PayPal Pitfalls

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If done correctly, you should be able to collect the full amount via PayPal. If done incorrectly, you will end up short money in the end.

Be aware that the email notifications from PayPal do not disclose the deduction of fees - to confirm that you received the full amount, you will need to login into your PayPal account online and view the transactions there. PayPal's fee structure is subject to change, but at the time of this writing it is PayPal's policy that Personal Transfers are free when the money comes from a PayPal balance or a bank account, but cost 2.9% of the total due plus a 30 cent fixed fee when the money comes from a debit or credit card or PayPal Credit. Purchase transactions always cost cost 2.9% of the total due + $0.30 regardless of the source of the funds.

To ensure that you are fully reimbursed for each family's cost of participation, if you decide to allow participants to reimburse you via PayPal, you should be careful to specify that they must send the money as a Personal Payment Owed. See our suggested payment instructions for an example on how to do this.

Participants who have not linked their PayPal account to a bank account won't have the option of sending a Personal Transfer. In that case, you should direct them to mail a check or to reimburse you for the fees as well as the total due. There are a number of different PayPal fee calculators available that make calculating those fees quick and easy. One that is easily available on the web is Ryan Olbe's PayPal Fee Calculator.

Be aware that participants may also be charged a fee by PayPal and erroneously believe that they have thus paid the fee charged to you. (You will have no way to see any fees paid by the participant and the participant will have no way to see any fees paid by you.)


No matter how carefully you word your PayPal instructions, there will be the occasional person who fails to follow them, meaning you will come up short. When that happens, you can refund the transaction. Doing so will send the full amount back to the participant including the fees but will cost you, the organizer, a 30-cent refund fee. At that point, you can ask the participant to mail you a check asking them to reimburse you for the refund fee as well as the total due, or you might choose to allow another try at PayPal, again also reimbursing you for the refund fee, if you think it likely they will be able to send you the full amount on a second try.



If you choose not to accept PayPal, you may get get occasional complaints from participants who feel that your choice is an inconvenience or annoyance to them. Usually they simply don't understand that that accepting PayPal can have financial consequences for the organizer, as well as be the cause of time consuming problems. You may direct them to this page for more information if you like.


This issue rarely comes up but should it be raised, you should know that in the vast majority of cases, Homeschool Adventures reimbursements qualify as Personal Transfers under PayPal's Terms of Service. Our volunteer organizers are not selling a good or service. The exception would be those rare cases when the organizer is offering a class led by the organizer and is collecting tuition and/or estimated materials fees. In that case, the cost of collecting fees via PayPal should be included in the organizers cost-basis calculations and reflected in the cost of tuition and materials.