Last Updated On: September 11th, 2023
Online payment platforms provide users with a convenient and secure way to make purchases over the internet. And if you’ve spent any time buying or selling sports cards on eBay, MySlabs, or in Facebook groups, you’ve undoubtedly seen PayPal offered as an option to complete a purchase.
But PayPal actually has two different payment types available to buyers and sellers: Goods and Services (G&S) and Friends & Family (FF). The main differences come down to everyone’s favorite four-letter “F Word” – fees. And those fees can add up if you’re not careful.
In this post, we’ll break down PayPal G&S vs. FF, explain how the different fee structures work, how to choose the right option for you, and finish with a few alternatives.
Table of Contents
Overview of PayPal Payment Types
If the joy of collecting is the heart of the sports card hobby, then buying and selling are ventricles that bring that joy to life. One of the most common forms of payment for cards is through PayPal, a service that’s been around for over 20 years.
But PayPal isn’t as simple as linking a bank account and going shopping. Once you’ve found a card you wish to pay for via PayPal, you’ll be confronted with a choice: G&S and F&F. Here’s how both work:
What Does PayPal G&S (or GS) Mean?
PayPal G&S stands for “Goods and Services.” According to PayPal, one should pick this option “when buying goods or services. You can use this type of payment when you pay for an item you won in an auction, buy merchandise online, download a digital item, or something similar.”
PayPal GS is designed specifically for using PayPal as a means to pay for something online. It’s like using a credit card at a store, where you’re exchanging a form of money for a good (like, say, an Anthony Edwards rookie card?).
The downside? PayPal charges a 2.99% fee to the seller to receive money via Goods and Services. This fee is taken out of the final transaction amount.
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That said, these purchases are covered by PayPal Purchase Protection, meaning increased security for the buyer in the event they are charged for something they didn’t buy, never receive an order they paid for, or receive an item in drastically different condition than advertised.
What Does PayPal F&F (or FF) Mean?
PayPal F&F stands for “Friends and Family.” These are for personal payments or “the everyday exchange of money between you and your friends and family. You can use personal payments when you send money as a gift, split a lunch bill, pay your share of living expenses, or something similar.”
This is the classic “let me loan a dollar” example from a friend. The plus side: there are no fees associated with this type of transaction when you’re using money that’s already in your PayPal account or linked to a banking account. If you don’t have money already loaded up and are instead paying directly from a credit or debt card, then a fee of 2.90% (plus $0.30) is added.
On the flip side, PayPal FF does not receive coverage by PayPal Purchase Protection. This, in theory, makes sense — there’s nothing being exchanged that needs protecting!
Importance of Choosing Between PayPal G&S vs. F&F
When scrolling on Instagram or trolling through Facebook groups on the hunt for cards, it’s not uncommon to see both buyers and sellers requesting either FF or GS to avoid paying fees or ensure purchases are protected.
It’s extremely important to make the right choice between Paypal G&S vs. F&F for your purchase and sale.
Ultimately, when paying for a card, it’s probably best to go with PayPal GS, if possible. As the buyer, you’re protected in the event the card you receive is not the one as advertised, and you’re not paying the fee anyway as it comes out of the seller’s net amount.
Calculating Fees Related to PayPal G&S vs. F&F
Let’s take a look at how a purchase using PayPal G&S vs. F&F might work using a 1981 Topps Joe Montana rookie card. You decide to spend $1,000 on one with a BGS 9 grade from a seller you found on Instagram.
Maybe the seller states the price as follows: “$1,000 net, FF or GS is fine, but buyer covers fees.” If you pay via FF using a bank account, the plus is you won’t be paying any additional fees; the card will cost exactly $1,000.
But if you select GS, the seller expects you to pay 2.99% on top of the $1,000, so the seller still roughly nets $1,000 after PayPal takes out its GS fee. For that transaction, you’d pay an additional $29.90, making the total purchase $1,029.90. But keep in mind you get product protection for that $29.90, meaning if the Montana card you receive is actually a BCCG 9, you can get your money back.
