Kraken and Coinbase are two of the most popular cryptocurrency exchanges in the U.S., offering a decent crypto selection, intuitive mobile apps, and a full library of educational materials to help users learn more about crypto. Both help new users buy crypto with ease, and both also offer an advanced trading platform with lower fees.
So, which one should you use?
We’ve compared the crypto selection, fees, security, and features of both Coinbase and Kraken to help you find the best exchange for your needs.
Kraken is a U.S. crypto exchange founded in 2011 by Jesse Powell as an alternative to the Mt. Gox Bitcoin exchange, after Mt. Gox was hacked and drained of $450 million in Bitcoin. Kraken became one of the most popular exchanges by 2013, and has since grown to offer more than just Bitcoin trading. With over 100 altcoins, margin and futures trading, a large educational library, and a soon-to-be-launched NFT marketplace, Kraken is a full-service exchange that is growing rapidly.
Kraken supports nine million customers in over 190 supported countries, offers over 150 cryptocurrencies for trading, and boasts very low trading fees. It offers a standard order form for buying and selling crypto, as well as Kraken Pro, an advanced trading interface with all the tools you’d expect from a professional-level trading platform.
Coinbase is a U.S.-based cryptocurrency exchange founded in 2012 by Brian Armstrong and Fred Ehrsam, and is one of the largest crypto exchanges in the world by trading volume. Coinbase offers access to over 170 cryptocurrencies (and growing), crypto loans, a crypto credit card, and a newly launched NFT marketplace. It also features built-in user education in the form of short-form videos and fun quizzes to help educate new users on the crypto market.
Coinbase has almost 100 million customers across the globe, supports over 100 countries, and processes over $300 billion in trading volume each quarter. Coinbase also recently launched an advanced trading platform for active traders, offering hundreds of crypto trading pairs and much lower fees than the standard platform.
Kraken vs. Coinbase overview
|Fees (maker/taker)||Instant Buy: 0.9% fee for stablecoins, 1.5% fee for any other crypto and FX pairs|
Kraken Pro: Up to 0.16%/0.26%, depending on 30-day trade volume
|$0.99–$2.99, for orders below $200
1.49%–3.99% for trades over $200
Coinbase Advanced: Up to 0.60%/0.60%, depending on 30-day trade volume
|Trading options||Buy/sell, margin, futures, staking||Buy/sell, trading|
|Funding options||Wire transfer, crypto deposit||Wire transfer, ACH, debit card, PayPal, crypto deposit|
|Currency selection||150+ crypto, 7 fiat||170+ crypto, 5 fiat|
|Verification process||Instant||2–3 minutes|
Kraken vs. Coinbase fees
Coinbase and Kraken charge fees for buying, selling, and trading crypto, with multiple fee structures for different types of transactions. Both charge high fees for credit and debit card users, as well as transactions using the standard order forms on each platform. But both also offer advanced trading platforms that charge much lower fees.
Both Coinbase and Kraken offer free crypto deposits, but may have a charge for fiat currency deposits, depending on the currency and deposit method. Crypto and fiat withdrawals may charge a fee based on the currency being withdrawn and the network it is on.
|Kraken fees||Coinbase fees|
|Buy/sell fees||Instant Buy: 0.9% fee for stablecoins, 1.5% fee for any other crypto and FX pairs||$0.99–$2.99, for orders below $200.
1.49%–3.99% for orders over $200
|Trading fees||Kraken Pro: Up to 0.16%/0.26% (maker/taker), depending on 30-day trade volume||Coinbase Advanced: Up to 0.60%/0.60% (maker/taker), depending on 30-day trade volume|
|Credit/debit card fees||3.75% + €0.25 fee (not available in US)||3.99%|
|ACH transfers||Purchases by ACH are charged an additional 0.5%||Free|
|Wire transfers||● Deposits - free to $10|
● Withdrawals - $4–$35
|● Deposits - $10
● Withdrawals - $25
|Crypto||● Deposits - free|
● Withdrawals - varies by currency
|● Deposits - free
● Withdrawals - varies by currency
Kraken vs. Coinbase security
Both Coinbase and Kraken offer some of the best security of any crypto exchange in the world, with a focus on protecting user funds. Here are a few of the security features offered by both Coinbase and Kraken:
- Two-factor authentication. Both platforms require two-factor authentication to secure your account, requiring a code from an authenticator app before logging in.
- Cold storage. Both platforms utilize cold storage to store at least 95% of user crypto assets offline. This helps prevent access to your funds from would-be online hackers.
- 24/7 armed guards. Yes, really. Both Coinbase and Kraken keep your data (and funds) protected on fully encrypted servers that are under surveillance 24/7, and are further secured by armed guards.
Overall, both Kraken and Coinbase offer some of the best security in the industry, with no major hacks on their platforms to report. But Coinbase offers FDIC insurance on USD deposits, and Kraken does not, making it a safer place for holding U.S. dollars.
Kraken vs. Coinbase features
While Kraken and Coinbase are both large crypto exchanges that offer buying, selling, and trading of cryptocurrencies, they have very different features to offer. Here are a few of the unique features on each platform:
- Advanced trading tools. Kraken offers far more trading tools than Coinbase on its Pro platform, with advanced charting, seven different order types, watchlists, and more.
