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KuCoin is an unregulated cryptocurrency exchange that isn’t licensed to operate in the U.S. While the platform offers low fees, the amount of negative customer feedback it’s received is concerning. Users have reported lost deposits, problems withdrawing funds, and not being able to get any help from customer support.
- Pros & Cons
- Key Takeaways
Greater anonymity for traders
Large selection of different cryptocurrencies
Crypto-only exchange (does not trade fiat currency pairs)
Not licensed in U.S. and limitations for U.S. users
Poor customer service, many complaints
- KuCoin has lower fees than many of its competitors.
- The exchange is less regulated than some others, which may make it less safe.
- KuCoin is not licensed United States, but available with limitations.
- KuCoin is the 5th-largest exchange by volume.
- Many dissatisfied customers have left negative reviews.
- Year Founded 2017
- Official Website https://www.kucoin.com/
- Cryptocurrencies Available 500+
- Customer Support Chatbot, email ticket, help center
Unlike traditional brokerage firms, cryptocurrency exchanges are not members of the Securities Investor Protection Corp. (SIPC). Therefore, unless user terms specify otherwise, investors with cryptocurrency assets commingled on a custodial cryptocurrency exchange could potentially lose their funds as unsecured creditors.
KuCoin is the 5th-largest retail crypto exchange by market cap. Unlike some exchanges, KuCoin only trades cryptocurrency. Users can buy crypto and fund their account with a bank card, wire transfer, or PayPal, but there are no fiat currency trading pairs available. This allows the exchange to skirt some regulations and provide a more anonymous service to its users.
Still, the exchange did implement know-your-customer (KYC) regulations in 2018, with the goal of increasing user trust and improving account security. The KYC process involves providing identifying information like a government-issued ID. However, KYC verification is not currently required by KuCoin, it’s simply highly suggested. KYC verification is not available to U.S. customers. This is the biggest factor as to why KuCoin is unlicensed and limited in the United States.
Before getting started on KuCoin, be sure to do your due diligence and remember that trading cryptocurrency involves substantial risk. The market can be extremely volatile and price swings tend to happen very fast.
Investing in cryptocurrencies, Decentralized Finance (DeFi), and other Initial Coin Offerings (ICOs) is highly risky and speculative, and the markets can be extremely volatile. Consult with a qualified professional before making any financial decisions. This article is not a recommendation by The Balance or the writer to invest in cryptocurrencies nor can the accuracy or timeliness of the information be guaranteed.
KuCoin was launched in May 2017 and operates in Seychelles. Its founders have a background in financial services and their initial goal was to create a safe and simple platform for people all over the world to trade crypto. Today, KuCoin is the 5th-largest cryptocurrency exchange and has over 10 million users.
KuCoin is available to users in more than 200 different countries. It is not licensed in the U.S., but users there can still use it if they're willing to take on limitations, risks, and complications. If you are looking to trade crypto and are based in the U.S., it’s probably best to use a different exchange, like Coinbase or Binance.us.
KuCoin can be good for crypto traders of all experience levels. The platform currently offers over 500 different cryptocurrencies available for trading. Those looking for a centralized exchange with a large selection of coins might appreciate KuCoin, as it tends to list smaller, more niche cryptocurrencies. However, it doesn't offer any fiat currency trading pairs like USD/BTC or EUR/BTC.
Cryptocurrencies That Trade on KuCoin
Many popular coins trade on KuCoin, and it also supports several less-popular coins with lower market caps. In total, there are over 500 different spot currencies on the exchange.
Some popular coins being traded on KuCoin are:
- Bitcoin (BTC)
- Ethereum (ETH)
- Luna (LUNA)
- XRP (XRP)
- Shiba Inu (SHIB)
KuCoin also supports common coins like Cardano (ADA), Solana (SOL), Dogecoin (DOGE), as well as hundreds of others.
The most common trading pair for cryptocurrencies on KuCoin is the Tether (USDT) trading pair. For example, most people trading SHIB on KuCoin are trading SHIB/USDT, meaning they are buying or selling Shiba Inu coins in exchange for Tether coins.
The trading experience on KuCoin is fairly user-friendly. Along the top menu bar of the KuCoin homepage, users can find tabs for markets, assets, news, trading, derivatives, finance, and support.
- The Buy Crypto tab is where you go to buy crypto.
- The Markets tab shows your balances (this is also where you send/receive crypto).
- The Trade tab is where you can trade crypto.
- The News tab shows recent crypto news.
- The Support tab lets you submit a support ticket.
- The Derivatives tab has information about futures.
- The Finance tab has information about lending and borrowing crypto.
From the Markets tab, you’ll need to enter the name of the cryptocurrency you’re looking to trade. Then KuCoin will display the different trading pairs available. To trade a coin, you’ll have to be holding one of the coins in that pair. To trade BTC/ETH, for example, you would need some bitcoin or ether.
After selecting a trading pair, you’re brought to the main trading page. Here you’ll see the current order books (existing buy and sell orders) for your chosen trading pair. To buy at the current market price, find the Buy tab on the lower half of the screen. Enter the number of coins you’d like to buy and select the blue number next to Best Price.
KuCoin also allows users to lend crypto to each other for margin trading or charging interest. To lend crypto using the platform, you must first transfer the assets you intend to lend into your Main Account. This is different from your Trading Account.
