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The Full Cost of Selling on eBay

Published at Jun 16, 2016.

What does it cost to sell on eBay? Many will point to the final value fee of 10% and say that’s it.

However, that’s a grossly oversimplified answer. There are tons of hidden costs and fees involved in selling on eBay. If you don’t know about them, you could lose money on items you thought would turn a profit.

We provide a quick explanation of the costs in “Selling on eBay for Beginners: 5 Steps to Success.” That’s a good place to learn the basics of how the fees are calculated. This article, though, is for those who want to go deeper.

Last updated 3/20/2020.

Final Value Fees

Pocket Change

Short version: eBay takes a percentage of almost all sales, ranging from 1.5% to 12%.

eBay's final value fees are often the largest single cost for sellers. They're taken as a percentage of the amount you charged for both the item and shipping (though eBay sometimes won't charge it on international shipping rates).

The percentage depends on the category you're selling in and whether you have an eBay Store. Following is a quick overview of what you might have to pay on each sale. If you know what you want to sell, take notes—we'll get to calculating your total fees later on.

With no Store or a Starter Store:

  • 12% on books, movies, DVDs, and most music.
  • 10% for most listings, going no higher than $750.*
  • 3.5% on guitars and basses, going no higher than $350.*
  • 2% on some Business & Industrial categories, like heavy equipment, going no higher than $300.*
  • 0% on athletic shoes with a starting price of at least $100.

With a Basic or Premium Store

  • Maximum final value fee of $350 on most categories, with a $250 maximum on Guitars & Basses and some Business & Industrial categories.*
  • 9.15% for most categories.
  • 8.15% for eBay Motors Automotive Tools & Supplies categories and most eBay Motors Parts & Accessories categories.
  • 7.15% for most Musical Instruments & Gear categories.
  • 6.15% for most Camera & Photo categories, most cell phones and memory cards, money, most Computers/Tablets & Networking categories, most consumer electronics, DJ and pro audio equipment, stamps, and most Video Games & Consoles categories (but NOT video games or consoles).
  • 4% on video game consoles and most major computing devices like computers, tablets, and printers and many of their components.
  • 3.5% on guitars and basses.
  • 1.5% on some Business & Industrial categories, like heavy equipment.

With an Anchor or Enterprise Store

  • Maximum final value fee of $250 on all categories.
  • Otherwise, the same as Basic and Premium stores.

Note that vehicles have their own special fees rather than final value fees. Some other listing types, like real estate, also have unique fee structures.

*Customer Service Affects Final Value Fees

If you offer a great customer experience, you can become a Top Rated Seller and get 10% off your final value fees. (E.g., if you normally paid 10%, you'd pay 9% instead.) 

But eBay knows people are only motivated so far by carrots. They also have a stick: if you drop below their seller performance standards, you'll get an extra 5% slapped on top of your final value fees. They'll also nail you with the extra 5% in categories where your rate of "Item not as described" claims reaches "Very High," even if you're an above-standard seller.

Thankfully, these extra fees don't stack. You won't have to pay an extra 10% if both situations apply. But, the results are still really bad.

If you have one of these penalties, that means that if you normally paid 10%, you'd pay 15% instead. Worse, this extra fee has no cap! So if you sold something worth $10,000, your normal 10% would stop at $750 as if it had only been worth $7,500, but the 5% penalty would be charged on the whole thing for an extra $500 in avoidable fees.

Those are some high stakes! Take eBay customer service seriously, be honest, and ship on time to keep your final value fees affordable.

Insertion Fees

Fees Adding Up

Short version: If you list a lot of items, you may need to pay an extra $0.35 or so for some of them.

Every eBay seller gets to list a number of items every month without paying insertion fees. For most categories, these are as follows:

  • No eBay Store: 50 items.
  • With a Store:
    • Starter Store: 100 listings total between fixed-price and qualifying auction listings.
    • Basic Store: 250 fixed-price items and 250 qualifying auction listings.
    • Premium Store: 1,000 fixed-price items and 500 qualifying auction listings.
    • Anchor Store: 10,000 fixed-price items and 1,000 qualifying auction listings.
    • Enterprise Store: 100,000 fixed-price items and 2,500 qualifying auction listings.

Anything above those limits costs the following:

  • No eBay Store: $0.35 per listing.
  • With a Store:
    • Starter Store: $0.30 per listing.
    • Basic Store: $0.25 per listing.
    • Premium Store: $0.15 per auction, $0.10 per fixed-price listing.
    • Anchor Store: $0.10 per auction, $0.05 per fixed-price listing.
    • Enterprise Store: $0.10 per auction, $0.05 per fixed-price listing.

Now, you might be wondering why you get so few free auctions. Don’t sweat it. If your auction succeeds and the item sells, eBay will refund your insertion fee (as long as it isn’t in an excluded category).

They’ll also refund insertion fees on fixed-priced listings if they sell and the buyer doesn’t pay up.

For some categories (mainly big-picture stuff like real estate and vehicles), there are no free listings. You are always required to pay an insertion fee. This fee can range to well over $100.

Other eBay Fees

You can opt in to listing upgrades for fixed prices or Promoted Listings for a percentage of the sale. These can more than double the fees you pay, so use them wisely!

Shipping and Handling

Small Package

Short version: Decide how much you’ll charge for shipping, because this charge counts toward your final value fee.

Now you know what eBay’s going to charge you... sort of. eBay will also charge its final value fee on any shipping costs you charge. You therefore need to know how much shipping and handling will cost so you can get an accurate grasp of the fees you’ll need to pay.

For those of you offering free shipping, knowing these costs is even more important because you need to factor them into every price.

Either way, you can’t really understand the cost of selling on eBay until you understand shipping and handling. Read our guide to shipping and handling costs to determine how much yours will run you.

