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Kraken Review 2021: A Powerful Crypto Trading Platform

Kraken is a cryptocurrency exchange that allows users to buy and sell cryptocurrencies. Kraken offers a powerful trading platform and more.

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Kraken is one of the world’s oldest crypto exchanges, so it’s a popular choice for investors that want to maximize their crypto trading options. 

That said, it still might not be the right crypto exchange for your needs.

To help you out, we’ve put together this detailed Kraken review. Up next, we’ll walk you through all of Kraken’s different features so you can find the perfect crypto exchange for your investment style.

Kraken Logo
4.1
4.1/5

on Kraken’s website

Quick Summary: Kraken is a US-based cryptocurrency exchange that allows users to buy and sell cryptocurrencies. Kraken is one of the oldest and largest cryptocurrency exchanges operating in 48 US states and 176 countries.

Promotion: None

Pros:

Cons:

What Is Kraken?

Kraken is one of the oldest and largest cryptocurrency exchanges. The company got its start in 2011 when founder Jesse Powell decided to create a crypto exchange to replace the now-defunct Mt. Gox exchange if it were to shut down.

Over the years, Kraken has become one of the most powerful crypto trading platforms. It now offers its services to citizens of more than 150 countries and it boasts some of the most advanced charting and trading tools on the market.

What is Kraken
Source: Kraken

How Does Kraken Work?

As a cryptocurrency exchange, Kraken is an intermediary between sellers and buyers of crypto. To use Kraken, you’ll first need to make an account. Here’s what you need to know.

Getting Started

If you want to use Kraken, you need to determine your eligibility for an account. The company supports account holders over the age of 18 from all countries except:

  • Tajikistan
  • Syria
  • North Korea
  • Libya
  • Iraq
  • Iran
  • Cuba
  • Congo-Kinshasa
  • Congo-Brazzaville
  • Afghanistan

Do keep in mind that, while the platform is accessible to US residents, it is not available in the states of New York or Washington.

If you live in a country that’s eligible for a Kraken account, you can start gathering your required information. You will need the following to be able to apply:

  • Full name
  • Date of birth
  • Phone number
  • Physical address
  • Email address
  • Device for two-factor authentication

Opening an Account

To make an account, you’ll go to Kraken’s website and fill out an application. This requires entering some personal information and verifying your email address. Once you do that, you’ll have a functioning Kraken account.

However, there are three primary levels of Kraken account verification, each of which offers you access to different features. These include:

  • Starter – Starter account holders need only the information listed above to open an account. This level has low limits for withdrawal and margin trading.
  • Intermediate – Intermediate account holders need to provide all the same information as starter account holders, plus an address-bearing photo ID, occupation information, a social security number, and a selfie. Doing so gives you expanded access to Kraken features, like high withdrawal limits.
  • Pro – Pro account holders need to provide all the same information as intermediate account holders, plus answers to a questionnaire. This additional verification information provides access to the highest levels of withdrawal and trading features.
Kraken How to Open an Account
Source: Kraken

Funding Options

If you want to purchase crypto on Kraken, you’ll need to fund your account. The company currently supports accounts that use one of the following currencies: 

  • US dollar
  • Canadian dollar
  • Australian dollar
  • Euro
  • British pound sterling
  • Swiss franc
  • Japanese yen

If you want to fund your Kraken account using fiat currencies, your deposit options and fees will vary based on the fiat currency that you use. For US dollar accounts, you can only deposit your funds using wire transfer. The fees for wire transfers vary based on the service provider, so check your anticipated costs carefully before transferring funds. 

Do note that while Kraken does support the purchase of crypto through a debit or credit card, this option is not currently available to US residents.

Cryptocurrencies Available on Kraken

Kraken currently supports trades on more than 50 cryptocurrencies, including:

  • Bitcoin
  • Bitcoin Cash
  • Ethereum
  • Litecoin
  • Dogecoin
  • Polkadot
  • Stellar Lumens

However, not all tradable cryptocurrencies on the platform are available for margin trading.

Kraken Features & Functionality

Kraken comes with several features out of the box, from a stellar trading platform to marking trading options and a good mobile app.

