Kraken Review 2021: Pros, Cons and How It Compares

While Kraken has tools, products and informational resources for beginning crypto investors, many of its offerings are targeted toward people with more experience.
Andy RosenNov 5, 2021

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Our Take

5.0

NerdWallet rating 

The bottom line: More experienced crypto investors may find value in Kraken’s advanced tools and products, which carry relatively low fees.

Kraken

Kraken

Fees

0.9%-2%

varies by type of transaction; other fees may apply

Account Minimum

$0

Promotion

None

no promotion available at this time

Pros & Cons

Pros

  • Large selection of digital assets.
  • Low fees for advanced traders.

Cons

  • Limited options for funding accounts.
  • Not available in all U.S. states.

Compare to Similar Brokers

Coinbase
Gemini
SoFi Active Investing
NerdWallet rating 
NerdWallet rating 
NerdWallet rating 
Fees

0.5% - 4.5%

varies by type of transaction; other fees may apply

Fees

0.5% - 3.99%

depending on payment method and platform

Fees

$0

per trade

Account Minimum

$2

Account Minimum

$0

Account Minimum

$0

Promotion

Earn $5

in bitcoin for getting started on Coinbase

Promotion

$20 of BTC

for new users after trading $100 or more within 30 days

Promotion

$5 to $1,000

in free stock for users who sign up via mobile app

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Full Review

Where Kraken shines

Large selection: Kraken lets its customers buy more than 90 different cryptocurrencies — second only to Coinbase among exchanges reviewed by NerdWallet. And with 130 available trading pairs, it has the most of any offering we’ve looked at.

Relatively low fees: While Kraken’s rates for entry-level traders are in the middle of the pack, fees on its more advanced Kraken Pro service are among the lowest reviewed by NerdWallet.

Where Kraken falls short

Limited funding options: Kraken has limited options for U.S. customers who want to put money into their account. The platform uses a service called Trustly to allow people to connect their bank accounts, and Kraken says this method works with more than 1,000 financial institutions. But if your bank is not among those institutions, you’ll have to wire money into your account — a process that can involve calling your bank to arrange the transaction.

Not available everywhere: The exchange is not open to people in New York or Washington state.

Kraken is best for:

  • Crypto-to-crypto trading.

  • Margin trading.

  • Advanced traders.

Kraken at a glance

Minimum trade

0.0001 BTC

Trading and transaction fees

0.9% to 2%

Number of cryptocurrencies

92

Crypto-to-crypto trading pairs

130

Website transparency

On Kraken’s website, you can easily find important information, including investment minimums, supported assets and how to close an account.

Can use your own digital wallet?

Yes

Mobile app

Kraken's apps for iOS and Android have an average rating of 4.2 stars.

Customer service

Kraken has live phone support from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. Eastern time, and 24-hour chat support.

More details about Kraken's ratings

Minimum trade

The minimum trade depends on the cryptocurrency being traded. Bitcoin’s minimum, for instance, is 0.0001 BTC. The minimum for Ethereum, meanwhile, is 0.004 ETH.

Trading and transaction fees

Kraken’s fees become more attractive when you use its more advanced features.

The company’s entry-level service, “Instant Buy,” charges a fee of 1.5% for most cryptocurrencies. (The price is lower, at 0.9%, for stablecoins.) In addition, users must pay a 0.5% processing fee when using ACH/online banking to purchase crypto with Instant Buy.

Meanwhile, traders on the Kraken Pro service pay no more than 0.26% using a maker-taker model. Those fees gradually fall until they hit 0% for traders whose past 30-day trade volume is over $10 million.

Number of cryptocurrencies

Kraken offers more than 90 cryptocurrencies.

Crypto-to-crypto trading pairs

Kraken has around 130 trading pairs.

Digital wallet options and security

While some other exchanges have insurance to cover assets held on their platform, Kraken says it is not eligible for deposit insurance. But the company says it has taken stringent steps to insulate customers from cyberattacks.