PayPal, Managed Payments, or Other Payment Processing

PayPal Fees

Short version: Whether you’re accepting payment by credit card or PayPal, you can expect your payment processor to take a fixed fee and a percentage out of every transaction.

PayPal and other payment systems like credit cards all have to make money somehow—typically through complicated fee structures of their own. These usually consist of both a percentage and a fixed fee per transaction. For example, PayPal fees for selling from one US location to another total 2.9% plus $0.30.

If you use eBay-managed payments instead of accepting payments through PayPal, cards, etc., you will pay a fee of 2.7% on all sales (even if the customer pays through PayPal), plus a fixed fee of $0.25 per listing sold. This is an important difference. PayPal's $0.30 fee per transaction is more expensive if you only sell one item. However, eBay's $0.25 fee per listing will add up fast if the customer buys multiple items!

These fees are charged on the gross value of the transaction, before the final value fee and shipping costs are taken out. It’s therefore important to consider your payment processing fees before setting your final price.

Let’s hold off on doing any calculations for now. Since these fees stack with the final value fee, it’s best to calculate both at the same time. Just find out how much your payment processors will charge you for now and write those numbers down.

Note: If you accept multiple payment methods, compare the different fee structures for each and try to determine how much you’ll pay on average.

Advanced Final Value / Payment Processing Fee Calculation

What Does It Cost to Sell on eBay?

Short version: If you want your customers to cover the cost of selling on eBay, calculate the price you will charge as "x" using the following formula: x – [(total percentage fees * x) + total fixed fees] = amount you want to receive after fees.

So, you know the final value fee is going to cost you 10% (or whatever happens to be the case). But you can’t just go slapping an extra 10% on your prices and expect that to cover the fee.

Say you plan to sell something for $40. The final value fee on that will be $4. Yet if you just increase your price to $44, that won’t cover the whole final value fee—10% of $44 is $4.40, so you still lose $0.40 to the final value fee. Not to mention your payment processing fee just went up an extra $0.11 or $0.12!

If you want to make sure that your final price covers the final value fee, your payment processing fee, and any other expenses, you need to use algebra.

First, add up all of your fixed fees for the transaction. Start with any fixed payment processing fees. These include PayPal's $0.30 per transaction or eBay's $0.25 per listing, whichever applies.

Next, add any other fixed fees, such as insertion and/or listing fees if this is a unique item (these fees will be spread out across numerous sales if you’re using one listing to sell multiples of one product each month).

The total value of all fixed fees above will be “z” in the formula below.

Next, tally any percentages charged on the sale price. This would generally be the payment processing percentage fee and your final value fee.

  • For most PayPal transactions, that means add PayPal’s 2.9% to eBay’s 10% final value fee, for a total of 12.9%.
  • For managed payments users, this would usually be 12.7%. 

Use this percentage value as “y.” Remember, to use a percentage in a calculation, you need to divide it by 100. So if you have 12.7%, you would use 0.127 as "y."

Finally, determine how much you need to receive from each transaction in order to cover the costs of buying/manufacturing + shipping and handling the item while still making an acceptable profit. This value will be “p.”

Now solve the following equation for “x.” You can do this easily by plugging the formula into an algebra calculator like Math Papa.

x – [(y*x) + z] = p.


Math Papa Algebra Calculator

Let's say I upload an item as one of my free monthly listings. Since I only accept payments via PayPal, the only fixed fee I have to deal with is the $0.30 PayPal fee per transaction. Therefore, I enter 0.3 as “z.”

My final value fee (10%) plus my PayPal fee (2.9%) total 12.9%. I therefore enter 0.129 as “y.”

After adding up the cost of shipping and handling and the cost of buying the item I’m reselling, I determine that I need to receive an average of $40 after fees in order to cover my expenses and make an acceptable profit. I enter 40 as “p.”

So the equation I get is: x – [(0.129*x) + 0.3] = 40. After running that through an algebra calculator, I get $46.27 as “x.” That’s how much I need to charge if I want to receive $40 from each transaction.

Need proof that it works?

eBay final value fee: $46.27 * 0.1 = $4.63.

PayPal percentage fee: $46.27 * 0.029 = $1.34.

PayPal fixed fee: $0.30.

Total fees: $6.27. That leaves me with an even $40 after fees.

Sales Tax

Sales Tax on an eBay Sale

Short version: Sales tax should have no impact on your price calculations when selling on eBay.

Thanks to South Dakota v. Wayfair, online sellers may be liable for sales tax on any transaction. Really, though, this has no effect on the cost of selling on eBay. At least, not on the cost of each item sold.

Sales tax is added after the customer places the order and isn’t visible during shopping. And since it varies by customer, trying to take sales tax into account when setting your price is just going to make things unnecessarily complicated. What sales tax will cost you is time and money applying for permits and ensuring you're in compliance.

eBay has more information on sales tax here.

Conclusion: What Does It Cost to Sell on eBay in Reality?

The real cost of selling a given item on eBay is made up of the following:

  1. The costs of making or buying the item you’re selling.
  2. The costs of packaging, handling, and shipping the item.
  3. Any fees you’re paying eBay and/or your payment processor for the transaction.

These costs are in addition to your overhead: customer service, government permit fees, paying freelancers to take photos or write descriptions for you, the opportunity cost involved in researching the item and dealing with suppliers, etc. Make sure your margins are healthy enough to cover these expenses as well.

We knocked our own costs way down by integrating eBay with a helpdesk. We highly recommend it if you want to stay in the black!

Now that you have your accounting under control, you can focus on the more exciting aspects of running an eBay business. Start by figuring out what to sell on eBay. Then learn how to get a great eBay feedback score so you can keep the sales coming in!

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