Minimum Deposit Varies by cryptocurrency
Trading Fees 0.00% to 0.26%
Number of Cryptocurrencies 50+
Supported Cryptocurrencies ZRX, AAVE, GHST, ALGO, ANKR, ANT, REP, REPV2, BAL, BNT, BAT, BTC, BCH, ADA, LINK, COMP, ATOM, CQT, CRV, DAI, DASH, MANA, DOGE, EWTENJ, MLN, EOS, ETH, ETC, FIL, FLOW, GNO, ICX, KAVA, KEEP, KSM, KNC, LSK, LTC, LPT, MKR, MINA, XRM, NANO, OCEAN, OMG, OXT, PAXG, DOT, MATIC, QTUM, REN, RARI, XRP, SRM, SC, SOL, XLM, STORJ, SUSHI, SNX, TBTC, USDT, XTZ, GRT, SAND, TRX, UNI, USDC, WAVES, YFI, ZEC
Supported Countries 170+ including USA, Canada and UK
Account Types Available Taxable
Apps Mobile (iOS / Android)
Promotion None
Support Live chat support

Kraken Trading Platform

If you’re looking to buy or sell crypto with Kraken, you’ll head over to the Kraken Trading Platform, which you can find online or in the app.

Then, the easiest way to buy crypto on the platform is to use the Instant Buy feature. This function lets you enter a fiat currency value (e.g., $100), to exchange for any supported crypto.

Or, you can place market or limit orders for supported currencies on the platform. The platform also provides limited market data for supported cryptocurrencies to help you determine when you should buy or sell assets in your portfolio.

Kraken Cryptocurrency Futures

As one of the world’s first crypto futures-enabled platforms, Kraken allows for futures trading on some of its supported cryptocurrencies, such as USD-Bitcoin. Fees are minimal on Kraken Cryptocurrency Futures with costs as low as 0.01% for takers based on your 30-day trading volume.

However, Kraken Cryptocurrency Futures are not currently available to US residents. You must also have an Intermediate or Pro verified account to be able to access crypto futures.

Kraken Futures Trading
Source: Kraken

Kraken Staking

Kraken offers crypto staking support for account holders through Kraken Staking. The service lets account holders transfer stakeable crypto (there are about 10 stakeable currencies) to their Kraken Staking Wallet. 

Then, so long as you keep your staked crypto in your Kraken Staking Wallet, you’ll earn rewards of 0.25% to 12% paid out twice weekly on all your staked assets.

Do note that off-chain staking is not currently available to US residents or residents of many other countries. However, most investors are eligible for on-chain staking.

Kraken OTC Desk

Kraken’s OTC Desk is an innovative way to conduct large crypto transactions without having to place trades on the public exchange. 

This service gives investors one-on-one support from an experienced trader during a direct OTC transaction. Fees are also generally much lower when using the OTC Desk rather than the regular Kraken Trading Platform.

The catch? The minimum Kraken OTC trade size is $100,000. But, the Kraken OTC Desk can be a nice choice for high net-worth individuals.

Margin Trading

Kraken allows investors to leverage their account balance to trade crypto using margin investing. With Kraken, you can leverage up to five times your account value and access up to $500,000 in funds to trade more than one dozen cryptocurrencies, like Bitcoin. 

Margin trading with Kraken does incur some fees. This includes the usual trade fee, plus an opening fee of about 0.02% of the position balance. You’ll then be charged 0.02% of the position balance every four hours until you close your position.

Kraken Margin Trading
Source: Kraken

Cryptowatch

For advanced crypto traders, Kraken offers Cryptowatch, a premium trading terminal. With Cryptowatch, traders get access to real-time market data for dozens of exchanges, such as Gemini, Binance.com, and Coinbase Pro.

Cryptowatch offers premium, real-time charting features. Advanced traders can trade on the platform for free, too. This makes Cryptowatch a cost-effective, albeit complex, way to trade crypto for experienced traders.

Mobile App

For a quick way to place trades from anywhere, Kraken offers the Kraken, Kraken Pro, and Kraken Futures apps. These apps are available on Google Play and the Apple App Store and they have high ratings on both platforms. 

However, the standard Kraken app is not yet available in the US, so US traders have to place mobile transactions from Kraken Pro, which doesn’t support Instant Buys.

