What is a Change Address?

A change address is a type of cryptocurrency wallet address that is used to receive the change generated during a cryptocurrency transaction. When a user sends cryptocurrency to another user, they may not use the entire balance of their wallet to fund the transaction. Instead, the wallet may use a portion of the balance to fund the transaction and then generate a new address, known as the change address, to receive the remaining balance.

For example, if a user has 10 Bitcoin (BTC) in their wallet and they want to send 1 BTC to another user, their wallet may use 1 BTC to fund the transaction and then generate a new change address to receive the remaining 9 BTC. This helps to prevent any leftover cryptocurrency from being lost or unaccounted for.

Change addresses are generated automatically by cryptocurrency wallets and are typically used in Bitcoin and other similar blockchain-based cryptocurrencies. They can be confusing for users who are new to cryptocurrency, as the concept of generating a new address for every transaction can be counterintuitive compared to traditional financial systems.

However, using change addresses has several advantages. First, it helps to maintain the privacy and security of the users' funds, as it makes it more difficult for outside parties to track or trace the movement of cryptocurrency from one address to another. Additionally, it can help to reduce the risk of theft or loss, as any unspent cryptocurrency will be automatically returned to the user's wallet.

Despite the benefits of using change addresses, it is important for users to be aware of them and to understand how they work. It is also important to note that if a user loses their access to their wallet or forgets the password to their wallet, any cryptocurrency stored in the change address may be lost permanently, as the private key to access the funds will be lost along with the wallet. As with all aspects of cryptocurrency, it is important for users to take appropriate measures to ensure the security and privacy of their funds, and to seek out trusted sources of information and guidance.

Simplified Example

In cryptocurrency, a change address is used to receive the "change" from a transaction.

To understand this concept, imagine that you want to buy a cup of coffee for 0.01 BTC, but you only have 0.05 BTC in your wallet. When you send the 0.05 BTC to the coffee shop's wallet, the network fees may be deducted, which could be 0.002 BTC. This means that the total cost of the transaction would be 0.052 BTC, and you would receive 0.002 BTC as change.

Instead of receiving this change back to your original sending address, a change address is used to receive the change. The change address is a new address generated by your wallet that belongs to you and is under your control.

The History of Change Adress

The term change address in the context of cryptocurrency transactions became prevalent as a fundamental concept in managing transaction outputs and user privacy.

Emerging alongside the evolution of cryptocurrency wallets and transaction protocols, the concept addresses the scenario where the amount being sent in a transaction is less than the total value of the input(s) being spent. To handle the excess value, a new address, referred to as the "change address," is automatically generated within the sender's wallet to receive the change resulting from the transaction.

This practice, aimed at enhancing user privacy and security, gained traction as a standard method in cryptocurrency transactions. While the specific originator of the term might not be definitively documented, its widespread adoption within the cryptocurrency community attests to its crucial role in transaction management and privacy practices.


Bitcoin Change Addresses: In the Bitcoin network, change addresses are automatically generated when a user sends a transaction. For example, if a user has 1 BTC and wants to send 0.5 BTC to another user, the Bitcoin network will create a new change address to send the remaining 0.5 BTC back to the user's wallet. This helps to improve the privacy and security of the transaction by preventing the original input address from being linked to the output address.

Ethereum Change Addresses: The Ethereum network also uses change addresses, but the process is slightly different from Bitcoin. When a user sends a transaction in the Ethereum network, the transaction input is divided into two parts: the amount being sent and the change. The change is then automatically sent to a new address generated by the user's wallet.

Monero Change Addresses: Monero is a privacy-focused cryptocurrency that uses stealth addresses and ring signatures to improve anonymity. When a user sends a transaction in the Monero network, a new one-time address is generated for the transaction, which helps to improve privacy. Monero also uses change addresses to help improve the privacy of transactions. When a user sends a transaction, the change is sent to a new address generated by the user's wallet, which helps to prevent address reuse and improve privacy.

  • Address: A cryptocurrency address is a unique identifier that is used to send and receive digital currencies such as Bitcoin, Ethereum, and others.

  • Public Address: A public address in cryptocurrency is a unique identifier that is used to receive and send transactions on the blockchain network.