Is Etsy Safe?

A website where you’re required to input personal information and pay someone else money is bound to get anyone’s back up about whether it’s a safe zone or a scam.  We completely get that.  But the truth is that Etsy is no less safe than any other of the other big online marketplace websites that millions of people trust, such as Amazon, eBay, and Ali Express.

In general, Etsy only shares certain information about you, and only to groups that are involved in making your experience on Etsy work.  This information is transmitted securely, and its recipients are not allowed to use it for other purposes.  Your financial information (for purchasing items) is stored with Etsy, and is never revealed to anyone who sells you anything on Etsy.  Therefore, it is safe to submit your credit card details to make a purchase. You can also opt out of certain emails that Etsy sends you, and can block certain advertisements that Etsy displays.

Etsy also protects you in dealings with sellers on its website.  If you ever enter a dispute with a seller on Etsy over something that they sold you, you can open a “case” and have Etsy try to resolve your problem.  You can read more about Etsy Cases here.

Tips for staying safe on Etsy

1. Limit the amount of personal information that you put on Etsy.

Sure, part of being on Etsy is participating in the community and connecting with Etsy’s sellers and other users.  But that doesn’t mean that you have to share everything about yourself on Etsy.  All that’s required to be on Etsy (as a buyer, at least) is your email address (which won’t be revealed to anyone anyway) and your username.  If you don’t want to put extra information on your profile, such as your real name, your gender, your birthday, or where you live, you definitely don’t have to.  It’s also probably not a good idea to post things like your credit card information, your Etsy account password, where you live/work, or anything else sensitive or embarrassing on any public place in Etsy, including your profile, your shop, or anything in Etsy’s Community or Blog sections.

2. Read the seller’s policies carefully, and ask questions if you need to.

While viewing an item, click the Shipping and Policies tab.  This will show you important information like when and how the item will be shipped, what kinds of payment the seller will accept, and the seller’s policies on cancellations, exchanges, and returns and refunds.  For example, a seller may have a strict “no returns” policy, or may charge a cancellation fee if you cancel your order after a certain time.  If you have any further questions about the item, or the seller and their policies, click the Ask a Question button in the main information window, type in your message, and then click Submit.

3. Check the seller’s reviews and ratings.

Unfortunately, with the way Etsy groups reviews and ratings, it’s difficult to find reviews and ratings on a specific item that you want to buy.  However, Etsy does give you an average rating for a seller, based on the ratings and reviews of every product they sell.  This should at least give you a clue as to whether a seller is trustworthy or not.

4. Don’t make payments outside of the Etsy website.

It’s generally not a good idea to come to an arrangement with a seller outside of Etsy, in the rare instance that it may come up.  At best, the seller is trying to avoid Etsy’s fees for selling their items.  At worst, the seller is actually a scam artist looking to swindle you out of money.  Always make your payments for Etsy goods through Etsy, and never reveal any personal financial information to a seller.

5. If there’s a problem, contact the seller, Etsy, and/or your financial provider as soon as possible.

If your item doesn’t arrive on time, or it arrives and it isn’t how you thought it would be (e.g. it’s different than it was pictured, is broken, or has parts missing), the first thing you should do is directly contact the person who sold you the item.  If you don’t hear back from that person, or you can’t satisfactorily resolve the issue with that person, you can contact Etsy within 60 days of the estimated delivery date of your item, and open a case against that person.

If the seller doesn’t respond to or resolve your case within a week of it being opened, you can ask Etsy to review the case, and perhaps offer a refund on the seller’s behalf.  See our How to Contact Etsy tutorial (here) for instructions on how to get in touch with a seller — or with Etsy, to open a case against a seller — should you need to.

You might also want to contact your financial institution and at least let them know what’s going on.  Be careful, however: if you ask them to cancel a charge on your credit card because of a problem you’re having with a seller on Etsy, Etsy will not allow you to open a case against that seller (or will close your case, if you’ve already opened one).  Therefore, you should try to solve your issue through Etsy first, and only turn to your bank to solve it as a last resort.

Etsy Pros and Cons

Are you thinking about having an off-the-beaten-path shopping experience with Etsy?  We’ve compiled a list of points that people have given for and against the website.


