Online Auction Fees

Reduce your online auction fees as a Buyer and Seller and fight for your money back when its due. Since 1995 eBay has grown to dominate this space and remains the benchmark. However, with more people shopping online there are new innovative auction sites ready to grab a piece of the pie.  There are thousands of auction sites of all sizes and niches. Getting the biggest bang for your buck is more than simply listing and selling. With a little research you can you can minimize your fees and grow your margins. Join the discussion below and add your advice, lessons learned, and strategies!

Refund my Fees

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Combined Shipping

Sellers may offer combined shipping which means you can buy multiple items at one shipping fee. This is usually bound with terms that depend on the number of items, size of items, and within a specified duration of time. (i.e. combine shipping on like items up to three within the same day).

Lower Cost = Lower Taxes

Keep in mind that buyers typically have to pay sales taxes on items. Obviously this is a percentage of the sale so it can be a meaningful amount if purchasing an expensive item. There is no way to avoid this unless possibly buying the item at flea market, garage sale, or some on-line marketplaces. 

Refund Policy

Some forms of compensation from a seller may be credit or markdown toward a future purchase. Most sellers value their ratings as paramount to their success and will accommodate reasonable requests for compensation.  The refund policies and methods to recover damages vary among each auction company. The eBay Money Back Guarantee policy can be accessed at the link below. 

Return Policy

Some sellers offer a return policy while others offer none. The risk is obvious. Research the reviews or ask questions about the item if you’re bidding with a seller that doesn’t offer a return policy. If there is a return policy you’ll most likely be responsible for the return shipping costs.

Buy with Shipping/Tracking

Some sellers use tracking for their shipments. This provides more peace of mind of both parties to avoid the blame game if a package is lost. If the tracking shows the item delivered and the Buyer didn’t receive the item then the fault likely resides with the carrier (or a porch thief, dog ate it….). As a Buyer, you may not have recourse with the Seller in this case so pursue a refund with auction house or the mail carrier. EBay has a Money Back Guarantee policy. 

Are you a Seller on Ebay?

A small change in selling strategies can make a sizable difference in income…both good and bad.


With the success of eBay there are several new entrants trying to jockey for your business. These marketplaces have varying fee arrangements which depend on several factors and many allow options to suit your needs. EBay provides the option to create a store if you plan to have a high number and ongoing listings. If not, they offer 50 free listings each month.

Insertion and Placement Fees

Usually there are insertion fees or placement fees. These fees vary greatly from the type of item, duration of listing, and optional features you choose to draw attention to your listing.
Usually a longer listing cost more but not always on a per/day basis.

Optional Listing Fees

The one set of fees that a seller can control are the optional fees that are offered by most online auction companies. Such options are multiple category placements for an item, strategic placement location, additional fonts or emoji’s, or anything to attract more attention to your listing than the others.

Differentiate Your Listing

As good as you think your product or service may be, think about how to make it stand out from other similar listings. Can you combine with another product? Can you add color, emoticons, or other keywords to draw attention to your listing (while being truthful and not misleading). 

Attention to Detail

Type a concise and clear description. Think about your audience and the type of words they are interested in and may use to search for your listing. Take good photographs and show multiple views or critical areas with extra photographs. Make sure to point out any issues, defects, or other flaws that a consumer is going to expect to have knowledge of before bidding.

Maximize Exposure

Choose keywords that your audience may type that lead to your listing. You may have the option to pay a premium to get a more traffic to your listing. If your auction has an end time, consider the time when you believe your audience is going to be paying most attention to the bidding site. Usually this is a Sunday evening but obviously that time can vary around the world. Set your listing to expire when you think most of your potential buyers are watching their bids.   


eBay’s only refund policy for seller’s fee is through the Resolution Center. Visit their website and open a case in the Resolution Center. 

PayPal (for Sellers)

There are several payment processors to give your customers more options to make payments to you or your business. Since PayPal’s revolutionary launch in 1998, it has traditionally been the popular merchant payment program since credit cards. Several new competitors are offering the sellers more options to reduce their fees. PayPal has innovated to keep up. There are variety of fees structures for sellers to choose. Standard transaction fees apply when you sell goods or services online (including using PayPal Payments Standard and PayPal Checkout) and in your store location.

PayPal offers:

  • No startup costs, no termination fee, no monthly fees
  • Accept PayPal payments, Venmo, PayPal Credit, and all major credit and debit cards with PayPal Checkout
  • Accept PayPal payments, PayPal Credit, all major credit cards and debit cards with PayPal Payments Standard

A couple of the most common fee structures are:

1) on-line transactions (not in a store) and accepting funds from U.S. based PayPal accounts take a fixed rate of 30 cents + 2.9% of the transaction amount.

2) on-line transactions from your store location and accepting payment from a U.S. based Paypal account, the fee is reduced to 2.7% of the transaction amount and there isn’t a fixed fee. 

There are different transactions fees for payments originating from outside the U.S. applying to the fixed fee and percentage rate. Charitable organizations have a separate rate structure.

There are fees related to accepting payments from other countries from 1.5% to 2.5%.

Standard transferring of fees to a bank account is free and typically occurs by the next business day but a potentially quicker option has a maximum fee of $10.

