Kraken is a popular cryptocurrency exchange offering competitive pricing and a wide range of cryptocurrency products for casual crypto investors and active traders alike.
It supports more than 50 currencies for spot trading, with a limited set available for staking and futures trading.
Here’s a more comprehensive look at Kraken so you can decide if it’s the right choice for your crypto investing and trading goals.
Crypto Exchange And Staking Platform
Varies By Token
Up to 1.5%
Pros And Cons
What Is Kraken?
Kraken is a cryptocurrency exchange and financial product provider. It offers features similar to an online stockbroker but for cryptocurrencies instead of stocks. Kraken enables users to buy and trade currencies like Bitcoin, Ethereum, and dozens of others.
The basic cryptocurrency purchase form at Kraken
The mix of features and tools makes Kraken a good choice for beginner to advanced crypto investors and traders. Some very advanced users may find certain currencies missing from the trading list. But overall, it’s a good choice for the crypto curious and crypto enthusiasts alike.
Main Kraken Features
Kraken uses fun branding, such as the message preparing to “release the Kraken” while loading. Here are the main features at Kraken:
Cryptocurrency Spot Trading
Buy and sell more than 50 currencies with an account funded in US dollars, or convert between many more cryptocurrency pairs.
Staking your cryptocurrency is similar to depositing in a savings account. There are ten currencies on the staking list:
Rewards rates range from 4% to 20%, depending on the currency.
Futures are a trading tool that allows you to bet on the future price of a currency.
Kraken currently supports futures trading for Bitcoin, Ethereum, Litecoin, Bitcoin Cash, and Ripple. Futures rates start at 0.2% for makers and 0.05% for takers with lower fees at higher trading volumes.
Cryptocurrency exchanges do not widely support futures. So this feature may be a draw for advanced crypto investors. However, futures are an advanced trading tool and are not suitable for most crypto investors.
This advanced trading feature gives users up to 5x leverage when buying or selling currencies. As with futures trading, margin trading is a high-risk trading strategy and is not suitable for most traders.
Margin fees are charged every four hours, and there’s a higher risk for losses. So only use this feature if you're very sure that you know what you’re doing.
Family offices, hedge funds, and other institutional investors can use Kraken for large trades or assistance from an OTC trading desk.
The list of currencies available for staking and their rewards rates (as of 11/11/2021)
Kraken Trading Platforms
In addition to a simple purchase form, you can trade using Kraken’s basic order forms, save money on fees trading with Kraken Pro, or use either to trade on mobile.
Basic Kraken Trading Platform
When logged in at Kraken.com, you can trade through an advanced or straightforward entry form. The basic form supports market and limit orders to buy or sell any supported currency. This is the easiest way to buy or sell crypto for beginners and newer investors.
The simple cryptocurrency purchase form on Kraken
The advanced form opens up additional advanced order types, conditional close rules, leverage, order time, and order expiration.
Kraken Pro Active Trading Platform
We recommend Kraken Pro if you’re going to use Kraken for active trading, as it comes with the lowest fees and best features.
Kraken Pro includes active charting tools (not the most advanced around, but pretty good among online crypto trading platforms), watchlists, order books, and advanced trading entry forms.
The default view for Bitcoin on Kraken Pro’s browser-based platform
Charts include basic analysis tools, multiple chart types, chart drawings, and other flexible features.
When on the go, you can use either the Kraken app or Kraken Pro app to monitor your account and enter trades. Most users will want both apps available so you can handle any trading or staking need with a few taps on the screen.
You can find and download the mobile apps through links in your Kraken account or through your phone or tablet’s app store.
Kraken Pricing And Fees
Fees vary based on the platform you use and how you fund your cryptocurrency purchase.
Main Kraken Platform Pricing
Fees are 1.5% for most cryptocurrencies and foreign currencies, with a lower 0.9% rate for buying and selling stablecoins.
When buying crypto from a connected bank account, you’ll pay 0.5%. When using a card or digital crypto wallet, you’ll pay a little more than 3.75%.
Kraken Pro Pricing
Using Kraken Pro, most traders will pay either a 0.16% maker fee or 0.26% taker fee. If your total trading volume for the month is more than $50,000, costs steadily decline to as low as zero for those trading $10,000,000 or more.
How Does Kraken Compare?
Regardless of whether you're more focused on features or fees, Kraken's basic platform doesn't offer too much to get excited about. But Kraken Pro includes a ton of advanced trading features and its trade fees are competitive.
If you're a new cryptocurrency investor, you might want to go with a platform that's known for being beginner-friendly like Coinbase or Gemini. Experienced traders, meanwhile, should compare Kraken Pro with other trader-focused platforms like Binance.
Check out this quick comparison table:
Up to 1.50%
Up to 1.49%
Fee For Card Payments
3.75% + €0.25
Trust Wallet is the platform's official wallet
Security And Customer Service
In my one interaction with Kraken customer service, I received speedy and polite responses. That said, online reviews from past and current users share some frustration with customer support, including slow responses and held deposits. Some have even experienced hacked accounts, where cybercriminals stole their entire balance.
Customer service is notoriously bad among most cryptocurrency exchanges. Most only offer self-service options. But Kraken is one of the few exchanges that actually does publish a phone number. Account holders can call 1-888-871-2573, Monday through Friday 4 AM - 8 PM (EST), to speak with a customer support representative.
When using Kraken or any other financial account, follow best practices for online security. That includes using a unique password not used for any other online account and multifactor authentication, ideally using an app like Authy, Google Authenticator, or Microsoft Authenticator.
Is Kraken Right For You?
Kraken does an excellent job of providing an assortment of features and low fees for cryptocurrency investors and traders. While it could do a little better with its list of supported currencies for trading and staking, it includes many of the most in-demand currencies on its trading platform.
Kraken is a good choice for many crypto traders to house their entire cryptocurrency portfolio or could be used as an additional trading account for lower fees on the most popular coins. You can sign up for an account for free to look behind the curtains and give it a try.
Crypto exchange and staking platform
Varies by coin
Supported Coins For Staking
Basic platform: Up to 1.50%
Pro: Up to 0.26%
Card Payment Fees
3.75% + €0.25
Mostly free, but minimums do apply
Varies by coin
Supported Payment Types
Aside from your password, account security enhancements include:
Mobile App Availability
Android and iOS
Web/Desktop Account Access
Customer Support Options
Phone, live chat, contact form, and helpdesk FAQ
Eric Rosenberg is a financial writer, speaker, and consultant based in Ventura, California. He holds an undergraduate finance degree from the University of Colorado and an MBA in finance from the University of Denver. After working as a bank manager and then nearly a decade in corporate finance and accounting, Eric left the corporate world for full-time online self-employment. His work has been featured in online publications including Business Insider, Nerdwallet, Investopedia, The Balance, HuffPo, Investor Junkie, and other fine financial blogs and publications. When away from the computer, he enjoys spending time with his wife and three children, traveling the world, and tinkering with technology. Connect with him and learn more at EricRosenberg.com.