Kraken Cryptocurrency Exchange Review
By: Ofir Beigel | Last updated: 11/21/23
Kraken is a fast-growing US-based exchange and one of the oldest cryptocurrency exchanges around, having been founded in 2011. In this post, I will review the exchange, its different services, supported countries and currencies, and answer users’ most common questions.
Kraken Review Summary
Kraken is a veteran US-based cryptocurrency exchange that provides an advanced trading platform, complete with margin trading and OTC options.
Previously scorned for the platform’s instability, Kraken has since revamped its service with a focus on security and customer support. Kraken also offers some very competitive trading fees.
That’s Kraken in a nutshell. For a more detailed review, keep on reading. Here’s what I’ll cover:
- Kraken Overview
- Kraken Services
- Currencies and Payment Methods
- Kraken Fees
- Supported Countries
- Customer Support and Reviews
- Kraken vs. Coinbase
- Frequently Asked Questions
- Conclusion – Is Kraken Legit?
Founded by Jesse Powell in 2011, Kraken is known for its low transaction fees, a wide range of features, and overall security. Following the bankruptcy of former Bitcoin exchange Mt. Gox in 2014, the Kraken platform assisted in processing claims.
Kraken operates across the United States (with the exception of Washington state and New York) and Canada, as well as Australia, New Zealand, numerous countries in Asia, and in the European Union.
Since the exchange was launched, it has raised over $130M in funding. Kraken boasts about its high liquidity, industry-leading security measures, and 24/7 live customer support.
Kraken holds full reserves of its customer funds. Kraken employs an independent, cryptographically verified audit in order to prove to third parties and the exchange’s customers that funds are properly held.
Kraken shut down its San Francisco headquarters in April 2022, citing local crime levels. However, it continues to operate as a US-based entity.
Kraken offers its customers an advanced trading platform that provides spot trading, as well as margin and futures trading, for more experienced users. Kraken offers two different trading platforms – Kraken and Kraken Pro.
The main Kraken platform is easy to use and is perfect for beginners. It allows you to quickly and easily buy cryptocurrency using a linked bank account, debit card, or credit card (depending on region) and just as easily exchange between different cryptocurrencies.
Kraken Pro is a trading platform aimed at more experienced users with more detailed charts and tools. This includes the ability to use technical indicators and compare up to four markets at once. Multiple order types are also available, including stop-loss orders, take-profit orders, immediate or cancel (IOC) orders, reduce-only, and more.
In addition, Kraken Pro enables users to customize the entire user interface to arrange their own trading setup, as well as track their entire portfolio in one place. Users can toggle easily between spot trading, margin trading, and staking features for easy asset management.
The Kraken Pro platform is also available as a mobile app (on iOS and Android) for those who wish to trade on the go.
Anyone with a Kraken account can use Kraken Pro, so you don’t need to sign up separately if you already have a Kraken account.
Kraken Futures is a derivatives platform by Kraken, available on Kraken Pro, which allows users to speculate on cryptocurrencies without actually purchasing or selling them. These contracts provide the ability for more complex trading strategies, including long or short positions with up to 50x leverage.
Futures positions on Kraken are “multi-collateral,” meaning you can collateralize your positions with cash, cryptocurrencies, or stablecoins.
Kraken OTC Desk
For high-volume trades (over $100K), Kraken offers over-the-counter (OTC) services with a 1-on-1 service. Additionally, frequent high-volume traders can receive a dedicated account manager to take care of their trading needs. The OTC Portal can be accessed through Kraken Pro.
As mentioned earlier, Kraken also provides a staking service that allows non-US users to earn a return on assets that would be otherwise held and unused by its users. It is easy to get started with staking, and after just a few clicks, you can earn up to 26% annually on your crypto. Rewards are automatically paid out twice a week, and unlike other staking services, with Kraken, you can instantly unstake your crypto whenever you like – without having to pay a penalty.
Kraken accepts the following fiat currencies:
- Euros (EUR)
- US dollars (USD)
- Canadian dollars (CAD)
- Australian dollars (AUD)
- British pound (GBP)
- Swiss franc (CHF)
Deposits and withdrawals can be made via SEPA, SWIFT, wire, and domestic transfers. In almost all cases, deposits and withdrawals can be expected to take 1–5 business days.
In my experience, the average deposit takes as little as 24 hours. It’s free to deposit most of the accepted cryptocurrencies, but there’s a small address setup fee in a few cases.
With regard to fiat deposits, CAD and SEPA deposits are free, making Kraken particularly convenient if you’re in the European Union and your location is on the list of SEPA countries.
USA users (except in NY, WA & TX) may link their bank accounts to fund their Kraken accounts with USD via bank transfer (ACH) with no fee.
The full fee schedule list can be found on Kraken’s website.
