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 keep track of your bidding from the Bids/Offers - opens in new window or tab section of My eBay. When the listing ends, the highest bidder wins the auction and pays for the item.

Tip
Remember, a bid is a binding contract. When you bid on an item in an auction, you're committing to buy it if you win.

Our articles below will help answer any questions you have about auctions and tell you everything you need to know about how to bid on items.

Automatic bidding

Stay ahead of the competition by setting up automatic bidding.

Retracting a bid

Find out how and when you can retract a bid if you make a mistake while bidding.

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 bidding 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 bidding history, check the box next to items you'd like 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 ended 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, you may not be able to bid on their item if you don't have a PayPal account or you live in an area that the seller doesn't post to.

If that happens, you'll see a message asking you to contact the seller when you try to place a bid. 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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