Micropayments (competitive advantage for PayPal)

For high volume, low dollar transactions (typically <$10) sellers there is an option to have a PayPal Micropayments account. The fee is 5% of the transaction amount + $0.05 fix fee each transaction. 

These for low value transactions if a seller qualifies and maintains a positive account balance. The percentage is greater than the standard rate but the fixed fee is removed.

The drawback is that each PayPal seller account must be either a micropayment or a standard account and can not be both. But it is possible to create both accounts if you feel that you can take advantage of both options which means you feel you’ll have several transactions below and above $10. 

you will be charged the micropayments rate on all transactions regardless of payment size

You’ll need to create a completely separate account with a different bank account and carefully remember which items you are getting paid for on which accounts so don’t lose your intended benefit.

In other words, if you get paid $500 from U.S. based PayPal consumer on an item list on your Micropayments account, you’ll pay 5% + $0.05 =  $25.05 instead of the standard 2.9% + $0.30 = $14.80. That’s a premium of $10.25 you pay as a seller for a listing mistake that is completely in your control.

Merchant Rates (this is where sellers substantially reduce their fees and improve margins)

For inspiring high volume sellers, instead of the typical 2.9% + $0.30 per transaction fee, you can reduce your fee amount to as low as 1.9% which can is a reduction up to >30%! 

Maintain a value of $3,000 or greater in transactions each month and you could get the “merchant rates” but be aware that this status can be removed if monthly sales drop below this threshold. Complete an application upon login under your Profile and My Money. 

The above information is subject to change and may not reflect the latest PayPal policies. Click the link below to visit PayPal’s guide to the various fee structures. 


Sellers should have a Plan A and Plan B, whether it’s Stripe as Plan A, Plan B, or some other payment processor. They all have the potential to have problems or create problems for you as the seller. In the event a primary processor blocks you or there is some other issue. Another merchant processor growing in popularity is Stripe and this is quickly becoming another preferred method of payment from customers abroad.

The fees structure for standard transaction is the same as PayPal for profit and non-profits. There chargeback fee is $15 compared to $20 at PayPal. Stripe doesn’t have “Micropayments” equivalent for the high-volume, low-dollar/item seller. Stripe is growing internally but PayPal still has much broader reach. Access to funds are slower than PayPal’s immediate access. 

In summary, as a Seller you could use both to meet the needs of more customers globally. Neither requires a contract but this would create a little more administrative work.

Innovative Auction Sites

Believe it or not there are auction sites that don’t charge the buyer any money, some are tailored toward sellers and others auction government property. There are literally hundreds of auction sites. A few interesting sites are shown below. is not affiliated with any of them nor are these is any particular order. 


PropertyRoom claims to be the only authentic police auction website working with over 3,000 law enforcement agencies and municipalities nationwide to help auction their seized, stolen, abandoned and surplus goods. Governments are now able to generate more buyer competition by engaging potential buyers throughout the United States and buyer can win extravagant items at basement level prices.


GovDeals claims to be a liquidity services marketplace that provides services to government agencies allowing them to sell surplus assets and confiscated items. Each government agency has its own auction rules and may be subject to ordinances. Items range from forklifts, artwork, collectibles, and just about anything you can imagine.


uBid is an auction marketplace with >5,000,000 users focused on new, overstock, closeout and recertified products in more than 25 categories, including electronics, collectibles, jewelry and travel. We specialize in offering the best deals on popular, everyday items from watches to laptops, and sports memorabilia from trusted and certified vendors and merchants, directly to our customers in auction, fixed-price and “Deals of the Day” formats. In addition, great deals on similar products available on the uBid Auction Marketplace can also be found in fixed price format on our sister site, They claim to have long terms relationships which enable them to secure deep discounts of quality products. 


Bonanza is catered toward sellers which does not have a listing cost. They claim when you sell an item directly through Bonanza, you will always pay a base 3.5% fee rate compared to most other popular marketplaces charging 10-20% in selling fees excluding the cost of listing an item.


ShopGoodWill is operated by a non-profit organization. They have stores and an auction site in addition to auctioning their items on other auction sites. 


eCRATER platform has is more than an online marketplace because it offers a free ecommerce website builder providing sellers with customizable online stores. All products uploaded to a seller’s store are automatically included in the eCRATER marketplace.

Sellers won’t pay any fees, final value fees, monthly fees or commission to open their own store and sell your products. Sellers get 100% of all the sales that you bring to your store. If eCRATER brings you a sale through the main marketplace, we will collect 2.9% marketplace cost. This marketplace cost will not be imposed on shipping and tax or fully refunded/reversed, cancelled or unpaid orders and will only occur for buyers coming from the marketplace.


ebid is a growing competitor in second place to eBay in terms of gross listing value. Payment options are limited for buyers and sellers but eBid has competitive fees with user-friendly features that rival eBay. You can upgrade from SELLER to become SELLER+ ($49.99 price could change – see their website for the latest offer, normally $99.98) and get a number of features such as no listing fees, no final value fee option, 15 free photos, 5 free eBid Stores, free uploads to Google Shopping, free uploads to Bing Shopping, import from eBay, unlimited listings for life, no more store subscription fees, no more listing fees, no more selling fees.


Listia is an interesting concept of selling for “ink” and using your earned “ink” to purchase other items on the site. You can also earn “ink” in other ways beyond selling. With that “ink” you can buy other items on the site.

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