Cryptocurrencies are all the rage these days, particularly with speculative investors. What used to be a “fringe” investment is now front and center in the financial press. Even financial networks like CNBC talk about Bitcoin daily and keep a ticker up on the screen showing the current price.
Put this all together and now even the average investor is well aware of Bitcoin and the cryptocurrency movement. However, many people are likely still unaware that Bitcoin is not the only cryptocurrency out there. In fact, there are plenty of other options if you want to get your crypto fix away from the big names. Just be aware that each cryptocurrency is unique, and you should consult your financial advisor before you invest in any of these speculative products.
What Are the Top Cheap Cryptos To Buy?
If you’re ready to invest in some crypto, check out the 10 cheap options that could generate nice returns in 2022.
1. XRP (XRP)
- Coin price as of Dec. 22: $0.9635
XRP is an open-source cryptocurrency that uses an open-source distributed ledger called XRP Ledger. It was developed by Ripple, an enterprise blockchain company that facilitates global transactions. Ripple says XRP was built for payments and can settle transactions faster, more reliably and at a lower cost than is possible over standard global payment infrastructure.
Although Ripple is currently embroiled in a lawsuit brought by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, which alleges it engaged in unregistered securities trading, XRP’s price, while volatile, is up almost 315% since the beginning of the year — but you can still buy it for under $1. What’s more, a new lawsuit by a government watchdog group alleging that SEC officials are biased against Ripple and XRP and have conflicts of interest could help to resolve the suit against Ripple in investors’ favor.
2. Dogecoin (DOGE)
- Coin price as of Dec. 22: $0.1757
Dogecoin originated as something of a joke, but it has become quite real for all of those who are now profiting from it. The coin is certainly still “cheap” at about $0.17 per coin as of Dec. 21, especially compared to its $0.68 peak back in May. But the current price is up over 2,860% since the beginning of the year when you could buy DOGE for less than half a cent.
Unlike many other cryptocurrencies that serve actual functions, Dogecoin was created as a satirical take on Bitcoin. Earlier this year, the crypto rose sharply based on hype on message boards and tweets by Elon Musk. This is the same type of speculation that drove GameStop up by more than 400% in a single week earlier this year. Of course, that likely doesn’t matter to those who are generating real profits and who are still searching for “cheap” cryptocurrencies. And this one could pay off in the coming year. In mid-December, Musk announced in a tweet that Tesla will make some merch buyable with Doge and see how it goes.”
3. Chainlink (LINK)
- Coin price as of Dec. 22: $20.25
According to Coinbase, Chainlink is another Ethereum token that powers the Chainlink decentralized oracle network. This network is used to securely connect to external data sources, APIs and payment systems.
Chainlink describes itself as enabling real-world data and off-chain computation to expand the capabilities of smart contracts while maintaining the upsides of blockchain technology, namely its security and reliability guarantees. The Chainlink price moves in fits and starts but currently sits under $20 per coin, up nearly 59% from the beginning of the year but down significantly from its 52-week high, giving new investors a chance to buy cheap.
4. USD Coin (USDC)
- Coin price as of Dec. 22: $0.9995
USD Coin is a stablecoin, which means its value is pegged to the value of another asset — in this case, the U.S. dollar. That makes it remarkably stable compared to other cryptocurrencies, as USD Coin prices deviate by just a couple hundredths of a cent before returning to $1. Although you can’t make money by purchasing low and selling high like you would other tokens, you can earn interest by loaning your USD Coin through a decentralized finance platform like Aave.
USD Coin is jointly managed by the crypto trading platform Coinbase and Circle, a digital payments company that in July announced plans to go public through a special purpose acquisition company merger with Concord Acquisition Corp. The transaction values Circle at an enterprise value of $4.5 billion, according to the announcement. Coinbase began trading publicly in April.
5. Cardano (ADA)
- Coin price as of Dec. 22: $1.34
At just over $1.00, Cardano remains a very cheap cryptocurrency for most investors, even after its roughly 610% gain since the beginning of 2021.
According to Coinbase, Cardano is a blockchain platform built on a proof-of-stake consensus protocol called Ouroboros, which can validate transactions without high energy costs. Development on Cardano uses the Haskell programming language. The symbol for the Cardano token, ADA, comes from the 19th-century mathematician, Ada Lovelace. According to its developers, Ouroboros allows the Cardano network’s decentralization and provides the ability to sustainably scale to global requirements without compromising security.
6. Polygon (MATIC)
- Coin price as of Dec. 22: $2.57
Polygon is a decentralized application built on the Ethereum network as a way to expand Ethereum into a multi-chain system. Backed by Coinbase and Binance crypto exchanges, Polygon could be the solution developers need to deploy decentralized applications faster, more efficiently and less expensively, Bezinga noted, calling MATIC the most promising “layer two” token — that is, one built on an existing blockchain. All crypto investments are highly speculative, but it might be a good sign that MATIC showed resilience during an early December sell off, surging 21% while other cryptos plummeted, U.S. News reported.
7. Stellar (XLM)
- Coin price as of Dec. 21: $0.2703
Stellar is its own payment network, and it uses Stellar Lumens as its currency on that network. While the network can be used by anyone, it was envisioned to connect financial institutions making large transactions. On the Stellar network, these types of transactions can be done nearly instantaneously at little to no cost, unlike with traditional or even competitor blockchain networks. The price of Stellar Lumens has been highly volatile over the past year, but its price has about doubled since the beginning of 2021.
8. Tether (USDT)
- Coin price as of Dec. 22: $1
Tether is an Ethereum token that is pegged to the value of a U.S. dollar. At $1 per token, or within a few hundreds of a cent of $1, Tether is still one of the more inexpensive cryptocurrencies available. However, that price is not likely to move like many of the other cryptocurrencies out there because Tether, like USD Coin, is a stablecoin tied 1-to-1 to the value of the U.S. dollar.
9. Decentraland (MANA)
- Coin price as of Dec. 22: $3.32
Decentraland is the token behind an Ethereum blockchain-based virtual reality game of the same name. Securities.io describes Decentraland as a 3D virtual world where users buy land on which to develop and monetize content, buy goods and services and visit other properties. With a $6.012 billion market capitalization, this crypto project isn’t exactly child’s play. In fact, Decentraland is up 4,025% since the start of 2021.
10. Shiba Inu (SHIB)
- Coin price as of Dec. 22: $0.0000363
Shiba Inu is a meme crypto created anonymously to riff on Dogecoin — which was created to riff on Shiba Inu — i.e., the Japanese breed of dog — memes circulating around the internet. Despite its whimsical beginnings, Shiba Inu has a market cap of $18 billion, according to CoinMarketCap. It’s only one of several dog-themed cryptos currently available, but it’s by far the most popular.
Part of its appeal as a crypto to invest in is the community growing up around it. That community created a non-fungible token project around the Shiba Inu coin. The NFTs, called Shiboshis, have traits that correspond to an upcoming Shiboshi Game, according to the Shiboshis website. Players who own Shiboshi will be able to use it in gameplay. That means Shiba Inu could join the ranks of game coins like Decentraland, expanding its appeal and, possibly, fueling its growth.
For now, the coin remains highly volatile. On Jan. 1, a coin was worth $0.000000000074 (that’s 10 zeros). The current price is $0.00003299, an increase of 44,580,981% — but down more than 58% from its all-time high of $0.00008 on Oct. 26.
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Daria Uhlig contributed to the reporting for this article.
Data is accurate as of Dec. 21, 2021, and subject to change.