Kraken vs. Coinbase

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Kraken and Coinbase are two cryptocurrency exchanges that offer investors access to the most popular cryptocurrencies on the market. Both platforms adhere to strict Know Your Customer (KYC) standards and are designed to help customers securely access, buy, and trade their cryptocurrency.

Kraken was founded in 2011 by Jesse Powell to help displaced customers from the Mt. Gox exchange hack that drained over $450 million in Bitcoin from investors. Kraken became one of the go-to exchanges for trading Bitcoin in 2013 and has since added over 50 cryptocurrencies to their exchange. 

Coinbase was founded in 2012 by Brian Armstrong and Fred Ehrsam. It has become the most popular centralized exchange in the U.S., supporting the top cryptocurrencies on the market. The intuitive app and ability to buy crypto with a credit card have made it easier than ever for new investors to get started.

The main difference between the platforms is their trading ability. While Coinbase is a simple exchange for exchanging fiat (national currency) for cryptocurrency, it doesn't offer many advanced trading options. Kraken, on the other hand, is a “crypto-first” exchange and offers many types of trading, including margin trading, futures trading, as well as limit orders.

We’ve reviewed both platforms based on their supported currencies, security, fees, features, and more so you can decide which option is right for you.

Kraken vs. Coinbase: How Do They compare?

Kraken


Kraken

 Kraken

What We Like
  • Low trading fees

  • Multiple types of trading

  • 24/7 live chat support

What We Don’t Like
  • User interface feels antiquated

  • Not available in New York and Washington state

Coinbase


Coinbase

Coinbase

What We Like
  • FDIC insured up to $250K

  • Available in 100 countries

  • Free user education library

What We Don’t Like
  • High purchase and trade fees

  • $2 minimum order amount

Kraken vs. Coinbase: At a Glance

  Kraken Coinbase
Features Multiple trading interfaces

Multiple order types, including margin and futures trading

API keys Lower per-trade fees
Simple interface

Buy, sell, and exchange crypto

Credit card purchases available
Fees 0.9% fee for any stablecoins and FX pairs

1.5% fee for any other crypto

Purchases by ACH are charged an additional 1.7% + $0.10

Additional 3.75% + €0.25 fee assessed for debit and credit card purchases (not available in the U.S.)

Fees vary for crypto trading Deposit and withdrawal fees vary
0.50% per trade

Additional 1.49% for bank account or Coinbase Wallet purchases

Additional 3.99% for debit or credit card purchases

$10 deposit

$25 withdrawal fee for wire transfers
Number of cryptocurrencies supported Over 50 cryptocurrencies supported Over 50 cryptocurrencies supported
Security features 2FA via Google Authenticator app

Device-level restrictions U2F security via hardware key

Whitelisting pre-approved addresses

Global settings lock
2FA via SMS or Google Authenticator app

Cold storage and multi-signature wallets

USD balances are FDIC insured (up to $250K)

KYC and anti-money laundering protections in place
Types of transactions Buy

Sell

Trade

Deposit

Withdraw

Stop order

Limit order

Margin trading

Options trading

Futures trading
Buy

Sell

Exchange

Send

Receive

Kraken vs. Coinbase: Ease of Use

Kraken is designed for more active traders, giving advanced users more options for buying, selling, and trading crypto than Coinbase. Kraken’s user interface does feel somewhat dated, and crypto newcomers may feel lost when trying to execute their first trade. For advanced users, Kraken offers options trading, futures trading, and access to margin trading as well.

To sign up for Kraken, you can create a free account using your email address and a password. Once you verify your email address, you are required to secure your account with two-factor authentication. To deposit funds, you'll need to go through advanced verification, which includes submitting a picture of your photo ID, proof of residence, and your Social Security number. From there, you can fund your account via your digital wallet or through ACH or wire transfer.

Users can sign up for Coinbase with an email address and password. Before buying or selling crypto, you will need to verify your identity with a government-issued photo ID by uploading a picture of it to the app or website. Once verified, you can connect a bank account or credit card to immediately begin purchasing crypto.

Kraken vs. Coinbase: Security

Kraken and Coinbase both offer robust security features, making them two of the most secure places to buy, sell, and store crypto assets. Here are a few of the security options available on each platform:

Kraken Security Features

Whitelisting approved addresses: Kraken requires all withdrawal addresses to go through its verification process, which restricts access to any external address that is not approved. 

Two-factor authentication: Kraken requires two-factor authentication (2FA) via Google Authenticator. SMS account recovery is disabled to avoid hacking via phone. 

U2F security via hardware key: Kraken allows users to secure their account further is a U2F hardware key for offline storage of their crypto access keys.

Global settings lock: Kraken has a global settings lock feature that will instantly freeze your account settings for a period of time, anywhere from one to 29 days. This helps prevent any access or changes to your account when you are away from your account.

