As cryptocurrency increases in popularity, more crypto exchanges are entering the market. With hundreds of platforms to choose from, finding the right one may feel overwhelming.
Even with all of the new exchanges currently available, one of the oldest options still remains extremely popular. Kraken is a cryptocurrency exchange founded two years after Bitcoin’s launch.
Ready to learn more about Kraken? In this review, you’ll find out about the exchange’s top features as well as how to decide if it’s the right platform for you.
Kraken is a cryptocurrency exchange with advanced features and low fees perfect for experienced investors. However, the platform might be too difficult to navigate for beginners.
Ease of use
- 50+ supported currencies
- Low transaction fees
- Margin and futures trading
- Not user-friendly for beginners
- No debit card, credit card or PayPal deposits in the U.S.
- Not all features available in the United States
In This Article
What is Kraken?
Kraken is a cryptocurrency exchange based in San Francisco, CA. It is one of the oldest and largest exchanges on the market today, ranking in the top five in the world for its trading volume.
Jesse Powell founded the platform with the goal of giving people the tools they need to quickly and securely invest in cryptocurrency.
According to Crunchbase, the exchange has more than a thousand employees and nearly $126 million in funding.
Kraken reports that its mission is to make cryptocurrency more accessible so that people from all walks of life can achieve financial freedom.
Who is Kraken For?
As one of the most robust trading platforms for cryptocurrency, Kraken is an attractive option for many investors.
The exchange is well-known for its high liquidity and low fees, allowing users to get competitive prices.
It also offers next-level features like margin trading and futures. Thanks to these advanced features and a tiered fee schedule, Kraken is a great option for experienced investors.
Kraken also markets itself as a cryptocurrency exchange for institutions. It has some features specifically designed for large clients, including its over-the-counter trading, margin trading and tiered fee schedule.
However, Kraken may not be the right choice for beginner investors due to its more complex interface.
Additionally, some investors may need to find another exchange because certain features aren’t available for users in the United States.
What Does Kraken Offer?
Due to the fact that it is one of the oldest and largest cryptocurrency exchanges, it’s no surprise that Kraken has some robust features available to investors.
Staking is a way to maximize your profits by earning rewards on the holdings in your portfolio.
First, you fund your Kraken account or buy crypto assets. Next, you choose an asset to stake from your available assets.
Keep in mind that some assets may have to go through a bonding period before they can start earning rewards. Once they’ve finished bonding, you’ll receive rewards for your staked assets twice per week.
You earn newly minted cryptocurrency as your staking reward. This is earned in exchange for helping to build the network with your staked currency.
Staking is currently available with 12 assets, including Ethereum and Bitcoin.
One of Kraken’s most stand-out features is its liquidity. The exchange consistently has some of the highest trading volumes for all of its currencies.
It also has low fees compared to many competitors, which makes it easier to trade often.
Kraken even uses low maker fees to help create more liquidity. These low fees encourage market makers to open positions, making it easier for investors to trade.
Not only does Kraken’s high liquidity make it easier to buy and sell popular cryptocurrencies, but it makes it simpler to do so at a competitive price.
Unlike many of its top competitors, Kraken allows margin trading. This is when an investor opens a position that’s larger than their account balance.
In other words, you borrow money in order to invest more than you currently have. As a result, you can see a larger profit.
It’s important to note that this method of trading can be risky, so proceed with caution.
Kraken currently allows investors to open positions with up to five times more than their account balance. Depending on your eligibility, you may be able to access up to $500,000 to help you increase your profits.
The platform even offers low trading fees of no more than 0.02% per four hours.
Margin trading is currently available for 16 cryptocurrencies, but there are some limitations.
Clients within the United States will have to meet certain requirements to trade on margin, including self-certification as an Eligible Contract Participant (ECP) as defined under U.S. law.
Additionally, for those residing outside of the United States, margin trading is only available to Intermediate and Pro clients.
Kraken offers cryptocurrency indices powered by CF Benchmarks to help customers make their investing decisions.
These indices contain aggregated trading data from multiple cryptocurrency exchanges to ensure they’re accurate and reliable. Indices are updated every second, so the data is current.
Using these indices, investors can feel confident taking positions and know they’re getting a competitive price regardless of if they are buying or selling.
