Tangem Review: A Credit Card Hardware Wallet?

Tangem is a relatively new style of hardware wallet that doesn’t expose the seedphrase to you or anyone else. See the pros and cons in this post.

Updated: Apr 18, 2024

Tangem Hardware Wallet Review

Highlights

  • Tangem is an open-source, credit card-shaped, hardware wallet that supports 6,000+ tokens.
  • It offers instant transactions, high security, backup with additional cards, DeFi and NFT access, and a 25+ year warranty.
  • Potential risks include reliance on a single NFC-enabled phone for transactions and inability to extract the seed from the card, but that's built by design.

What Is Tangem Wallet?

The Tangem wallet is a credit card-shaped hardware wallet that supports over 6,000 cryptocurrencies and eliminates the need for USB cables, batteries, and Bluetooth connectivity.

The card is the key to your wallet and it works in combination with your smartphone via NFC (near field communication). So to use your funds, just tap the card to your phone and enter your access code.

Unlike other hardware wallets, Tangem doesn't provide a 12 or 24-word seed phrase to backup your funds. In fact, the private key never gets exposed at all. Instead, additional cards are used to backup your assets. If you lose 1 or 2 of the cards, you can buy a new set and transfer your funds, but if you lose all of the cards at once, your funds are gone. More on the security later.

Pros and Cons

  • No risk of someone finding your seed phrase
  • Easier than traditional hardware wallets
  • Relatively low cost for a hardware wallet ($55-$70)
  • Good for travel (shaped like a bank card)
  • Open-source and fully offline
  • No wires, batteries, or chargers required
  • Various security risks highlighted in this Twitter thread
  • No screen on the card to verify the phone and wallet are seeing the same information
  • Since you can't extract your seed phrase, you are stuck with the Tangem app and its UI
  • No desktop option

Things To Know

  • Relatively new type of hardware wallet.
  • The private key is never exposed (to you or anyone). Instead, additional cards are used to backup your funds.
  • Supports 6,000+ cryptocurrencies plus DeFi through the mobile app.
  • Just tap the card to your phone when you need your crypto.
  • Up to 3 physical cards per wallet.
  • The loss of all 2 or 3 cards leads to losing your funds.
  • If one card is lost or stolen, you can buy a new set of cards and transfer funds to it.

Key Features & Benefits

Tangem Wallet Website
  • Smart Backup System: Instead of a seed phrase, Tangem uses additional cards as a backup method. Users can buy sets of 2 or 3 cards.
  • User-Friendly: Tangem Wallet is easy to use and takes 3 minutes to setup. All you need is an NFC-enabled phone. Plus, its credit card-like design makes it easy to carry around.
  • High Security: Tangem's application is open-source, meaning it can be inspected by users for any backdoors. In addition, the firmware and source code has undergone independent audits among other security features.
  • Access to DeFi and NFTs: Tangem supports 6,000 cryptocurrencies and you can also use the app to access DeFi platforms, DApps, and NFT marketplaces.

Other Features

  • Supports 6,000+ Tokens: Lots of coins are supported which is on par with other leading hardware wallet brands like Ledger, Trezor, Keystone and more.
  • Durability and Warranty: The card is designed to withstand water, dust, and extreme temperatures. The company also offers a 25-year replacement warranty.
  • Audited Security: The firmware and source code of the Tangem wallet has undergone independent audits by Kudelski Security, a Swiss-based auditing firm.

How Does Tangem Secure Your Crypto?

Tangem is a relatively new player in the hardware wallet market, having only released its first product in 2021. However, the credit-card design and removal of the seed phrase makes it stand out from the crowd. 

  • Encrypted Private Key: Tangem generates a random private key that no one is aware of, not even you. Instead of a 12-24 word seed phrase, the physical card is used to access your funds which is protected by a pin. Once activated, the wallet uses a high-security (EAL6+) chip to store your private keys offline.
  • Backup Methods: Tangem sells cards in sets of 2 or 3 which are used as backups. If you lose your primary card, the others cards will let you access your funds. Your crypto will be lost if you lose all 3 cards, so you have to buy a new set if you're down to 1 card. That’s because you can’t extract the seed phrases from those cards.
  • NFC Design: The wallet is managed via the Tangem app and an NFC-enabled phone. To use your wallet, just tap it against your smartphone and enter your pin.
  • Open Source: Tangem's application is open-source, meaning it can be inspected by users for any backdoors.
  • Security Audits: The firmware and source code of the Tangem wallet have undergone independent audits by Kudelski Security, a Swiss-based auditing firm.

