We often get emails from users asking: “Is Kickstarter free?”.
The short answer is that the Kickstarter platform is free to use until your project is funded.
On Kickstarter, projects are only successful if they reach their minimum funding goal. This is called “tipping”.
If your project tips (e.g. is successfully funded), you have to pay Kickstarter a 5% fee and as well as a payment processor fee. The payment processor fee varies depending on the size of the donation received. They are roughly they are between 3 and 5%.
We have created a free Kickstarter calculator that will help you estimate the fees that you have to pay if your project is successful.
Our calculator is focused on fees standard to the United States. However, fees may be different depending on the country from which your project is launched.
Kickstarter publishes their fee schedule for each country on their website. You can sort the fees and processing fees by country here.
What happens if I don’t reach my funding goal?
One of the great features of Kickstarter is that if your project fails to reach its goal you do not pay any fees. In this sense, the platform has no upfront cost to the user.
This is beneficial to the creator as it reduces the amount of risk in starting a campaign.
If your project is not successful, your backers will also not be charged.
To reiterate, you are not charged if your project is not successfully funded.
How do I calculate the costs of Kickstarter?
Users on Quora often recommend that you estimate paying the maximum 5% in fees. This ensures you are not surprised by a larger fee payment than what you estimated.
Likely you will have to pay less than you have budgeted.
If you are interested in doing a more detailed calculation, we have created a free Kickstarter fee calculator.
The total amount of fees that you pay to Kickstarter is dependent on the total amount raised, the number of backers for your campaign, and the size of the individual donations.
Is there a less expensive option than Kickstarter?
No matter which crowdfunding platform you use you will have to pay a credit card processing fee. Kickstarter uses Amazon payments which offers a very competitive rate.
It is possible to save the fee that you pay Kickstarter for using their service. You could find another crowdfunding platform, but many of them have a similar fee structure. It will be very difficult to save money on the transaction fees from one platform to another.
Your best bet is to use your own crowdfunding platform. There are multiple WordPress themes which will help you run a crowdfunding campaign without a platform. The cost of these themes is around $50.
Using your own platform to crowd-fund can be beneficial as it gives you more control, but you also lose the network effect of using a platform. There have been great examples of crowdfunding campaigns run with and without a major platform.
When deciding whether it’s worthwhile paying Kickstarter’s successful campaign fees, it’s important to consider the total fee amount. For a small campaign, you will pay less in fees and it is probably not worth the extra time to set up and manage your own crowdfunding campaign. Many founders choose to use the Kickstarter platform because it’s easy to use and allows you to focus on creating and promoting the campaign instead of managing the backend finances of fundraising.