Notably, it says it keeps 95% of its deposits offline, with enough in reserve that people can withdraw at will.

Broadly, Kraken emphasizes that it does not consider itself a stand-in for digital wallet services, and its service allows users to use their own wallets when their assets are not being held on the platform.

Mobile app

Kraken offers multiple apps for Android and iOS. While its basic application earned 4 stars, its KrakenPro app — still free, but with more advanced features — is a 5-star product.

Customer support options

Kraken has live phone support between 6 a.m. and 6 p.m. Eastern time, Monday through Friday. It also offers a 24-hour web chat option. People who “consistently trade” on Kraken get a personal account representative who “handles your questions and requests, ensuring you can focus on trading, not dealing with headaches.” The company says people who are interested in such services should contact [email protected]

Other features you should know

Kraken offers more complex trading for advanced users. This includes low-fee margin trading on crypto, which is a riskier form of investment that can potentially bring higher returns. It also offers futures trading on certain cryptocurrencies. Margin fees vary by cryptocurrency, but top out at 0.02% to open a position, with a rollover fee of 0.02% charged every four hours the position remains open.

Is Kraken right for you?

While Kraken has tools, products and informational resources for beginning crypto investors, many of its offerings are targeted toward more seasoned investors.

If you’re comfortable with a more advanced interface and are looking for access to a broad range of investment options, Kraken offers a reasonably priced experience.

How do we review crypto exchanges and platforms?

NerdWallet’s comprehensive review process evaluates and ranks the largest U.S. cryptocurrency exchanges, along with emerging industry players, using a multifaceted and iterative approach. Our aim is to provide an independent assessment of providers to help arm you with information to make sound, informed judgments on which ones will best meet your needs.

DATA COLLECTION AND REVIEW PROCESS We collect data directly from providers, and conduct firsthand testing and observation through provider demonstrations. The final output produces star ratings from poor (one star) to excellent (five stars). Ratings are rounded to the nearest half-star. RATING FACTORS Evaluations vary by provider type, but in each case are based upon the weighted averages of factors that include but are not limited to: trading and transaction fees, crypto withdrawal fees, cryptocurrency selection, crypto-to-crypto trade offerings and whether consumers can use their own cryptocurrency wallets. We also score providers based on website transparency regarding fees and offerings, their mobile platforms and customer support. FACTOR WEIGHTINGS The weighting of each factor is based on our team’s assessment of which features are the most important to consumers and which ones impact the consumer experience in the most meaningful way. The factors considered, and how those factors are weighted, change depending upon the category of providers reviewed. INFORMATION UPDATES Writers and editors conduct our reviews on an annual basis but continually make updates throughout the year. We maintain frequent contact with providers and highlight any changes in offerings. THE REVIEW TEAM The review team comprises seasoned writers, researchers and editors who cover stocks, bonds, mutual funds, index funds, exchange-traded funds, alternative investments, socially responsible investing, financial advisors, retirement and investment strategy on a daily basis. In addition to NerdWallet, the work of our team members has been published in The New York Times, The Washington Post, Forbes, USA Today, Bloomberg News, Nasdaq, MSN, MarketWatch, Yahoo! Finance and other national and regional media outlets. The combined expertise of our Investing team is infused into our review process to ensure thoughtful evaluations of provider products and services from the customer perspective. Our writers and editors combine to have more than 70 years of deep experience in finance, ranging from a former Wall Street Journal reporter to a former senior financial advisor at Merrill Lynch. CONFLICTS OF INTEREST While NerdWallet does have partnerships with many of the reviewed providers, we manage potential conflicts of interest by maintaining a wall between our content and business operations. This wall is designed to prevent our writers and the review process from being influenced or impacted by our business partnerships. This way, all reviews can provide an unbiased review that serves the interests of our users. For more information, see NerdWallet’s editorial guidelines.