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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.


Automatic bidding

Our max bidding (also called automatic bidding) system makes bidding convenient so you don't have to keep coming back to re-bid every time someone places another bid.

How max bidding, or automatic bidding, works

  • When you place a bid, you enter the maximum amount you're willing to pay for the item. The seller and other bidders don't know your maximum bid.

  • We place bids on your behalf using the automatic bid increment amount, which is based on the current high bid.

  • We increase your bid only as much as necessary to make sure that you remain the high bidder, or to meet the reserve price, up to your maximum amount.If another bidder places the same maximum bid or higher, we notify you so you can place another bid. Your maximum bid is kept confidential until it is exceeded by another bidder.



Here's an example

1. The current bid for an item is £10.00. Tom is the high bidder, and has placed a maximum bid of £12.00 on the item. His maximum bid is kept confidential from other members.

2. Laura views the item and places a maximum bid of £15.00. Laura becomes the high bidder.

3. Tom's bid is raised to his maximum of £12.00. Laura's bid is now £12.50.

4. We then send Tom an email that he has been outbid. If he doesn't raise his maximum bid, Laura wins the item.

Other terms

In reserve price auctions, if your maximum bid is at least the reserve price, we automatically increase your bid to meet the reserve, and bidding will continue from there.

How to bid

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 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 can't retract or cancel a bid. Once you place a bid, you agree to pay for the item if you're the winning bidder. However, honest mistakes sometimes occur.

There might be times when you’d like to change your bid and have a valid reason for doing so. if this is the case, review the requirements for bid retractions.

If you want to retract a bid:

  • Review the conditions and time restrictions for cancelling a bid in an auction-style listing.

  • If you feel you have a valid reason for canceling a bid, fill out a Bid Retraction.

  • If you want to cancel a Best Offer, use the Best Offer Cancellation form.

If you won an item and you no longer want to buy it, you need to contact the seller.

A bid on eBay is considered a contract, and you're obliged to purchase the item. Read about changing your mind about an item.

Under what conditions can I retract a bid?

Whether you can retract a bid depends on the circumstances and timing of the bid. You can retract a bid for the following reasons:

  • You accidentally entered the wrong bid amount due to a typo. For example, you bid £99.50 instead of £9.95. If this happens, you need to reenter the correct bid amount right away. Changing your mind does not qualify as accidentally entering a wrong bid amount.

  • The item's description changed significantly after you entered your last bid. For example, the seller updated details about the item's features or condition.

  • You can't reach the seller by telephone or email.

How long do I have to retract a bid?

If you meet any of the conditions for retracting a bid, consult the table to determine if you meet the time restrictions.

Time restrictions for retracting a bid

Auction ending time Retraction allowed? Result

Listing ends in more than 12 hours Time


When you retract the bid, we remove all bids you placed on the item. If you are correcting a bidding error, you must bid again.

Listing ends in less than 12 hours

Yes, but only if you retract the bid within one hour of placing it Listing

When you retract the bid, we remove only your most recent bid. Bids you placed prior to the last 12 hours of the listing are not removed.

What if I can't retract a bid?

If you can't retract a bid, you can contact the seller to request that your bid be cancelled. The decision to cancel a bid is up to the seller.

Other terms

Remember that every bid is binding, unless the item is listed in a category covered by the non-binding bid policy or the sale is prohibited by law or by our User Agreement. Bidding on multiple identical items should be done only if you intend to buy all of the items.

Your bids affect how other users bid for an item and the item's final selling price. We carefully investigate all bid retractions to determine whether they are appropriate and conform to the rules for buyers. Abuse of bid retractions can result in the suspension of your account.

Bids retracted within the last 24 hours of an auction-style listing can be viewed as an example of shill bidding, which is a serious violation of eBay policy.

You cannot retract a purchase made through a Buy it now listing. Once you confirm your purchase, you're obliged to pay the seller.


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 Description

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 (don't worry, 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


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.

Contact Customer Support

If you have an additional question about this subject, please email us at Customer Support.
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