KuCoin is the one of the largest cryptocurrency exchanges in the global cryptocurrency markets, offers 500+ coins to trade, and provides secure digital assets trade and management services.
It was launched in 2017 and places no geographical restrictions on its users, meaning it is also open to US users.
As of Q4 2021, KuCoin averages around $20B USD in daily trading volume and 10M+ global users, claiming that 1 in 4 crypto holders worldwide is a KuCoin user.
KuCoin does not require all users to complete identity verification but users who do so enjoy access to higher withdrawal and deposit limits. US investors are not listed as prohibited from trading at KuCoin.
History of KuCoin
KuCoin was founded by two tech geeks who were early blockchain adopters. The two founders, Michael Gan and Eric Don, had been working with and involved in blockchain since 2011.
Michael was a user of early exchange Mt. Gox and discovered that the platform was difficult for beginners to use. As the adoption of blockchain continued, Michael and Eric realized it would reshape the financial system and termed KuCoin “The People’s Exchange,” writing down the first code by the end of 2013.
The technical architecture of the exchange was created in 2013 but honed before the 2017 official launch. During its ICO in August 2017, KuCoin sold 100M of its native KuCoin Shares token (KCS), an ERC-20 token, for 0.000055 BTC each, raising nearly $20M USD in BTC.
In February 2019, KuCoin completed its upgrade to KuCoin Platform 2.0, which features an advanced new API, additional security solutions, a tiered trading fee discount program, and various user experience and future optimizations.
The long term goal of the KuCoin team is to transition to a fully decentralized exchange (DEX) model. Currently, the exchange describes itself as a hybrid exchange integrating features and best practices of both centralized exchange and DEXs, such as compliance teams and dedicated risk teams.
KuCoin is best for:
- Investors and traders of all skill levels who desire the choice between both a simple and high-performance advanced platform for both spot investing and active trading with extremely competitive fees and the largest crypto selection in the industry, with the ability to pay fees in the exchange token KCS
- Advanced traders who wish to use up to 100X leverage futures trading, 10X leverage margin trading, and in general have access to cryptocurrency futures and leveraged token products, without being restricted from the platform itself for being in the US,
- Crypto-only traders and investors who wish to get access to the entire KuCoin suite of products including leveraged tokens, the mining pool, lending program, access to smart contracts platform KCC (KuCoin Community Chain), and the associated referral and affiliate incentives
- Competitive fees
- Over 560 cryptocurrencies & 1095 pairs
- Margins, spot, and futures trading
- P2P exchange
- API access and trading bots
- Advanced trading platform
- Gamification with prizes
- Crypto lending
- Mining pool
- Affiliate program
- Mobile and desktop friendly
- Not licensed in the US but KuCoin itself doesn’t restrict access
- No bank transfers
- Only third-parties apps to purchase crypto
- No basic access, only advanced
Pros & Unique Features
The biggest perks of KuCoin are its extremely competitive fees, large selection of listed cryptocurrencies and trading pairs including coins that are often not found on other exchanges, and its wide range of crypto services including margin and futures trading, a built-in P2P exchange, and more.
Many crypto investors and traders prefer KuCoin due to its tendency to list lesser-known and promising small-cap cryptocurrencies that either cannot be found on other exchanges, or before other exchanges.
KuCoin offers over 560 cryptocurrency market offerings and over 1095 pairs, which is a selection even larger than competitors Binance and Coinbase.
For derivatives, KuCoin offers futures trading with a lite platform, a Futures Pro platform with advanced trading and charting tools along with access of up to 100X leverage, a Futures Brawl product where users can go long or short to battle and win prizes, and leveraged tokens that carry no liquidation risk.
Other products offered include Crypto Lending where users can lend out cryptos to earn interest, Lucky Raffling – a lottery system, Spotlight – a token launch platform, Pool-X Earn – where users can invest to earn an annual yield, a KCS bonus scheme for holding KuCoin Shares (KCS), a referral system where users get incentives for inviting others, a mining pool for users to pool hashrate, and an affiliate program where users earn commissions.
