How Bidding Works
Automatic bidding is the easiest way to bid on an eBay auction. Simply enter the highest price you’re willing to pay for an item, and we’ll do the rest. Once you set up automatic bidding, you can stay ahead of the competition for an item without needing to be on the eBay site.
How to set up automatic bidding
To set up automatic bidding on an auction listing, enter the maximum amount you’d like to pay for the item and select Place bid. We’ll bid in increments on your behalf to keep you in the lead but only up to your limit.
We’ll let you know if someone outbids you and you can decide if you want to increase your maximum limit.
Keep in mind when you’re deciding on the maximum amount you’d like to pay that you’ll need to pay the cost of shipping too.
Why was I immediately outbid?
If you are outbid immediately after placing a bid, it’s likely that another bidder is using automatic bidding and has a maximum limit higher than yours. You’ll need to increase your maximum limit in order to be the highest bidder.
Retracting a bid
If you’ve made a mistake when bidding on an item, you can retract your bid in certain circumstances. To improve your help experience, please sign in to your account.
Whenever you place a bid, you’re agreeing to buy the item if you win the auction. However, in some situations you can retract your bid.
Keep in mind that you can’t always retract a bid once it’s made. Bids on items listed in Trading Cards categories, for example, can’t be retracted. If you’re not able to retract your bid, you can also try contacting the seller to see if they’ll cancel your bid for you. The decision to cancel is at the discretion of the seller.
When you can retract a bid
You can retract a bid if:
- The seller significantly changed the description of the item
- You accidentally bid the wrong amount. For example, you meant to bid $20, not $200. In this case, enter the price you intended to bid as soon as you’ve retracted the incorrect bid
As well as the above, timing is also important when retracting a bid:
- If there are 12 hours or more left before the listing ends, all of your bids can be retracted
- If the listing is ending in less than 12 hours, you can retract your most recent bid if it’s been less than an hour since you placed it
Any other bids can’t be retracted, but you can still contact the seller to see if they’ll agree to cancel a bid for you. Remember, the seller isn’t obligated to cancel the bid so they may not agree.
How reserve prices work
A reserve price is the minimum amount the seller is willing to sell an item for. If the reserve price isn’t met, the item won’t be sold.
Sellers can choose to add a reserve price when listing an item in an eBay auction. Unless they state their reserve price in the listing, you won’t know what it is until you either meet it or bid above it.
If you bid below the reserve price, you’ll see a “Reserve not met” message. This means that even if you’re the highest bidder at the end of the auction, you won’t win the item.
Sellers can lower their reserve price during the auction or make a Second Chance Offer once it ends. We’ll send you a message if either of these happen, so you have another chance to buy the item.
Waiting until the last few seconds of an auction to make a winning bid is known as bid sniping. This tactic is used to try to prevent other bidders from having a chance to place a higher bid before the auction ends.
Bid sniping—including the use of software that places bids for you—is allowed on eBay, but it doesn’t guarantee you’ll win an auction. Other members may be using the same tactic, may have set up automatic bidding, or may simply react quickly and place a higher bid before the auction ends.
Automated bid sniping software
Many websites and software packages offer automated bidding based on the end time of an eBay auction. They try to automatically place your bid just before the auction ends, and some try to synchronize with eBay servers to ensure your bid wins.
When you sign up with third-party providers that offer automated bidding, you should make sure they are trustworthy before entrusting them with any personal data, like your eBay password. Remember, you are responsible for any information you give to third-party services.
Responding to Second Chance Offers
If you didn’t win an auction, the seller might give you another opportunity to buy the item you wanted by sending you a Second Chance Offer.
If you receive a Second Chance Offer, you’ll be able to buy the item at the amount you offered in your last bid.
How Second Chance Offers work
A Second Chance Offer is when a seller offers you the item you were bidding on, even though you weren’t the winner. This could be because they found more stock, or their reserve price wasn’t met, but they still want to sell the item.
You can choose to accept the offer and pay for the item, or you can choose not to respond and the offer will expire automatically.
Accepting a Second Chance Offer
If a seller makes you a Second Chance Offer, we’ll send you a “You have a Second Chance Offer” email. You’ll also find the offer in the following places:
- Your Messages
- The Bids/Offers section of My eBay
- There may also be a message on the ended listing page with a link to the offer
You’ll have either 1, 3, 5, or 7 days to accept the offer, depending on how long the seller has chosen.
If you’d like to accept the offer, select Buy it in the email and complete payment like any other eBay purchase. You can also view and accept a Second Chance Offer in the Bids/Offers section of My eBay.
Confirming a Second Chance Offer is legitimate
You’ll always find legitimate Second Chance Offers in your Messages and in the Bids/Offers section of My eBay.
We’ll never send a Second Chance Offer email with the subject line “Message from eBay Member.” If you receive an email with that subject line, it’s a fake email and not from us. Please forward the email to email@example.com.
Tips for winning auctions
eBay auctions often have multiple competing bidders. You can maximize your chances of winning by having a good bidding strategy.
Whether you’re new to eBay or you’re an experienced shopper, these tips can help increase your chances of placing the winning bid.
Research before you bid
Before you bid on an item, do some research to find the listing that gives you the best chance of winning for the lowest possible price. Try the following:
Search several times using different terms to describe the item you’re looking for. This will help you understand the current market price
Try searching using misspelled words, such as “porcelane” instead of “porcelain.” Fewer people will find a listing with a typo
Note what time the auction ends; this can affect how many other people will bid on it, and whether you’ll be available to bid at the last minute. If it’s late at night, you’re less likely to be outbid in the last minute
Think about how much you’re willing to pay, and determine your maximum bid. You’ll be prepared to make decisions in the crucial last seconds of the auction
eBay bidding tips
Here are some tips to consider when bidding:
If there’s a Buy It Now option, you can purchase the item right away without waiting for the auction to end
Bide your time. You stand a greater chance of getting the item by placing your highest bid in the closing seconds
If an auction listing has a reserve price, bid up to that amount as early as possible, so other bidders aren’t attracted by the low starting price
Try bidding an uneven amount. Thinking of spending $10.50? Try $10.63 instead. Those extra few cents can make all the difference