Kraken is a US-based cryptocurrency exchange that allows you to easily buy, sell, and trade crypto. It is a high rated trading platform based upon its level of security.
KRAKEN REVIEW AT A GLANCE
- Top tier account security
- Low trading fees
- High level of liquidity
- Global 24/7/365 support
Top rated Bitcoin exchange
Pros & Cons
The crypto market has grown increasingly crowded over the last few years, with more and more exchanges popping up as entrepreneurs from all over the world realize it’s a potentially lucrative market.
Kraken isn’t one of these exchanges, although naturally, a newcomer would have no way to know. Launched in 2011, it’s one of the oldest, largest exchanges in the market.
Account Minimum: $0
Fees: .2% per transaction
Promotion: No current promos
What is Kraken Exchange?
Kraken was founded in 2011, although the exchange wouldn’t start operations until two years later. It’s based in San Francisco, USA, and Kraken offers its services mainly to North America, the European Union, and Japan.
Jesse Powell, the co-founder and current CEO, has an uncommon profile for a crypto exchange creator: His previous experience was with artistic endeavors and video gaming communities, with no noticeable experience with blockchain ventures prior to Kraken.
In a crypto trading scene where most large exchanges and projects have influential community figures behind them, that makes Kraken a bit of a rarity.
Operational spread and strength
Even when Kraken hasn’t managed to become the leading force in the crypto market, it is still one of the strongest players out there.
It also boasts having the highest liquidity among crypto exchanges worldwide, although naturally that claim is a bit more difficult to confirm.
The platform cites its full reserves, healthy banking relationships, and high standards of legal compliance as it's reasons for on-going success.
Although Kraken is still very much a US-based exchange, the slew of acquisitions they have performed over the years in different countries has given them presence in many international markets – most importantly, Kraken has holdings in Canada and several countries of the EU.
Payment Methods & Fees
While Kraken is one of the largest crypto exchanges, it suffers from one problem many of its competitors also have: A lack of a diversified payment and withdrawal methods.
It’s a common feature, or lack of, among exchanges: They’ll often trade dozens of different cryptocurrencies, allow users to pay them in several of the main fiat currencies in the world, but when it comes to depositing or withdrawing one’s money, the options will be quite limited.
Sadly, Kraken isn’t the exception to this.
Rates for withdrawals and deposits
Kraken gained its initial userbase partly thanks to its low fees. While this is true for most of Kraken’s buy and sell transactions, it isn’t so for fiat withdrawals and deposits.
Unlike other exchanges, Kraken does not charge a flat fee structure, or a percentage one, for fiat deposits and withdrawals.
Instead, the fee you pay depends on your payment method – and, although Kraken allows for few payment methods, the fees table is very specific as to the details of your payment when it comes to fees.
USD (US Dollar) withdrawal options
1-3 business days
1-5 business days
<1 business days
3-5 business days
2-5 business days
This ends up creating an exchange where depositing or withdrawing fiat can be free, if you have the correct type of account, or unusually expensive if you don’t.
Since the table is big and depends on the fiat currency you use and your specific deposit, it’s better if you refer to the Kraken website for more information.
Do note that withdrawal operations also incur fees that can be just as high as those from deposits. For crypto deposits and withdrawals, the amounts are often smaller – but it’ll depend on the crypto you’re trading.
Once more, the website has tables detailing fees for deposits and withdrawals, along with minimum deposit amounts. Do notice that if you deposit less than the minimums, you risk losing your crypto.
USD (US Dollar) deposit options
3-5 business days
1-3 business days
1-5 business days
<1 business days
3-5 business days
2-5 business days
Rates for buy/sell transactions
Kraken got big by offering great rates on buy and sell transactions and, for the most part, that still stands to this day. The fees can indeed be as low as 0%, and in most cases, you’ll pay between 0.1% and 0.2%, which is well within industry standards.
For comparison, Binance, which also boasts having low rates, usually charges about 0.15% for transaction fees. That said, the table to calculate fees for buy/sell transactions is about as complex as the one for withdraws and deposits.
How much you pay for each transaction will depend on the pair you’re trading, how much you’re trading, the type of trade you’re performing, and the amount of currency you’ve traded during the last 30 days.
In the case of margin trading or futures trading, fees depend on the pair you’re trading and the amount of time you keep the tokens for.
Moreover, while Kraken fees can be low, the amount of money required to move up just a single step on the table is astonishing – anyone who has traded less than $50,000 over the last month won’t receive any fee discounts whatsoever, making the low-fees aspect of the exchange one mostly directed at power traders rather than newcomers.