KuCoin Shares (KCS) is the token used to reward exchange users and attract new customers. Users holding a specific amount of KCS in their account are eligible for discounts on trading fees. Holders of KCS also receive a daily dividend, called a KuCoin bonus, equal to 50% of trading fees on the exchange.
In regards to the referral program, users who have referred new users to the platform are eligible to receive 40% of fees while KuCoin retains 10%. Recall the remaining 50% of daily trading fees go to KCS holders as a daily dividend.
KuCoin also offers an easy-to-use user interface with high-speed trade execution and liquid order books, plus a functional mobile app that offers full buy and sell features for both spot and futures products for both beginner and advanced traders alike.
KuCoin Labs is an investment and incubation program that brings together groups of crypto experts to diversify investments into projects at a very early stage to help more builders achieve sustainable growth and success. The Labs offering for projects supports business planning, blockchain technical support, secondary market fast-track, marketing and PR support, legal advice, token economy design, project consulting, and more. They also maintain their own portfolio of investments and listed coins on the KuCoin exchange.
Users can also trade on KuCoin’s Community Chain (KCC) which is a smart contracts platform and decentralized public chain with high performance and low fees, similar to Binance’s Smart Chain. Fees on KCC are paid in native KCS token; it is fully compatible with Ethereum and ERC-20 smart contracts, and uses the Proof of Staked Authority (PoSA) consensus algorithm.
As for customer support, KuCoin Support offers 24/7 contact through their website, email, a ticketing system, the mobile app, and other channels.
Cons & Disadvantages
The main disadvantage of KuCoin is that it is not licensed in the US, however KuCoin does not forbid US users from using its exchange. Since the US has strict regulations on cryptocurrency exchanges, KuCoin is not licensed to operate in the country at this time. US users can still use the exchange without completing KYC (identity) verification, however this will bring restrictions on how much one can withdraw, leverage access, and some risks including support in case of hacks, fraud, or theft.
The other minor disadvantage is KuCoin does not offer bank transfer for depositing money (fiat) into the exchange. To buy cryptocurrency with fiat, users must use a third-party app and pay by credit or debit card, and this first requires identity verification. Users can deposit crypto to the exchange without KYC verification.
The only other disadvantage of KuCoin is that it may be too complex and offer too many features and coin products and pairings for beginner investors or traders who simply want to dollar cost average into the top 20 cryptos and buy and hold them.
KuCoin charges a minimum 0.1% spot trading fee and reduces as the user holds more KCS (must hold at least 1000 KCS to reduce fees) or by trading more. The unique fee schedule KuCoin uses offers 20% off of the standard fee schedule if the fees are paid in KCS (KuCoin Shares). KuCoin assigns Trading Fee Levels to users and uses the common maker-taker model to assign the fee schedule.
Taker fees are charged on market orders that are filled immediately (takers of liquidity from the market), and maker fees are charged on orders that are not filled immediately but rather are placed in the orderbook as limit orders (adding to the market liquidity).
Market orders are always charged taker fees since they take volume from the orderbook, while limit orders are always charged maker fees since they add liquidity and volume to the orderbook. If an order goes on the order book partially or fully (a maker order), any subsequent trades coming from that order will be as a “maker.”
If the user holds KCS in his or her account, the trading fees are automatically deducted from the KCS balance with a present-day 20% discount (subject to change) from trading fees when KCS is used to pay for trading fees.
KuCoin’s trading fees are determined based on a user’s trading volume over a 30-day period (in BTC) and the user’s daily average KCS balance. For spot trading, the trading fees are charged based on the base currency of the trading pairs.
Using KCS inventory to pay for fees can be toggled on or off in the User Profile settings, with only the toggle “on” setting qualifying the user for the KCS fee discount. If there is not enough KCS present in the user’s account to account for the fees, then 100% trading fees are applied.
The table below shows the tiered fee structure for both the standard fee schedule and the fee schedule reduced by using KCS to pay fees.
The fee schedule for Futures Trading is separate, fluctuates with the addition of real-time market funding rates, and may be found here for USD-collateralized futures.