In some cases, sellers are willing to eat the PayPal fee to ease the concern of prospective buyers.
Pro tip: when using PayPal G&S, always ask the seller to invoice you from PayPal with the full description of the card you’re buying. If any issue arrises you can point to the product description on the invoice (e.g. 1981 Topps Joe Montana #219 BGS 9 Mint) to open a dispute that can result in a quick case close when PayPal reviews what was expected versus what you received. Invoicing the customer is also recommended from the seller’s end for the same reasons — no room for any misunderstanding or ambiguity.
PayPal Goods and Services Fees (Domestic)
If both customers are registered in the United States, the Goods and Services fee is 2.99% of the transaction price. This is known as the Domestic Fee.
Here are a few examples for sellers of how the PayPal G&S fee shakes out:
Joe Montana Example
Let’s go back to the Montana Rookie example from above: if the seller decided to eat the G&S fee, PayPal would still take the $29.90 from the $1,000 transaction. This means the seller would net $970.10 from the sale. The buyer would only pay $1,000.
George Mikan Example
One of the NBA’s earliest cards featuring one of its earliest stars, we featured the 1948 Bowman George Mikan card in our basketball collector’s guide.
PayPal limits personal transactions to $10,000 per transaction and $60,000 per week, while businesses get a $60,000 daily and $250,000 weekly limit. Sorry for those looking to offload a PSA 9 Mikan (valued by CardLadder at nearly $735,000)!
But for this example, let’s use a PSA 4 Mikan, which is valued at $8,888. At that figure, a 2.99% fee comes out to $265.75 (multiply 8,888 x 0.0299).
This fee can either be absorbed by the seller (meaning the seller would net $8,622.25) or added to the buyer’s final transaction amount so that the seller still nets about $8,888 (which would mean the buyer pays $9,153.75 – just under the daily personal account spending limit).
Either way, you should seek to make the transaction G&S so that you get protection on the valuable card.
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PayPal Goods and Services Fees (International)
But if you’re selling sports cards, you don’t want to limit yourself to just the American market. In the event you’re in a different market than the buyer or seller (e.g. the buyer is in the US and the seller is in Australia), then you’ll fall under PayPal’s International G&S Fees. In these instances, PayPal adds another 1.50% to the initial 2.99% transaction fee, bringing the total to 4.49%.
In addition, PayPal charges a fixed fee for commercial transactions that are based on the currency received. These vary based on the currency; for an updated list, check out PayPal’s current transaction rates list (under the merchant’s tab and subheading “Fixed fee for commercial transactions (based on currency received)”).
Let’s now assume the buyer is in Australia while the seller is in the United States. For starters, our Aussie buyer would likely pay in Australian dollars, and thanks to the exchange rate calculator on Wise, we know that $1,000 USD is equal to $1,567.15 AUD. So if our seller wants the buyer to pay for the G&S fee, that means adding another 4.99% to that total (which comes out to $78.23 in AUD, or $49.90 in USD).
Or, our seller can eat the fee, in which case the $49.90 will be deducted from the $1,000 they receive, bringing the net total to $950.10. And since the AUD fixed fee is $0.59 AUD, the seller can deduct that amount (equal to $0.38 in USD), bringing the grand total to $949.72 for the card. Alternatively, the buyer can add that amount to the final price for the card before the transaction is completed.
PayPal Friends and Family Fees
When you send money via F&F, you pay no fees, with one exception: when you pay via credit/debit cards. If you pay through money you have on PayPal or through a bank account, it’s completely free of any fees.
But, with F&F, you don’t get the PayPal Protection, which brings us to the next portion of our analysis of PayPal G&S vs. F&F.
Caveat worth noting: when paying via PayPal FF using a credit card, most card companies still offer consumer protection where a dispute can be filed, resulting in an open chargeback case for review. At least in this case, you’re not completely SOL as far as protection is concerned (it’s just that the protection isn’t coming from PayPal).
