Binance Vs Kraken: Which Exchange Is Best for You

Published: December 14, 2023 | Last Updated: December 23, 2023

Markos Koemtzopoulos

Markos Koemtzopoulos is the founder and main writer of ElementalCrypto. He has been a lecturer at the University of Nicosia on cryptocurrencies and DeFi and has taught two courses on crypto and blockchain technology.

In this review, I will help you choose between Binance and Kraken and help you identify which one is better for you. 

binance vs kraken

I use both of these crypto exchanges, and they are both good. The differences are nuanced. Here is what you need to pay attention to to make an informed decision

In a nutshell

Binance is the largest exchange with more liquidity. It offers a wider variety of cryptocurrencies, lower trading fees, and extra features such as staking and a prepaid visa card. On the downside, Binance’s CEO is going to jail which can’t be good and is not a great option for US traders because you can’t deposit or withdraw dollars.

On the other hand, Kraken wins on security and if you want to use leverage in your trades. It also has a less cluttered user interface. 

My honest opinion: I started with Kraken because I was sold on the security aspect and I found it easier to navigate. Later I started using Binance (and other exchanges) when I couldn’t find some niche coins I wanted to invest in on Kraken.

Binance vs Kraken at a glance

Binance vs Kraken

Binance Kraken
Number of coins ✔️
Security ✔️
Margin trading ✔️
Fees ✔️
Compliance ❌❌
Interface ✔️
Liquidity ✔️
Prepaid card ✔️
Staking ✔️
Languages ✔️
Deposit methods ✔️

Binance vs Kraken: What set’s them apart

1. Number of coins

✔️ Binance | ❌ Kraken

Binance wins this round as it has a larger selection of trading pairs to choose from. 

While Kraken has a decent selection of 236 coins and tokens Binance boasts more than 500 digital assets.

HBAR, JTO, and WOO are just some examples of coins listed on Binance but not on Kraken. 

I’ve also noticed that Binance is faster in listing trending coins. For example, when $PEPE went viral it hit an all-time high on the 5th of May 2023. Binance listed $PEPE on the 4th of May while Kraken listed on it on the 16th. 

Same for Shiba Inu. Binance listed the popular meme coin 6 months before Kraken did.

Why does the number of coins matter?

In the beginning it won’t. When you start trading crypto you’ll probably invest in the largest cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin and ETH which are available on both platforms. But as you take on more positions you will start to want to take calculated bets on some lesser-known coins. Inevitably you will end up using multiple exchanges to do this because not all coins are listed on all exchanges. With Binance offering a wider variety of crypto you will likely end up on it at some point.

2. Security measures

❌ Binance | ✔️ Kraken

Kraken wins this round

Kraken has a reputation for security and there is a reason for this. Case in point Kraken has never been hacked while Binance has.

Kraken stores 95% in their assets in cold storage meaning you can’t access it online. They also offer more security options:

Kraken’s two-factor authentication options

When you join any crypto exchange you will have the option to implement two-factor authentication. This means you will use a third-party app such as Google Authenticator that issues time-based codes that you need to enter into the exchange’s app to log in and authorize transactions. Kraken allows you to set up three separate codes for different activities. You can have one for logging in, one for funding, and one for changing your master settings. Under security settings, can also add a time limit delay for transactions to go through. This way if someone gains access to your account and tries to send your crypto assets elsewhere you will be notified in the meantime and have time to react. 

google authenticator
This is what the Google authenticator app looks like

Binance SAFU fund

Having said that Binance has set up a Safe Asset Fund for Users (SAFU) which it has set aside to compensate users in case their funds are stolen. You can read more about SAFU here.

3. Margin trading

❌ Binance | ✔️ Kraken

Kraken wins this round.

Margin trading is when the exchange lends you funds to multiply your trading position. This can magnify both wins and losses depending on whether the price moves in your favor. If you are new to trading you should avoid it as you are sure to wipe out your investment capital this way.

Having said that I have used the margin trading feature offered on Kraken Pro and was able to figure out how to use it straight away. I have never been able to use the Binance margin trading because it requires a minimum deposit of $10,000 and requires that you pass a test that I can’t be bothered taking. 

See What is leverage in crypto trading for more.

4. Trading fees

✔️ Binance | ❌ Kraken

Binance wins this point fair and square.

Binance has lower fees at 0.1% for regular users trading less than 1,000,000 which is the category I imagine you fall into.

