Kraken vs. Coinbase — two of the leading cryptocurrency exchanges put head-to-head in a comparison that will help you find out whether or not Coinbase or Kraken is right for you. They both have stellar security measures, a growing list of coins, and feature for all types of traders
It’s hard to say if Kraken or Coinbase is better, but this in-depth comparison reviews what you need to know about each exchange. I’m going to cover fees, features, security measures, supported cryptocurrency and fiat, and more.
Kraken vs. Coinbase - Which is the Best Crypto Exchange in 2021?
0.00% - 0.26%
Supported fiat currencies
USD, EUR, CAD, AUD, GBP, CHF, and JPY
USD, EUR, and GBP
Available in the U.S.
About Kraken and Coinbase
Kraken is one of the oldest cryptocurrency exchanges, launched in 2011 out of San Francisco, CA, where its headquarters still are. Kraken has continually added new features over the years, and users can now do margin trading, trade cryptocurrency futures, access robust indices, do OTC trading, and more.
Overall, Kraken is an incredibly comprehensive trading platform, even though it lacks the number of coins you’ll find on Binance, one of its main competitors.
Kraken has some stand-out features — don’t worry, I’ll get into them all in this comparison. But these are features like Cryptowatch, where users can make trades on multiple crypto exchanges across several markets from one app. Another is launching soon, the first-ever cryptocurrency bank called Kraken Bank, based out of Wyoming.
Coinbase was founded in 2012 and is based out of San Francisco, CA. It’s one of the world’s largest cryptocurrency exchanges, and users can trade more than 50 coins on the platform. Coinbase is known for high liquidity and trading volumes, and users can trade on Coinbase or Coinbase Pro. Pro has advanced trading functions, and customers can make crypto-to-crypto transactions.
Coinbase offers a free crypto wallet, and you don’t need a trading account to access and store crypto in the wallet. Users can also earn free crypto on Coinbase Earn by watching videos and answering a series of quizzes about different kinds of crypto.
Coinbase vs. Kraken: Supported currencies
Kraken cryptocurrencies and fiat currencies
Kraken supports 62 different cryptocurrencies, and the following fiat currencies are USD, EUR, CAD, AUD, GBP, CHF, and JPY. Kraken also has a long list of trading pairs, but those depend on where you live.
Coinbase currently has 53 different coins available for trade. They have all the big ones — Bitcoin, Ethereum, Litecoin, and Bitcoin Cash — but they also have a growing list of altcoins like SushiSwap, Stellar Lumens, Augur, Ox, and Polygon.
Your ability to buy, sell, deposit, and withdraw varies on the cryptocurrency and your location. Several are only available for trade on Coinbase Pro: STORJ, LOOM, COMP, and ANKR.
Coinbase only supports the following fiat currencies: USD, EUR, and GBP. There are a number of crypto-to-crypto trading pairs on Coinbase Pro. Crypto-to-crypto pairs depend on where you live.
M$M tip: You can find a complete list of Coinbase supported crypto in my 2021 Coinbase review.
Kraken vs. Coinbase: Trading fees
Kraken Pro trading fees are relatively simple to understand — you pay a maker or taker fee with volume incentives based on your activity in the past 30 days. Kraken trade fees are as low as 0.00% and as high as 0.26%. Kraken’s margin and futures fees are competitive and some of the lowest on the market.
Here’s how Kraken’s fees breakdown:
30-Day Volume (USD)
$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
$2,500,001 - $5,000,000
$5,000,001 - $10,000,000
Coinbase has two trading platforms, standard, and Coinbase Pro, and both have separate fee schedules. Standard Coinbase has confusing and more expensive fees than Pro, so keep that in mind. Remember, customers can use Pro or standard for no additional charge.
The first thing to understand about the standard platform is that Coinbase charges a few different fees, starting with a spread of about 0.5% for cryptocurrency sales and purchases. That spread can change based on market fluctuations.
Plus, there’s a transaction fee that’s the greater of either a flat fee or a variable one depending the amount purchased and the payment type. Coinbase has these guidelines for the transaction fee:
Total trade amount
$10 or less
More than $10 up to $25
More than $25 and up to $50
More than $50 and up to $200
Additionally, there are fees for different types of U.S. payments:
Coinbase USD Wallet
$10 ($25 outgoing)
Coinbase Pro has much easier fees to understand — they’re based on your monthly trading volume and the asset’s liquidity at the time of purchase, similar to Kraken. The asset’s liquidity will qualify you as a maker or taker, and there are different fees for each.