KuCoin’s trading fee schedule, noted in the table below, covers three classes of coins (Class A, B, and C) and offers 12 levels or tiers based on either the noted minimum KCS holdings over the last 30 days, or based on the spot trading volume over the last 30 days in BTC equivalent value, or based on the futures trading volume over the last 30 days in BTC equivalent value.
More benefits including reduced fees are offered with either higher trading volume or simply from holding higher amounts of KCS. Note that users do not have to hold any KCS to achieve higher levels in the schedule as it can be done from trading volume in either spot or futures alone, however holding KCS and paying fees in KCS brings a 20% fee discount as noted. The highest volume tiers offer fee rebates for makers as noted below.
KuCoin Spot Class A Trading Fees Based on Trading Volume (30 Day Trailing Period) – NO KCS USED
|Trading Fee Level||Min. KCS Holding Last 30-Day||Spot Trading Volume Last 30-Day (BTC)||Futures Trading Volume Last 30-Day (BTC)||Maker Fees||Taker Fees|
|LV0||0||Or <50||< 100||0.10%||0.10%|
|LV1||1000||Or ≥ 50||≥ 100||0.09%||0.1%|
|LV2||10000||Or ≥ 200||≥ 400||0.07%||0.09%|
|LV3||20000||Or ≥ 500||≥ 1000||0.05%||0.08%|
|LV4||30000||Or ≥ 1000||≥ 2000||0.03%||0.07%|
|LV5||40000||Or ≥ 2000||≥ 3000||0%||0.07%|
|LV6||50000||Or ≥ 4000||≥ 6000||0%||0.06%|
|LV7||60000||Or ≥ 8000||≥ 12000||0%||0.05%|
|LV8||70000||Or ≥ 15000||≥ 20000||-0.005%||0.045%|
|LV9||80000||Or ≥ 25000||≥ 40000||-0.005%||0.04%|
|LV10||90000||Or ≥ 40000||≥ 80000||-0.005%||0.035%|
|LV11||100000||Or ≥60000||≥ 120000||-0.005%||0.03%|
|LV12||150000||Or ≥80000||≥ 160000||-0.005%||0.025%|
KuCoin Spot Class A Trading Fees Based on Trading Volume (30 Day Trailing Period) – KCS USED
|Trading Fee Level||Min. KCS Holding Last 30-Day||Spot Trading Volume Last 30-Day (BTC)||Futures Trading Volume Last 30-Day (BTC)||Maker Fees (KCS Used)||Taker Fees (KCS Used)|
|LV0||0||Or <50||< 100||0.08%||0.08%|
|LV1||1000||Or ≥ 50||≥ 100||0.072%||0.08%|
|LV2||10000||Or ≥ 200||≥ 400||0.056%||0.072%|
|LV3||20000||Or ≥ 500||≥ 1000||0.04%||0.064%|
|LV4||30000||Or ≥ 1000||≥ 2000||0.024%||0.056%|
|LV5||40000||Or ≥ 2000||≥ 3000||0%||0.056%|
|LV6||50000||Or ≥ 4000||≥ 6000||0%||0.048%|
|LV7||60000||Or ≥ 8000||≥ 12000||0%||0.04%|
|LV8||70000||Or ≥ 15000||≥ 20000||-0.005%||0.036%|
|LV9||80000||Or ≥ 25000||≥ 40000||-0.005%||0.032%|
|LV10||90000||Or ≥ 40000||≥ 80000||-0.005%||0.028%|
|LV11||100000||Or ≥60000||≥ 120000||-0.005%||0.024%|
|LV12||150000||Or ≥80000||≥ 160000||-0.005%||0.02%|
KuCoin offers buying crypto and USDT to fund your account with debit/credit cards including Visa, MC, or Apple Pay with varying fees depending on the service provider. KuCoin also works with Simplex, Banxa, and BTCDirect as third-party service providers; the minimum amount to transact for this is 30 USD and the maximum is 20,000 USD. Users cannot deposit USD by bank transfer.
