Comparing Coinbase Exchange vs Kraken in 2024. Which Cryptocurrency Exchange Is Better?

Anton Ioffe - January 4th 2024 - 6 minutes read

Embark on a discerning journey through the high-stakes arena of cryptocurrency exchanges as we pit two digital behemoths, Coinbase and Kraken, against each other in a 2024 showdown. In the ever-expanding universe of blockchain and bits, traders are seeking a vessel that not only sails smoothly but also withstands tumultuous markets. Our comprehensive analysis will navigate you through the intricate web of features, dissect the nuances of their fee structures, put their fortified security measures under the microscope, and peer into the user experience crafted by these platforms. Whether you are charting your first course or are a seasoned crypto mariner, join us as we delve into the minutiae that could tip the scales in this fiercely contested battle for cryptocurrency exchange supremacy.

Feature Set Face-off: Coinbase and Kraken's Crypto Services

In the realm of digital asset services, Coinbase and Kraken are two titans offering a versatile range of options to traders and investors alike. Coinbase simplifies the venture into cryptocurrency for novices with its intuitive interface. The platform's ecosystem is not only limited to trading but extends to an own-brand digital wallet, enhancing the transferability and security of digital assets for users. Furthermore, Coinbase attracts users with its educational courses that offer crypto rewards, crafting a learning incentive system. Their commitment to being more than just an exchange is evident, with offerings like their crypto rewards debit card, making it convenient for users to spend their crypto as easily as fiat currency.

Kraken, on the other hand, tends to skew towards traders with a penchant for more intricate features, aligning with the requirements of seasoned investors. Kraken Pro delivers in-depth market analysis tools, such as candlestick charts, and sophisticated trade order types, resembling the functionalities of traditional financial market platforms. While it may present a steeper learning curve, the additional services like high liquidity and margin trading offer traders the capability to employ complex investment strategies. Moreover, Kraken's staking services provide users an opportunity to earn rewards on their holdings, giving them additional passive income streams.

Both exchanges embrace the advanced trader with their respective premium platforms, Kraken Pro and Coinbase Advanced Trade, offering expanded charting tools, comprehensive market insights, and a variety of order types catering to intricate trading strategies. These features demonstrate an understanding of the growing sophistication in cryptocurrency trading practices, accommodating investors who desire more than the standard buy and sell orders. Each exchange, through distinctive pathways, has carved out a niche in the cryptocurrency ecosystem, revealing a divergence in philosophies—a user-friendly, feature-rich platform on one side and a powerhouse of professional trading tools on the other.

Fee Structure Finesse: Analyzing Transaction Costs on Coinbase vs. Kraken

When comparing the fee structures of Coinbase and Kraken, a critical element to consider is the maker-taker fee model. This is essential for understanding transaction costs as these fees dictate a large portion of the expenses a trader incurs with each order. Coinbase's baseline maker-taker fees start around 0.50%, which is substantial for casual and small-volume traders. Conversely, Kraken's starting fee of 0.26% is significantly lower, immediately offering an advantage to cost-conscious users. For high-volume traders, both exchanges implement a tiered fee schedule: as traders increase their monthly transaction volume, they're rewarded with lower fees, presenting a clear cost-benefit that serves to bolster liquidity and frequent trading engagement.

The term "spread fee" used by Coinbase relates to the price difference between the buy and sell prices quoted for a cryptocurrency. This spread can add an opaque layer to the total transaction cost, as it varies with market conditions. On the standard Coinbase platform, this fee is intertwined with the overall transaction cost and tends to hover around 0.50%, while on the Advanced Trade platform, the fees start higher but reduce with increased trading volume—0.6% for takers and 0.4% for makers—as a form of incentive for active traders. Kraken's upfront costing for its "Instant Buy" service sits at 0.9% for stablecoins and 1.5% for other cryptocurrencies, with added fees for credit or debit card funding—facilitating users to explicitly account for the cost of each investment move.

The overall comprehension of fee structures isn't centered on trading fees alone; rather, one must be diligent about withdrawal fees and any concealed charges that can add up, especially if one frequently moves assets. Both exchanges enforce different withdrawal fees contingent on the type of cryptocurrency, which can lead to a non-negligible sum over time for dynamic traders. Kraken, with its slightly more elaborate approach to presenting fees, may seem daunting to newcomers, but it can result in more meaningful savings for those who cultivate a pattern of high trading volume. Coinbase's structure, while more readily comprehensible and less intimidating for beginners, could ultimately culminate in higher trading expenses. Traders must weigh the transparency and potential cost-efficiency of Kraken's fee structure against the simplicity and immediacy of Coinbase's costlier fee model.