30- Day Volume
$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
Kraken uses a maker-taker fee schedule with volume incentives based on your activity in the past 30 days.
Methods of deposit
For fiat deposits, the only mainstream method allowed by Kraken is bank transfers/wires. Extra deposit methods exist, but they’re in the form of lesser-known systems such as High-Limit, Etana Custody, and Silvergate Exchange Network.
No credit cards, debit cards, phone payments, PayPal, or any mainstream payment method besides bank account transfers.
Moreover, while Kraken will allow you to deposit a handful of different fiat currencies, most fiat currencies are limited regarding what trading pairs can be bought with them.
While the USD and EUR will allow you to purchase most currencies with only a couple exceptions, the GBP, JPY, and CAD have notoriously few trading options available.
For crypto deposits, as usual, crypto wallets via the blockchain are used.
Fiat withdrawal methods suffer the same issue as deposit methods: There are few, they’re expensive, and most aren’t well-known.
Crypto withdrawal methods, as with most exchanges, is processed through withdrawal of digital assets to your own crypto wallet.
Transaction Completion Periods
As is common with most exchanges, any in-exchange transactions involving funds already in your account are instantaneous. No wait times or delays.
For deposits and withdrawals, however, the story changes. Depending on your deposit method and location, fiat transactions might be instantaneous or take up to three days to take place.
This is particularly common for international wire transfers, although other deposit methods can also attract delays. For cryptocurrency deposits and withdrawals, the transactions can be instant or take up to a few hours.
This depends on blockchain congestion, and it’s an issue entirely out of Kraken’s hands.
How a typical transaction works
Deposits are made through the “Deposit” section of the website. You need to have completed at least starter verification for crypto deposits and intermediate for fiat.
For crypto deposits, you must choose a cryptocurrency and click on “generate address.” This will give you a cryptocurrency wallet address for that specific currency.
You can expect an impressive range of cryptocurrencies on Kraken. There are the usual faces - Bitcoin, Ethereum, Bitcoin Cash, and so on - as well as plenty of interesting altcoins, including USD Coin, Doge, Energy Web Token, and others.
For fiat deposits, you must select the type of deposit you’re going to make from the list, including currency and method. You’ll then be given instructions depending on the method.
How trading works
Trading on Kraken is simple. First, go to the “Trade” section. From there, click on “New Order.” You’ll then be able to select a trading pair from a dropdown.
Selecting the trading pair will show you the current going rate for that pair along with options for type of order (market, stop loss, limit, settle.)
Once you’ve selected the type of order, trading pair, and amount, go through checkout – since Kraken only allows you to trade with already held funds, the process will be immediate.
Making a withdrawal
To withdraw from Kraken, you must head to the “Funding” section of the site. Once there, you have to select the currency (fiat or crypto) you wish to withdraw.
From there, you’ll be given a list of options for fiat currency, along with steps for withdrawing your fiat.
If it’s cryptocurrency you’re withdrawing, you’ll be asked for your crypto wallet address, the amount to withdraw, and 2FA.
Kraken has an extensive knowledge base, located at https://support.kraken.com/.
If you need extra help, you can open a ticket by clicking on the button at the top right of the support page.
Kraken has a 24/7 live chat system and an internal ticket system for customer support. The company is also active on social networks, and questions posted there are often answered directly or converted into customer support tickets.
Kraken vs. Competitors
How to Open an Account
Opening an account on Kraken is a simple process, as you just have to go to Kraken.com, and then click on the “Create Account” button on the top right.
Once the sign up form appears, you just have to fill it and then confirm your email.
Should You Use Kraken Exchange?
Kraken currently sits at a spot where it isn’t likely to go under. The fact that the exchange openly supports advanced features such as margin and futures trading, in fact, might only help make it bigger.
On top of these advanced trading tools, it boasts one of the best security ratings in the trading platform community. That said, the exchange is clearly geared towards large, more experienced traders.
New crypto investors looking to invest $100 in cryptocurrency can do better than Kraken, if only because the high deposit fees will put a huge dent on his funds.
Due to this, while Kraken clearly can gain more users, its pool of potential ones comes from already established traders rather than newcomers.
However, as the crypto market is developing and expanding, Kraken’s outlook is as bright as ever, with potential for further growth and consolidation over the next few years.
- Editor Rating
- Rated 4 stars
- Kraken Exchange
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Asif is a cryptocurrency enthusiast and journalist who's been writing on the subject since 2014. He also has a keen interest in social engineering and cybersecurity. When not busy writing about cryptocurrency, he can be found reading books and listening to music. He holds an M.Sc in Life Science and an MBA in Finance & Banking.