Understand eBay Selling Fees Before Listing

eBay fees
Understand eBay fees before listing your item for sale. Getty Images

​eBay is about the trill of the hunt for most sellers. Nobody likes to do the boring book keeping or think about the expenses of running the business. But eBay is just like any other business, there are expenses that must be considered to determine if the business is profitable, for tax reporting purposes, and to manage cash flow. Here are a few tips for understanding eBay fees so sellers can make sure they are minimizing fee expenses as well as choosing the right type of listing that is cost effective in the long run.

Study the eBay Fee Schedule

eBay provides a comprehensive fee schedule so nothing is left to chance or there are no gray areas. Remember, eBay charges a listing fee, the same way a newspaper or website would charge a fee to advertise an item for sale. The insertion fee is charged regardless of if the item sells or not - consider an insertion fee the cost of advertising the listing to millions of people. If the item sells, then a Final Value Fee will be charged. Final Value Fees vary based on the category. Final Value Fees are usually 10% of the selling price. A specific percentage of the item price and shipping fee are charged for Final Value Fees. Learn more about the eBay Fee Schedule here

Auctions vs Fixed Price Fees

Auctions and fixed price listings have different fees. Sometimes auctions are free, depending on if there is an eBay listing special in effect, or if the seller has a store with free auctions.

 Also, know the advantages and disadvantages of auctions and fixed price listings to make sure your item gets the maximum visibility to the buying audience. 

Be Careful with Listing Upgrades

Listing upgrades are eBay's version of "Do you want fries with that?" or "Should we biggie size your order?" Understand what they are and if they are really worth paying for.

These add-ons are included in the insertion fees so once you add them to the listing and submit, there is no turning back. Unfortunately, there is no statistical data that shows listing upgrades increase sales frequency or sales price. Here is a list of eBay listing upgrades and the cost, which varies based on the starting price of the item:

  • Listing Designer .10 - .60
  • Gallery Plus .35 - $2.00
  • Subtitle .50 - $3
  • Bold $2.00 - $6.00
  • International site visibility - .50

So you can see how quickly insertion fees add up. For example, if you added bold, subtitle, and gallery plus, you would be paying $2.85 in addition to the flat listing fee. Always check the fee calculation at the bottom of the listing before clicking submit. Sometimes the eBay Sell Your Item form automatically checks one or more of these upgrades and they are snuck in. Be diligent about checking the fees before hitting the submit button.

Examine Different Store Options

An eBay store is definitely the way to go if you plan to make eBay a business or list more than 30 items al all times. A store is simply an umbrella over all of your listings that determines how you will be charged for listings. eBay offers a Basic Store, Premium Store, and Anchor Store all with different base fees and per-listing fees.

The higher the level of store, the more the base fee but the lower the per-listing fee. 

eBay has a wonderful tool that shows exactly what the fees will be when selling an item. You simply plug in the data about your monthly listings such as category, number of fixed price listings, number of auctions, sales, and shipping information and the calculator shows which store option is best for your unique business. Check out the eBay Fee Illustrator here. 

Track Sales and Expenses

It is very important to track sales and expenses monthly. Not only does this help you examine your business and discover opportunities for improvement, but everything is already prepared when it comes time for taxes. eBay offers great information on your sales reports, but they do not know what you paid for an item so you must track that information yourself.

Use QuickBooks, a simple Excel spreadsheet, or this spreadsheet designed specifically for eBay sellers by an eBay seller. 

Updated by Suzanne Wells December 26, 2016.