In contrast, Kraken Pro takes 0.16% for makers and 0.26% for takers for order amounts of less than $50,000.

What are makers and takers?

Makers are traders who set limit orders i.e. your trade goes through only if the price hits a threshold that you set. Takers are those who just hit place a market order i.e. they hit the buy/sell button and accept the going rate.

If you are new to trading you will probably use market orders and end up paying more than double in trading fees on Kraken Pro vs Binance. Say you trade $50,000 worth of crypto then your fee on Binance will be $50 while on Kraken it will cost $130. 

You should pay attention to these fees especially if you plan to day trade. If that’s your strategy then definitely go with Binance

Also, note that Binance has its own coin called Binance Coin (BNB). If you use BNB to place trades you get a 25% discount.

It’s also worth noting that Binance offers a VIP program. This program provides additional benefits and discounts to users based on their trading volume and BNB holdings. VIP users can enjoy lower trading fees, faster customer support, and exclusive access to certain features and promotions.

You can find the maker-taker fee structure for Binance here and Kraken trading fees here.

Heads up: both Binance and Kraken have light versions and pro versions for their mobile apps. You want to avoid the lite versions. The pro versions are slightly more intimidating for first-time users but much cheaper to use. For example, when I placed a trade to buy ETH using the basic Kraken version the fee was 5.47%. You can expect the same range from Binance Lite. Both exchanges do not report fees for their Lite versions which is kind of shady. Binance Lite doesn’t even tell you the fee before you place the trade whereas Kraken Lite does.

How to use the pro version of Binance and Kraken

You can use the pro version of Binance by going into settings in the top left icon and clicking on Binance Pro.

infographic how to enable binance pro

Kraken has two separate apps: Kraken and Kraken Pro. You can log into both with the same credentials and you will see the same data except the Kraken Pro offers some extra features for advanced users. 

kraken vs kraken pro

Also, note that purchase fees will be higher (3-4.5%) on both platforms if you want to make an instant crypto purchase using a credit card or debit card. Note that Kraken does not support credit card deposits for US users.

5. Regulatory compliance issues

❌❌ Binance | ❌ Kraken

Binance loses more points here

Both Kraken and Binance are being sued by the Securities Exchange Commission in the United States at the time of writing. Binance has it worse with its CEO, Changpeng Zhao (CZ), pleading guilty to money laundering charges. CZ is a likable character in crypto circles and a big part of the Binance brand. It remains to be seen how Binance will fare without him at the helm. Keep in mind that Binance.us is a separate legal entity from Binace.com but I keep coming across new articles about regulators in other countries coming after Binance.com. 

Changpeng Zhao
Changpeng Zhao. Source: Forbes.com

Kraken too is being sued for operating an unregistered securities exchange. Plus Kraken has already been forced to pay a 30Million fine for offering its customers the option to stake their crypto.

Tip: Given the regulatory uncertainty it would be best you move any crypto you plan to hold for the long term into a crypto wallet. This way no one can take your crypto away from you if they go bankrupt. 

6. Ease of use

❌ Binance | ✔️ Kraken

Kraken scores marginally higher here.

If you are new to crypto trading it’s going to take some getting used to any interface you use.

However, there is a distinct aesthetic that characterizes each of the apps.

Kraken is a US-based exchange. Its user-friendly platform is crisp and clean in following the design ethos of most American apps which is to focus on doing one thing well. I like Kraken’s no-frills design however I should point out that the Kraken Pro app take longer to open than I would like. Also, sometimes it freezes before unlocking and I need to restart my phone. I don’t know if that is only for me or for everyone.

Binance on the other hand portrays the Chinese culture of app design. The Binance app wants to be the everything app for all things crypto. The interface is more cluttered with tickers, news, a social feed, and multiple icons and tabs to explore.

binance vs kraken user interface
Binance(keft) is more cluttered than Kraken (right). Binance has hidden a lot of the clutter under settings where there are many customizations you can make.

I have gotten used to both interfaces. To be honest I ignore the clutter on Binance and use the trading tab when I want to buy or sell crypto and the portfolio tab when I want to check how I am doing. However I still find Kraken simpler to use.

7. Liquidity

✔️ Binance | ❌ Kraken

Binance wins

Binance has way more liquidity than Kraken. Binance is currently the world’s largest cryptocurrency exchange with 14 times the trading volume that Kraken does. High liquidity means that your trade will go through faster and that the exchange can offer low fees as we already saw.

