At first glance, KuCoin looks like it might be ideal if you’re an experienced and active cryptocurrency trader. The exchange offers access to hundreds of tokens, as well as the ability to trade futures products and use margin. Combine all of that with relatively low fees, and KuCoin can be an attractive choice as a cryptocurrency exchange.
But there are some issues that make it less-than-ideal for most U.S. crypto investors, and especially those who are more on the beginner end of the spectrum. KuCoin isn’t licensed to operate in the United States, which unnecessarily complicates it for most U.S. crypto investors. For starters, KuCoin historically has not allowed U.S. investors to buy crypto with U.S. currency — though it recently introduced a feature the exchange says allows this, albeit with some hoops to jump through. Plus, user reviews skew heavily negative.
KuCoin launched in 2017 and claims to be the “people’s exchange.” The company is based in the Seychelles, and isn’t subject to U.S. regulations.
Here’s what you need to know about KuCoin.
Before You Start
No matter where you buy it, cryptocurrency is a highly volatile, speculative investment. Only invest in crypto what you’re prepared to lose, and make sure you have other financial priorities in place first: Save money in an emergency fund, contribute to retirement savings, and pay off any high-interest debt balances.
Pros and Cons of KuCoin
Access to more than 500 coins
Free Tether (USDT) coins when you sign up
Ability to stake for profit
Advanced trading options, including futures and the ability to trade on margin
Relatively low fees
Not licensed in the United States
U.S.-based investors need to have crypto already
Difficult to navigate for new crypto investors and traders
Poor reviews on Trustpilot
KuCoin At a Glance
- Centralized, so trades go through a third party, which can add security
- More than 500 currencies available
- Maker-taker model with tiered fees ranging up to 0.10%
- Free deposits, but there are withdrawal fees
- Up to $500 in USDT (Tether) available for users after making a first deposit or transfer of at least 50 USDT
- Offers margin trading and leveraged coin options, which offers you the chance to multiply your returns via borrowing
- Offers a Trading Bot to automatically trade for you
- Ability to trade cryptocurrency futures
- Staking allows you to earn additional coins
- Multiple opportunities to earn additional tokens through cloud mining, pooling, and crypto lending
Cryptocurrencies Available on KuCoin
KuCoin offers access to more than 500 cryptocurrency tokens. Some of the more popular coins offered on KuCoin include:
- Bitcoin (BTC)
- Ethereum (ETH)
- Litecoin (LTC)
- Bitcoin Cash (BCH)
- Solana (SOL)
- Polkadot (DOT)
- Polygon (MATIC)
- Cosmos (ATOM)
- Chainlink (LINK)
- Decentraland (MANA)
KuCoin also offers a variety of trading pairs, including those based on BTC and on KuCoin (KCS), the native coin of the KuCoin chain and exchange, as well as altcoin pairs. U.S. dollar trading prices are actually based on Tether (USDT), a stablecoin pegged to the U.S. dollar.
KuCoin has a tiered system, using a maker-taker model for spot trading and futures trading. With spot trading, you’re not actually “buying” a cryptocurrency, rather you’re trading something you already have for another coin. Usually, you can choose a “limit” or “market” order. With a limit order, you’re trading when the cryptocurrency hits a specific price. A market order is executed immediately at the current price. And with futures trading, you buy or sell an asset with a predetermined date and price.
In a maker-taker model, makers usually end up with a smaller fee, since they provide liquidity to the market by offering two sides to the trade. Takers, on the other hand, are those that are just buying at market rates.
KuCoin’s tiered system, which runs from levels 0 through 12, is based on your holding of KuCoin tokens or your 30-day trading volume, as expressed in BTC. When you level up, you pay smaller fees. Additionally, you can get a discount of 20% on trading fees when you pay the fees using KCS.
The highest fee you’ll pay for spot or futures trading is 0.16%. However, if you’re a maker, you might be eligible for negative fees at certain levels, rewarding you for providing liquidity.
KuCoin also offers a trading bot that you can set to execute your trades. You can choose from Classic Grid, to sell high and buy low; DCA, or dollar-cost averaging, where you regularly invest small amounts instead of a lump sum; Futures Grid, where you can leverage and go short if you expect a coin’s price to go down or long if you expect it to go up; and Smart Rebalance, which rebalances your holdings to maintain your portfolio percentages.
