The overall market value of all publicly traded tokens and coins, which peaked at $2.97 trillion in November 2021, had plunged more than 50% to a value of $1.31 trillion by the end of May – a level that itself was 22% below its $1.69 trillion market cap to begin the month. That’s a steep sell-off for any asset class, even one as volatile as crypto. The month’s biggest news was easily the stunning, swift implosion of Terra (LUNA) and its sister token, the stablecoin TerraUSD (UST), whose value was supposed to be pegged to the dollar. The pair erased tens of billions of dollars of market cap between them, with each losing nearly 100% of their value. While the glory days are over for LUNA, a number of other cryptos still look attractive, especially after May’s gloom. Here are seven of the best cryptocurrencies to buy now.
1 Bitcoin (BTC)
Market cap: $565 billion
The conversation around the best cryptocurrency to invest in would be incomplete without considering Bitcoin, the first and most dominant crypto. As with blue-chip stocks, investors shouldn’t expect BTC to have the most upside potential of any token, but it arguably has some of the best downside protection, and its loyal investor base and growing market adoption bodes well for long-term prospects. Now hovering around $30,000, BTC fell about 16% in May – a rough performance, but far better than the value of all other coins, which plunged 28% in the month. Multiple prominent public companies like Tesla Inc. (ticker: TSLA), Block Inc. (SQ) and MicroStrategy Inc. (MSTR) already hold Bitcoin on their balance sheets, and the potential for more of corporate America to add Bitcoin to their treasuries remains one of the larger long-term catalysts for the coin.
Both of the previous top cryptocurrencies to buy have been native tokens of layer 1, or base, blockchains. These coins are the native tokens for their own network, and Solana, another layer 1 blockchain, makes the cut as well with its native SOL cryptocurrency. One of the top 10 coins by market cap since 2021, SOL burst onto the scene last year as its smooth, developer-friendly ecosystem attracted a slew of new projects, decentralized apps and DeFi investors. Now a staple of Web3, Solana is considered by some investors to be an emerging competitor to Ethereum, and its fast transactions and rock-bottom transaction fees in comparison to Ethereum have made the blockchain more accessible to casual users. Despite the quality of its technology, the SOL coin has been hammered alongside the broader crypto decline, currently trading under $40 – a precipitous drop from its $260 peak in November. While it’s always possible more short-term downside lurks for Solana, the blockchain has a strong foothold in Web3 and it wouldn’t be surprising to see SOL back in the triple digits within the next year or two.
3 Avalanche (AVAX)
When a given market is large enough, there can be multiple winners. This is the case in the world of smart contracts and DeFi, where Ethereum is the dominant network but blockchains like Solana and Avalanche are also vying for a chunk of the pie. AVAX has soared more than 500% since the beginning of 2021, rallying from the low-$3 range to a price around $23 today. Every day that passes without the much-anticipated Ethereum “Merge” event is a win for low-fee, speedy smart contract networks like Avalanche. Momentum investors will likely want to steer clear of AVAX, which is down nearly 80% in 2022 through early June. That said, Avalanche has a viable, promising ecosystem, so its medium- to long-term outlook remains compelling for risk-tolerant investors. AVAX is a top-20 token by market cap, with a market value around $7 billion.
4 Polygon (MATIC)
Polygon, with a market cap around $4.6 billion, aims to help usher along mass adoption of cryptocurrency by increasing the scalability of Ethereum. Polygon’s technology aims to allow potentially limitless decentralized apps, or dApps, to run on Ethereum, growing its utility to the masses that way. Overall, hitching its fate to the top network for DeFi has been a lucrative bet, and the MATIC token is up about 30-fold from its roughly 2-cent level at the beginning of 2021. Though it’s still down about 80% from its late-December peak, there’s more room for this one to run. In a move to seize power amid Terra’s epic implosion, Polygon is making a play for Terra’s developers to move to its platform.
Market cap: $219 billion
The following dynamic has existed for some time in crypto: It’s Bitcoin, Ether and then everyone else. Ether is the second-largest cryptocurrency by market cap, with its valuation above $219 billion roughly four times that of its nearest non-stablecoin competitor. A go-to blockchain for decentralized finance, or DeFi, as well as non-fungible tokens and the issuing of other altcoins, Ethereum burst onto the scene in 2015 along with its native cryptocurrency, Ether. The medium-term catalyst for ETH is the blockchain’s transition from proof-of-work to proof-of-stake, a consensus mechanism for validating transactions that should dramatically lower transaction fees for Ethereum users. This event, once called Ethereum 2.0 and now referred to as “The Merge,” is almost certain to make the world’s most utilized blockchain even more popular.
6 Binance Coin (BNB)
Market cap: $48 billion
A bet on a dominant and growing ecosystem helping to onboard the masses to the crypto world, BNB is the native cryptocurrency of Binance, the world’s largest cryptocurrency exchange. Trading data from June 3 shows that Binance’s daily trading volume was more than 5 times that of the second-largest exchange by volume, with $12 billion in volume compared to $2.1 billion in volume on FTX. For context, Coinbase Global Inc. (COIN) had just $1.6 billion in volume over the same period. Coinbase is currently valued around $16 billion. Binance has a number of successful decentralized projects influencing the rapid evolution of the cryptocurrency space, and is arguably the leading contender to one day enter the conversation as a blue-chip digital token alongside Bitcoin and Ethereum. BNB’s market cap is currently around $48 billion.
7 Cardano (ADA)
Market cap: $18 billion
Somewhat later to the crypto scene, Cardano (ADA) is notable for its early embrace of proof-of-stake validation. This method expedites transaction time and decreases energy usage and environmental impact by removing the competitive, problem-solving aspect of transaction verification present in platforms like Bitcoin. Cardano also works like Ethereum to enable smart contracts and decentralized applications, which ADA, its native coin, powers.
Cardano’s ADA token has had relatively modest growth compared to other major crypto coins. In 2017, ADA’s price was $0.02. As of June 1, 2022, its price was at $0.55. This is an increase of 2,650%.