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Are These the Best Cryptos Under $1?

Even with the sharp run-up in crypto prices this year, it’s still possible to find top cryptocurrencies trading for less than $1. In fact, six of the top 20 cryptos, as ranked by market capitalization, are still available for less than a buck as we head into 2024.

But are any of these bargain-priced cryptos really worth owning? Based on their future growth prospects and overall competitive positioning, three of these sub-$1 cryptos could be worth a closer look: Polygon (MATIC -0.27%), XRP (XRP 0.39%), and Cardano (ADA 1.09%).

Polygon

Polygon is a Layer 2 scaling solution for Ethereum (ETH 0.11%), which basically means that its long-term growth prospects are hitched to those of Ethereum. In theory, that should be a good thing, since Ethereum is the second-largest cryptocurrency in the world. As long as Ethereum continues to be the dominant Layer 1 blockchain network in the world, Polygon should go along for the ride.

Image source: Getty Images.

The problem, though, is that Polygon now has plenty of competitors, and the space for Layer 2 scaling solutions is getting very crowded. On top of that, a key market niche for Polygon — the non-fungible token (NFT) market — is still treading water. Until the NFT market fully recovers, Polygon may have trouble gaining traction.

While Polygon has desperately been trying to turn things around in 2023, nothing seems to have worked thus far. For the year, Polygon is only up 12%. That’s despite a rebranding and strategic overhaul called Polygon 2.0 that started back in June. For now, it appears, investors aren’t taking the bait.

XRP

Next up is XRP (formerly known as Ripple), which has been a perennial crypto darling for the past several years. The crypto boasts a vast army of online supporters who are convinced that, any day now, the price of XRP is going to blast off into the stratosphere.

Granted, XRP is up 82% this year. But if you take a look at the long-term chart, it’s clear that XRP’s best days may be behind it. Ever since hitting its all-time high back in January 2018, XRP has had tremendous difficulty breaking through the $1 level.

The primary problem for XRP is the SEC. Back in December 2020, the SEC initiated a lawsuit against XRP, claiming that it was an unregistered security. That case has now dragged on for three years, and shows no signs of ending soon. In fact, it is looking increasingly probable that the XRP legal case will now drag into the second half of 2024.

Meanwhile, XRP continues to hemorrhage money. It’s not cheap to defend yourself against the government, and top executives at Ripple Labs (the company behind the XRP token) concede that total legal costs could eventually exceed $200 million. XRP could be worth a small investment if you believe that it will eventually emerge unscathed from its legal proceedings with the SEC. However, it remains a very speculative investment.

Cardano

For better or worse, Cardano has acquired the reputation of a boring blockchain where nothing ever happens. Some have even called it a “ghost chain,” due to the lack of activity on the blockchain itself. And, every year, it seems to be overshadowed by a sexy new blockchain upstart.

Despite all that, Cardano still ranks as the eighth-most valuable cryptocurrency in the world. And Cardano remains a worthy rival to Ethereum. Anything Ethereum can do, Cardano can also do. So it seems like the valuation gap between Ethereum ($276 billion) and Cardano ($21 billion) should be far narrower than it is today.

And, contrary to the consensus opinion, there does seem to be a lot of activity happening on Cardano. The big moves are being made in the area of decentralized finance (DeFi), where Cardano was admittedly a non-player until 2022. But a key metric for measuring overall DeFi strength — known as total value locked — has skyrocketed this year, and it may be time for investors to reconsider Cardano’s future prospects.

Buy, sell, or hold?

XRP, Polygon, and Cardano rank among the best cryptos under $1. But that’s not saying much. All of them come with a tremendous amount of risk, and none of them should be a core part of your overall investment portfolio. If you already own XRP or Polygon, it’s worth holding on to see if their fortunes improve. However, I can’t advocate adding to your position.

Of the three, the only one that I’m bullish on is Cardano. For me, it’s like the neglected, boring stock that everyone assumes is doing poorly. But then you look up and it’s outperforming the entire market. Case in point: While Bitcoin is up a resounding 160% this year, Cardano is largely keeping pace, up 150% year to date. This could make Cardano a potentially sneaky add to your portfolio in 2024.

Dominic Basulto has positions in Bitcoin, Cardano, Ethereum, and Polygon. The Motley Fool has positions in and recommends Bitcoin, Cardano, Ethereum, Polygon, and XRP. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

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