We’ve written quite a bit about Bitcoin—and so has everyone else—so today we’ll take a different approach and talk about some other cryptocurrencies.

If you just follow the media, you might assume that Bitcoin is the only cryptocurrency worth investing in. It’s not.

There are thousands of cryptocurrencies that exist—and some may be safer to invest in than Bitcoin (others, definitely not). Before we dive in, we want to clearly note: cryptocurrencies are extremely volatile and we don’t recommend them over other forms of investments. That said, we do want you to be as informed as possible, in case you do have the appetite for this kind of high-risk investment.

Let’s take a look at some alternatives to Bitcoin.

Ether

Perhaps the second most famous form of cryptocurrency, Ether has many of the same properties as Bitcoin. However, there are some significant differences.

First, let’s take a look at some basics of Ether.

Ether are tokens that run through the Ethereum network. The network operates through “smart contracts” written in computer code that are uploaded to the blockchain that other cryptocurrencies operate through.

This is an open-source network managed by users, much like Bitcoin. Users can buy and sell Ether and use it buy products on sites that accept it.

Ether currently doesn’t sell as high as Bitcoin, with its price currently under $1,000—but it’s reached the thousands in the past.

Ether’s price is $921.38.

Why invest in Ether (or not)?

Cryptocurrencies are on the rise, and Ether is one of the safer options to invest in. It’s in the top ten regarding price and stability. You can also use it at more places than you may think—and within the next few years, the number of places that accept cryptocurrencies is expected to grow.

As always, though, invest with caution. Ether isn’t without it’s issues. In 2017—dubbed the year of the cryptocurrency—Ether experienced many large fluctuations, and the wallet Parity was frozen for a time due to potential security threats.

Ripple

Many people like the idea of cryptocurrencies but fear that their money isn’t safe in an unregulated online world. Ripple aims to offer some of that safety (although, they’ve had some serious problems recently).

Ripple is actually the name of the company that manages interactions and payments of the currency XRP. Instead of using a public blockchain like Ether and Bitcoin, Ripple “works with a network of nodes that are actually participating banks and financial institutions.”

Unlike most other cryptocurrencies, Ripple doesn’t need to be “mined”. It was originally issued by the founders of Ripple. This is simultaneously one of Ripple’s best and worst features. After all, many people like the idea of cryptocurrencies because they don’t involve big banks or investors.

But, the biggest drawback perhaps is its cheap price in comparison with other cryptocurrencies. Currently Ripple is priced at $1.13.

Why invest in Ripple (or not)?

Ripple has a partnership with American Express—which made many believe it would be a solid investment as it was backed by a solid company. But this is also where Ripple is likely to meet its downfall.

There’s some discussion that Ripple will eventually fall to more large banks and corporations—which is a good security measure, but doesn’t offer any real difference from our current financial system.

Ripple is a low-cost investment compared to Bitcoin or Ether due to it’s current price—but that has skyrocketed and then plummeted in the past. That being said, it is still one of the top ten cryptocurrencies.

Litecoin

Litecoin is often thought of as a close sibling of Bitcoin. Bitcoin and Litecoin work in the same way, but there a few key features that make them different:

  • Founder Charlie Lee—The founder of Litecoin is well known, unlike the anonymous creator of Bitcoin.
  • Speed of transactions—Lee, an engineer, designed the Litecoin system to operate about four times faster than that of Bitcoin. This means that Litecoin can confirm the legitimacy of transactions much quicker.
  • Number of coins—Bitcoin has a limit of 21 million coins once all are found, but Litecoin will have 84 million.

Litecoin’s current price is $244.97.

Why invest in Litecoin (or not)?

Next to Bitcoin, Litecoin is the top cryptocurrency as of now. So, if Bitcoin is just a little too expensive for you to invest in, try Litecoin.

It’s nearly identical to Bitcoin, but transactions are faster—which is one of its biggest draws.

However, there is some discussion as to whether this speed makes Litecoin less secure.

Cardano

Cardano is cryptocurrency that “developed from a scientific philosophy, and [is] the only one to be designed and built by a global team of leading academics and engineers.”

So, what does that mean?

Essentially, what the creators of Cardano appear to be doing is trying to combine the best aspects of a handful of cryptocurrencies. They do have a team of scientists and academics working on this process.

The creator of Cardano, Charles Hoskinson, says that it “is a technological platform that will be capable of running financial applications currently used every day by individuals, organizations and governments all around the world.”

So, Cardano is intended to be a more sustainable cryptocurrency that everyone can use.

Cardano currently sits at a low price of $0.39.

Why should you invest in Cardano (or not)?

The creators of Cardano are the most transparent about why they want to create their own cryptocurrency—so if you’re not into the secretive aspect of cryptocurrencies, Cardano may be the way to go.

That being said, it is still in development and has held at a fairly low and steady price—although it did rise pretty quickly after it was first developed.

Monero

Monero is, supposedly, one of the only cryptocurrencies that’s truly untraceable. It functions much like Bitcoin—through the blockchain. But, unlike Bitcoin which isn’t entirely anonymous, Monero does not share your online address with the public ledger, so it says.

This makes it almost entirely a black market currency. It’s currently valued at $318.77.

Monero may be an interesting cryptocurrency but it is far from a stable one. Recently, Chinese researchers found that hackers have been using internet-connected devices as tools for mining Monero.

Why you should invest in Monero (or not)?

Due to the current security concerns with Monero, we highly recommend that you avoid investing in it.

That being said, it’s an important cryptocurrency to know about. Monero demonstrate what can go wrong when you attempt to have an entirely anonymous cryptocurrency. It begs the question: can cryptocurrencies survive without the backing of banks and corporations?

Summary

There are plenty of cryptocurrencies on the market besides Bitcoin. While Bitcoin is still king, there are a number of alternatives on the rise that could eventually challenge for the cryptocurrency throne.

Read more

  • How Do You Buy Bitcoin?—A Beginners Guide To Buying And Selling Bitcoin
  • The Top 10 Things You Need To Know About Bitcoin