While Tangem makes it convenient not having to hide a seed phrase, it is not bulletproof. The main concerns with Tangem's security is not being able to extract the private key and the NFC design, which could be a security risk if your phone is compromised with malware. A Twitter user mentioned that a hacker could infect this connection when a user signs a transaction.

What's In The Box?

Tangem Wallet Box

Online Reviews According to Reddit

While there are some concerns about the Tangem wallet, particularly regarding security and delivery issues, there are also positive reviews praising its ease of use and customer service. Here are some insightful reviews:

  • A very good Twitter thread highlighted multiple security issues and calls it nothing more than a 2FA allowing you to send. For example: "For an attacker to gain access, you need to be signing a transaction in the moment of an automated attack on the infected device which could be infected with a download or malicious link without any signs of infection."
  • One user on the App store loves the concept, "Tangem wallet is the only wallet that made me feel that my coins are super safe. Let's be honest most people will feel nervous holding their private keys. Travel elevated that fear for me. I'm more confident saving my cards than some random 24 words. Call me old fashioned."
  • On the other end, the recovery process worried a Redditor: "Yeah, saw the 3 cards part. But what if you lose/destroy all 3 cards. You can't recover your coins as you have never written your seed words. So when you are down to 1 card, you must buy 3 new ones that are linked and send funds manually to new addresses."

The overall rating on Trustpilot is 2.8 stars out of 5, based on just 12 reviews. On the App Store, it has 4.9-stars across 449 ratings and 4.8-stars on Google Play with 2,000 ratings. While most of the reviews are positive, I recommend reading this Twitter thread to see the potential risks.

Tangem Wallet Summary

Tangem is a relatively new style of hardware wallet that's easier to operate for crypto newcomers. It has a familiar card-shape design, simple integration with your smartphone, and support for 6,000+ cryptocurrencies. And rather than hiding your seedphrase, you use additional cards to backup your funds.

Is Tangem as safe as traditional hardware wallets like Ledger or Trezor? Some people are saying no, so it's yet to be seen. Not being able to extract your seed phrase can open up new potential risks and attack vectors.

  • Portable: Looks like a bank card and can be taken anywhere with ease.
  • Easy To Use: Tangem is easier to use for less-technical crypto users and has a 3-minute setup process. You can hold 6,000+ cryptos and trade assets directly within the app.
  • Great Price: It costs about $55 for 3 cards. It's similar in price to the Trezor, SafePal S1 and Blockstream Jade.
  • New Security Risks: Not being able to extract your seed phrase poses new security risks.
  • Stuck With One UI: With traditional hardware wallets, you can create as many seed phrases as you want and easily try new wallets. With Tangem, you're stuck with their device and mobile app. To switch wallets, you have have to manually transfer all of your tokens.
  • Not A Top Brand: While Tangem is appealing and has seen success, the concept is not as battle tested as other leading hardware wallet brands.

Alternatives

Our list of hardware wallet reviews is growing. While the Tangem wallet is affordable and easy to use, it lacks versatility and control of your seed phrase. Check out other hardware wallet reviews to find the best fit for you:

NDAX.io

Keystone Pro is a $169 wallet with a touchscreen and packed with features.

  • Open source and air-gapped
  • Lots of features
  • Great user-interface
  • Higher price point
  • Battery can die quickly
Ledger

Ledger is the #1 brand for hardware wallets, but they made questionable choices in 2023.

  • Store 6,500 coins
  • Great mobile app and UX
  • Most popular wallets
  • Controversial moves in 2023
  • Not open source


MEXC Global

Blockstream Jade is a Bitcoin-focused wallet at an affordable price.

  • Open source and air-gapped
  • Bitcoin-only
  • Affordable price: $64.99
  • No support for altcoins
  • App can be buggy

Author

At RankFi.com, our goal is to be your trusted source for crypto reviews, guides and research. We seek out researchers with extensive crypto knowledge and firsthand experience using dozens of CeFi and DeFi platforms.

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