eBay Bucks: What Sellers Need to Know

eBay Bucks is a free rewards program created in 2009. Enrolled buyers who purchase qualifying items receive eBay currency (Bucks) that can be used towards future eBay purchases. The amount of eBay Bucks awarded to buyers is calculated as a percentage of the item’s sale price. Despite being currently a buyer focused program, sellers should have some understanding of eBay Bucks for their own eBay knowledge base and also for potential future expansion of the scheme.

The Basics

To be able to take part in the eBay Bucks program, buyers must:

  • Be a resident of the US with a US address connected to their eBay account
  • Be 18 years or older
  • Have an eBay account in good standing (no holds or suspensions)

A similar scheme exists UK eBay users in cooperation with the already popular Nectar rewards network. The Canadian eBay Bucks program was retired in 2013.

By taking part in the rewards program, buyers can earn up to $100 in eBay Bucks per transaction. eBay Bucks are accumulated during every calendar quarter, with buyers able to earn a maximum of $500 over each of these three month periods.

After the end of the calendar quarter, buyers are sent a certificate for the total of eBay Bucks they have earned.

Qualifying purchases

eBay Bucks are only earned when buyers purchase items that qualify for the program. Most items on eBay meet the requirements, as long as they are:

  • Paid for using PayPal
  • Purchased after joining eBay Bucks

Items that are listed in the following categories do not qualify as eBay Bucks purchases:

  • Classifieds
  • Real Estate
  • eBay Gift Cards, Gift Cards, and Digital Gifts within the Gift Cards & Coupons category
  • Bullion within the Coins & Paper Money category
  • Heavy Equipment within the Business & Industrial category

The easiest way for buyers to know whether a purchase is eligible for the eBay Bucks program is to look for the logo underneath the price listing. Sellers do not have to do anything for their items to display this logo – if they are eligible, it will be there automatically.

Redeeming eBay Bucks

Almost anything on eBay can be purchased with eBay Bucks. Once the certificate has been issued to the buyer (up to 15 days after the end of the quarter), the amount will appear next to an item’s subtotal in the eBay checkout. Items must be paid for via PayPal.

The eBay Bucks certificate expires 30 days after being issued. If the eBay Bucks have not been used, they will be removed from the buyer’s account. eBay Bucks cannot be rolled over to the next month or transferred to another eBay user.

Recent changes to the eBay Bucks program

The eBay Bucks rewards program has faced several adaptations since its conception, with the most drastic being the retirement of the Canadian scheme a few years ago. More recently though, there have been further, also significant, changes.

  • The percent amount used to calculate how many eBay Bucks are earned per qualifying transaction (also known as the base earn amount) is changing from 2% to 1% on January 1st 2017. A $100 item purchased in December 2016 would produce $2 eBay Bucks, but in January 2017, only $1.
  • eBay Bucks can no longer be redeemed for eBay gift cards, effective January 1st 2017.
  • Starting April 1st 2017, participants do not have to earn $5.00 minimum to receive an eBay Bucks certificate. This is a reversal of policy introduced in 2013.
  • Previously blacklisted from the program, items listed in the Business & Industry category (minus Heavy Equipment) and Parts & Accessories within the Motors Category will be eligible for eBay Bucks earnings from January 1st 2017.

The first two changes will no doubt frustrate longtime eBay Bucks participants, especially the halving of the base earn amount. Lowering this all important percentage may drive some high spending eBay buyers away to other online retailers which offer better rewards. This could impact on sellers as a whole, or sellers in specific niches that appeal to these power buyers.

Future seller eBay Bucks program?

A special eBay Bucks promotion was available to selected sellers in September 2016. This was a one-off (so far) offer for sellers to earn eBay Bucks for qualifying purchases during a specific period. Sellers invited to the program were offered a reward rate of 6% on each item sold between September 8th and 19th.

The big question for sellers is whether this promotion was a trial for a future eBay Bucks seller program. There can be little doubt that a program of this nature would most likely be welcomed by sellers as it would offer an additional reward for completing sales. It should be considered though that the terms and conditions of any hypothetical program may be more complicated than the current eBay Bucks program for buyers.