KuCoin charges the following deposit and withdrawals fees:
- No deposit fees on any crypto assets but note that the blockchain network the user is transacting in will charge fees
- Withdrawal fees for crypto assets require a small flat rate paid to cover the transaction cost and these fees are determined by the blockchain network and can fluctuate at any time. Minimum withdrawal amounts and fees can be found here
There are no fees for signing up or for having an inactive KuCoin account, nor any fees for holding funds in a KuCoin account, and users may hold assets as long as desired.
Account Tiers & Limits
KuCoin does not require KYC identity verification for all users, however users who are unverified have a max withdrawal restriction of 1 BTC per 24 hours on a rolling basis. Completing KYC verification raises the daily withdrawal limits up to 200 BTC.
The table below shows the increased withdrawal limits associated with the higher trading fee tiers (from the preceding table).
|Trading Fee Level||24H Withdrawal Limit (BTC)|
KuCoin’s exchange was built to offer bank-level asset and data encryption security to provide a safe environment for transactions and holding assets. KuCoin uses techniques such as micro-withdrawal wallets to safeguard real-time withdrawals, multi-factor authentication, multilayer encryption, and a dedicated internal risk control department.
Most client funds are stored offline in cold wallets, with the remaining amounts held in hot wallets to ensure near-instant withdrawals under normal circumstances.
Other security features include 2-FA verification using SMS and authenticator, address whitelisting, device management, a separate numerical trading password to buy/sell funds, and insurance coverage for assets.
KuCoin suffered one hack in Sept 2020 which led to the loss of $285M USD market value at the time of the hack. 84% of the hacked funds were recovered in collaboration with law enforcement, and the platform’s insurance policy covered the remaining 16%. Since the incident, KuCoin has improved its security mechanisms even more, including wallet security upgrades and addressal of the associated vulnerabilities.
KuCoin Review Conclusion
KuCoin is the top choice of exchange for intermediate to experienced investors and traders who want access to advanced trading options, futures trading instruments offering up to 100X leverage and margin up to 10X (for KYC accounts only), the largest selection of cryptocurrency trading pairs and coins on the entire crypto market, users who value competitive trading fees with the option to pay in KCS for an additional 20% fee reduction, and users who desire to use the web of products in the KuCoin ecosystem. KuCoin has built a notable reputation of itself and a raving community who appreciates their rare coin listings that cannot be found on other exchanges.
- With a tiered fee schedule based on 30-day BTC trading volume and reduced-fee structure if paid in KCS, KuCoin’s trading fees compete favorably with other competitors such as Binance, Coinbase, and FTX, while also offering more crypto coins and trading pairs than any of its competitors
- Investors and traders of all skill levels who desire the choice between both a simple and high-performance advanced platform for both spot investing and active trading with extremely competitive fees (plus fee rebates for the highest volume market makers) with the ability to pay fees in the exchange token KCS will prefer KuCoin
- Advanced traders who wish to use up to 100X leverage futures trading, 10X leverage margin trading, and in general have access to cryptocurrency futures and leveraged token products, without being restricted from the platform itself for being in the US, without having to conduct KYC verification will prefer KuCoin
- Crypto-only traders and investors who wish to get access to the entire KuCoin brand’s suite of products including leveraged tokens, the mining pool, lending program, access to smart contracts platform KCC (KuCoin Community Chain), and the associated referral and affiliate incentives will prefer the KuCoin experience.
For customers who desire access to a more simple user interface without as many complicated trading options or products, or those who do not desire to participate in cryptocurrency futures trading, Coinbase, FTX, and Kraken can make great alternatives with a similarly competitive amount of cryptocurrencies offered to trade.
Beginners, buy-and-hold investors, and low volume traders may prefer the easy to use features and functionality of Coinbase with its brand presence, US regulatory approval, and cryptocurrency education that even provides the chance to earn free cryptocurrency for learning.
Coinbase is best designed for buy-and-hold investors or casual to intermediate cryptocurrency users and has a large selection of cryptocurrencies offered- but about 1/4 of that of KuCoin- while active traders who need access to order books and advanced charting functionality will prefer using Coinbase Pro, FTX, Binance, or Kraken though their fee structures differ significantly.