When you place an order at the market price and it gets filled immediately, you’re considered a taker, and you pay the taker fee. But if your order isn’t immediately filled, it’s placed in the order book, and then once another customer places an order that matches yours, you’re considered the maker — and you pay the maker fee.
Here’s the fee schedule for Coinbase Pro:
Less than $10K
$10K to $50K
$100K - $1M
$1M - $10M
$10M - $50M
$50M - $100M
$100M - $300M
$300M - $500M
Winner: Kraken is clearly the winner when it comes to Kraken vs Coinbase fees. Kraken is not only less expensive, but the fee schedule is simple and straightforward. Coinbase Pro uses a similar fee schedule, but the fees are higher.
Kraken vs. Coinbase: User experience
Kraken user experience
Kraken has three mobile apps and a desktop trading app. I know that sounds like a lot, but the goal is to get you on the platform that best fits your trading needs. Kraken recently redesigned its app to give a more straightforward and user-friendly experience. Unfortunately, it’s not available in the U.S., but all customers are welcome to use the Kraken Pro app.
Kraken Pro is mainly for advanced traders who want a wide range of order types, but it offers a streamlined trading experience. You can see from the screenshots above that Pro has candlestick charting. You can create a watchlist and more.
Kraken Futures app is the third app, and it’s for crypto futures trading.
Coinbase user experience
The standard Coinbase platform has a highly user-friendly interface, making it easy for new traders to sign up and start trading in just a few minutes. Coinbase Pro is a more robust platform — with charts, order books, in-depth trade history, and other trading tools — which can feel slightly overwhelming to brand new traders. Overall, Coinbase Pro is still intuitive, and the app has received extremely high reviews from users.
Coinbase’s education program, Coinbase Earn, incentivizes users to learn about cryptocurrency and the market. You watch short videos and complete quizzes to test your knowledge, then Coinbase rewards you with free crypto. It’s not a ton of crypto; for example, you can earn $6 worth of Celo (CGLD) for completing a quiz about how Celo works.
Winner: Tie — both apps have worked hard to develop a stellar UI. The fact that you can choose an app based on your needs it’s also a major perk.
Kraken vs. Coinbase: Security
Kraken has industry-leading security, starting with cold storage for the majority of deposits. 95% of all deposits are kept offline in air-gapped cold storage. Kraken employs 24/7 surveillance on all of their services with armed guards and video monitors. They have a team running penetration testing, and all sensitive account information is encrypted at the system and data level.
Kraken uses two-factor authentication, Google Authenticator and Yubikey. They use SSL encryption, send withdrawal confirmations via email, and they use precise API permission controls. Kraken also has security resources to help customers understand how they can better keep their accounts safe.
Coinbase also uses two-factor authentication, and protects users by storing 98% of funds offline in cold storage. What is kept online is insured against employee theft or cybersecurity theft.
U.S. customer cash balances are pooled together, and Coinbase has them held in custodial accounts at U.S. banks, in money market accounts, or invested in liquid U.S. Treasuries. Those cash balances are insured by the FDIC up to $250,000 per individual.
Winner: Tie! Kraken and Coinbase both meet our expectations for security, and neither has been hacked. That doesn't mean it’s not a possibility, but they take a severe approach to security.
Kraken vs. Coinbase: Features
- Bug Bounty: Kraken encourages users to report security vulnerabilities through their Bug Bounty Program. They pay a minimum Bitcoin (BTC) equivalent of $500 USD for bounty submissions that they can reproduce from use findings.
- Cryptowatch: This feature allows users to trade multiple crypto exchanges from a single platform. You can watch your portfolio and 2,000 markets across multiple exchanges.
- Futures trading: Kraken supports crypto futures trading on Ethereum, Litecoin, Bitcoin Cash, Ripple, and Bitcoin. Customers can trade with up to 50x leverage.
