Kraken vs GDAX | Detailed Comparison of Two Fiat Exchanges
Kraken and GDAX (Global Digital Assets Exchange) are popular, well trusted, and secure cryptocurrency exchanges aimed at experienced traders. Both of these San Francisco-based exchanges accept fiat currencies, but are separated by their numbers of supported cryptocurrencies: GDAX only lists 4 of the most popular cryptocurrencies, while Kraken offers trading for more than 15 cryptocurrencies.
In this GDAX vs Kraken comparison, we’ll look beyond this key difference at the advantages and disadvantages of each cryptocurrency exchange.
- Kraken vs GDAX: Side-by-Side
- Background Information
- Are they Safe?
- Platform User Interface
- Supported Cryptocurrencies
- Trading Fees and Payment Methods
|Deposit Methods||Bank Transfers, Cryptocurrency||Bank Transfers & Wires, Cryptocurrency|
|Withdrawal Methods||Bank Transfers, Cryptocurrency||Bank Transfers & Wires, Cryptocurrency|
|Trading Fees||~0.36% or less + deposit fees||0.25% or less|
|Supported Cryptocurrencies||Bitcoin, Ethereum, Bitcoin Cash, Dash,|
Litecoin, EOS, Monero, Stellar, Ripple,
Zcash, Ethereum Classic, Gnosis, Augur, Melon, Doge, Iconomi.
|Bitcoin, Ethereum, Litecoin, Bitcoin Cash|
|Location||San Francisco, California, USA||San Francisco, California|
|Review & User Guide||GDAX Review|
Kraken is one of the oldest cryptocurrency exchanges and has long been one of the top 15 cryptocurrency exchanges by trade volume. Kraken supports over 15 different cryptocurrencies and 47 base pairs. The exchange also trades with 7 base currencies including Canadian dollars, US dollars, British pounds, and the Japanese yen. Kraken is therefore a popular cryptocurrency exchange for traders and institutions across the world.
GDAX is a cryptocurrency exchange owned and operated by Coinbase. It originally launched in 2015 as the Coinbase Exchange before rebranding to GDAX. GDAX supports very few trading pairs and only carries four of the top cryptocurrencies. Anyone who holds an account with Coinbase can also log into GDAX and trade immediately.
Kraken is considered to be a fairly safe cryptocurrency exchange since they’ve never been compromised or hacked (not including breaches of personal Kraken accounts due to poor security by the user.) The cryptocurrency exchange follows numerous security best practices.
- Separating company operational funds from customer funds
- Ensuring the vast majority of coins are stored in cold wallets
- Ensuring new deposits go directly to cold wallets
- Only storing coins that are required for operational liquidity in hot wallets
- Encrypting all wallets
- Maintaining full reserves
In regards to a personal Kraken account, the cryptocurrency exchange offers the following user account security measures:
- Two-factor authentication (2FA) for account login, funding, and trading
- Separate two-factor authentication channel (Master key) for highly secure account recovery
- Encryption of sensitive account information, including verification documents
- Global lock settings which allows users to prevent changes being made to their account for a set number of days
GDAX is also considered a secure cryptocurrency exchange since they’re owned and operated by Coinbase, the most well trusted and popular cryptocurrency exchange in the world. Coinbase set the standard for industry practices when it comes to security and managing customer funds and deposits. They’ve brought these practices to GDAX.
GDAX’s security measures include:
- Implementing an insurance policy to pay out customers if any funds are lost
- Holding 98 percent of customers cryptocurrency funds in offline storage
- Separating customers funds from company funds
- Never using customer funds for GDAX’s operational purposes
- United States residents’ USD balances are FDIC insured up to $250,000
In regards to the personal GDAX account, the exchange offers the following security measures:
- 2-Factor Authentication (2FA) through SMS text, Google Authenticator, or Authy
- The ability to store funds in the Coinbase Vault
- Requiring further verification for new devices
Kraken’s user interface is quite unintuitive. We at Unhashed have had several negative experiences using the site. When we used the order form to purchase cryptocurrencies, we could not submit an order properly. We also experienced bugs when we placed an order; it seemed as though the site didn’t process the order when it was clearly processed.
Kraken seems to be aware of their bugs and have announced on their website that their “service is under heavy load and performance is degraded. Upgrades coming soon.” Hopefully Kraken will solve these issues soon. Until then, it’s quite hard to navigate and even harder to recommend.
Apart from these bugs, Kraken has a variety of advanced trading features from simple, intermediate or advanced orders. Traders can pace market and limit orders on the simple tab and stop losses, leverage options, expiration, and conditional closes via the intermediate and advanced tabs.
GDAX’s user interface is well-suited for seasoned traders who understand how the market works. It may be slightly intimidating for beginners, but it’s great for those who are looking for an information-rich interface.
Many traders enjoy the fact that GDAX places the price chart, graph, order book information, and trade history all on the same page. It makes the trading process more convenient and enables traders to analyze trends without having to switch web pages consistently. GDAX also allows traders to place market, limit, and stop orders.
Kraken offers a range of cryptocurrencies for trading including: Bitcoin, Ethereum, Bitcoin Cash, Dash, Litecoin, EOS, Monero, Stellar, Ripple, Zcash, Ethereum Classic, Gnosis, Augur, Melon, Doge, Iconomi.
GDAX, however, only supports Bitcoin, Ethereum, Litecoin, or Bitcoin Cash. On March 27, 2018, however, Coinbase publicly announced that they will begin supporting other ERC-20 tokens on GDAX. They have not yet announced which ERC-20 tokens they will be supporting.
Kraken has a variable trading fee schedule. Fees are charged on a per-trade basis and are also tier-based; the more total volume you trade on your account, the lower your fee on subsequent trades are. Trading volumes are calculated for trades made within a 30 day period.
Their current deposit fees include:
- USD Deposit: $5
- USD Swift Deposit: $10
- EUR SEPA Deposit: Free
- CAD Wire Deposit: Free
Kraken provides a very detailed guide when it comes to its trading fee structure. The majority of trades that fall under 50,000 in volume of a certain currency will incur a maker fee of 0.16 percent and a taker fee of 0.26 percent. These fees apply for Bitcoin trades made via fiat currencies like USD, EUR, JPY, GBP, and CAD. The same fee structure applies for most other altcoin trading pairs. That being said, different trading pairs have different fees. Users should be sure to check the fee schedules for each pair before trading. The maximum trading fee is 0.36%.
GDAX deposit and withdrawal fees include:
- ACH Deposit: Free
- ACH Withdrawal: Free
- SEPA Deposit: €15
- SEPA Withdrawal: €15
- USD Wire Deposit: $10
- USD Wire Withdrawal: $25
Like Kraken, GDAX has a maker-taker trading fee structure. The fee tier is based on 30 trade volume. GDAX, however, has a zero percent maker fee regardless of volume.
Their taker fee begins at 0.30 percent for trades from $0 to $10 million in volume. The taker fee reduced to 0.20 percent for trade from $10 million to $100 million and 0.10 percent for all trades over $100 million.
Although Kraken and GDAX are both designed for more experienced investors, Kraken is more suited for investors interested in trading alternative coins. Kraken also has more options for investors who are looking to use advanced trading tools. On the other hand, GDAX is a great option for trading some of the most popular coins. GDAX is also simpler to use and offers a much more refined user interface.
Cindy Huynh is a digital nomad and cryptocurrency enthusiast. As a former edutech founder, she’s on a mission to help others understand the social and economic implications of emerging technologies.