eBay Managed Payments vs. PayPal Cost Comparison

Liz Morton ~ Founder
Liz Morton ~ Founder


I’ll start this one with a disclaimer:

The following information represents results from one seller’s account only. Your results may vary depending on eBay store subscription, categories, seller level, and other factors.

When eBay initially introduced Managed Payments in 2018, the pitch was all about the savings - claiming most sellers would see an average of 25% savings vs. PayPal.

eBay’s 2.7% processing fee and no per transaction fee easily beat PayPal’s 2.9% + $0.30.

eBay Managed Payments Average 25% Savings

The $0.30 per transaction savings was specifically highlighted in this article by Alyssa Cutright, VP Payments.

Most exciting to Danny, and to many of our other sellers, is their lowered costs. “When I decided to sign up for managed payments, it was really about the 30 cents savings. I do more than 5,000 sales in a year, so that savings adds up to over $1,500 back in my pocket. If you’re a higher volume seller, that 30 cents adds up fast. It’s a huge advantage for me.” Danny told us.

Overall, sellers in managed payments are benefitting from reduced costs:
  • A 25% reduction in their payment processing fees1;
  • This reduction represents approximately $175,000 in seller savings to date;
  • This translates to almost $4 million in seller savings on an annual basis.

Fast forward to May 2020 when eBay introduced the Simplified Fee Structure which created a single fee to cover both the Final Value Fee and Payment Processing Fee together, plus a $0.30 per transaction fee.

Originally the Simplified Fee was applied only to item price + shipping and was still fairly straightforward with the possible savings to sellers easy to see.

This example was provided by eBay in the announcement for the new fee structure.

However, on September 1st, 2020 eBay began applying the full Simplified fee on the total sale amount of item price + shipping + sales tax (both seller collected and eBay collected under Marketplace Facilitator laws.)

This change made it much harder to calculate if there would be savings in Managed Payments vs. PayPal. Generally speaking, sales to no tax states would see the most savings, lower tax rate states would see small savings or would be neutral, and higher tax rate states would likely see an increase in fees.

Sellers now need to look at sales over time to try to get an accurate picture of the average overall savings or increase in fees with Managed Payments.

This account has been tracking monthly since enrolling in Managed Payments in August 2020. It’s a larger, higher volume seller with consistent sales trends. Between eBay’s Marketplace facilitator obligations and the seller’s nexus in non-marketplace facilitator states, sales tax is collected for every state except the few which do not have sales tax. They have a Premium store subscription and the current Managed Payments Simplified Fee for this category is 10.5%.

Once the sales tax was included in the calculation, this seller has consistently been averaging about 3% savings in Managed Payments vs. PayPal. This savings is mostly due to the 10% Top Rated Seller Plus fee discount. If this account did not qualify for the Top Rated Seller Plus discount, the savings would only be on average about 0.25%.

Chart based on fees for January 2021 - *chart does not include $0.30 per transaction fee for Managed Payments as it is a wash with PayPal’s $0.30 per transaction fee.

eBay recently announced in the Spring 2021 Seller Update that fees in some categories would be increasing by 0.20% . More detail on the fee increases here.

This category will be increasing from 10.5% to 10.7% as of April 1st, 2021. Once that increase goes into effect, the savings for Managed Payments vs. PayPal will go down to about 1.4% if they retain the TRS+ fee credit - but would end up being about a 1.7% loss vs. PayPal without that credit.

eBay is also offering more Zero Insertion Fee listings for stores as part of the Spring 2021 update, ostensibly to take a little sting out of the fee increases.

This store currently has a Premium subscription with 1,000 ZIF listings per month for $59.95. They could stay at this subscription level and have 10,000 ZIF listings starting April 1st or downgrade to a Basic store subscription to stay at 1,000 ZIF listings at a cost of only $21.95 a month.

However, as noted in the chart above, without the TRS+ discount, this seller would face a loss of $52.01 in the comparison of increased Managed Payments fees vs. old eBay + PayPal fees - even if they saved an additional $38 per month by downgrading the store subscription, they would still be paying more in fees than they were under the old system.

Again, these numbers may not represent the results for all sellers and every seller is encouraged to do this same comparison for themselves.

However, it shows that over time the fees in Managed Payments have increased and become more complex (despite the “simplified” labeling), making it difficult for sellers to have a clear picture exactly what eBay’s take rate really is.

It seems that eBay may be leaning on the Top Rated Seller Plus discount for their claims that “most sellers will see savings with Managed Payments.” However, in many categories, to earn that discount sellers must have a 1 day handling time and offer “free” (seller paid) 30 day returns.

Depending on the seller’s average return rates and return shipping costs, offering free returns can quickly add up to outweighing any benefits. eBay has moved the goalposts over the years for the TRS+ discount and many sellers find it isn’t worth trying to jump through the hoops. Those sellers will be hit hardest by the Spring 2021 Managed Payments fee increases.

Complicating matters even further, eBay also announced that by the end of March 2021, sellers in Managed Payments will have all fees netted from the available balance rather than invoiced monthly.

Many sellers preferred to pay their monthly invoice using a credit card specifically to receive benefits and rewards such as a percentage cash back. Losing that benefit could end up outweighing any potential savings sellers may see with Managed Payments vs. PayPal.

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