In terms of cryptocurrencies, Kraken currently supports more than 200 different coins, including all the major cryptos:
- Bitcoin (BTC)
- Ethereum (ETH)
- Tether (USDT)
- Solana (SOL)
- Polkadot (DOT)
- Cardano (ADA)
- Chainlink (LINK)
- Dogecoin (DOGE)
- Litecoin (LTC)
- Ripple (XRP)
Here is the full list of Kraken’s supported cryptos and currency pairs.
The fees on Kraken depend on the platform you use and also on the type of transaction you are making. Kraken advertises having fees as low as 0%.
When using Kraken for instant buy/sell, the fees consist of a displayed fee and, where applicable, a spread, which is included in the price. Fees may differ depending on the selected payment method (e.g., account balance, card, ACH). Spreads may be determined based on a combination of factors, including market conditions, specific assets, order size, type of trade, participation in Kraken’s VIP program, and trading and custodial activity.
Fees on Kraken Pro are a lot lower and more competitive with other platforms. The type of fee will depend on whether you are a maker or a taker. Makers, who add liquidity to the exchange, pay a lower fee than takers, who take away liquidity from the exchange.
Trading fees start at 0.26% and decrease according to your 30-day trading volume, as well as whether you submit a maker or taker order. Fees can get as low as 0.00% for the highest volume of users.
The complete Kraken fee schedule can be viewed here.
Kraken is available in more than 190 countries worldwide. With the amount of services Kraken offers to its users, though, they aren’t all available in every country. Staking, for example, is not open to US users. Kraken accepts US traders, except for residents of Washington State (WA) and New York (NY).
The countries and jurisdictions that are sanctioned and not allowed to use Kraken’s platform whatsoever include:
- North Korea
Kraken’s list of supported countries and which services are offered can be viewed here.
Kraken’s website features an extensive support guide, which covers everything from verifying your account to trading. In most cases, you’ll find what you’re looking for there.
However, in the event that you do need support, you can always submit a support ticket or talk with a live rep via the site’s built-in chat, as well as 24/7 phone support.
The general consensus online is that Kraken’s main strengths lie in its low fees, advanced features, and strong security. While Kraken certainly has its advantages, it does have its share of criticism, receiving a “poor” grade on Trustpilot.
To counter this, Kraken is also the third-highest-rated exchange on CoinMarketCap.com, behind only Binance and Coinbase.
Overall, it seems that since the site was revamped some time ago, the level of support and platform stability has improved significantly.
I found many similarities when comparing Kraken to another major US-based exchange, Coinbase.
Both exchanges offer multiple features, with separate sections for beginners and experienced users. They both also have a pretty similar fee structure and available services (OTC, margin trading, account management, and futures).
One key difference would probably be in terms of support – where Kraken seems to be putting a lot more emphasis than Coinbase. Overall, if your desired coin is listed on both, it seems that there isn’t much of a difference between these two exchanges.
You can read my complete Coinbase review here.
Kraken takes its security and the safety of its customers’ assets very seriously. Kraken periodically works with external auditors who perform Proof of Reserve audits which allow users to verify their balances are backed by real assets. Users can log into their accounts and verify their assets are backed in just a few clicks. Kraken’s crypto infrastructure resides in secure cages under 24/7 surveillance by armed guards, alarm systems, and video monitors. For more information on Kraken’s security practices, visit their in-depth security guide.
Kraken offers its users access to over 200 different cryptocurrencies. All of the most popular coins are available to trade on Kraken, including Bitcoin (BTC), Ethereum (ETH), Tether (USDT), Solana (SOL), Polkadot (DOT), Dogecoin (DOGE), and plenty of others. Check out their list of cryptocurrencies available on Kraken.
Kraken accepts fiat deposits in the following currencies: the US dollar (USD), euro (EUR), Canadian dollar (CAD), Australian dollar (AUD), British pound (GBP), and the Swiss franc (CHF). Fedwire, SWIFT, ACH, Etana Custody, wire transfer, and SEPA are all available options, depending on which country you are from. Users can also make instant purchases with debit and credit cards (not available in the US), as well as through their digital wallet via Apple Pay or Google Pay in the Kraken app. If you already own crypto assets, you can deposit them into your Kraken account and be ready to trade in under 10 minutes.
Kraken offers a robust support center and guide directly on their website. The answers to most questions can be found here. There are guides on how to get verified, the difference between Kraken and Kraken Pro, deposit and withdrawal options, and more. If you do, however, want to speak directly with Kraken customer support, they offer live chat and 24/7 phone support.
It’s fair to say that Kraken is an option well worth considering, thanks to its excellent security features and low transaction fees. Kraken is ideal for both crypto newbies as well as seasoned traders, thanks to its separate platforms being tailored toward different audiences.
This veteran Bitcoin exchange has gained a considerable reputation over the years and doesn’t seem to be going anywhere anytime soon. In fact, Kraken has recently progressed its European expansion by securing an EU E-Money License. They have also recently gained considerable traction in Ireland and Spain.
Have you used Kraken yourself? I’d love to hear about your experience in the comment section below.