Trying to find a reliable cryptocurrency exchange can be a challenge. It seems exchanges are being hacked every month. And with BTC hitting new highs almost every week, finding an exchange you can trust is critical.
Kraken seems to check all the necessary boxes for a reliable and secure crypto exchange. It is based in the U.S. and has never been hacked. Kraken allows you to trade directly from fiat currency to crypto. There are also 50+ cryptocurrencies available to trade in the U.S. In this article, we’ll provide an overview of what Kraken has to offer.
- One of the oldest and most secure cryptocurrency exchanges
- Pays rewards for staked coins
- Offers advanced tools like margin and futures trading
50+ in the U.S.
0% to 0.26%
Who Is Kraken?
Kraken is a cryptocurrency exchange. It was founded in July 2011 and is based in San Francisco, CA. It is one of the largest and oldest exchanges. Its founder is Jesse Powell. The company has raised $118 million in seed funding.
What Do They Offer?
Kraken allows you to exchange fiat currencies such as USD, Canadian Dollar, Euro, and GBP into cryptocurrency. You can also exchange from one cryptocurrency into another. There are over 90 cryptocurrencies available on Kraken for buying via fiat currency or exchanging, but 35+ of those tokens aren't currently supported in the U.S.
The Kraken platform just added support for two more cryptocurrencies: Ocean Protocol (OCEAN) and Energy Web Token (EWT). Both currencies can be deposited and traded as of March 3, 2021. However, it should be noted that U.S. and Canadian residents are currently unable to trade EWT.
Fiat Funding Options
Kraken has different methods available for funding your account with fiat. It uses companies that provide funds transfer services (similar to Plaid). Each has different minimums, maximums, and fees for funding the account.
You can also buy crypto using a credit card, but it's the most costly method. There is a 3.75% + €0.25 fee. To use fiat currency, you’ll need to complete KYC (know your customer) validation. KYC requires verification of your identity. After your account is opened, you can’t withdraw funds for 72 hours.
Once the account is funded with fiat, you can select a crypto to buy. There are coins that allow you to go from fiat to crypto directly (majors) and there are (alt) coins that you can only access through a major cryptocurrency. For example, if you want to invest in EOS, you can’t buy it using fiat currency. You’d have to buy BTC (Bitcoin) first or some other major crypto and then use that to trade into EOS.
One of the draws of Kraken is staking. This could let you earn rewards on the coins that are available in your wallet. Currently, there are 10 coins that can be staked. Rewards are paid out bi-weekly. The specific reward rate you earn will vary by coin, but currently ranges from 4% to 20%.
In the account section, you’ll find open orders and positions. You can place trades here as well, including market and limit orders. This area includes the basic web-based interface and Kraken Pro, which we’ll discuss shortly.
Once you’ve completed a trade, consider moving your cryptocurrency to a software or hardware wallet. To move money to your software wallet, you’ll withdraw from Kraken by providing your software wallet address. You’ll need to confirm your wallet via email for the first withdrawal. From then on, your wallet address will be available in Kraken.
Kraken Pro is available after you create a wallet. Kraken Pro is more polished than the basic web-based trading interface. It's similar to Coinbase Pro. It includes graphs, market depth, open orders and positions, and the ability to place trades.
Kraken Pro offers certain features that you won't find on even some of the most advanced platforms such as margin trading and crypto futures trading.
The Kraken Pro platform also offer lowers trade fees than many of its competitors. For example, while Coinbase Pro fees start at 0.50% and Gemini ActiveTrader fees start at 0.35%, Kraken Pro undercuts both by starting at just 0.26%.
Are There Any Fees?
Yes, the basic Kraken trading platform 0.90% for stablecoins and 1.49% on all other crypto pairs. You'll pay an additional 0.50% if you use a bank transfer (ACH) to fund the purchase or 3.75% + €0.25 if you pay with a card or digital wallet.
Kraken Pro uses a maker/taker fee structure that's much more competitive. Most traders will pay 0.16% on maker orders and 0.26% on taker orders. However, the rate for both decreases as your 30-day volume increases. Below are the 30-day volume-based rates for maker and taker:
Kraken Fee Structure
30-Day Volume (USD)
$0 - $50,000
$50,001 - $100,000
$100,001 - $250,000
$250,001 - $500,000
$500,001 - $1,000,000
$1,000,001 - $2,500,000
$2,500,001 - $5,000,000
$5,000,001 - $10,000,000
You’ll also run into various fees for depositing and withdrawing funds, depending on the method used.