  • Join for free — It’s free to join Etsy.  As a buyer, you don’t have to pay money to do anything on Etsy until you complete an order for an item.
  • A friendly neighborhood shop — Most sellers on Etsy are people just like you, perhaps wanting to move some unused relics out of the house, perhaps crafting what they sell in their spare time as a hobby, or perhaps using Etsy to make a living as a platform for their small business.  In any case, there are no big corporate interests here.
  • Rustic or retro? — Choose which of Etsy’s two classes of merchandise you want to browse.  If you want to find something that’s a little out of the ordinary in order to complement your fashion or home decor style, or to give to someone as a unique gift, try the “Handmade” class.  Conversely, if you’re a collector looking for treasures from 20 or more years ago, check out the “Vintage” class.
  • More than what you’d expect — In either class of merchandise, you can find numerous categories of different items: clothing, accessories, art, home decor, jewellery, toys, craft supplies, and more!
  • Let the recipient decide — Don’t know what would make a good gift for someone?  You can buy them an Etsy Gift Card instead, and let them pick out what they want themselves!


  • Curiosities are costly — Like many online ordering websites, buying from Etsy can get expensive when you consider that sellers can set whatever price they want for an item, and that shipping costs and taxes can cause the price of an item to inflate a bit.  However, that’s probably a small trade-off for having a convenient way to purchase things that are difficult or impossible to find anywhere else, and support small businesses and independent artists and craftspeople in the process.
  • Poor organization of reviews — Etsy groups reviews for every product in a store together, and sorts them all by date.  So when you see that an item has 127 reviews, in reality, this means that people have left 127 reviews spread across all items in a particular store.  This can make it difficult to search for what people are saying about the specific item that you want to buy.
  • Well, SOMEBODY had a “hand” in making it… — Certain people don’t like the fact that Etsy has begun allowing wholesale businesses to partner with sellers on Etsy, in order to help them create their items faster and in greater quantities.  They feel that it goes against Etsy’s principles of being about individual connections and handmade creativity, as opposed to corporate mass production.  In the end, though, it’s an aesthetic issue that will come down to how much you like what you see on Etsy versus how far you’re willing to let the definition of “handmade” be stretched.

The Bottom Line: 8.5/10

Etsy’s appeal lies in the fact that there aren’t many services out there like it.  Sure, there are well-known websites like Amazon, eBay, and (a.k.a. that allow people to buy and sell all manner of goods.  But there are relatively few well-known services besides Etsy that have a specific inventory of vintage and handmade items, sold by people like you and their small businesses.  You can look for either “vintage” or “handmade” items (or both), and search by categories including toys, clothing, jewellery, home decor, fine art, accessories, and more.  If you don’t know what you want (or what to give someone else) at the moment, you can look into getting an Etsy Gift Card, and then decide later (or let the gift recipient decide for themselves).  And all of it is free until you actually complete an order.  If you’re an artist or craftsperson, you can even open a store on Etsy, and sell your wares to the world!

But Etsy isn’t perfect.  Besides being a tad pricey (for both buyers and sellers), the way its review system is organized makes it difficult to find out whether people have liked or disliked a particular item that you may want.  In addition, some people feel that, by allowing wholesale companies to help sellers make their products, Etsy has lost its credibility in terms of standing for individual creativity and community connections in the face of big business.  Still, Etsy’s a convenient place to find unique items that you can’t get anywhere else, or collect rare memorabilia that’s hard to come by anymore.

What Is Etsy and How Does It Work?

Sometimes, not everything you want can be found in a retail superstore.  Items go out of production and disappear from shelves, and become rare items sought after by collectors.  Other products never touch store shelves in the first place, and are instead created and sold by local vendors at flea markets and craft fairs.  But those kinds of events usually aren't held every day, and it can be tough to find time to make it out to one. 

If you're looking for a convenient place to shop retro, rustic, or both, it's time you met

So what exactly is Etsy?

Etsy is an online marketplace emphasizing people, communities, and creativity.  It allows you to search for and buy vintage products and unique arts and crafts that are difficult to find anywhere else.  Almost everything on Etsy is made and/or sold by people like you (and perhaps their small businesses).

Why use Etsy?

  • Express yourself by buying unique creations — Etsy's "Handmade" section is full of original merchandise designed by the people who sell it.  Toys, clothing, jewellery, home decor… there are plenty of wares to discover!

    Browsing handmade-class items on Etsy

  • Collect treasures from the past — Etsy's "Vintage" section contains items that are at least 20 years old.  If you're into gathering antiques, memorabilia, or things that you just can't find on store shelves anymore, you might hit the jackpot here.