Indices are currently available for Bitcoin, Ether, Ripple-XRP, Bitcoin Cash and Litecoin.
Another feature Kraken offers is futures. This is something that does not come standard on all cryptocurrency exchanges.
Futures are contracts in which two parties agree to buy or sell an underlying asset on a specific date for a certain price. Investors use futures as a way to speculate about the future price of an asset.
Kraken offers futures contracts for Ethereum, Litecoin, Bitcoin Cash, Ripple and Bitcoin. It’s possible to enter into a futures contract with as little as 2% collateral, so you can take a position with 50x leverage.
Futures trading isn’t available to all Kraken customers. Investors in the United States and a handful of other countries aren’t eligible to participate in futures contracts.
If you live in a country where Kraken allows futures trading, you’ll need an Intermediate or Pro verified personal account or a Pro verified business account.
Kraken’s platform allows for OTC (over-the-counter) trading. These are private transactions, typically between institutions or high net-worth individuals. Kraken’s OTC Desk is where these transactions take place.
OTC trading allows for orders of hundreds of thousands or even millions of dollars that would be too disruptive to the exchange’s open market. The minimum order size for OTC transactions is $100,000.
Customers who trade at the Kraken OTC Desk have access to more secure and discreet transactions as well as a handful of other features.
OTC transactions have one-on-one service. A Kraken representative works with you through each step of the process. You even have access to expert market insight and global 24/7 coverage.
Cryptowatch is a premium trading terminal where users can see real-time market data, charting and trading services. The data on Cryptowatch covers more than 25 cryptocurrency exchanges provided via API.
Users can access basic Cryptowatch features for free, while others require payment with Cryptowatch Credits.
Free features of Cryptowatch include trading, market trends and price alerts. Paid features include premium market analysis and alerts as well as automated orders.
Are There Any Fees?
No matter what cryptocurrency exchange you use, you are likely to run into some fees. Kraken is no exception.
Luckily, Kraken is well-known for having lower fees than many of its competitors.
Kraken uses a maker-taker fee schedule to differentiate between orders that create liquidity (known as maker orders) and those that reduce liquidity (known as taker orders).
The maker fee applies if the trade isn’t immediately matched with an existing order, while a taker fee applies if the trade is immediately matched.
Fees apply on a per-trade basis as a percentage of the currency volume. Kraken uses the following fee schedule for transactions:
|30- Day Volume (USD)||Maker||Taker|
|$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%|
|$5,000,001 – $10,000,000||0.02%||0.12%|
The exchange also allows for Instant Buy, which requires different fees. For instant transactions, Kraken charges a fee of 0.9% for any stablecoins and 1.5% for other cryptocurrency or FX pairs.
There’s also a card payment processing fee of 3.75% + $0.30 and an online banking processing fee of 0.5%.
Before you sign up for Kraken, you may have some additional questions. Here are some frequently asked questions about the platform.
Kraken is worth it for experienced traders who can navigate Kraken’s platform and take advantage of its advanced features.
However, because its interface can be difficult to use, beginners might prefer a simpler platform.
Kraken has round-the-clock support available from client engagement specialists. Users can contact Kraken’s support via live chat, which is available 24/7.
There’s also a help center and a library of resources that allows users to troubleshoot problems on their own if they prefer.
Kraken uses advanced security features to keep customers safe.
95% of deposits are kept in cold storage, which prevents hacking or theft. The company also encrypts sensitive information and stores its servers in secure locations with 24/7 surveillance and security.
Other security features include two-factor authentication, SSL encryption, PGP signed and encrypted email, granular API key permissions, real-time monitoring for suspicious activity and more.
Visit Kraken.com and click on the “Create Account” button in the upper right corner.
Complete the captcha on the activation page, and your account will be successfully opened.
After activating your account, you’ll also have to verify it. This requires proof of residence and a valid form of identification. Then, you’ll fund your account before you can start trading.
Keep in mind that Kraken does not allow debit, credit or PayPal deposits for U.S. users.
Kraken is one of the oldest and largest cryptocurrency exchanges on the market. It offers competitive fees and has several advanced features that you won’t find on other exchanges.
For experienced investors, Kraken is one of the best exchanges out there. That said, Kraken’s interface can be challenging for beginners to navigate.
Consider your experience level and goals for trading crypto to determine if Kraken is the right alternative investment for you.