A Beginners Guide to Buying with Paypal

Easily the most common way to purchase custom pieces online, Paypal markets itself as a safer way to pay online. What does that mean? Well, it allows you to pay for items across the world (amongst other services) without revealing details of your finances to another company! This guide will cover the two most common examples you will see when you have to pay an individual – using an invoice, and without an invoice. I personally recommend using Paypal in all your transactions where possible!

How does it differ from paying through bank transfer or debit card?

Let’s imagine you’re shopping on Amazon for a second, you use your bank card to pay there! As a large company, it has a legal obligation to protect the data it requests – i.e. your account and security details – from those who could use said details to drain your account. Suddenly, that two buck purchase has cost you two thousand.

Paypal is a middle-man of sorts, it prevents people being able to see your card/bank account details, and provides a faster checkout experience. It also comes in handy if, like myself, you do a lot of business abroad – my own bank charges me more for currency conversion (and gives me a worse rate) – than Paypal does. Using Paypal is also a quicker option if something does go wrong, providing you alert them within 180 days of the transaction.

Are there any negatives for using Paypal?

Of course, no service is perfect! Sellers are charged a fee for receiving money, and buyers can be eligible for fees if a currency conversion is involved. There’s also sometimes a delay between you sending payment and the buyer receiving it – you’d need to wait for said payment to clear before the artist will probably sort your art. Also, Paypal can’t be used for some purchases, you can see a link to their TOS below!

Important ground rules for Paypal

  • Always pay an artist/creative through the goods and services option – even if they complain they lose a portion of the payment to the fee
  • It is against Paypal’s terms of service (see Fees on their TOS for more info) for an individual to charge you to cover their fees (if they say that you owe them the commission amount on their page plus 5% for example), it is up to a seller to price their art competitively.
  • If something goes wrong with your purchase, please refer to the seller’s TOS, whilst phrases such as “no refunds” are often unenforceable (see the next point for an example when this isn’t the case) the seller can make your refund harder to obtain by providing Paypal with the legally binding agreement you both made!
  • If purchasing items that require physical materials (such as the faux fur for a fursuit), you may not be elegible for the full refund of your commission if you choose to cancel, this is because a full refund would leave the artist out of pocket. If you do want a full refund, it is up to you to negotiate with the seller yourself as you did agree to a TOS that stated as such clearly!
  • If you’re commissioning digital art always mark that no address is needed in the shipping info
  • Paypal can not be used to pay for everything (for some of their exceptions, see examples here and here) a prime example is that they are very critical of the sale of adult orientated goods – please be wary of this if you are a NSFW buyer
  • It is a myth that Paypal’s buyer protection always rules in the seller’s favour when it comes to custom items, however, the agents often define the term custom as something different to the artist. If you’re ever in a situation where you feel you’ve been scammed contact a Paypal agent immediately.

You’re Paying the Seller Straight Up

So you’ve found a seller you like – hurray! Even better they’re willing to accept you into their commission queue! You’ve agreed their fee, set a deadline and the only thing missing is payment!

First let’s head on over to Paypal and log in! The screenshots are from the desktop version of Paypal, but it’s virtually the same on mobile – which is handy! Please note that the person I used as an example recipient is a friend based here in the UK, and for security reasons, any data relating to myself, them or any other individuals I’ve worked with have been removed!


1. On your homescreen, select the button that says “pay or send money” a new drop-down menu will open

2. Select “pay for goods or services” (Note even if the artist is a friend/relative please still pay them through this option, the amount of times I’ve read bewares saying “I paid through friends and family because I trusted them” then it’s gone wrong is not funny).


3. On the screen that opens, type the seller’s email address into the bar, and tap the next button!


4. This next screen is the most important to pay attention to! First of all, check the seller’s name and details, confirm you’re sending them to the right person!

5. Enter the amount that you want to send, don’t worry too much about the currency for now, for example if I, someone living in the UK was planning on sending $25 to the US, I’d still type 25.00 here!

6. This little drop-down menu allows you to change the currency you’re going to send in. It’s generally good manners to send payment in the seller’s local currency, however, some sellers do accept other currencies (for example I accept both GBP and USD).

7. In this notes box, I highly suggest you write some key info. State What the money is for (e.g. “for fullbody commission”) where you commissioned the artist (e.g. “on FurAffinity”) Your username/identifier (for “username here”) a great example “For fullbody commission for BlueSeiryuu on FurAffinity” (something I personally write on almost all my payments). I’d also include a thank you or a polite message at the end!


8. This step is important, doing it incorrectly can often cause a whole world of grief for a seller. If you’re buying a digital purchase, or a purchase that requires no physical shipment to you (e.g. a traditional sketch you won’t be getting delivered) mark this box as “no address needed”. If you’re buying an item that does require physical shipment, please ensure your shipping details are correct!

9. This little box at the bottom here confirms how much you’re going to pay. If you want to pay by taking the money straight out of your bank, rather than any balance that may already be in your account, click the button that says “change funding source”. In the “you’ll pay” section, you’ll also see any currency conversions that will occur and the rate at which you’re being charged!

10. Scroll down, hit “pay now” and the money will be on its way!

The Seller has Invoiced You

Some sellers use invoices as a means to track their earnings and keep a detailed record of the individuals who have commissioned them. These are the easiest ones to do!

  1. You’ll receive an email from Paypal saying an individual has sent you an invoice, it’ll have a large “pay now” button at the bottom – tap on there!
  2. If you have a Paypal account, log in on the next screen if you don’t, you can pay using your bank card
  3. Double check the amount, tap the pay now button

Some artists allow part payment if they do you’ll get the option of paying a set amount now and more later on. Often the buyer has set a deadline, so don’t forget to settle your bill!

What if I want to send a tip?

Then feel free to send that through friends and family, artists greatly appreciate it, and it boosts both your and their morale. It’s also part of what makes you a better commissioner.

That’s all there is to it really, happy buying! Stay safe, later I’ll be doing a version for sellers (how to sell via Paypal, set up invoices and setting your commission costs to factor in for fees)! I’ll also be covering other ways to pay, as well as Paypal.me and how to manage things if stuff goes wrong, along with things like tips, being a better commissioner and being a better seller.

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