Creative Bidding - a dollar more can make a difference

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A little bit of thought about the way people bid on eBay can often increase your chances of a successful and economic purchase.

Maximum Bid

I have noticed that when people set their maximum bid, it is often a multiple of five dollars. I have found it useful to add one dollar onto my theoretical maximum. For example, instead of setting a maximum for an item of (say) $150, make it $151. For a hotly contested item which is nearing the the end of the auction, this can often gain you a precious advantage when other bidders find they have still not matched your offer.


The timing of your final bid can also be crucial. You first need to decide what your maximum bid will be. If you enter this figure early in the bidding, other bidders have time to make "exploratory" offers and deduce the approximate value of your best offer. Smart bidders will wait until the auction is in its final minutes to enter their true final bid. Using the "$1 more" approach described above can often give you a little breathing space as other bidders run out of time.


If you are chasing a commonly advertised item, it is worth being patient and taking some time to observe how previous auctions have progressed. Depending on your location, time zone and the type of item you are bidding on, I have noticed that there are often quiet periods when little or no bidding is occurring. As there are often a number of similar items on offer, you may be able to snare a bargain by bidding during a quiet time for an item which is nearing the end of its run. Again your chances can be improved further by applying the two principles described above.


I was after an electrical item which retails for around $400 - $600. On eBay these were generally selling for around $250. I decided that I did not want to pay more than $200. With postage of $25, this set my maximum bid at $175. I noticed that one seller in particular was advertising about ten of these at any one time with a range of finishing times. I also noticed that, for these particular items:-

  • Bidding was fierce in the evenings and early morning
  • There was a relatively quiet period around 2 - 3pm

I waited until an item was due to finish around 3pm with a current bid well under $175. With about five minutes to go, I pounced and put in a bid for $176. The first two times I was beaten by a very late bid. On my third attempt I was successful.

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