For customers who desire to trade and invest in stocks in addition to top cryptocurrencies and do not mind having a smaller selection from which to choose or only desire access to the top 20 cryptos on the market, Webull and Robinhood are brokers that offers US equities and a small selection of cryptocurrencies.
Other competitors to KuCoin include Gemini, Crypto.com, Voyager, and eToro.
KuCoin vs Coinbase
The main advantage KuCoin offers over Coinbase is its markedly lower fee schedule along with the option for a further 20% fee reduction which makes it an extremely competitive option in the face of Coinbase’s high fees, whose fees start at 0.5% for both markers and takers for the lowest fee tier, while those of KuCoin start at 0.1% for both makers and takers, which is reduced to 0.08% for both makers and takers if paid in KCS.
Both exchanges offer the option of advanced charting and crypto-to-crypto trading pairs using Coinbase’s Coinbase Pro product. Coinbase Pro does not offer margin trading any longer, while KuCoin offers 10X leverage margin spot trading, and margin futures trading with up to 100X leverage.
Coinbase is a public US company and offers transparency into its industry-leading security along with its brand reputation, while KuCoin is a top 10 crypto exchange by daily trade volume, and is not a regulated US exchange, but does not ban US investors from using the exchange.
Ultimately, advanced users who desire similar competitive fees to what KuCoin offers but less than Coinbase or Coinbase Pro offer will find the choices below equally valuable.
KuCoin vs FTX
KuCoin and FTX are some of the most competitive options for low trading fees. Both exchanges utilize a similar fee structure, with FTX’s based on 30-day USD trading volume and KuCoin’s based on 30-day BTC trading volume. Both exchanges offer fee reductions if paying fees using their native tokens, KCS and FTT, though KuCoin offers a flat 20% fee reduction from holding KCS, while FTX offers anywhere from a 3-60% fee reduction with holding varying amounts of FTT.
FTX cannot be used by US persons, and instead offers a US version of its exchange whose trade offerings are much more limited than its parent global exchange. Both offer OTC portals for larger traders and advanced trading and charting platforms for advanced traders.
KuCoin offers 562 coins and 1095 trading pairs which is a more broad selection than FTX which offers 307 coins and 472 trading pairs.
KuCoin vs Gemini
KuCoin is a much better choice than Gemini if considering trading fees, however one has to take into account regulatory concerns. The minimum fee tier at Gemini starts at 0.35% for takers and 0.1% for makers, with a flat transaction fee between $0.99-$2.99 and 1.49% transaction fee for trades over $200.
KuCoin, in contrast, offers not only fee-reductions for paying fees in KCS, but also offers much lower base fees for both makers and takers with more volume.
Both KuCoin and Gemini offer staking or lending services that allow users to earn interest on their holdings. Note that US persons are allowed to use Gemini exchange which is based in and regulated in the USA, but are not barred from using KuCoin either, though KuCoin is not a regulated or approved US exchange.
In comparison to KuCoin’s large selection of coins and trading pairs, Gemini only offers 62 coins and 86 trading pairs which is substantially lower, so traders outside of the US looking for a large selection of coins, and margin and futures trading, will prefer to use KuCoin or another option like Binance or FTX.
KuCoin vs Kraken
Kraken offers margin trading at up to 5X leverage which is less than KuCoin’s 10X leverage offering.
Kraken also uses a maker-taker fee schedule, starting at 0.16% maker fees and 0.26% taker fees at the entry level which is not as competitive as the fee schedule for KuCoin, even before taking into account the fee reductions offered by KuCoin. Kraken does not have provisions for free reductions.
Kraken also offers a large variety of cryptocurrencies and pairs (93 coins, over 400 pairs), so users who value a large selection and advanced traders who seek margin may enjoy using Kraken but sacrifice the possibility of slightly more competitive fees and a much larger selection of cryptocurrency coins and trading pairs that KuCoin offers, but most notable the selection of rare and hard-to-find low market cap. cryptocurrencies for which KuCoin is known.
