Kraken Crypto Exchange Review [2021]: Lots to Offer, But Is It Right for You?

Kraken is one of the more popular cryptocurrency exchanges that allows you to trade over 50 digital assets.
Last updated Aug 11, 2021 | By Lance Cothern | Edited By Jess Ullrich
Man tracking crypto prices

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Cryptocurrency continues growing in popularity as more people get exposed to the concept and consider investing in it. Once you understand how cryptocurrency works, you might decide you want to invest in it, too.

If you want to start trading crypto, you may want to use a cryptocurrency exchange to facilitate transactions. You have several options to choose from, including Kraken.

In this Kraken crypto exchange review, we’ll help you determine if this platform could be a good fit for you.

Quick Summary

Kraken has everything you need to buy and trade cryptocurrencies.

  • Over 50+ assets and counting
  • Guides to help you learn about investing in crypto
  • Cold storage and advanced security features
In this Kraken review:

What is Kraken?

Kraken, founded in 2011 by Jesse Powell, claims to be one of the oldest and largest Bitcoin exchanges in the world. It also offers around 50 other cryptocurrencies. Its worldwide headquarters is located in San Francisco, California.

According to David Kinitsky, Kraken Bank CEO, Kraken had nearly 7 million clients in early 2021. The company has raised funding from several investors, including Digital Currency Group, Blockchain Capital, and Trammell Ventures. Kraken is regulated by the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCen), an arm of the U.S. Treasury that analyzes data on financial transactions.

Kraken

Mobile app Android, iOS
Fees Might charge the following fees:
  • Funding fees: vary by currency and funding source
  • Trading fees: 0% to .26% of the value of your order
  • Instant buy fees: .9% to 1.5%, depending on your purchase
  • Margin-related fees: .01% to .02%, depending on currency
Available cryptocurrencies
  • Bitcoin (BTC)
  • Bitcoin Cash (BCH)
  • Ethereum (ETH)
  • Litecoin (LTC)
  • Tether (USDT)
  • Cardano (ANA)
  • Ripple (XRP)
  • USD Coin (USDC)
  • Dogecoin (DOGE)
  • Polkadot (DOT)
  • Uniswap (UNI) *More than 50 coins available
Buy/deposit methods
  • Bank transfer
  • Debit card, credit card, bank transfer for EUR
Sell/withdrawal methods Withdraw to bank account
Order types
  • Limit
  • Market
  • Stop loss limit
  • Stop loss market
  • Take profit market
  • Take profit limit
  • Bracket
  • Trigger entry
  • Maker only
  • Immediate or cancel
  • Reduce only
Other features Charting tools, margin trading, futures
Best for... People interested in trading cryptocurrencies supported by Kraken.
Visit Kraken

What does Kraken offer?

Kraken is one of the best cryptocurrency exchanges and allows you to buy and sell over 50 cryptocurrencies, though the total number you can invest in might vary based on your location. You can trade using its iOS and Android apps or on the web.

People learning how to buy cryptocurrency can use Kraken’s resources to learn more about the process. It offers plenty of information to explain cryptocurrency for beginners. If you feel comfortable with the idea of investing in cryptocurrency, its exchange supports many popular digital assets, including:

  • Bitcoin (BTC)
  • Ethereum (ETH)
  • Tether (USDT)
  • Cardano (ANA)
  • Ripple (XRP)
  • USD Coin (USDC)
  • Dogecoin (DOGE)
  • Polkadot (DOT)
  • Uniswap (UNI)

In general, people who want to start investing money in cryptocurrency should be aware that this tends to be a volatile asset class. Prices of digital assets might swing wildly over short periods.

What fees does Kraken charge?

When you buy cryptocurrency on Kraken, you pay a .9% fee for stable coins or a 1.5% fee for other cryptocurrencies or FX pairs. Using an online bank to fund a purchase results in an additional .5% fee.

Kraken Pro, its real-time crypto trading platform, also charges maker or taker fees based on a user’s trade volume over the past 30 days. Most people will fall in the $0 to $50,000 volume category, which has fees of .16% for maker transactions and .26% for taker transactions.

For people interested in leveraged trading, or using margin trading, Kraken offers this for a fee. Its fees start as low as a .01% opening fee and .01% rollover fee per four hours. The cost depends on the cryptocurrency traded. U.S. clients are limited to a 28-day maximum term.

Kraken also offers cryptocurrency futures trading. Fees for this service for users with a 30-day volume of $100,000 or less are .02% for maker transactions and .05% for taker transactions.

Additional features on Kraken

In addition to margin and futures trading, you can also choose to stake your cryptocurrency with Kraken, allowing you to potentially earn rewards twice per week from the exchange. The rewards vary based on the coin or currency staked. Some coins require a bonding period, so read the details of the coin you’re considering staking before doing so.

Kraken also offers Cryptowatch, which allows you to monitor and make trades on multiple exchanges. You can set alerts, such as price and volume alerts, and analyze data using visualizations. This tool could help you find cryptocurrency investments that align with your goals.

As any cryptocurrency exchange should, Kraken takes security and privacy seriously. In addition to standard security features, such as two-factor authentication, it has a dedicated security team, servers located in secure cages under surveillance by armed guards, and data encryption. It also does penetration testing to help prevent hacking incidents and keeps 95% of all deposits offline in cold storage at many different locations.

