The Difference Between Paid and Free Ads on Craigslist

By James T Wood

The founder of Craigslist: Craig Newmark.
i Brad Barket/Getty Images Entertainment/Getty Images

Craigslist is an iconic, ubiquitous online classified service started by Craig Newmark in 1995. This online resource connects people in much the same way as printed classified ads do, giving local people the opportunity to connect, buy, sell, trade and find jobs in their area. Craigslist offers mostly free ads and a few paid ads.


As of February, 2011 Craigslist is the seventh most-viewed English language website on the internet. Residents of the United States account for 50 million of the users on the site, which racks up more than 20 billion views every month. Craigslist is organized by metropolitan area so that users can post listings that are relevant to their own locality. The site is available on every inhabited continent in the world, though the heaviest use is still in North America.


Classified ads are generated on Craigslist by the users of the site. As a general rule, the company does very little to police the ads themselves, rather the viewers of the site have the ability to flag inappropriate or illegal ads. Anyone can create and post an ad to Craigslist and it will be live on the site within 15 minutes--once the ad is up, the creator can edit the posting as necessary. Adds remain on the site for a set amount of time, so classifieds are listed for 45 days, except in the 10 most popular metropolitan areas, where they remain for seven days. Resumes, jobs and gigs will remain on the site for 30 days in the top 10 cities and 45 day everywhere else.


Free ads make up the vast majority of all content on Craigslist. Users can choose to register an account with Craigslist or to post without an account by providing a confirmation email address. Posting an ad requires browsing to the Craigslist site for your area, then clicking on the "Post to Classifieds" link in the upper left-hand corner of the site. Select the type of ad you want to post and fill out the forms.


As of February 2011, Craigslist charges for a few ads to defray the cost of running the rest of the website. Job ads in the metro region of the San Francisco Bay are charged $75 and in the other top 18 metro areas the charge is $25 per job posting. In New York City, listing a brokered apartment for rent will cost $10. People offering therapeutic services can post ads for $10 and renew them for $5.