There are thousands of different cryptocurrencies, ranging from Bitcoin and Ethereum to Dogecoin and Tether, making it difficult to get started in the world of crypto. These are the top 10 cryptocurrencies by market capitalization, or the total worth of all coins currently in circulation, to help you gain your bearings.
1. Bitcoin (BTC)
- Market cap: Over $730 billion
Created in 2009 by someone under the pseudonym Satoshi Nakamoto, Bitcoin (BTC) is the original cryptocurrency. As with most cryptocurrencies, BTC runs on a blockchain, or a ledger logging transactions distributed across a network of thousands of computers. Because additions to the distributed ledgers must be verified by solving a cryptographic puzzle, a process called proof of work, Bitcoin is kept secure and safe from fraudsters.
Bitcoin’s price has skyrocketed as it’s become a household name. In May 2016, you could buy a Bitcoin for about $500. As of Feb. 1, 2022, a single Bitcoin’s price was over $38,000. That’s growth of about 7,600%.
2. Ethereum (ETH)
- Market cap: Over $327 billion
Both a cryptocurrency and a blockchain platform, Ethereum is a favorite of program developers because of its potential applications, like so-called smart contracts that automatically execute when conditions are met and non-fungible tokens (NFTs).
Ethereum has also experienced tremendous growth. From April 2016 to February 2022, its price went from about $11 to over $2,700, increasing nearly 25,000%.
3. Tether (USDT)
- Market cap: Over $78 billion
Unlike some other forms of cryptocurrency, Tether is a stablecoin, meaning it’s backed by fiat currencies like U.S. dollars and the Euro and hypothetically keeps a value equal to one of those denominations. In theory, this means Tether’s value is supposed to be more consistent than other cryptocurrencies, and it’s favored by investors who are wary of the extreme volatility of other coins.
4. Binance Coin (BNB)
- Market cap: Over $63 billion
The Binance Coin is a form of cryptocurrency that you can use to trade and pay fees on Binance, one of the largest crypto exchanges in the world.
Since its launch in 2017, Binance Coin has expanded past merely facilitating trades on Binance’s exchange platform. Now, it can be used for trading, payment processing or even booking travel arrangements. It can also be traded or exchanged for other forms of cryptocurrency, such as Ethereum or Bitcoin.
Its price in 2017 was just $0.10; by Feb. 1, 2022, it had risen to around $377, a gain of approximately 377,000%.
5. Solana (SOL)
- Market cap: Over $33.5 billion
Developed to help power decentralized finance (DeFi) uses, decentralized apps (DApps) and smart contracts, Solana runs on a unique hybrid proof-of-stake and proof-of-history mechanisms that help it process transactions quickly and securely. SOL, Solana’s native token, powers the platform.
When it launched in 2020, SOL’s price started at $0.77. By Feb. 1, 2022, its price was around $100, a gain of almost 13,000%.