4 min overview

How bidding works

Bidding on an eBay auction is a great way to get the item you want – at a bargain price.

In an auction-style listing, sellers name a starting price and you bid against other buyers. You can watch the item to see how the bidding is going. When the listing ends, the highest bidder wins the item and completes the purchase.

Remember, a bid is considered a binding contract. That means that when you bid on an item, you're committing to buy it if you win.

To answer any questions you might have, this article has links to all of our most useful bidding articles.

Automatic bidding

Learn about how automatic bidding and bid increments work.

Retracting a bid

Find out how and when you can retract a bid for an item.

How reserve prices work

Discover how reserve prices on auctions work.

Responding to Second Chance Offers

If you aren't the winning bidder on an auction the seller may still send you a Second Chance Offer. Find out how these offers work, and how to respond.

Tips for winning auctions

Improve your chances of being the top bidder with our tips for winning auctions.

Frequently Asked Questions

Where can I find my bidding history?

To see your bid history, go to My eBay and select Bids/Offers - opens in new window or tab.

There you'll find any items you're currently bidding on, items you bid on but didn't win, and any Best Offers you've made.

If you want to delete your bid history, tick the box next to items you want to remove and select Delete.

What is private bidding?

Sellers sometimes create private listings that keep bidders and the buyer anonymous, particularly when selling highly priced items or pharmaceutical products. There will be a note on these listings stating that they're private, and that only the seller can see your username.

Why did the item I was bidding on disappear?

The seller may have had to end the listing early – although this is something we strongly discourage. Or, if the seller breached one of our policies, we may have had to cancel the listing.

Why am I getting a message to contact the seller when trying to place a bid?

Sellers sometimes set requirements for potential buyers, based on their payment or postage preferences. For example, if you don't have a PayPal account, or you live in an area that the seller doesn't post to, you may not be able to bid on their item.

If that happens, you'll see a message when trying to place a bid, asking you to contact the seller. Let them know you'd like to bid, and they may change their requirements to allow you to take part.

Why can't I bid in my friend's auction?

It's important to us that auctions are always fair and honest. Sometimes a member who knows the seller – perhaps a family member or friend – bids on an item to drive up the price. This is known as shill bidding and isn't allowed on eBay.

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