Coinbase Security Features

Two-factor authentication: Coinbase offers 2FA via SMS or the Google Authenticator app. This helps secure access to your account by requiring a time-sensitive six-digit passcode. 

Using SMS 2FA is not as secure, especially if your phone is stolen.

Cold storage and crypto vaults: Coinbase keeps 98% of all crypto balances in “cold storage,” meaning the assets are stored in hardware that is not connected to the internet. 

Coinbase also offers a cryptocurrency vault, further securing your stored digital assets. These vaults can be set up to require multiple user approvals before funds are withdrawn. They are also time-locked, meaning that if all approvals for the transaction are not completed within 24 hours, the withdrawal is canceled.

Built-in wallet: Coinbase offers the Coinbase wallet for storing your cryptocurrency. It is protected with a password and biometric access controls. It also has an encrypted 12-word recovery phrase protecting your assets. It also allows users to store and trade ERC-20 tokens.

FDIC insurance (up to $250K): Coinbase offers FDIC insurance on USD (U.S. dollar) deposits. This insurance is similar to a traditional bank, insuring up to $250,000 of deposited USD funds. 

FDIC insurance does not insure your cryptocurrency funds. It only insures your USD deposits.

Kraken vs. Coinbase: Features

Kraken and Coinbase both offer users a way to purchase and trade crypto, but they both go about it in very different ways. While some of their features are the same, here are a few of the unique features on each platform:

Kraken Unique Features

Huge variety of trade options: Kraken offers a large selection of trade types for advanced users. Here is a quick list of just some of the trade options available:

  • Limit order
  • Market order
  • Settle position order
  • Stop limit order
  • Stop market order
  • Trailing stop order
  • Time in Force Limit orders
  • Margin trading
  • Futures trading

Advanced charting: Kraken allows users to turn on “Advanced Markets View” to view live order book transactions, charts with multiple indicator overlays, and build a watchlist.

API keys: Kraken gives user access to their API keys, allowing third-party apps to integrate with Kraken. Users can also control access to these API keys in a detailed level, further securing their account.

OTC investor service: Kraken caters to high-dollar investors who are getting into the crypto space. They offer a 1-1 white-glove service to help investors make substantial investments in Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies off the main exchange. They offer market-expert consultations and reporting, as well as helping facilitate trading and secure storage of large crypto purchases.

Coinbase Unique Features

Educational resources (+ bonuses): Coinbase has user education for helping beginners learn about cryptocurrency. These short videos teach users about a certain cryptocurrency project to get them familiar with it, and some of them will give out bonus crypto for users who complete a quiz.

Newsfeed: The Coinbase website and mobile app have up-to-date news articles from various resources built into the platform. If you click into any cryptocurrency, the news articles you’ll see are specific to that currency.

Alerts: If you want to stay up-to-date on current price moves, you can create a watchlist to track when there are large swings in price.

Kraken vs. Coinbase: Currencies

Kraken and Coinbase both have similar access to the top cryptocurrencies on the market, though Kraken does offer a few more. Kraken currently offers 56 cryptocurrencies on its exchange while Coinbase offers 56. Each exchange regularly adds to their listed crypto offerings.

Both platforms allow you to purchase cryptocurrency in dollar amounts, allowing you to buy fractions of coins. Coinbase has a $2 minimum order. Kraken, on the other hand, measures its minimum purchase amount in the native token. For example, the minimum Bitcoin purchase amount is 0.0002 Bitcoin (BTC). So if Bitcoin's price is $60,000, you can purchase as little as $12 of Bitcoin.

Both platforms support major currencies such as Bitcoin, Ethereum, Uniswap, Cardano, Chainlink, and Compound.

To explore more currencies on Kraken, you can review their supported cryptocurrencies. To view all the tradable assets on Coinbase, check their listing prices.

Kraken vs. Coinbase: Fees

Both Kraken and Coinbase have fairly high fees for buying cryptocurrency. Each exchange charges a transaction fee along with a fee based on which method of payment is used. These can add up quickly.

Both platforms charge a percentage fee per purchase transaction. In addition, they also charge extra fees based on the account used in the transaction.

Here is a breakdown of how Kraken and Coinbase charge fees based on account type:

Account Kraken Fees Coinbase Fees
U.S. Bank Account 0.9% fee for any stablecoins and FX pairs, 1.5% fee for any other crypto 1.49%
Wallet 0.9% fee for any stablecoins and FX pairs, 1.5% fee for any other crypto 1.49% 
Credit/Debit Card Buy 3.75% + €0.25 fee (not available in US) 3.99%
Instant Card Withdrawal N/A Up to 1.5% of any transaction and a minimum fee of $0.55 
ACH Transfer Purchases by ACH are charged an additional 1.7% + $0.10 Free
Wire Transfer Deposits - Free to $10

Withdrawals - $4 - $35
$10 ($25 outgoing)

Both platforms charge more than most other exchanges to purchase crypto, but Kraken does offer a significant discount from trading cryptocurrency for other cryptocurrencies.

