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Bidding overview
In this article
In this article

Everyone wants to win an auction, but only at the right price. Bidding for items is fun, but keep in mind that each bid you make is a binding contract to buy the item if you win.

The information here is for our auction-style listings. Bidding for items in live auction event works a little differently, and requires registration for an event before you can bid. Learn more about participating in live auction events.

Incremental bidding

We suggest that you bid the maximum amount that you're willing to pay for an item, and let our system incrementally increase your bid for you, as necessary. 

As the listing proceeds, we compare your bid to those of other bidders. When you're outbid, we automatically bid on your behalf up to your maximum bid. We increase your bid by increments only as much as necessary to maintain your position as highest bidder. Your maximum bid reflects the amount you're willing to pay for an item, but you could end up paying less.

How to bid

Here's how to bid on an item:
  1. Carefully review the listing.

  2. Click the Place Bid button. You may need to sign in.

  3. Enter your maximum bid, and then click the Continue button.

  4. Review your bid, and then click the Confirm Bid button.

When the listing ends, you'll receive an email indicating whether you've won the item and an explanation of what to do next.

Bid history and bidder search

To keep certain info private, we limit how bid history information is displayed. When the highest bid, reserve price, or Buy It Now price reaches or exceeds a certain level, members can't view or search for member-specific information, such as user IDs, on the Bid History page. Though the Bid History: Details page has information on bidders, each bidder is assigned an anonymous name (x***y, for example). Only the seller can see a bidder's user ID.

Note: eBay determines when user IDs are no longer viewable based on the price or bid amount, and this varies by country.

Using 1-click bidding

To help you avoid being outbid, we offer 1-click bidding during the final 60 minutes of a listing. When you use 1-click bidding, we automatically raise your bid by one increment. To use 1-click bidding, you need to be signed in to eBay and have at least one previous bid on the item.

Changing or retracting your bid

As a general rule, you're not allowed to retract or cancel a bid on eBay. However, there might be times when you'd like to change your maximum bid and have a valid reason for doing so.

Review the requirements for retracting or canceling your bid.

Listings with special bidding requirements

Bidding requirements vary depending on the type of listing.

Bidding requirements

Type of listing


Reserve price auction-style listings

Some sellers specify a reserve price, which is a hidden minimum price on their item.

Bids over $15,000

To place a bid of $15,000 or more, you must provide a valid credit card (your card won't be charged). This requirement helps ensure that members involved in large sales are of legal age and serious about completing the transaction.

You need to provide this information only once. To find out if you already have a credit card on file, check your Account Activity page.

Pre-approved bidders

Occasionally, for certain high-profile listings, we allow a seller to create a pre-approved bidders list to restrict their listings to a specified group.

  • If you're a pre-approved bidder: The bidding process will proceed as usual.

  • If you're not a pre-approved bidder: If you bid, you'll get a notice that the item is restricted, and you will not be allowed to bid on the item. If you're interested in the item, contact the seller to ask to be added to the pre-approved bidders list.

Blocked bidders

Sellers can make their listings unavailable to certain bidders based on certain criteria, such as whether or not they have a PayPal account, their country of registration, or their buying history on eBay.

If you're blocked from a listing and want to discuss the situation with the seller, click the seller's user ID or the Ask a question link on the listing page. Learn about managing bidders and buyers from a seller's point of view.

Other terms

  • Bidding is meant to be fun, but remember that each bid you place enters you into a binding contract. The only bids that are non-binding are those placed in the Real Estate category and for vehicles on eBay Motors. All bids are active until the listing ends. If you win an item, you're obligated to purchase it.  

  • Don't bid on identical items in different listings if you only want one item. If you win both, you'll be obligated to buy both.

  • If you're outbid on an item, wait until the listing has ended before placing a bid on an equivalent item. If the bidder who won doesn't complete the transaction for any reason, you could become the winning bidder.

  • If you're blocked from bidding on a seller's listings, you cannot bid using another user ID.

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