Top Crypto exchanges ranked by trading volume
Top 10 Crypto exchanges ranked by trading volume. Source: coinmarketcap.com

8. Prepaid card

✔️ Binance | ❌ Kraken

Binance scores a point here

Binance offers its users a prepaid Binance visa card that they can use to spend their crypto with. The crypto to fiat conversion happens automatically.

Kraken doesn’t offer any prepaid card to its users at the time of writing.

9. Fiat currencies

❌ Binance | ✔️ Kraken

Binance does not support deposits or withdrawals in US dollars which is a key drawback for US based users.

10. Web 3 integrations

✔️ Binance | ❌ Kraken

Binance scores slightly higher here

Binance allows you to stake and earn a return on different assets. It also has a wallet called Trust Wallet that you can use to participate in decentralized finance. You don’t need to have an account with Binance to use Trust Wallet it’s just that they go well together.

Kraken too used to allow you to stake from within their interface but the SEC lawsuit is preventing them from offering that service right now. 

11. Languages

✔️ Binance | ❌ Kraken

More points to Binance here

Binance supports more than 20 languages:

  • English
  • Arabic
  • Ukrainian
  • Russian
  • Croatian
  • Danish
  • German
  • Greek
  • Spanish
  • French
  • Hungarian
  • Bahasa Indonesia
  • Italian
  • Chinese simplified
  • Polish
  • Portuguese
  • Romanian
  • Telegu
  • Slovenian
  • Slovakian
  • Swedish
  • Turkish
  • Vietnamese

Kraken only supports English and French. 

12. Payment methods

❌ Binance | ✔️ Kraken

Kraken does not support ACH bank transfers in the US which is annoying. But then on the other hand Binance does not allow USD deposits full stop in the US. 

Similarities

Here are similarities between the two that made me indifferent in choosing between them

  • Both support futures trading
  • Advanced traders can set multiple order types such as market orders, limit orders, stop orders and the like.
  • Account verification is equally annoying on Kraken and Binance. They both have to comply with KYC regulation to confirm your personal information so you just need to go through the process and put up with it. 
  • Customer service is equally good. I’ve used the customer support of Binance and Kraken and communication was easy and my issue was resolved on time. 
  • Both have educational resources. Kraken users can visit the Kraken Learn Center to understand crypto better while Binance offers new users the Binance academy
  • Withdrawal fees are negligible on both platforms if you use the standard bank transfer option.
  • Both support high-net-worth individuals for OTC trading (over-the-counter trading).
  • Kraken and Binance both have their own NFT marketplace to which I am indifferent as there are loads of marketplaces for NFTs out there.
  • Both cover the same geographies
  • Both allow you to connect via APIs to third parties such as tax accounting software like Koinly. 

FAQs

Should I leave my crypto in Kraken?

Kraken has a reputation for security. It places 95% of funds in cold storage and allows you to set multiple two-factor authentication codes. If you leave your funds on Kraken make sure you set a time limit on transfers so that if anyone accesses your account and tries to move your crypto you will have enough time to react. If you have a sizable amount of crypto you should diversify your holdings across wallets that you own the private keys to. If you don’t trust your self with keeping a seed phrase safe check out Ledger’s recovery feature (see my Ledger wallet review for more) or consider Coinbase Vaults

Why is Kraken so popular?

Kraken launched in 2011 and has created a positive brand image for its safety. To date, it’s one of the few exchanges that has not been hacked. 

Is Binance safer than Kraken?

Binance has been hacked in the past while Kraken hasn’t. Also, Binance is less transparent about its security settings compared to Kraken which stores the majority of its customers’ assets in cold storage. However, Binance does have an insurance fund called SAFU that will refund users in case of an exploit.  

What is the margin fee on Kraken vs Binance?

Kraken charges 0.02% every 4 hours while Binance charges 0.01% per day

Is Kraken a trusted exchange?

Many people trust Kraken for its security settings. If you hold a  large amount of crypto you would be better off storing it in a wallet provided you trust yourself to not lose your private keys. 

What is better than Binance?

Popular alternatives to Binance are Coinbase, Kraken, KuCoin, OKX, ByBit and Gate.io.

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Markos Koemtzopoulos is the founder and main writer of ElementalCrypto. He has been a lecturer at the University of Nicosia on cryptocurrencies and DeFi and has taught two courses on crypto and blockchain technology.