoin, is based on the Shiba Inu dog breed. Although the project launched with tongue firmly in cheek in August 2020, it’s begotten a large community of devotees, known as the SHIBArmy. Despite its semi-serious beginnings, thousands of major businesses now accept SHIB as payment. As a testament of the community's commitment to SHIB, Shiba Inu Coin was the winner of this year’s BitPay Brackets tournament.
USD Coin (USDC)
The joint project of crypto exchange Coinbase and global financial company Circle, USD Coin (USDC) is a tokenized representation of U.S. dollars on the Ethereum blockchain. It’s a stablecoin, meaning its value tracks with that of the dollar. Since it’s ERC-20 compatible, it’s commonly used in various DeFi applications.
ApeCoin (APE) is an Ethereum-based utility and governance token affiliated with the highly successful NFT project called Bored Ape Yacht Club. It’s primarily used within the APE ecosystem for things like voting on decentralized autonomous organization (DAO) governance proposals, but it also grants holders access to certain members-only perks like games or invitations to events. Read our breakdown of ApeCoin (APE) here.
Buy and store the top cryptocurrencies securely in the BitPay Wallet
Bonus: Extra cryptocurrencies you should know
Cryptocurrency is such a vast galaxy of projects and coins that we felt boiling it down to the top 10 did a disservice to some other cryptos deserving of some recognition. So as a bonus, here’s another handful of cryptocurrencies you should know.
- Pax Dollar (USDP)
- Gemini Dollar (GUSD)
- Binance USD (BUSD)
- Dai (DAI)
- Bitcoin Cash (BCH)
- Wrapped Bitcoin (wBTC)
- XRP (XRP)
Pax Dollar (USDP)
Pax Dollar (USDP) is a U.S. dollar-backed stablecoin issued on the Ethereum blockchain.
Gemini Dollar (GUSD)
Gemini Dollar (GUSD) is a dollar-backed stablecoin issued by Gemini Trust Company LLC, parent company of crypto exchange Gemini.
Binance USD (BUSD)
Issued by Binance and Paxos, Binance USD (BUSD) is a stablecoin backed 1:1 with U.S. dollars kept in reserve.
Dai (DAI) is an ERC-20 stablecoin which attempts to keep its value consistently equal to the U.S. dollar.
Bitcoin Cash (BCH)
Bitcoin Cash (BCH) is a cryptocurrency that resulted from the “hard fork” of the Bitcoin blockchain 2017.
Wrapped Bitcoin (wBTC)
Wrapped Bitcoin (wBTC) is an ERC-20 token representing Bitcoin on the Ethereum blockchain and backed 1:1 by Bitcoin.
The native token of Ripple Labs, XRP is designed for international payments and the global exchange of value.
Which crypto will be the next Bitcoin?
Ah, the million (billion? Zillion??)-dollar question: Which cryptocurrency will be the next Bitcoin? It’s something every crypto trader has wondered at some time or another, but unfortunately it’s impossible to say. However, the top currencies listed above have all proven to be the most popular Bitcoin alternatives.