Kraken Mobile Apps
Source: Kraken

Kraken Pricing & Fees

Like many exchanges, Kraken’s fee structure is complicated. Since the company’s fees vary by country, we’ll focus on fees for US account holders.

Funding Fees

As we’ve mentioned, there are different fees associated with funding your account that depend on the wire transfer service you use. Those fees are not controlled by Kraken, though, so confirm them before transferring funds.

Deposit Method/Processor Deposit Minimum Deposit Fee
FedWire (MVB Bank) $1 Free
FedWire (Signature Bank) $1 Free
FedWire (Silvergate) $100 $10
FedWire (Etana Custody) $150 Free
FedWire (Synapse) $20 $5
Cryptocurrency Deposit/Withdrawal Varies by currency Varies by currency

Instant Buy Fees

Kraken Instant Buy transactions made using US dollars or stablecoins have a 0.9% fee. Meanwhile, buying crypto using your current crypto assets incurs a fee of 1.5% per purchase.

Kraken Fee Payment Card Processing Fee Online Banking Processing Fee
0.9% fee for any stablecoins 3.75% + €0.25 0.5%
1.5% fee for any other crypto or FX pair 3.75% + €0.25 0.5%

Trading Fees

If you trade crypto using the Kraken Pro app or online platform, you’ll be charged a fee using a maker-taker fee schedule. With a maker-taker fee schedule, people who create market liquidity with limit orders are makers. Meanwhile, people who remove market liquidity with market orders are takers.

Fees with Kraken vary from 0.16% to 0% per trade based on the trade’s value and whether you’re a maker or taker. Low-value taker trades pay higher fees while high-value maker trades pay lower fees.

30-Day Volume (USD) Maker Fee Taker Fee
$0 - $50,000 0.16% 0.26%
$50,001 - $100,000 0.14% 0.24%
$100,001 - $250,000 0.12% 0.22%
$250,001 - $500,000 0.10% 0.20%
$500,001 - $1,000,000 0.08% 0.18%
$1,000,001 - $2,500,000 0.06% 0.16%
$2,500,001 - $5,000,000 0.04% 0.14%
$5,000,001 - $10,000,000 0.02% 0.12%
$10,000,000+ 0.00% 0.10%

Stablecoin & FX Pairs

This fee schedule applies to FX pairs (EUR/USD) and where a stablecoin is the base currency (USDT/USD, DAI/USDT, etc.).

30-Day Volume (USD) Maker Fee Taker Fee
$0 - $50,000 0.20% 0.20%
$50,001 - $100,000 0.16% 0.16%
$100,001 - $250,000 0.12% 0.12%
$250,001 - $500,000 0.08% 0.08%
$500,001 - $1,000,000 0.04% 0.04%
$1,000,000+ 0.00% 0.00%

Other Account Fees

Other than the fees listed above, Kraken does not directly charge fees to account holders. They do not charge for account maintenance, staking crypto, transferring funds to your futures wallet, or for trades placed on the Kraken OTC Desk.

Kraken Security & Insurance

If you’re going to invest in crypto, you must use a secure exchange. So, here’s a quick look at Kraken’s security and insurance policies.

Security

With Kraken, 95% of account holder’s crypto deposits are kept in offline storage that’s distributed around the world to reduce the risk of successful hacking attacks or physical theft. 

Kraken has a dedicated security team to ensure the system is ready to fend off hackers. The firm also uses two-factor authentication to keep your account secure. Furthermore, Kraken has a high-priority 24/7 live chat function that can help you get support at any time for security concerns.

Insurance

Funds held with Kraken are not FDIC-insured. But, this is true of all cryptocurrencies in the US as crypto is not currently eligible for FDIC insurance.

Additionally, while the company doesn’t have dedicated insurance for their client’s crypto holdings, they do state that they are a crypto exchange, not a crypto wallet. As a result, they generally recommend transferring your funds to your personal wallet for safekeeping.

Kraken Customer Support

If you need customer support, Kraken has a dedicated support team at the ready. The firm has a customer service team that operates all day, every day, even on weekends, holidays, and evenings.

You can always access the company’s online help pages, which have answers to most questions. Additionally, the firm operates a live chat function both online and in the app.

