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If you’re thinking about opening an account with KuCoin or Binance.US for your crypto investments, maybe don’t.
While both of these exchanges offer the opportunity to buy and invest in popular cryptocurrencies, there are much better options available — and especially for beginner crypto investors. For starters, KuCoin and Binance.US aren’t as simple and user-friendly as mainstream exchanges like Coinbase, eToro, or Gemini — all of which are included in our review of the best cryptocurrency exchanges.
As a decentralized exchange, KuCoin comes with a particularly steep learning curve. While Binance.US does offer lower fees than other mainstream exchanges, experts say the extra fees are worth the clear benefits of stronger security policies and protocols. Binance.US also has a history of regulatory issues we think investors are wise to steer clear of.
But if you’re a crypto investor who thinks KuCoin or Binance.US makes sense for your strategy, here’s what you should know about these two crypto exchanges.
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.
Advanced traders who want access to altcoins not available elsewhere
Active trading with low fees
Tiered maker/taker model, up to 0.3% depending on coin and level. Get a 20% discount when you pay fees with KCS.
Tiered maker/taker model. 0.1% spot fee. Can get a 25% discount on your fee if you hold BNB
Keep coins on the KuCoin exchange or transfer to your own wallet
Keep coins in Binance.US account or transfer to your own wallet
Various features, including restricting log-in, two-factor authentication, offers security tips
Claims to keep assets in cold storage, two-factor authentication
Based on the cryptocurrency, with 0.1 USDT the minimum for dollar-pegged assets
Pros and Cons: KuCoin vs. Binance.US
• Access a large number of coins • Free USDT on sign up • Advanced trading options, including margin • Discount for using KCS for fees
• Low fees • Trading fee discount for using BNB • Tax statement portal • Identity verification process
• Not licensed or regulated in the United States • You might need to have crypto already to use KuCoin • Difficult to navigate for beginners • Poor reviews on TrustPilot
• Not available in Hawaii, Idaho, New York, Texas, or Vermont • Limited customer services • History of regulatory issues • Security information not readily available
Both KuCoin and Binance.US offer the option to store coins on the exchange using a hot wallet. You can also transfer your coins off the exchanges to an external wallet.KuCoin doesn’t offer information on an internal wallet, but you can connect your own crypto wallet to the exchange and use that to send and receive coins.
Binance.US also doesn’t provide information on an internal wallet, instead suggesting that you use Trust Wallet, which is owned by Binance.
On its homepage, KuCoin says it has the “most sophisticated security technology and maintenance team, and is constantly upgrading our security systems to ensure the safety of user assets and accounts.” It’s difficult to find details, but the site offers insight into tools you can use to secure your account, including two-factor authentication and restricting your login IP.
KuCoin has done well by users when the exchange was hacked. In a 2020 incident, hackers stole users’ private keys, grabbed $250 million in crypto, and tried to sell the coins on decentralized exchanges. KuCoin claims users were made whole for the theft, with a combination of law enforcement and insurance coverage. Additionally, KuCoin says it took steps to reduce the chances of a repeat. Crypto exchanges Coinbase and Crypto.com have also suffered hacks, and have likewise reimbursed users and strengthened security protocols.
Binance.US mentions a commitment to best practices for security on its homepage, without much transparency about its methods. BAM Trading Services, the U.S. partner for Binance.US, is registered with the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN), and Binance.US is a DBA under the BAM registration. The larger Binance covered customer losses to security incidents in the past, but there’s no guarantee this would apply to Binance.US losses.
Binance has faced previous regulatory issues, and Binance.US is under investigation by the Securities and Exchange Commission regarding ties to the global company’s CEO and two trading firms that buy and sell on the platform. A spokesperson emailed us on behalf of Binance.US after our original 2021 review and stated that they operate separately, with Binance.US licensing trademarks, software, and wallet technology from the larger company.
We reached out to KuCoin and Binance.US for comment about these issues and for more information, but received no response. We’ll update this review if KuCoin or Binance.US gets back to us.
You might fare better if you look into an exchange that’s more heavily regulated in the United States and is more forthcoming with its security measures.
KuCoin offers access to more than 600 cryptocurrencies, and Binance.US offers more than 80 cryptocurrencies, which is a relatively low number compared to other exchanges too.
KuCoin (KCS) and Binance.US (BNB) both offer native coins that can help you save on trading fees. BNB has a much higher market cap than KCS and could be a better investment on its own, plus it’s easier to secure a discount in fees with it since just holding BNB is enough. With KCS, you need to specifically use the coin to pay the fee in order to see the discount.
If you want to use U.S. fiat currency on KuCoin, you need to convert your fiat currency to Tether (USDT), a stablecoin pegged to the U.S. dollar. U.S. dollar prices on the exchange are denoted in Tether.
Both KuCoin and Binance.US use a tiered maker/taker model for fees. When someone places an order that isn’t fulfilled immediately, they are considered a maker as they are contributing liquidity to the exchange. When someone places an order that is matched immediately, they are considered a taker. In general, taker fees are higher than maker fees at each tier. Both KuCoin and Binance.US charge lower fees when you have a higher tier, denoted by monthly trading volume.
But while KuCoin offers competitive fees, they’re still not as low as the fees charged by Binance.US. Additionally, you’ll see a bigger fee discount of 25% as a BNB holder compared to the 20% discount offered to KuCoin traders paying with KCS.
Binance.US has a top fee of 0.10%, while fees at KuCoin range up to 0.3%, depending on the class of crypto asset and your tier.
Staking, Credit Cards, Other Options
Both KuCoin and Binance.US offer you the chance to earn money by staking when you hold assets on the exchange.
KuCoin also offers a suite of products for growing your crypto wealth. This includes margin trading, which is when you transact on the exchange using borrowed funds, and the chance to enter a raffle and win more coins. You can also earn interest by lending your crypto to other investors on the platform. KuCoin offers a trading bot that helps you automate your trades, including investing smaller amounts on a regular basis (known as dollar-cost averaging) and automating trades in which you buy low and sell high.
One of the main issues with KuCoin is that it can be difficult to use U.S. fiat currency on the exchange. Plus it’s decentralized and unregulated, so it’s even riskier. You can purchase certain coins, like Tether (USDT), Bitcoin (BTC), Ethereum (ETH), and PaxGold (PAX) using Fast Buy. You’ll need to verify your identity, after which you can link your bank card. Then you can use fiat money to buy supported cryptocurrency coins so you can trade on the exchange. It’s a roundabout way to use U.S. fiat currency to participate on the KuCoin exchange, but please note that U.S. residents still cannot register to use the exchange.
Binance.US provides straightforward advanced tools for active traders, including real-time charting and an over-the-counter trading portal so you can match orders with other traders without going through an intermediary. Binance.US also offers a tax portal designed to help you better report your crypto earnings and transactions to the IRS. (You might also want to check out a crypto portfolio tracker for the same purpose.) The larger Binance offers helpful information and tools that can be used to learn more about cryptocurrencies and blockchain technology.
How to Decide Between KuCoin and Binance.US
As mentioned, we recommend you look into other exchanges such as Coinbase, Gemini or eToro. KuCoin and Binance.US are more appropriate for intermediate to advanced cryptocurrency users than beginners, and they each come with accessibility or regulation issues.
Compare fees, security, and your goals to choose a cryptocurrency exchange.
KuCoin isn’t licensed in the U.S., so if you’re looking for a modicum of U.S.-based regulation, Binance.US will be your choice. However, Binance.US isn’t currently available in Hawaii, Idaho, New York, Texas, or Vermont. If you’re more interested in using…