Fort Knox or Open Seas? Security Measures of Coinbase and Kraken

When examining the security infrastructure of Coinbase and Kraken, both exchanges exhibit robust measures to defend users' assets against the multifaceted risks of the crypto world. Kraken's security is comprehensive, with 95% of assets stored in offline, air-gapped, and geographically scattered cold storage, effectively minimizing the risk of digital theft. Their servers are housed in fortified facilities, safeguarded by a combination of 24/7 armed surveillance and rigorous access restrictions. Meanwhile, Coinbase offers robust protections, including mandatory two-factor authentication for all users, and has taken decisive steps to enhance its security measures following an incident in 2021 that affected 6,000 customers, reinforcing its systems to better shield against unauthorized access.

Beyond foundational security practices, both platforms endow users with tools to beef up their own account security. Coinbase deploys features like customizable API key permissions and encrypted email via PGP, reinforcing account integrity. Kraken mirrors this with options for customizable 2FA, either through Google Authenticator or Yubikey, and withdrawal email confirmations. Kraken further demonstrates its commitment to security by establishing a $100 million contingency fund, bolstering its capacity to reimburse customers in the unlikely scenario of a security breach. These preemptive strategies showcase an adherence to a stringent security regime that reflects sound protection in the digital currency sphere.

In the realm of digital currency exchanges, the presence or absence of major hacking incidents can be a significant contributor to user trust. Notably, Kraken has managed to maintain an impressive track record, having avoided any major security breaches since its inception. While there have been reports on online forums of individual user accounts experiencing unauthorized activities, these cases highlight the importance of users' personal security measures. Contrarily, Coinbase has endured challenges, such as the 2021 breach, prompting the platform to enhance its security features. Both exchanges' commitment to bolstering their defenses is crucial as they navigate the evolving threat landscape that is inherent to the online financial domain.

User Experience: Charting the Course on Coinbase and Kraken

When embarking on their cryptocurrency journey, users seek platforms that offer not just a variety of services but an exceptional user experience. On Coinbase, the journey starts with an ease rarely matched in the crypto exchange realm. An intuitive user interface boasts a well-placed search bar, leading directly to all platform features. The process of buying and selling is lucidly designed, and for those preferring a hands-off approach, the option to set up automatic cryptocurrency purchases is present. The mobile app mirrors the desktop's straightforward nature, ensuring a consistent user experience across devices.

In contrast, Kraken leans toward a more utilitarian design which could be less inviting for novices but is incredibly rewarding for seasoned traders ready to deep-dive into the financial details of the crypto market. With Kraken, one can switch between simple and advanced trading interfaces, adjusting the complexity according to their comfort and experience levels. For those seeking enriched analysis and trading opportunities, Kraken Pro integrates seamlessly, offering detailed charts, technical tools, and a suite of features allowing users to personalize their trading strategy.

Central to both platforms is customer support—a crucial aspect that can make or break the user experience. Coinbase and Kraken excel in this department by offering 24/7 live chat and phone support, providing users with round-the-clock assistance. This commitment to service extends beyond immediate problem-solving; both platforms host a wealth of educational content aimed at helping beginners navigate the often bewildering world of cryptocurrency. By combining a straightforward sign-up process with accessible learning resources and responsive customer care, Coinbase and Kraken empower users to chart the course of their crypto journey with confidence, regardless of their entry point into the crypto sphere.


In this article, we compare Coinbase and Kraken, two leading cryptocurrency exchanges, to determine which one is better in 2024. We analyze their feature sets, fee structures, security measures, and user experiences. Key takeaways include Coinbase's user-friendly interface, educational resources, and crypto rewards offerings, while Kraken appeals to seasoned traders with advanced market analysis tools and margin trading options. Coinbase has higher fees, while Kraken offers lower transaction costs, especially for high-volume traders. Both exchanges prioritize security with robust measures, and customer support is available 24/7 on both platforms. Overall, users can choose the exchange that best suits their needs and experience level in the cryptocurrency market.