- Margin trading: Kraken users can trade on margin on Bitcoin (BTC), Tether (USDT), Ethereum Classic (ETC), Ripple (XRP), Tezos (XTZ), Cardana (ADA), Dash (DASH), Chainlink (LINK), Ethereum (ETH), Manero (XMR), Augur (REP), Bitcoin Cash (BCH), Litecoin (LTC), EOSIO (EOS), Tron (TRX), and USD Coin (USDC). Kraken has low fees for trading on margin — up to 0.02% to open a position and up to 0.02% per 4 hours in rollover fees.
- Crypto indices from CF Benchmarks: Users can access up-to-the-second pricing data with real-time indices and spot rates. You can also view reference rates and settlement prices.
- Kraken OTC Desk: Over-the-counter trading for institutions and high-net-worth individuals who want liquidity and private, personalized support. Minimum order size is $100,000.
- Staking: Kraken offers crypto staking on some coins, and depending on the coin, there may be a bonding period. Customers who stake can earn up to 12% in yearly rewards.
- Kraken Bank: Kraken has plans for opening the first-ever crypto bank, with a bank charter in Wyoming. Kraken is planning a phased launch for Kraken Bank later in 2021.
- Coinbase Learn: This is a user education program that includes short videos and quizzes about different crypto types. You receive a small amount of cryptocurrency for passing the quiz.
- Coinbase Wallet: You don’t need an account on Coinbase to use their decentralized wallet to store your crypto. It’s a free feature, complete with a separate app. You can use the app to buy crypto on other markets or send crypto to other users. The Coinbase Wallet also lets you store digital collectibles, like NFTs.
- Newsfeed: Coinbase’s newsfeed feature pulls in articles about cryptocurrency from around the internet. Users get news, breaking updates, etc.
- Price alerts: You can create a cryptocurrency watchlist on Coinbase that alerts you when big price swings are one way or the other. You can set up alerts in your phone or the app.
- Trading API: This is a Coinbase Pro feature (customers can choose to use Coinbase Pro or regular Coinbase) that allows users to develop programmatic trading bots.
- Coinbase Card: Coinbase is getting ready to launch a debit card that allows you to spend the crypto in your Coinbase portfolio, and you can earn crypto rewards when you use your card to make purchases.
Winner: Tie! Kraken and Coinbase both have standout features, but it comes down to what kind of crypto trader you are. Institutions and high-net-worth individuals will find more appealing features with Kraken, whereas beginner and casual traders will probably lean towards the features Coinbase offers.
The final word on Kraken vs. Coinbase
Kraken and Coinbase are solid cryptocurrency exchanges, and I honestly don’t think one is better than the other. They rank in the top 10 exchanges on CoinMarketCap, which ranks based on liquidity, volume, and confidence.
Overall, Kraken has lower fees and more robust trading tools and transaction types that are better for high-volume traders. Coinbase has an incredibly user-friendly interface, making it an attractive option for beginners looking to start trading crypto.
Whichever crypto exchange you go with, remember that cryptocurrency is a highly volatile asset. Most financial experts recommend that you start learning how to trade on the stock market before diving into cryptocurrency.
Coinbase is one of the most widely used crypto exchanges in the U.S., and both the standard and Coinbase Pro platforms rank in the top 10 exchanges on CoinMarketCap. That still doesn’t mean Coinbase is the best crypto exchange for you.
Kraken is a better option if you want margin trading or if you’re a high-volume trader. The fees are better, and Kraken has more robust tools to support the kind of crypto trading you’re looking for.
Kraken is based in San Francisco, CA, and the upcoming Kraken Bank will be based out of Wyoming.
If you’re already using Coinbase, but this Kraken vs. Coinbase comparison made you want to switch, here are the steps to transfer from Coinbase to Kraken:
- Open a Kraken account so you have an account ready to receive your transfer
- Get into your Coinbase account and select Accounts
- Select the cryptocurrency you want to transfer
- Enter your Kraken account address (you can find it in Kraken by clicking on Funding and then clicking on
- Generate New Address to get a deposit address
- Select the amount you want to transfer
- Click Continue, and your crypto will transfer from Coinbase to Kraken
It can take 30-45 minutes on average to transfer for your crypto.
If you want to transfer from another exchange to Kraken, Kraken has exchange-specific guides in their support articles.
Kraken is serious about security with protocols on their end, and they also encourage users to take their own security measures through a series of security training resources. Kraken stores 95% of their crypto offline in cold storage, and their servers are under 24/7 watch by armed guards.