Is eBay Free to Use and How Does It Make Money?

eBay is a popular website for people to buy and sell goods, but what is eBay’s role in the economic relationships that form on it day in and day out? How does it differ from its competitors? This article will examine eBay’s “middleman” role, and how much you should expect to pay them to carry out that role.

Is eBay free?

eBay is free to use as a buyer; you are not charged money to open an account, or keep it open.  You are only charged money if you buy an item, or submit a winning bid or offer for an item.  However, if you are using eBay as a seller, it will cost you money to run a store, list items for sale, sell items, and so on.

How does eBay make money?

eBay makes money by charging various types of fees to people wishing to sell items on the website.  These include subscription fees for running a store on eBay, listing fees for listing more products for sale than one’s store type allows, and a final value fee that is dependent on the type of item being sold.

eBay pricing systems

eBay Stores subscription plans

eBay has comprehensive business solutions for those wishing to have extra tools at their disposal to help them sell items on eBay.  These are known as eBay Stores, and there are three available packages: Basic, Premium, and Anchor.  Each package offers greater benefits than the last, such as the ability to list more items for sale without incurring listing fees, or having to pay lower listing fees on items that do exceed your store type’s listing limit. For a full comparison, see this chart on eBay.

Each store subscription has a monthly rate and an annual rate.  The monthly rate is paid on a monthly basis.  The annual rate is paid all at once, but is less expensive than the monthly rate.

  • No Store — No monthly or annual cost.
  • Basic Store — $25 per month, $240 per year ($20/month rate)
  • Premium Store — $75 per month, $720 per year ($60/month rate)
  • Anchor Store — $350 per month, $3600 per year ($300/month rate)

eBay listing fees

eBay charges listing fees to users who post items for sale on eBay.  Depending on what eBay Stores package they have, a user can list a limited number of items for sale for free.  Any items listed beyond that will cause them to incur listing fees, which vary depending on the store type that they have, as well as whether each listing is for an immediate purchase or an auction.

  • No Store — Up to 50 free fixed-price or auction-style listings per month; 30₵/month per additional listing of either type
  • Basic Store — Up to 250 free fixed-price listings and up to 250 free auction-style listings (in most categories) per month; 20₵/month per additional fixed-price listing; 25₵/month per additional auction-style listing
  • Premium Store — Up to 1000 free fixed-price listings and up to 500 free auction-style listings (in most categories) per month; 10₵/month per additional fixed-price listing; 15₵/month per additional auction-style listing
  • Anchor Store — Up to 10,000 free fixed-price listings and up to 1000 free auction-style listings (in most categories) per month; 5₵/month per additional fixed-price listing; 10₵/month per additional auction-style listing

eBay final value fees

eBay also charges fees to a user whenever they sell something on eBay. Unlike the previously-discussed fees, final value fees are largely not affected by whether or not a user has an eBay Store package (or a particular tier of one), but instead are dependent on what type of item is being sold.

All final value fees are assessed on a per-item basis. They are based on the total value of the sale, which includes the item price and the shipping charges, but not the sales tax. Final value fees will not exceed $250.

  • Coins, paper money, or stamps — 6%
  • Car parts, tools, accessories, and supplies — 8%
  • Computers and video game consoles (including essential parts) — 4%
  • Cameras, audio equipment, memory cards, and other consumer electronics — 6%
  • Camera and cell phone accessories, and other computer peripherals  — 9%
  • Clothing, shoes, and wearable accessories — 9%
  • Books, movies / TV shows, music, and video games — 9%
  • Business and industrial equipment — 9%
  • Everything else — 9%

There are also sometimes special fees for doing special things to promote a listing, like putting up more pictures of the item or listing it in more than one category or national eBay site at once. For a full list of fees and applicable items, listing numbers, or actions, see this help page on eBay.

Anyway, that’s a quick overview of the fees that eBay charges in order to make money!