Ether is NEEDED to send ERC-20 tokens via MyEtherWallet!

6 min read

In this video Jeremy will go over some of the most commonly asked questions about one of our favourite cryptocurrency wallets, MyEtherWallet, or MEW. Ether is a separate unit from gas, which is used to power the Ethereum Virtual Machine. It is basically the unit that powers Ethereum’s engine. One of the most common mistakes when using MEW is that people forget that a small amount of Ether is required in order to pay for the gas needed to complete the transaction.

Check out our video, explaining it all, or you can read more below if that’s more your style.

Ether is NEEDED to send ERC 20 tokens via MyEtherWallet!

My Ether WalletSo one of the most common problems that I alluded to earlier is that some people that don’t have much experience with when using MyEtherWallet. They send all their ether from the wallet, without leaving any remaining balance, and the transaction doesn’t go through. Another associated problem is that someone tries to send an ERC-20 token, but they find that they are unable to complete the transfer. (Learn more about ERC-20 tokens here!)

The answer to both of these problems actually stems from the same issue. You need to have ether in your wallet in order to pay for the transaction fees.

What is gas?

Now to break this down, we’re going to have to lift the hood on the Ethereum network. The engine of the network is called the Ethereum Virtual Machine (EVM), and like any engine it needs gas. Actually the name of the unit used to power the EVM is called exactly that, “gas.” To learn more in-depth information about gas and how it works, check out our Ask an Expert!

This is mainly done because the price of ether has the ability to be volatile, and by messing with the ratio of gas to ether needed (also known as the “gas price”), low transaction fees can be maintained. As opposed to charging 1% of the ether sent every transaction. If the price of ether skyrockets, well that 1% is going to be a lot higher for a transaction fee then it was before.mew gas

Now it is really important that you understand gas is not ether. Ether is the monetary currency used to purchase gas, usually in the form of a nominal transaction fee. Ether cannot run the Ethereum Virtual Machine. You need gas for that.

Sending a transaction

Now you might begin to see the issue here. If you send all of the ether from your wallet, then well you won’t have any ether to pay for gas. So you need to be sure to leave a little bit of ether in your wallet. 

If I want to send my full balance, I might send 4.30 or 4.33 ETH (see image for wallet info & gas info below; Jeremy currently has 4.337 ETH in his wallet). Gas doesn’t cost you that much. You just need to make sure that you have a little bit of ether in your MEW wallet in order to complete that transaction.gas for eth

The same thing goes for ERC-20 to ERC-20 token transfers. If you just try to send a token from MEW without first having any ether, you won’t have enough gas to power the Ethereum Virtual Machine.

A couple more notes

Gas price is measure in Gwei, which is a denomination of ether.

The standard Gwei is thirty. That 30 Gwei is 1 times 10 to the -9th ether (if you’re a scientific notation buff you’ll get that…). It’s basically a very small amount of ether. Fourty gets you in the next block most likely. Twenty will in the next few blocks, which isn’t a lot of time considering Ethereum’s block time of ten seconds.gwei

The last thing I want to touch on is gas limit. This is pretty much the amount of gas you are willing to spend. If the transaction exceeds that amount of gas spent, you’re transaction will not go through.mew gas limit

So the question is: why not just set the highest possible gas price every single time to make sure your transactions get through as fast as possible? Well even though that gas price is slightly controlled, it is still dependent on the value ether. So if ether rises to a certain level, those transactions can add up from cents to dollars. In addition, this simply might just be wasteful to use a certain gas price beyond a certain level. A transaction is likely to get into the same block if you have 40 Gwei as opposed to 60, so what’s the point of paying that extra 20 Gwei when you don’t really have to. It’s just wasteful.

One last thing I want to touch on is a question that I hear often. Should I just jack up my gas price during token sales in order to make sure I can get into these token sales (which often sell out in matters of seconds)? Token sales and ICOs have gotten smart about this. They limit the gas price that they’ll accept, so if you exceed that they’ll reject the transaction. So make sure you do your research if you’re participating a token sale so you don’t exceed the gas price.Because that’s basically seen as an unfair advantage.

mew gasIf you want to know more about gas click this little question mark near the gas limit box, and it will take you to the MyEtherWallet description of what exactly gas is.

So to sum it up, you always need a little bit (and I’m talking about a very little bit) of ether in your MEW in order to purchase the gas which powers the network. Otherwise you won’t be able to get your transaction through. If you know all this, it makes using MEW significantly easier.

Don’t forget to check out our demo and review of MEW here!

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