    Browsing vintage-class items on Etsy

  • Give the gift of choice — If you want to buy a unique present for someone but can't figure out what they want, buy them an Etsy Gift Card instead!  The perfect gift is the one they pick themselves!

    Buying an Etsy gift card for someone

  • Find handmade or vintage stuff near you — You can use Etsy find craft fairs and other events where handmade goods and other antiques will be sold, so you can know where to go to support artists and artisans in your local area.  You can also visit events and workshops put on by Etsy, too.

    Finding craft fairs on Etsy to attend

  • Put your artistic passion to work — If you're an artist or artisan yourself, Etsy can help you sell the things that you make.  Why just peddle in your local community? There are people on Etsy from all over the world who might want what you make as a must-have accessory, the perfect piece of home decor, or an original gift idea!

    Creating an Etsy store

How Etsy Works: Things you can do as a buyer, seller, or either

You can use Etsy to buy handmade or vintage goods from people who have signed up on Etsy to sell them.  You can also join Etsy as a seller and use it to hawk your handmade or vintage wares.  Etsy can also be used to find local craft sales, or to get advice on how to buy or sell handmade or vintage items.

Etsy doesn't sell anything themselves; they do the "middleman" work, like taking care of the paperwork between buyers and sellers, as well as organizing events to get buyers and sellers together in real life.  Therefore, most of the people who use Etsy are either buyers or sellers.

Using Etsy as a buyer

Buyers on Etsy may be looking for handmade goods to create or complement their own unique fashion or home decor style, or as an original gift idea.  Or maybe they just want to support small-scale artists and craftspeople in their neighbourhood and around the globe, as opposed to big corporations.  Those looking for vintage merchandise may also be doing so for fashion or decor reasons, or they may be collectors looking to show off rare and valuable items that are difficult to find nowadays.

As a buyer on Etsy, you can do things such as:

  • Decide whether you want to look for "handmade" items, "vintage" items, or both

  • Browse or search through categories such as clothing, toys, accessories, jewellery, home decor, craft supplies, and more

  • Add items to lists, or to your "favourites"

  • Ask sellers about their items or their selling policies

  • Leave reviews of items that you've purchased and received

  • Find local events that sellers on Etsy will be attending

For more information and specific instructions, see our How to Buy on Etsy tutorial.

Using Etsy as a seller

Sellers on Etsy may be looking to make a bit of money on the side with things that they create as a hobby.  For some professional artists and craftspeople, though, Etsy is the selling platform for their small business; it's how they make their living.  And some Etsy sellers might just be trying to clear out old memorabilia found around the house, and see if it's worth anything to collectors.

As a seller on Etsy, you can do things such as:

  • Set up a free shop

  • List items on Etsy, either publicly or privately

  • Buy shipping labels for Canada Post or the United States Postal Service

  • Advertise on Etsy, so your shop and items show up more frequently when people browse or search for things on Etsy

  • Partner with a wholesale company to help create your items faster and in greater numbers

  • Register for an Etsy Event to learn how to create items or manage your shop better

For more information, see our How to Sell on Etsy tutorial.

Things that anyone on Etsy can do

Whether you're a buyer or a seller on Etsy, you can also:

  • Hop on Etsy's forums and discuss your top shopping tips, how to get your merchandise cleared out, your favourite shops, things you'd like to see improved with the website, or anything else you want to talk about. 

  • Check out Etsy's blog, where you can read the latest news and advice about Etsy from the people who run it.  You can even add your voice to the discussion.

  • Join a "team" on Etsy.  Etsy Teams are basically groups of people who share common interests, such as the types of items they sell, the types of materials that they like to use to create their items, or the types of items that they like to buy.  Some groups are open for almost anyone to join, while others have strict guidelines, and may require an application to join.  Share your top tips for getting a business running with your teammates, or point them to shops that have the best merchandise that you're looking for!


Etsy is one of the most popular specialty shopping websites on the Internet, whether you're a buyer looking for unique creations or rare collectibles, or a seller looking to make some money off of your hobby crafts or memorabilia lying around the house.  The rest of our Etsy course will go over the basics of what you need to know to use Etsy.  These include how to create an account, how to search for and buy items, how to use coupons to reduce the prices of your purchases, how to track your purchases, how to write a review of a seller, and how to get in touch with Etsy customer service if you need help.  If you're looking for a popular shop that carries items hard to come by anywhere else, Etsy is the place to be!