How Does Kraken Compare?
If you live in the U.S. and maximum supported currencies is what you're after, you're probably better off choosing another exchange like Coinbase.
However, some advanced traders may find Kraken Pro's pricing or features to be preferable to other "Pro" platforms such as Coinbase Pro or Gemini ActiveTrader.
Check out this quick table to see how Kraken compares:
Up to 1.50%
Up to 1.49%
Up to 1.49%
Supported Currencies In The United States
How Do I Open An Account?
You can visit the Kraken website to open an account. You'll need to be at least 18 years of age to open an account and must live in one of Kraken's supported areas. Kraken also has a mobile app that's available in most countries.
Is My Money Safe?
Kraken has never been hacked and is considered a reliable crypto exchange. However, it's probably still best to move your crypto onto an off-site wallet.
Kraken provides various levels of protection for its users. It uses Google Authenticator 2FA for
Trading and Funding. There is also a Masterkey (Yubikey recommended) level of security. Masterkey is good in case you lose your phone or Yubikey.
Note: In testing, we experienced issues with Kraken's two-factor system with both Yukikey and Authenticator apps. You may get locked out of your account with these tools, which is a big issue. Hopefully Kraken resolves it, but be forewarned.
Global Settings Lock (GSL) is only available after the above three levels are set. GSL prevents Funding 2FA and Trading 2FA from being changed if login is compromised.
How Do I Contact Kraken?
Still, they do publish a customer service number, which is more than we can say for the majority of exchanges today. Here are their customer service numbers and operating hours depending on where you live:
Mon - Fri, 3 AM - 7 PM (EST)
Mon - Fri, 8 AM - 12 AM (GMT)
Is It Worth It?
There's a lot to explore on Kraken. It has one of the largest supported currencies list (including the popular Dogecoin meme currency) you'll find today, it offers rewards when you stake coins, and even allows margin and futures trading. It's certainly worth checking out.
However, other cryptocurrency exchanges may offer higher interest rates/rewards on staked crypto assets or a less complicated fee structure. To compare your options, check out our 10 favorite cryptocurrency investing sites for 2021.
Here are a few of the most common questions that people ask about Kraken:
Is Kraken a U.S. Company?
Yes, Kraken is based in San Francisco, California and is available in 48 U.S. states.
Does Kraken have a crypto rewards card?
No and, as of yet, no upcoming cards have been announced.
What fees does Kraken charge on margin trades?
Margin traders are charged an opening fee of 0.02% and a rollover fee of 0.02% per four hours.
Does Kraken have Shiba Inu?
Yes, Kraken began supporting Shiba Inu deposits on November 29, 2021 and trading went live the next day.
Minimum Initial Deposit
Varies by currency
Bank Payment (ACH)
Card/Digital Wallet Payment
Additional 3.75% + €0.25***
Coins Available To Trade
90+ total; 50+ in the U.S.
4% to 20%
Minimum Card Transaction
Maximum Card Transaction
$4,000 within a time-based 7 day rolling period.
Crypto Withdrawal Fees
Varies by currency
Fiat Withdrawal Fees
FedWire of SWIFT: $4 to $40
Business ProSilvergate Exchange
Hold On First Deposit
2FA (Google Authenticator and Yubikey)
95% of all deposits are kept in cold storage
Customer Service Options
Phone, chat or support requests only
Mobile App Availability
iOS and Android
Kraken is a secure cryptocurrency exchange that supports 50+ cryptocurrencies and offers advanced trading tools.
- Low transaction fees
- 50+ supported cryptos in the U.S.
- Pays bi-weekly staking rewards
- Offers margin and futures trading
- History of mediocre customer support
- Potential for “feature overload,” especially for beginners
Robert Farrington is America’s Millennial Money Expert® and America’s Student Loan Debt Expert™, and the founder of The College Investor, a personal finance site dedicated to helping millennials escape student loan debt to start investing and building wealth for the future. You can learn more about him on the About Page, or on his personal site RobertFarrington.com.
He regularly writes about investing, student loan debt, and general personal finance topics geared towards anyone wanting to earn more, get out of debt, and start building wealth for the future.
He has been quoted in major publications including the New York Times, Washington Post, Fox, ABC, NBC, and more. He is also a regular contributor to Forbes.