However, it’s worth noting that Kraken doesn’t currently have a customer service phone line, so email and live chat are your only support options.

Kraken Live Support
Source: Kraken

Kraken Pros

  • Available in more than 150 countries
  • Great security features
  • Dedicated customer support line for security concerns
  • Support for multiple fiat currencies
  • Quick and easy to make an account
  • Offers margin and futures trading
  • Relatively low fees, even for Instant Buy transactions

Kraken Cons

  • Complicated fiat currency funding options
  • Only supports wire transfer for US account holders
  • Deposit fees can be fairly high for some currencies
  • Eligibility for features depends on the country of residence
  • Many features not available to US residents
  • No phone-based customer support

Kraken Alternatives

Not sure that Kraken is right for you? Here are two other excellent exchanges to consider:

Coinbase

If you want an easy-to-use crypto exchange, Coinbase is a sure bet. One of the largest US-based exchanges, Coinbase prides itself on making crypto investing as easy as possible.

The service has a sleek user interface that allows you to buy and sell crypto with ease. It also offers a slew of other features that are hard to find elsewhere, like a crypto-backed debit card and the ability to earn free crypto by taking educational courses.

However, Coinbase’s ease of use comes with high fees, which can stymie more experienced investors. Nevertheless, if you’re okay with paying for convenience, Coinbase is a solid exchange for newer crypto traders. Read our full Coinbase review to learn more.

Gemini

Gemini is a relative newcomer to the world of crypto exchanges, but it’s quickly made a name for itself as a user- and security-centric exchange.

The firm’s defining feature is its elegant interface that provides enhanced functionality for traders of all experience levels. Gemini also offers a crypto credit card and a way to earn interest on your assets. They even have crypto storage options with insurance and security features that are second to none.

Like Coinbase, Gemini’s fees are higher than Kraken’s. But if you want an exchange that can also double as a solid online wallet while offering additional features for advanced traders, Gemini is a great choice. Read our full Gemini review to learn more.

Who is Kraken Best For?

Due to its plethora of advanced features and low fees, Kraken is a solid exchange for experienced crypto traders that want to keep costs relatively low. Furthermore, Kraken’s quality margin and futures trading options are rare in the crypto world, making the platform a superb option for advanced traders.

However, Kraken’s complex fee and funding structures as well as its complicated investing options might make it a bit too difficult to use for some newer investors. Additionally, the fact that the platform has limited availability in the US and many other countries reduces its usefulness for some would-be account holders. 

But if you live in a supported country and you want advanced crypto trading features, Kraken might be a great exchange for you.

Kraken FAQ

Here are our answers to some of your most commonly asked questions about Kraken:

Is Kraken Good for Beginners?

Kraken is an okay option for beginner traders who are interested in learning about crypto investing. However, its fees, funding options, and investing offerings are complex, which can overwhelm new investors. But, if you’re willing to do some research, it’s a solid choice.

Is Kraken Better than Coinbase?

Since Kraken and Coinbase are designed for different kinds of crypto investors, neither is wholly better than the other. In general, Coinbase is best for newer investors who are okay with paying a higher fee for convenience. Meanwhile, Kraken is best for advanced investors who want to take advantage of low-cost and powerful trading features.

Has Kraken Ever Been Hacked?

As of 2021, Kraken has never experienced a successful platform-wide hacking attack. However, individual accounts on the platform have been compromised, often as a result of improper password storage.

Is Kraken Safe and Legit?

Kraken is a legitimate cryptocurrency exchange with a track record of security. While it is possible to lose money while investing in crypto, Kraken is one of the most reputable exchanges in the world.

In A Nutshell

  • Minimum Deposit: Varies by currency
  • Fees: 0.00% to 0.26% of the order total
  • Promotion: None

on Kraken’s website

Final Thoughts

If you’re looking for an exchange that can support you as you build your crypto portfolio, Kraken is well worth considering. The platform’s powerful trading tools and advanced investing features, like margin and futures trading, make it the exchange of choice for experienced investors.

Of course, Kraken’s convoluted fee and funding options as well as its limited offerings in the US do pose problems for some traders. But if getting the most comprehensive trading platform possible is your goal, it’s hard to go wrong with Kraken.

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