Is selling on eBay still worth it?

Packages and parcels at the porch of a front door. Photo by Kindel Media from Pexels

eBay has long been the popular way for people to make a few extra bucks from the unwanted items around their house. With so many other platforms for selling secondhand goods online, is eBay still worth the effort?

But there are many people who have moved away from eBay in recent years. Increasing fees are part of the reason, and that its saturated with sellers and too difficult to make sufficient profit.

Ultimately it may come down the items you’re selling, and your reasons for selling as an individual. Note: this article doesn’t address eBay for businesses. You may not always get the highest sale price, but it may be far easier to find buyers – eBay can reach a worldwide audience!

For a long time, Gumtree has been my favoured platform for selling – you can see why with my tips on how to sell successfully on Gumtree, and how to stay safe when buying and selling on Gumtree.

However this year, I’ve decided to finally give eBay a go (yeh I know, I’m a bit late to the party). Truthfully, it’s been better than I expected.

Pros of selling on eBay

Listing your items is free

Some time ago, eBay charged an insertion fee for every listed item you put up for sale. This was a deterrent for me, because who wants to pay fees when you didn’t even manage to sell the item?!

eBay have since abolished this insertion fee, meaning you can list your items for sale for free. If you don’t sell it – then no loss, you’re not charged anything for having given it a go.

The caveat on this is that eBay will take their cut, for when you DO sell. There’s a final value fee that is payable upon sale, which comprises of a fixed fee per item, as well as a variable fee. And I suspect the original ‘insertion fee’ that is no longer charged, is well and truly baked into their ‘final value’ fees!

For the average person, eBay will give you 250,000 free listings per month – which is more than sufficient if you’re looking to clean out your house of some unwanted items and get some cash!

Keep in mind, there are a bunch of listing upgrades which ARE chargeable, but are also completely optional. These include promoting your listing (to increase its visibility), and listing your item in two categories. It’s not necessary to use these upgrades though.

Make sure to read up on eBay’s page on free listings for all the details and any exclusions.

The key takeaway here , is that since it’s generally free to list items, then it’s at least worth a shot to put something up on eBay to see if it sells.

Managed Payments

With eBay’s decision to rollout Managed Payments across their marketplaces globally, when it finally reached Australia, this was a key tipping point for me to finally give eBay a go.

I was always a bit off by the idea of using my personal PayPal account, with selling on eBay as an individual. This always seemed like could have been prone to issues, with providing PayPal details to random strangers on the internet who simply wanted to buy my wares. Would I still be relatively anonymous? Could they scam me and request a reversal on their payment?

But with eBay now managing the end-to-end process of taking payment from the buyer – I now only need to provide eBay with my banking details to ensure I get paid. eBay will manage the payments from the buyer (and they can pay however they want – whether that’s PayPal or just credit card), and deliver the payout to my account. Too easy.

eBay Postage Labels

This is another thing that makes selling on eBay an absolute breeze – postage labels!

No more needing to line up at the post office with your packages to pay for postage. Now – you can generate your own postage labels from within your eBay account, print them on your home printer onto regular paper, slap them onto the package and boom – postage sorted.

You won’t have to worry about making a mistake with your buyer’s address – eBay will populate this for you automatically.

As soon as you purchase your postage label, the tracking details are uploaded automatically to eBay, so your buyer know it’s on the way.

You can choose to use either Sendle or Australia Post for your domestic eBay Postage Labels.

Should I choose Sendle or Australia Post for my eBay Postage Labels in Australia?

You can choose Sendle or Australia Post, depending on what’s most important to you or your buyer.


Depending on where your package is going, the prices via Sendle can be cheaper. Cheaper postage is a win for everyone, especially your buyer!

Parcel pick-up

You can have Sendle come to pick up the package from your home or office for no extra cost with Sendle Parcel Pickup.

Unfortunately parcel pickup is not an option that’s available with Australia Post, however you can just drop off the parcel into an AusPost street posting box, if that’s most convenient for you.

An important thing to note – the Australia Post street posting boxes are convenient, but this doesn’t guarantee having your parcel getting scanned into the Australia Post system. Sometimes – parcels just manage to bypass getting scanned at various checkpoints through the system. And with eBay withholding payment until they receive tracking confirmation of parcel delivery for some sellers (especially if you’re new to eBay), this could become problematic – personally I recommend handing it over to an Australia Post office and making sure it gets scanned – if it ever gets lost in the system, you have proof that you mailed the parcel and the onus is not on you.

PO Boxes, Parcel lockers, parcel collect locations

If either you or your buyer likes to use any a PO Box, Parcel Locker or Parcel Collect location as your address, then you’re out of luck with using Sendle, as they can’t deliver to these locations. Sendle also usually expects a street address as the return address.

You will need to select Australia Post if you wish to send to PO Boxes, Parcel Lockers and Parcel Collect Locations, or if you wish to use your own PO Box as the return address on the label.