Kraken is accessible in 48 US states and is regulated and licensed by FinCEN in the USA, while KuCoin is not, but US customers are not barred on KuCoin’s end.
KuCoin vs Binance
Binance is the leading global crypto established exchange by trading volume, offering a large selection of cryptocurrencies – over 351 coins and over 1300 pairs, which is the second most extensive selection on this list, behind KuCoin. Binance offers more trading pairs, but KuCoin offers more coins to trade, many of which are rare and hard-to-find low cap coins with promise.
Both the Binance and the KuCoin brands are well-known and respected in the industry, both offer an extensive web and ecosystem of products, support, liquidity, but Binance may win in the liquidity department because it is the highest volume exchange by a large margin, while KuCoin is #5 as of Q4 2021. Hence, advanced traders moving large transaction volumes for whom liquidity may be a concern will prefer Binance, but for smaller or intermediate traders, this will not be a concern as KuCoin’s volume and liquidity is enough to support the average person’s activity.
KuCoin also offers access to as much as 100X leverage on futures pairs, while Binance lowered their maximum leverage offering to 20X in 2021. KuCoin also offers margin (up to 10X leverage) in the USA for qualified individuals, while Binance exchange is not at all accessible to US persons and US customers will have to use Binance US which is a much more limited version of its global parent site, with only 64 coins and 130 pairs. However, it is regulated in the US and US persons can perform KYC without an issue. US persons should not perform KYC on KuCoin exchange but the exchange does not bar them from using its services for non-KYC accounts, albeit with lower withdrawal and trading limits which are not a concern for the average user.
KuCoin also offers rebates to market makers for the highest levels of volume, while Binance does not offer rebates but does offer fee reductions for -25% off fees paid in BNB (and KuCoin offers 20% fee reductions if paid in KCS).
Fees at Kucoin start at 0.1% for makers and 0.1% for takers at the lowest volume tier, which is equivalent to Binance’s entry level maker-taker fees, unless fee reductions are used, which gives Binance a slight edge and the lowest fees.
Both exchanges operate incubator programs, Binance Labs and KuCoin Labs, that focus on investing in and enriching teams and developers building the leading edge products in crypto and DeFi. However, Binance’s network of products is more extensive at this moment, with offerings such as crypto-collateralized loans, while KuCoin’s focuses on branding itself as “The People’s Exchange,” offering things like 50% of total daily trading fee reward distributed to KCS holders, and a plan to move towards full DEX operation in the future. Both exchanges operate their own smart contracts platforms for access to DeFi with Ethereum compatibility and very low fees.
In summary, advanced traders and intermediate users alike who value a large selection of cryptocurrencies, products like staking, lending, and more, competitive fee structures that are almost similar, and futures and margin products will enjoy both exchange offerings but may lean towards one or the other based on affinity to either brand or minor preferences.
KuCoin User Reviews
- Many users on this Reddit post report great experiences with KuCoin, namely low fees and ease of use. But, u/rubymoon90 notes, “The only downside to kucoin is I have not figured out a way to transfer my crypto into real money. But I haven’t tried very hard.”
- Some beginners are confused by KuCoin’s extensive options and products, claiming “Not a user friendly. Adding deposits and withdrawals to the accounts are really confused me. Too much features that don’t need it. And lastly the marketing ads are annoying. Hopefully they’ll create more simple, direct for new customers like me. Just saying.”
- Glowing review of KuCoin by a Reddit user, with the only negative being inability to deposit or withdraw fiat without KYC being done. “It was a bit confusing, but I could literally find out anything I wanted to know about almost any coin within the app. Usually I check coinmarketcap to see when to buy, but it wasn’t even necessary. The built in tools are amazing.”
- One user notes that the KuCoin app has a built-in gambling game that it advertises non-stop, with no way to toggle it off. They worry that the public already things people involved in crypto are gamblers, and this only encourages that. “KuCoin has many advantages, but using it makes me feel like a failure.” Not all users agree that it is predatory, some claiming, “I have used it for nothing other then buying and transferring crypto. Simple. I love gambling but I have common sense and the freedom of choice.”