Kraken uses a maker-taker fee model based on your 30-day trading volume. When users place an order at the market price that gets filled immediately, they are considered a “taker” and are charged the taker fee. When users place an order that is not immediately matched, it is placed in the order book (until a match is found), and they are considered a “maker” and are charged a maker fee when the trade executes.

Here’s how their trading fees break down:

30-Day Volume USD Maker Fee Taker Fee
$0–$50,000 0.16% 0.26%
$50,001–$100,000  0.14%  0.24%
$100,001–$250,000  0.12%  0.22% 
$250,001–$500,000  0.10%  0.20% 
$500,001–$1,000,000  0.08%  0.18% 
$1,000,001–$2,500,000  0.06%  0.16% 
$2,500,001–$5,000,000  0.04%  0.14% 

As you can see, users can trade crypto at a significant discount compared to Coinbase, with fees ranging from 0%–0.26%. If you are an active trader, Kraken is one of the lowest fee exchanges on the market.

Kraken vs. Coinbase: Access

Both Kraken and Coinbase are available globally with Kraken being offered in far more countries worldwide than Coinbase at this time. Kraken is available in over 170 countries worldwide while Coinbase is offered in just over 100.

However, Coinbase is offered legally in all 50 states in the U.S., while Kraken is only available in 48 states. They are actively working to comply with Washington and New York state regulatory laws for approval.

Each country has its own regulations around cryptocurrency. Be sure to review your local guidelines before buying or selling crypto.

Final Verdict

There are several similarities between Kraken and Coinbase. For example, both are U.S.-based companies; both offer a variety of the top cryptocurrencies available; and both are extremely secure exchanges to buy, sell, and trade crypto.

Kraken offers some of the lowest fees around for active crypto traders. With access to advanced limit orders, futures, and even margin trading, advanced users will be right at home using Kraken’s trading tools.

Coinbase is the simplest platform to use for beginners due to its minimalist design and fantastic mobile app. Buying and selling crypto on Coinbase only takes a few clicks and your digital funds are safely stored at all times.

No matter which platform you choose, understand that investing in cryptocurrencies is highly speculative, so never invest more than you are willing to lose.

Kraken vs. Coinbase FAQ

What Are Kraken and Coinbase?

Kraken and Coinbase are cryptocurrency exchange platforms designed for buying, selling, and trading these currencies. Kraken offers a wide array of options for active traders to buy and sell crypto, while Coinbase is a great on-ramp for beginners to buy their first cryptocurrency. 

Both are U.S.-regulated exchanges that comply with KYC initiatives required by the United States. They also both offer secure storage of your digital assets with over 95% of all crypto stored offline.

How Do Kraken and Coinbase Work?

Both Kraken and Coinbase are cryptocurrency exchanges that function similarly to an online brokerage for buying, selling, and trading digital currencies. Users create an account and add funds via a standard financial account or debit card to purchase cryptocurrency. Users can then withdraw those currencies to their digital wallets or use the exchange to trade them.

For example, when buying Cardano (ADA), the platform would act as a broker for the transaction. You would create an account, connect your bank account, and submit an order to purchase ADA. You are exchanging USD for ADA, and Coinbase or Kraken store that ADA for you until you decide to sell, trade, or withdraw it.

Should I Use the Coinbase Wallet?

While Kraken does not offer a digital wallet (as of March 2021), the Coinbase Wallet is a popular choice for exchanging crypto and can be used on many decentralized applications. If you are looking to trade cryptocurrency, or simply hold the keys to ones you already own, Coinbase Wallet is a secure way to store them. It is also ERC-20 compatible, allowing you to trade your crypto on your favorite decentralized exchange.

Who Should Use Kraken vs. Coinbase?

Kraken is a secure platform for active crypto traders offering low fees and a wide array of crypto trading options. Available in over 170 countries, Kraken is a great choice for users from around the globe who want to trade their crypto on a centralized exchange.

Coinbase is ideal for beginner investors who are just getting started with cryptocurrency. With its easy onboard and intuitive interface, Coinbase makes it simple to buy your first digital currency. Add in their user education section and crypto bonuses, Coinbase is an ideal choice for new crypto investors.

How We Evaluated Kraken vs. Coinbase

When reviewing Kraken vs. Coinbase, we compared each platform based on ease of use, fee structure, security, unique features, and support currencies. We also took into account the types of trades available on each platform and their relative cost to the wider cryptocurrency exchange market. 

While Kraken and Coinbase are both very similar crypto exchanges, they offer a few unique features that cater to their ideal clients. Kraken has been around since 2011, providing users a secure way to actively trade their crypto. With its low-fee trading structure and advanced trading tools, Kraken is best for experienced cryptocurrency traders. Coinbase is best suited for first-time crypto investors due to its simple interface and user education component. 

However, both of these exchanges charge higher-than-average fees for crypto purchases, so fee-conscious investors may want to look elsewhere.