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Bidding overview

Incremental Bidding

Everyone wants to win, but only at the right price. Although we suggest that you bid the maximum amount that you’re willing to pay for an item, you could pay less.  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 the maximum bid you have entered. Your bid is increased by increments only as much as necessary to maintain your high bid position.

How to bid

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

  2. Enter your maximum bid, and then click the Place Bid button.

  3. Review your bid, and 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.

Changing or retracting your bid

As a general rule, you are not allowed to retract or cancel a bid on eBay. However, there might be times when you’d like to change your bid and have a valid reason for doing so. Review the requirements for bid retractions.

Bidding on multi-quantity listings

Some sellers list a quantity of the same item at a fixed price. You can purchase one or more of the items immediately by clicking the Buy It Now button.

Variations of an item in a single listing

In some categories, you’ll find items listed with variations that you can select, such as a T-shirt in various colours, sizes, and styles. Items listed with variations are always fixed price listings. Choose the variations you want before you click the Buy It Now button.

Listings with special bidding requirements

This table describes listings types in which the seller is able to set bidding requirements:

Bidding requirements

Type of listing


Reserve price auctions

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, please check your Account Status.

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 of buyers. Here’s what you can expect if you bid on a listing that has a pre-approved bidders list:

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

  • If you are not one of the pre-approved bidders: 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 are interested in the item, contact the seller to request being added to the pre-approved bidders list.

Blocked bidders

Sellers can make their listings unavailable to certain bidders that they specify 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 are blocked from a listing and want to discuss the situation with the seller, click the seller's user ID or the “Ask the seller a question” link on the listing page. Learn about the blocked bidder list or buyer requirements from a seller's point of view.

The fine print

  • Bidding is meant to be fun, but remember that each bid you place enters you into a binding contract. All bids are active until the listing ends. If you win a listing, you’re obligated to purchase the item.  

  • 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 auction has ended before placing a bid on an equivalent item. If the bidder who won the auction 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.

  • To protect your privacy, we limit how your bid history information is displayed by using anonymous names. Your complete user ID is shown only to the seller of the item you’re bidding on. Bidders are assigned anonymous names, such as x***y, which are used consistently across all listings.

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