- Margin and futures trading. Kraken offers trading of crypto futures contracts, as well as access to margin trades with up to 5x leverage.
- Kraken Earn. Kraken offers crypto staking on over a dozen cryptocurrencies, paying up to 23% APY on certain crypto.
- Coinbase Learn. Coinbase Learn allows you to watch short-form videos to quickly learn the basics of crypto and certain crypto projects. You can even earn crypto bonuses for passing the quizzes at the end of each lesson.
- Coinbase News. Coinbase offers a curated news feed that helps you stay up-to-date on happenings in the market. Each listed cryptocurrency also has an individual newsfeed with stories about that specific coin.
My experience with Kraken and Coinbase
Coinbase is my go-to crypto trading platform, and I have briefly used the Kraken platform as well. The Kraken platform is a little more advanced than Coinbase, and placing an order wasn’t as straightforward (I needed to know the difference between a market and limit order). But I was able to transfer crypto onto the platform quickly and make a trade fairly easily.
Jumping over to the advanced tab was quickly overwhelming, with live order books, detailed charts, and a bunch of order types to choose from. It is definitely designed for advanced traders who know what they are doing, but the design does feel a bit antiquated compared to other exchanges.
The Kraken Earn platform is intriguing, offering over 20% APY on some coins, though the coins themselves are very volatile as well. Interestingly, there are no options to earn interest on stablecoins, which is one of the main use cases for crypto interest accounts. Overall, Kraken was a fairly intuitive platform, as long as you have some experience with crypto exchanges.
I have purchased Bitcoin and Ethereum on Coinbase since the end of 2020, though I switched to Coinbase Pro after seeing the high fees. I also earned crypto rewards using the Coinbase Learn platform while learning more about new crypto projects and how they work. I recently switched back to using Coinbase as they have dropped the fees significantly with the launch of Coinbase Advanced.
Overall, Coinbase is a solid crypto exchange for beginners, but charges high fees when not using the Advanced platform. Kraken is a more advanced crypto exchange with a lot of great features, but might overwhelm new users who have no experience with crypto.
Who is Kraken best for?
Advanced crypto traders
Kraken is made for active crypto traders who want access to more advanced trading features. With advanced charting and order types, access to margin and futures trading, and very low fees, Kraken is ideal for professional crypto traders.
Users looking for low fees
Kraken offers very low fees for trading, as low as 0.00% for high-volume traders, and standard trading fees on its Pro platform only go as high as 0.26%. Users who trade a lot can save a boat load in fees using Kraken.
Who is Coinbase best for?
New crypto investors
Coinbase is ideal for new crypto investors, with a simple-to-use mobile app and educational content built into the platform. While the fees are higher than other platforms, Coinbase is one of the best crypto exchanges for newbies.
Users who spend their crypto
Coinbase offers a Visa debit card that allows users to spend their crypto balance. Coinbase processes the sale of crypto automatically in the background, making it a seamless transaction.
Kraken pros & cons
- Access to margin and futures. Kraken is one of the only U.S.-based exchanges that offers access to margin and futures trading. (Note: futures trading is not available to U.S. residents.)
- Advanced trading features. Kraken offers a wide range of trading tools, advanced charts, multiple order types, and customizations on its Pro platform.
- Low fees (for traders). Kraken offers very low fees on the Kraken Pro platform, with fees only going as high as 0.26% for trades, and offering discounts to high-volume traders.
- Not for beginners. Both the Kraken simple and advanced platforms may overwhelm new crypto investors with too many tools and options for trading.
- Moderate crypto selection. Though Kraken has quickly been increasing its crypto selection, it only offers about 150 crypto as of May 2022. This is much lower than some of the larger exchanges (such as Binance).
Coinbase pros & cons
- Ease of use. Coinbase is one of the simplest crypto exchanges available, ideal for new investors who want to buy and hold crypto.
- Crypto debit card. The Coinbase Visa Card helps users spend their cryptocurrency, making it easy to make regular purchases without needing to cash out your crypto.
- NFT marketplace. Coinbase recently launched an NFT marketplace, allowing users to buy, sell, and trade some of the most popular NFTs on the market.
- High fees. Coinbase fees are high for a crypto exchange, unless you use the Advanced trading platform. With small transactions charging up to 10% (or more), Coinbase can get expensive quickly.
- No access to margin or derivatives. Coinbase offers basic trading and advanced trading, but does not offer margin or futures trading on either platform.
So, which one is the best?
Both Kraken and Coinbase are solid crypto platforms with basic and advanced trading options, access to the most popular cryptocurrencies, and educational libraries.
Coinbase is ideal for beginners, and one of the best platforms for crypto first-timers. With a very simple user interface, well-designed training and educational videos, and a powerful mobile app, Coinbase is a solid choice for crypto newbies.
If you’re an advanced trader, Kraken is a better option than Coinbase. With a professional-level trading platform, advanced charting tools, seven different order types, and access to margin and futures trading, Kraken is a great platform for serious crypto traders. Add to that the extremely low fees for high-volume traders, and Kraken is a great choice for professionals.
Overall, both platforms are designed for different types of users, and offer a great selection of features for new investors and crypto traders alike.
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