The bottom line:
Pros & Cons
Large selection of digital assets.
Low fees for advanced traders.
Limited options for funding accounts.
Not available in all U.S. states.
High fees for buying in USD.
Compare to Similar Brokers
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Where Kraken shines
Large selection: Kraken lets its customers buy more than 230 different cryptocurrencies, and the service offers more than 130 crypto trading pairs.
Relatively low fees: While Kraken’s rates for entry-level traders can be high, 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. When we tested the service, even a bank that was included on this list was still unable to connect to Kraken.
Not available everywhere: The exchange is not open to people in New York or Washington state.
Kraken is best for:
Kraken at a glance
Trading and transaction fees
Up to 5% for debit card purchase, though fees on KrakenPro are lower.
Number of cryptocurrencies
More than 230.
Crypto-to-crypto trading pairs
More than 130.
On Kraken’s website, you can easily find important information, including investment minimums, supported assets and how to close an account.
Kraken doesn't insure customers' crypto, but it has a solid track record for digital security.
Staking and rewards
Kraken no longer offers staking or rewards.
Kraken's apps for iOS and Android have high average ratings among users.
Kraken has 24-hour live phone and chat support.
More details about Kraken's ratings
Minimum trade: 5 out of 5 stars
The minimum trade depends on the cryptocurrency being traded. Bitcoin’s minimum, for instance, is .0001 BTC, which was worth about $3.50 at the time of publication.
Trading and transaction fees: 2.5 out of 5 stars
Kraken’s fees become more attractive when you use its more advanced features.
The company’s entry-level service, “Instant Buy,” is convenient, but the fee breakdown is confusing and opaque. Previously, Kraken disclosed its fees as 1.5% for most cryptocurrencies, plus a 0.5% processing fee. Now, all users can see is that Kraken will show a "displayed fee" and potentially a spread at the time of purchase. When we tested purchasing $200 of BTC with USD via debit card, this displayed fee came out to $10.59, or about 5.3%. Fees do tend to be higher with debit card purchases, but Kraken's issues with connecting with banks means this likely isn't an uncommon scenario.
However, 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. Unlike the Instant Buy option, these are among the lowest fees of all crypto platforms we review.
Number of cryptocurrencies: 5 out of 5 stars
Kraken offers more than 230 cryptocurrencies.
Crypto-to-crypto trading pairs: 5 out of 5 stars
Kraken has about 130 trading pairs.
Storage and security: 4.5 out of 5 stars
While some other exchanges have insurance to cover assets held on their platform, Kraken does not. 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.
Staking and rewards: 1 out of 5 stars
On Feb. 9, 2023, Kraken agreed to pay a $30 million settlement with the SEC over allegations surrounding its staking program. As a part of the settlement, Kraken discontinued the program for U.S. customers.
Mobile app: 5 out of 5 stars
Kraken offers multiple apps for Android and iOS. Both its basic app and the KrakenPro app — still free, but with more advanced features — have high average customer ratings.
Customer support options: 5 out of 5 stars
Kraken offers 24/7 live, multi-lingual phone support. It also has 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 cryptocurrency platforms?
NerdWallet’s comprehensive review process evaluates and ranks platforms and companies that allow U.S. customers to buy and/or sell cryptocurrency. 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. We adhere to strict guidelines for editorial integrity.
We collect data directly from providers through detailed questionnaires, and conduct first-hand testing and observation through provider demonstrations. The questionnaire answers, combined with demonstrations, interviews of personnel at the providers and our specialists’ hands-on research, fuel our proprietary assessment process that scores each provider’s performance across more than 10 factors. The final output produces star ratings from poor (one star) to excellent (five stars).
For more details about the categories considered when rating brokers and our process, read our full methodology.