Bitcoin is just one of many cryptocurrencies in existence. CoinGecko lists more than 8,000 individual tokens on its site—though it’s not clear how many of those are still active.
The Bitcoin alternatives are called altcoins. Some are more useful than others. But which are the best?
Here’s our list of the top cryptocurrency coins in 2020, complete with links to the coin studies we’ve published for each token.
Bitcoin is expensive. It hit an all-time high of $20,000 in 2018 and has spent much of 2020 valued between $8,000 and $10,000.
You can buy Bitcoin on an exchange or mine it on your computer. You could even try and mine Bitcoin on your Android. If you decide to mine on a computer, you will need one of the best mining GPUs to make a serious profit.
Want to explore Bitcoin storage solutions in more detail? Check out our crypto wallets guide.
Ethereum is the second-largest cryptocurrency in the world.
Although Bitcoin can theoretically host simple smart contracts, Ethereum was designed specifically for the purpose. It was designed using ERC token standards.
To learn more, check out the best Ethereum tutorials on the web.
Binance Coin is the in-house token of the Binance crypto exchange. It provides reduced trading fees on the Binance platform but also has several uses outside the exchange.
Binance itself is hugely popular. It is one of the world’s best crypto exchanges thanks to its easy-to-use app and widespread support of tokens. The only downside it is the KYC process, meaning you’ll have to get verified on Binance to be able to use the app.
(Note: Users in the US will need to use the separate Binance US due to government regulations. Check out some of the best crypto exchanges for Americans for alternatives.)
Bitcoin Cash is one of the most well-known Bitcoin forks. It was designed to fix some of Bitcoin’s scalability issues.
Significantly, it increased the number of transactions per second from seven to 70. Still nowhere near Visa’s 24,000, but a step in the right direction.
The next crypto coin on our list is Litecoin. Litecoin is one of the older crypto coins—the first block was mined in October 2011.
The token aims to provide a faster and cheaper alternative to Bitcoin (though it’s still not one of the fastest crypto networks).
6. Ripple (XRP)
Ripple provides three core services: a real-time gross settlement system (RTGS), a currency exchange, and a remittance network.
Uniquely, Ripple is fungible with everything. As such, it can act as a mediator between two assets that wouldn’t usually have an exchange rate.
Like Bitcoin, it’s also possible to spend Ripple in the real-world economy.
7. Monero (XMR)
Monero is one of the world’s best private cryptocurrencies. It uses the CryptoNight proof-of-work algorithm, ring signatures, stealth addresses, and Ring Confidential Transactions to ensure that nobody observing the Monero blockchain will know where tokens are sent or how much is stored in individual wallets.
Cardano works in a similar way to Ethereum. The blockchain is designed to host smart contracts, with a specific focus on financial contracts.
9. NEO (NEO)
NEO is China’s first public blockchain. Originally called Antshares, it rebranded in 2017.
The coin wants to be at the heart of a new global “smart economy.” To that end, NEO has three core components: digital assets, digital identity, and smart contracts.
10. NEM (XEM)
NEM is a smart asset blockchain. It scales to 4,000 transactions per second and has zero inflation. The project is based out of Singapore.
11. ChainLink (LINK)
ChainLink is a decentralized blockchain oracle network. A blockchain oracle bridges the gap between a smart contract and the external data it may need to function correctly. You can learn more in our blockchain oracle guide.
12. EOSIO (EOS)
EOSIO’s primary purpose is for hosting DApps at an industrial and enterprise level. It can simulate the attributes of CPUs, RAM, and storage.
13. TRON (TRX)
TRON has some of the loftiest ambitions of all—it wants to create a new, decentralized internet. It can process 2,000 transactions per second and has a total supply limit of 100 billion.
14. Zcash (ZEC)
Zcash is another privacy-focused cryptocurrency. It uses zero-knowledge proofs to verify transactions, meaning the identity of the sender, the identity of the recipient, and the amount, are never revealed.
Check out some of the differences between public and private blockchains to learn more.
15. Stellar (XLM)
Co-founded by Jeb McCaleb—the same man who built the infamous Mt. Gox exchange—Stellar is aiming to position itself in the banking world by offering fast, cheap, and reliable international transfers. It has a specific focus on “unbanked” people from unstable economies.
USD Tether is pegged to the value of the US dollar at a ratio of 1:1. It is referred to as a stablecoin.
The project is shrowded in controversy. Many experts have claimed it was used by the Bitfinex exchange to manipulate Bitcoin’s price in the run-up to the all-time highs.
There are also concerns about Tether’s US dollar reserves. It is widely assumed Tether does not have enough fiat currency to back its supply of tokens.
17. TrueUSD (TUSD)
An alternative stablecoin is TrueUSD. Is it isn’t mired with the same baggage as Tether, but the underlying concepts are broadly the same.
18. USD Coin (USDC)
The other large stablecoin you’re likely to come across is USD Coin. It is operated by one of the world’s largest crypto exchanges, Coinbase.
19. Zilliqa (ZIL)
One of the biggest criticisms of crypto is the amount of electricity required to run the blockchains. Bitcoin alone has an annual power consumption that’s equivalent to a small European country.
Zilliqa addresses some of those environmental concerns by using sharding to reduce the network’s energy requirements.
20. Waves (WAVES)
You don’t have to be Satoshi Nakamoto to launch your own cryptocurrency. Waves—which is best thought of as a Kickstarter for crypto—lets anyone create their own cryptocurrency on the Waves platform.
21. Ontology (ONT)
The last crypto coin on our list is Ontology. It is developed by Chinese company OnChain—the same company that is behind the NEO token we discussed earlier. It is a business-focused blockchain for DApps.
Learn More About Crypto
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