Can I use eBay Postage Labels if I don’t have a printer?

Yes! But you will be limited to using Sendle’s Printer-Free postage.

Do I have to use eBay postage labels?

Nope – if you don’t like the sound of doing this yourself, you can still just write the address onto the parcel as you normally would, and send it. You can manually upload the tracking details (if you have it) to the order in eBay.

Wider audience

Not surprisingly, one of the benefits of eBay is having a much larger marketplace available to you. Instead of just being your local area (like Gumtree or Facebook Marketplace), you may be able to find interested buyers all over the country, or even the world!

In my own experience, there have been a few items which have languished on these local marketplaces, as I’ve struggled to find someone locally who was interested.

Much to my surprise, some of those same items have shifted off of eBay incredibly quickly.

Cons of selling on eBay


The fact is, most of your buyers will need the item posted to them, which is just another added cost for them. This can make the sale of an item less attractive (compared to selling an item locally in person, where no postage is required) – unless the item is rare or hard to find.

Posting items also means needing to keep packaging material on hand, to be able to pack up your sold items. You don’t have to spend money on this if you’re just keeping boxes and packaging material from your own online purchases (though you’ll at least need to front the cost for tape).

If you want to use eBay’s Postage Labels, you’ll need to have a scale at home to be able to weigh your parcel accurately, for calculating postage costs.

If you choose to send using Australia Post, the cost of sending a package will depend on the weight and dimensions – be sure to measure these carefully because the price can rise quickly. Australia Post will charge depending on physical weight or cubic weight (whichever is greater) – sometimes the difference of 1cm in the dimensions may throw you into a higher category for postage.

It’s best to measure up your expected packaging before you price your item on eBay, so you can factor in the accurate postage cost.


Well there’s no going about it – eBay fees can start to eat into your profits.

When pricing your items for listing on eBay, always consider that they will take their chunk out of your sale, and price accordingly.

Here are the fees you can expect to pay:

  • Fixed fee – $0.30
  • Variable fee – 13.4% (for most categories, up to a sale amount of $4,000)

These fees are GST inclusive.

I must admit I’ve been stung before with forgetting that postage is considered part of the final value (whether you or the buyer is paying for the postage), which eBay will take 13.4% from. So make sure you factor this in when pricing your item for sale (or considering the minimum amount you want to start the bidding at, for auction-style listings). Failing to do so may mean you end up with less in your pocket.

As an example – If you sell a dress for $90, and charge your buyer $10 for postage, then eBay will charge you the following in fees:

  • Fixed fee – $0.30
  • Variable fee – ($90 + $10) * 0.134 = $13.40
  • TOTAL EBAY FEES: $13.70

So even though you technically sold the dress for $90, and you’re not even paying for the $10 shipping yourself (since the buyer is paying for the shipping) – you’ll only end up with $76.30 in your hand, once eBay takes their cut.

eBay payouts

With eBay managing payments providing a lot of convenience, there’s a few things to be mindful of.

Payments on hold

Even once a buyer has paid for their item, eBay may put a hold on the payout on the funds to your account.

This is particularly common if you’re a new seller – when I initially started selling, my payments were all held until the parcel tracking showed that the parcel was successfully delivered. Once you have enough of a selling history for eBay to be confident that you know what you’re doing though, they’ll start to make the funds available for payout within 2 days of the buyer making payment.

There are other reasons that eBay may put payments on hold, which include if you’ve had any restrictions or suspensions on your account, or for high price items or unusual selling patterns.

It all makes sense from the perspective of eBay trying to make sure the platform is safer for everyone, but it is worth considering (if you’re getting the funds ASAP).

Payout frequency

With eBay Managed Payments, you can choose to have your funds paid daily, weekly, fortnightly or monthly. So, you can get your funds pretty quickly – unless they’re being held – see above. But it may be better to choose a longer payout period, to give you more time to sell items and accrue funds to cover your selling costs, such as postage labels and selling fees. Otherwise – eBay may send you a bill, if your selling costs are higher than your payout (this can happen if your funds are being held for any reason).

So keep in mind, that you may not be able to access your funds ASAP when selling on eBay. This isn’t a deal breaker for everyone, but something to consider.

So – is it still worth it to sell on eBay?

It depends.

There’s no denying that eBay selling fees can really eat into your sales.

But is it beneficial to reach a larger market and actually potentially SELL an item, rather than struggling to find a buyer locally? Maybe. At least, I think it is.

If your item is expensive, hard to find, or in high demand, these are items that may potentially sell on eBay much faster than in other marketplaces. If nothing else, these reasons help make it worthwhile for a buyer to pay for the postage.

For an individual who is just looking to get rid of their unwanted secondhand goods and to recoup some cash, eBay is still a viable option, if not just to reach a wider audience to re-home your unwanted goods.


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