While KuCoin was originally a crypto-only exchange, the platform now lets users buy crypto using several payment methods. However, crypto-to-fiat trading pairs are still unavailable. Available payment methods include debit card, PayPal, wire transfer, and Simplex.
|Payment Method||KuCoin Fee|
|Peer-to-peer purchases||Varies depending on payment method and processor rates|
|Futures Fees||Varies with multiple factors|
|Purchases||Varies with payment method|
|Trades||0.0125% - 0.1%|
|Margin trading||0.1% + interest|
KuCoin has its own exchange token called KuCoin Shares (KCS). By holding KCS in their exchange wallets, KuCoin users receive discounts on trading fees.
For the average trader with less than 1,000 KCS in their account, fees for both maker and taker trades will be 0.1%. For those trading higher volumes and holding more KCS, fees can go as low as 0.0125% for maker trades and 0.03% for taker trades.
Both trading fees and withdrawal fees on KuCoin mostly align with those of Binance, which is known for its low fees.
While deposits on KuCoin are free, withdrawal fees vary according to the cryptocurrency in question. A full table of these fees can be found on KuCoin’s fee page. The page notes that the exchange reserves the right to “adjust the withdrawal fees according to the cryptocurrency market’s performance,” so that’s important to be aware of if you plan to trade on KuCoin.
In September 2020, KuCoin’s hot wallets were hacked for about $281 million worth of crypto. The funds were covered by an insurance fund and most of the crypto was later recovered.
The exchange typically doesn’t suffer from outages during times of peak market activity, which is a plus for active traders. And to help keep user accounts safe, KuCoin comes with industry-standard security features, including:
- Two-factor authentication (2FA) via authenticator app
- Encryption of all customer data
- Internal risk management team
- Email confirmation on log in
KuCoin also offers a separate password for trading, as opposed to the one used to log in to your account. This is a security feature not offered by all exchanges.
It’s worth noting that although KuCoin offers security features, some people might argue that the exchange still isn’t safe because it’s unregulated.
Regardless of what exchange you’re using, it’s always a good idea to take advantage of all available security features, use strong and unique passwords, and use your own hardware wallet for cold storage to hold your crypto.
Opening a KuCoin Account
To open a KuCoin account, do the following:
- Visit the KuCoin website.
- Select Sign Up in the upper-right hand corner.
- Enter either your email or mobile phone number to begin the signup process. You’ll also be required to create a password.
- Verify your email address or phone number.
- Click the green Sign Up button.
At this point, you’re ready to start trading crypto on KuCoin, assuming you already have crypto to deposit from somewhere else.
For users who want to buy crypto on KuCoin using fiat currency, a few additional steps will be necessary. These involve completing know-your-customer (KYC) verification and adding a payment method—either PayPal or wire transfer.
KuCoin isn’t licensed in the U.S. This makes U.S.-based users subject to low withdrawal limits and many risks, as KuCoin doesn’t offer the same support to unlicensed accounts.
KuCoin offers a comprehensive support center on its site and two options for customer support:
- Users can submit a form and receive an email from the customer support team
- Users can chat with the customer support team via a button on the KuCoin site
Wait times for the chat are generally long, but the service runs 24/7.
Despite the fact that KuCoin is one of the largest crypto exchanges in the world, it has some less-than-positive customer reviews. At the time of writing, the first and second pages of Trustpilot contained almost exclusively 1-star reviews. Some common themes among concerned customers included:
- Unexpected fees to withdraw crypto from the exchange
- A lack of timely customer support
- Servers crashing periodically, locking customers out of their accounts
- Crypto deposits that never arrived in customers’ wallets
Multiple users reported waiting up to two weeks to receive any kind of email response from customer support at KuCoin. Others say their issues were never resolved.
While you can’t believe everything you read online, it does make sense that a less regulated exchange could potentially have many problems.
KuCoin offers a web-based platform and mobile apps for users. Its mobile app is available for free on both Android and iOS devices. The app includes all of the same services available on the web-based exchange. Like desktop users, app users have the ability to trade, withdraw and deposit crypto, and examine price charts.
If you encounter issues with your account, live chat support is available around the clock, although wait times tend to be long. The only other support option is an email ticket.
How KuCoin Compares to Other Cryptocurrency Companies
KuCoin offers a greater selection of cryptocurrencies and lower fees than some of its competitors, but beyond that, there appear to be more drawbacks than benefits with this exchange. It isn’t as regulated as other popular exchanges, it’s not licensed in the U.S., and it doesn’t have any special features that make it stand out. On top of that, we found a long list of customer complaints online.
KuCoin vs. Coinbase
Coinbase and KuCoin are the 3rd and 5th largest crypto exchanges by trading volume, respectively. Both brand themselves as being secure and reliable, and both are relatively user-friendly.
- KuCoin offers a greater selection of cryptocurrencies
- Coinbase offers more options for U.S. users and has a better reputation
- KuCoin has lower trading fees than Coinbase
Beginner users based in the U.S. will likely find Coinbase to be the better option.
KuCoin can be easy to get started with, it’s relatively user-friendly, and it has low fees and many coins to choose from. But the exchange is largely unregulated, lacks quality customer support, and has a poor reputation overall.
Most users won’t find KuCoin to be worth the risk, and U.S.-based users would be better off trading on a different exchange like Coinbase or Binance.us.
The Balance is dedicated to helping those interested in cryptocurrency investing make informed and safe decisions. We are committed to providing our readers with unbiased reviews of the top cryptocurrency exchanges for investors of all levels.
Exchanges were reviewed on points including security, fees, number of cryptocurrencies available, and more. We also considered if the exchange is regulated by a proper agency or entirely decentralized. Our full cryptocurrency exchange methodology, including the data collection and review processes and weighted data points, is available for review.