KuCoin doesn’t charge deposit fees, but if you withdraw your tokens from the exchange, you will pay a fee based on the particular coin. You might also be subject to a minimum. Here are some examples of withdrawal fees based on the token you choose. Minimum amounts and fees can change based on fluctuations in price.
|Token||KuCoin fee||Minimum withdrawal amount|
|BTC||0.0005 BTC||0.0008 BTC|
|ETH||0.00625 ETH||0.01 ETH|
|SOL||0.01 SOL||0.2 SOL|
|LTC||0.001 LTC||0.002 LTC|
KuCoin exchange uses industry-standard security protocols to protect accounts, and you can also set up two-factor authentication. Since KuCoin is not licensed to operate in the U.S., you’ll have to go through a process to use U.S. dollars, and you don’t have protection for cash deposits through FDIC-insured accounts, like you can get with other mainstream exchanges like Coinbase.
In 2020, KuCoin was the target of a hack in which there was a leak of the private keys associated with hot wallets. A number of cryptocurrencies were stolen, including BTC and ETH, to the amount of about $285 million. Once the hacker stole the crypto, they were able to turn around and quickly sell coins on decentralized exchanges.
KuCoin CEO Johnny Lyu said in a statement that users were paid back for the $285 million theft, via the recovery of $239.45 million through law enforcement and other exchange platforms, and $45.55 million from the company’s insurance. Additionally, KuCoin says it has put measures in place to reduce the chances of this happening again, including redeploying hot wallets and updating risk management protocols.
Who Is KuCoin Best For?
KuCoin is best if you’re an advanced cryptocurrency trader who wants features you can’t get on an exchange like Coinbase or Gemini, including access to hundreds of altcoins that aren’t available on other exchanges.
KuCoin can be a good choice if you’re a more advanced crypto investor who is looking to earn additional tokens by lending your crypto to others, as well as if you want to trade cryptocurrency futures and leveraged tokens. This exchange is not ideal for beginners, who need to get used to the interface, which isn’t intuitive, and those who aren’t crypto enthusiasts.
How to Open an Account with KuCoin
Opening an account is fairly straightforward, and you can do it on your phone or via email. Once you set a login and password, and verify the account with a code, you’re set up.
You can also verify your identity by going through a more involved process and providing documentation with the KYC verification feature. Once you complete these steps, you can access higher withdrawal benefits and trading features that might not be available otherwise.
KuCoin Compared to Others
|Coins||500+ cryptocurrencies||150+ cryptocurrencies||65+ cryptocurrencies|
|Fees||Up to 0.1%, depending on level||0.50% spread, fee between 1.49% and 3.99% (or a $0.99 to $2.99 flat fee)||0.1% trading fee; Can get a 25% discount on your fee if you hold Binance coin|
|Wallet Storage||Keep coins on exchange, held in a hot wallet, or transfer to your own wallet||Keep coins on Coinbase account, Coinbase Wallet, or transfer to your own wallet||Keep coins in Binance.US account or transfer to your own wallet|
|Minimum Trade||Depends on the token||$2||$10|
Frequently Asked Questions
Can U.S. citizens use KuCoin?
KuCoin is not licensed in the U.S. As a result, citizens might have restrictions on how much they can withdraw, as well as how much leverage is available. Additionally, KuCoin’s process for using U.S. dollars is a bit more complicated than other mainstream exchanges. The U.S. “currency” used on KuCoin is USDT, a stablecoin pegged to the U.S. dollar, and not the U.S. fiat currency.
Is KuCoin legit?
Yes, KuCoin is a legitimate cryptocurrency exchange. KuCoin uses standard encryption and offers two-factor authentication. The company says it has an insurance fund that is designed to cover losses due to hacking, like the loss related to the 2020 hack of KuCoin’s hot wallets.
Is KuCoin better than Coinbase?
Coinbase is regulated in the United States and cash deposits are protected by FDIC insurance, so you have more safety and can use U.S. dollars to buy crypto more simply. Coinbase is also easier for beginners to use, but has higher fees. KuCoin isn’t licensed in the U.S., so you might have more risk plus you can’t use U.S. fiat currency as easily. However, you’ll see more features for advanced traders on KuCoin, and access to a wider variety of altcoins.