Buyer and Seller Protection With PayPal G&S
Aside from the fees, PayPal’s Purchase Protection is the biggest difference between PayPal G&S vs. F&F. As noted, the protection plan is only available through purchases made via G&S.
But how exactly does the purchase protection protect buyers and sellers?
How PayPal G&S Protects Buyers
Under PayPal Purchase Protection, buyers get ease of mind when it comes to transactions completed via GS. There are three cases in which a buyer can report a problem under the Purchase Protection:
- You Were Charged for Something You Didn’t Purchase – Example: you buy a Joe Montana rookie card but get charged for a Jerry Rice card.
- Your Order Never Arrives: Example – you buy a Joe Montana rookie card and…it never arrives.
- Your Order Arrives But in Significantly Different Condition Than Described – Example: You buy a Joe Montana rookie card with no visible flaws, and the card you receive has a crease right across the middle.
Keep in mind that a buyer has 60 days to report any problems under the Purchase Protection plan.
How Paypal G&S Protects Sellers
Sellers are protected under the platform’s Seller’s Protection Program. A few rules worth noting:
- The Seller’s Protection Program applies only to accounts registered in the United States.
- You must ship the item and provide proof of delivery – you can track the delivery process through a shipping company’s tracking number OR via signature confirmation if the item in transit is over $750 in value (required).
- Collectibles sold for $10,000 or more do not qualify for protection, which matters for extremely high-priced sports cards.
When it’s Okay to Choose PayPal F&F
In the debate of PayPal G&S vs. F&F, the best bet is to use G&S. And this is true most of the time.
But, there are a few circumstances in which it might make more sense to pay via Friends and Family.
The first case is in the event that you completely trust the seller. Maybe you’ve bought from them before or have developed a rapport with the seller such that you can be completely sure that you’ll get what you paid for. The benefits here are obvious: the price stays low for both the buyer and seller and the mutual trust means the need for protection is a bit lower.
You may also wish to go with F&F if you’re transacting over lower-risk items. Obviously, one’s risk tolerance is all relative – a $100 card might be nothing to one buyer but a high-end purchase to another. If you’re okay with a little more risk, then F&F could be right for you.
Alternatives to using PayPal
While this article focuses primarily on PayPal G&S vs. F&F, we’d be remiss not to touch on a few other transaction platforms out there.
One of the most popular sites is Venmo, originally a peer-to-peer (P2P) platform best used as an alternative to F&F given there are no fees for using your bank or Venmo balance to send money. Venmo has since expanded to support similar benefits as PayPal, like buyer protection. When buying from a business in this regard, fees associated include a 1.9% transaction fee assessed to the seller (along with a $0.10 added charge) as well as a 3% charge against the buyer when sending money via credit card (not unlike PayPal’s F&F fee associated with credit cards).
A 2nd alternative is Zelle, which is another great P2P service with no instant transfer fees unless assessed by one’s banking institution or credit union. In truth, several banks actually use Zelle as an instant transfer service, including Bank of America and Chase. The downside? Again, no protection. When using P2P services primarily to exchange money between, well, friends and family, there’s little help if a product received isn’t what you actually purchased.
When you authorize a payment, it’s like sending cashquoted directly from Zelle’s Safety page.
The same goes for Cash App, another peer-to-peer platform that has no transaction fees but also no protection guarantees. It can support fee-free transfers of money, stocks, and even Bitcoin.
Summary: PayPal G&S vs. F&F
When it comes to PayPal G&S vs. F&F, the right choice ultimately comes down to the specific relationship between the buyer and seller and the nature of the transaction. The fees might feel high, but that’s the price of protection when shopping online. For collectors buying and selling in person, PayPal FF is a good choice for both parties as the sports card can be exchanged face to face, and no protection is needed assuming you review the card thoroughly for any concerns.