Pros and cons of Kraken

Pros of Kraken

  • Many cryptocurrencies offered: Over 50 cryptocurrencies to choose from
  • Many fiat currencies supported: Supports seven fiat currencies, including U.S. dollar (USD), Euro (EUR), Canadian dollar (CAD), Australian dollar (AUD), Pound sterling (GBP), Swiss franc (CHF), and Japanese yen (JPY)
  • Cryptowatch: Offers charting tools and allows you to monitor and make trades on multiple exchanges
  • Staking: Enables you to potentially earn rewards twice per week
  • Security: Dedicated security team, servers located in secure cages under surveillance by armed guards, data encryption, cold storage, and penetration testing, among other security features

Cons of Kraken

  • Fees: Kraken’s maker and taker fees are higher than some of its competitors, including Binance.
  • Deposit timing: Deposits take 0-1 business day via most wire transfer methods, but any delay can be a disadvantage if you need funds to take advantage of an opportunity.
  • Debit and credit card deposits not supported: Kraken does not accept cash, debit or credit cards, PayPal, or other similar services for USD deposits.

Who can open an account with Kraken?

Kraken has two requirements to open an account: You must be at least 18 years old and live in a supported area. The U.S. is a support area in general, but the states of Washington and New York are not supported at this time.

Express level account verification, which takes less than a minute, is not available in Texas or for U.S. territory residents. However, starter level verification is allowed in these areas. Certain countries offer no service, such as Afghanistan and North Korea. Others offer restricted service, such as Mali and Yemen.

Kraken may be a good fit for people looking to invest in one of the many cryptocurrencies it offers. In general, people looking to invest in cryptocurrency should have a high risk tolerance due to this asset’s volatility. Kraken’s staking, margin trading, and Cryptowatch features may also appeal to more advanced cryptocurrency traders.

How much can you earn with Kraken?

How much you earn with Kraken depends on several factors, including which cryptocurrencies you decide to invest in, when you buy, and when you sell.

Investing is risky, especially when you consider investing in alternative assets such as cryptocurrency. There is no guarantee that cryptocurrencies will increase in value or even exist in the future. Ensure you understand the risks involved and have an investment plan before you invest with Kraken or any other cryptocurrency exchange.

FAQs about Kraken

Is Kraken legitimate?

Kraken is a legitimate cryptocurrency exchange that was founded in 2011. It pairs clients who want to buy and sell cryptocurrencies to facilitate the exchanges. Kraken, however, is not a cryptocurrency wallet, bank, broker, investment fund, advisor, or shop.

Kraken complies with legal and regulatory requirements where it operates and is regulated by FinCen in the U.S. The company has a physical location at 237 Kearny Street #102, San Francisco, California, 94108, and also has other locations worldwide.

Can you lose money on Kraken?

As with any investment, the investments you make on Kraken could result in you losing money. Investing is risky, and although it might provide positive returns, there’s a chance your investments could decrease in value, as well. If you’re looking for a place to store money without the risk of loss, consider a bank account insured by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp.

Which fiat currencies does Kraken support?

Kraken allows you to deposit and use the following fiat currencies on its platform:

  • U.S. dollar (USD)
  • Euro (EUR)
  • Canadian dollar (CAD)
  • Australian dollar (AUD)
  • Pound sterling (GBP)
  • Swiss franc (CHF)
  • Japanese yen (JPY)

How to open a Kraken account

Opening a Kraken account is easy. You have to supply an email address, create a password, and provide your location. Then, Kraken requires you to verify your email address to move forward.

You have to provide additional information before buying and selling cryptocurrency on the platform, though. That information will vary based on the verification level you choose. Kraken offers four verification levels: Starter, Express, Intermediate, and Pro. Each offers different features and trading limits, and the right option for you will depend on how you plan to use the platform and how much you plan to invest. Some levels may require you to share more information or supporting documents.

For instance, express verification requires that you provide your name, address, date of birth, and the last four digits of your Social Security number. However, with intermediate verification, you must provide your full Social Security number, an identity document such as a driver’s license or passport, and other information.

Once you’ve completed the verification process, you can start buying and selling cryptocurrency on Kraken.

Other platforms to consider

Kraken won’t be the perfect cryptocurrency exchange for everyone learning how to buy Bitcoin. If you’re looking for other options, you may want to consider Coinbase or Coinbase Pro. Both platforms are run by the same company and allow you to buy, sell, or trade over 50 cryptocurrencies. Coinbase even offers automatically scheduled recurring purchases.

Read our comparison to learn more about Coinbase vs.Coinbase Pro.

Another option worth considering is Binance. Binance is the largest cryptocurrency exchange in the world based on 24-hour volume. It manages 1.4 million transactions per second and generally offers lower maker and taker fees on spot trading transactions than Kraken.

Finally, if cryptocurrency isn’t for you and you prefer to invest in more traditional assets, consider checking out our list of the best investment apps.

Kraken Benefits

  • Everything you need to buy, sell, and trade crypto
  • Crypto guides help get you up to speed
  • Crypto is held safely in cold wallets so bad actors can't reach it

Author Details

Lance Cothern Lance Cothern, CPA is a personal finance writer and founder of MoneyManifesto.com. Lance's work covering several personal finance topics has been published in U.S. News & World Report, Business Insider, Credit Karma, Investopedia, and several other publications.