Kraken vs Coinbase

So, you’re ready to buy your first Bitcoin. Where should you make that initial purchase? For many newcomers to cryptocurrency, choosing the right crypto exchange is key to a seamless experience. In this guide, we compare Kraken vs Coinbase. These are two of the oldest, most trusted exchanges on the market, so let’s take a look at the pros and cons of these two cryptocurrency platforms.

Kraken Quick Overview

Kraken is one of the most trusted exchanges on the market, and many early Bitcoin users actually work at the platform today. Although the company behind the platform was founded all the way back in 2011, the exchange has never faced a serious security incident. To learn more check out our comprehensive Kraken review.

Kraken Pros & Cons

The Benefits PRO's
  • One of the best safety and security record of any exchange on the market
  • Strong liquidity
  • Cryptowatch platform allows users to trade across other exchanges
  • Lower fees than Coinbase
The Downside CON's
  • Not the simplest user interface for those who want simple “buy” and “sell” buttons
  • Mobile app unavailable
kraken exchange logo

Kraken

  • Trustworthy exchange
  • Supports many different funding options
  • Accepts users from across the globe
  • High trading volume

Coinbase Quick Overview

Coinbase is another one of the oldest cryptocurrency exchanges in existence, and it was the first platform to offer an easy-to-use brokerage-esque model for allowing users to buy and sell Bitcoin. To learn more about the exchange be sure to check out our in-depth Coinbase review.

Coinbase Pros & Cons

The Benefits PRO's
  • Simple and easy to use interface
  • Has different options for users depending on their level of trading expertise
  • Diverse options for fiat deposits and withdrawals
  • High liquidity
The Downside CON's
  • Platform has struggled keeping up with high trade volume, as recently as March 2020
  • Base version of the platform has higher fees than Pro version
Coinbase Logo

Coinbase

  • User-friendly
  • Great customer service
  • Low services fees
  • Diverse and consistently updated choice of coins

Kraken vs. Coinbase at a Glance

Information Kraken Coinbase
Headquarters San Francisco, USA San Francisco, USA
Company type: Exchange Broker Exchange/easy buy-sell options
Fees: Low (0% to 0.26%) Coinbase: High (1.49-3.99%) Coinbase Pro: Low (0% to 0.5%)
Security: High High
Beginner Friendly: No Yes
Verification required: Yes Yes
Available cryptocurrencies: Bitcoin, Ethereum (33 Total) Bitcoin, Ethereum, Ripple (28 Total)
Proprietary token: No Yes
On-site wallet: Yes Yes
Buy/Deposit Methods: Bank Transfer, Cryptocurrency Debit Card, Bank Transfer, Cryptocurrency
Sell/Withdraw Methods: Bank Transfer, Cryptocurrency Bank Transfer, PayPal, Cryptocurrency
Year established: 2011 2012
Fiat trading: Yes Yes
Gold: No No

Beginner Friendly

For a beginner, Coinbase will probably be a much better option than Kraken. However, this should not be viewed as a complete negative for Kraken, as the reality is that Coinbase simply caters to people who are new to the cryptocurrency space. Both platforms offer advanced trading platforms; however, Coinbase also offers the base brokerage platform that has been the staple of its product offerings since it first launched in 2012. This sort of interface is perfect for new Bitcoin and cryptocurrency users, although it does come with higher fees.

Trust & Security

Coinbase and Kraken are both some of the most trusted cryptocurrency exchanges in the market. Kraken has exposed more security threats than being exploited by one. Their devotion to maintain and uphold the security of their users has always been a priority, and they have done a great job building trust within their users. Although there are no publicly-known instances of Coinbase being hacked, they did face a situation during the creation of Ethereum Classic where they were originally not going to support the legacy chain on the advice of the Ethereum Foundation, which created a situation where they were effectively operating on a fractional reserve basis for a short period of time.
In terms of relationships with regulators, Coinbase likely comes out on top in a head-to-head match up with Kraken.

Fees

For a fee comparison, it’s only fair to compare Kraken to Coinbase Pro, as these are the two most similar versions of each platform. The fee structures for each platform are the same in that users with larger 30-day trading volumes will gain access to lower fees.

Generally speaking, Kraken has lower fees than Coinbase Pro. For example, someone making $25,000 worth of trades in a period of 30 days will pay 0.16% maker fees on Kraken and 0.35% maker fees on Coinbase Pro. Both Coinbase Pro and Kraken offer much lower fees than Coinbase’s base platform aimed at new users.

Sign-Up Process

If you are looking to purchase a relatively small amount of cryptocurrency without going through the hassle of a full personal information verification process, then Coinbase will be a better option than Kraken. On Coinbase, you are able to purchase up to $9,000 worth of cryptocurrency with nothing more than the verification of your phone number. With Kraken, you’re unable to deposit or withdraw fiat currency to and from the platform without going through a rather extensive verification process.

Available Cryptocurrencies

Kraken has a total number of 33 cryptocurrencies available for trade, while Coinbase has 28. It should be noted that there are differences between the cryptocurrencies that are available on Coinbase vs Coinbase Pro. While Kraken has more cryptocurrencies that can be traded on its platform, it’s important to think about which cryptocurrencies you specifically want to trade before you join an exchange. An exchange having the coins you desire is more important than the number of different coins that are available for trade.

Stand Out Features

Kraken offers an additional trading platform, known as Cryptowatch, which allows users to trade on multiple exchanges. In fact, Coinbase Pro is one of the exchanges that Cryptowatch traders can trade on via the web-based portal. In addition to Coinbase Pro and Kraken, Cryptowatch users can also trade on other exchanges like Bitfinex, Bitstamp, Poloniex, Bittrex, Binance, and HitBTC via their account API keys.

Coinbase’s key stand out feature is the version of the exchange platform that was launched in 2012, which makes it easy for anyone to buy, store, and sell their Bitcoin. Yes, it has higher fees than Kraken or even Coinbase Pro. That said, there’s no replacement for the level of simplicity that comes with Coinbase’s base brokerage platform.

Conclusion

At the end of the day, choosing between Kraken vs Coinbase comes down to the individual user’s needs. Coinbase will be the proper solution for someone who is completely new to the world of cryptocurrencies, while Kraken will be a better offering than Coinbase Pro for traders who want to gain access to enhanced features and lower fees. The stand out features offered by each of these two platforms really tell the whole story in terms of who should be using which exchange.

About the Author

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CryptoVantage Staff