11 Tips for Making eBay Offers: How to Save Money & Win the Item

By Corbin HartwickUpdated on March 9, 2022

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On eBay.com, one of the best way to save money is by utilizing eBay’s Best Offers feature that allows a buyer to make their ‘best offer’ on a listed item, and give the seller the option to accept. This feature can save you time and money as a buyer, but it’s not quite as simple as it seems.

Unsurprisingly, sellers aren’t so easily willing to let go of their items for prices lower than what they listed them for. There are exceptions, of course. We’re here to show you what those are, and how you can take advantage of them as a buyer to save some money while shopping.

What is covered in this article

Let’s get started with the most basic aspect: how eBay Best Offers work and can help you save money on your online purchases. If you’re completely new to the idea of Best Offers on eBay, learn how to use Best Offers (and how not to) straight from eBay!

How “Best Offers” work on eBay to save you money

eBay Best Offers is a feature on eBay that allows buyers to make their “best offer” to a seller to buy an item up for auction or listed on the site. It’s a great tactic for buyers to ensure they “win” the item while also saving some money, and it helps the seller unload items that they aren’t selling.

If you’re familiar with how to use eBay, you’ll realize that Best Offers save you money because they give the seller an option to sell the item for an amount that is less than what they are looking to sell it for.

In most cases, sellers will only let it go if the offer is close to what they were looking for, however, it gives you an edge as a buyer because you can beat others who are waiting for an auction to run out, or who are willing to pay the full price for the item.

Pro Tip

Need more information about winning items on eBay? Check out this article: 15 eBay Bidding Tips: How to Win Auctions and Save Money Doing It. You’ll learn how to dominate every auction on eBay with this guide.

11 eBay Best Offers tips for buyers

These tips will ensure you get the item when making an offer to a seller on eBay. Follow them all and you’re sure to win!

1. Be serious with your offers.

This is the most important tip, as it often makes a huge difference in whether the seller is interested in even entertaining your suggestion. You need to be reasonable with the offers you place, and only make serious suggestions that represent the value of the item.

You can’t bid $1 to test auto-declines and expect the seller to take your next offer seriously. It’s likely that if you make unreasonably low offers, the seller won’t pay attention to further notifications that come from you.

2. Try looking for misspelled items.

This may sound like a weird tip, but hear us out. Listings on eBay with spelling mistakes in their key words (such as their brand names) won’t show up in searches where these words are spelled correctly. That means they likely won’t get much attention and, therefore, many offers.

A misspelled listing on eBay

However, if you deliberately look for these typos, you can find these “hidden” items. And, depending on how long the seller has listed them (see our next tip), you can probably get them to agree to a pretty good offer just to get rid of them! For more, check out our full guide on finding eBay typos for fun and profit (or at least savings!).

3. Find the original list date.

If possible, check when the seller originally listed the item. If it’s old (6 months or more), you can generally lower your suggested price. The longer the item has been listed, the greater the chance the seller is willing to let it go as soon as they receive a legitimate offer.

To do this, you may need to be a bit sneaky – but the best way is to click on the seller’s name on the listing you’re interested in, click Items for Sale, and then in the “Sort” menu, select Time: Newly Listed. Then, search for the name of your listing. You will see the date it was listed in the middle-right of the item information box.

How to find the original listing date of an item on eBay

4. Keep track of your offer limits.

Remember that you can only make up to 5 offers on an item, so don’t waste them. Your expired, rejected, and retracted offers all count towards this limit of 5, so use them wisely. If you’re afraid you’ll go over, try messaging the seller directly to ask what their lowest price would be – that way, you won’t have to waste an offer.

5. Understand why sellers can block you.

It might surprise you to learn that sellers can block you from bidding on their items, and any future items they sell, and in some extreme cases, they can block you from using eBay altogether.

A great way to get yourself blocked is by making a Best Offer of $10 on an item that’s easily worth $500 or more. Not only will you not get it, but the seller can block you, and leave negative feedback on your account. You can also be blocked by sending rude messages, or going back on the amount you said you would pay. Just make serious bids you’re willing to pay, and you’ll stay in the seller’s good graces.

6. Send the seller a message.

This is one of the best ways buyers have found success with Best Offers, as it helps make a personal connection with the seller. Communication is your greatest asset to sealing the deal, so make sure to add a message when given the opportunity.

Add a message to a Best Offer

In the message, include things such as the fact that you’ll pay immediately – these will help encourage the seller to accept your offer. If they’re selling, they want the item gone, so act like a real person and give them an additional incentive to choose you.

7. Always negotiate.

This is one of the best tools in the buyer’s arsenal. The seller has likely done more research than you on the value of their item, so they have little incentive to just accept the first offer presented to them. You need to compromise so everyone is happy.

If they reject you, send them a message asking if they would accept something slightly higher for their item. Go back and forth politely to try to find the happy medium between what you want to pay and what they are willing to let their item go for. Then, place an offer that fits within that range.

8. Use your 3 counteroffers.

You’re given a limit of 3 eBay counteroffers to make on the item if the seller chooses to engage with you. If they bother to counter your Best Offer, it means they are definitely interested, so this is your opportunity to get them to sell. Use all 3 counteroffers if necessary to find the perfect selling price so you get the item.

9. Don’t add additional terms.

This is very important when making an offer: DO NOT ADD ANY TERMS OR CONDITIONS. Some common examples include:

  • You’ll pay within an unreasonable time frame
  • You will pay X amount, but you want free shipping
  • You want other items they sell bundled in with the price you pay
Don't add conditions like this to your eBay Best Offer

This is against eBay’s Buying Practices policy, and can get you banned from using the website. The seller is completely unlikely to accept your proposal with added terms, and instead, are likely to report you or block you from buying any of their items.

10. “Best Offer” and “Buy It Now” are different.

Remember the difference between Best Offer and Buy It Now. Your Best Offer obviously needs to be less than the “Buy It Now” option – the trick is determining by how much. A seller isn’t likely to let their item go for much less than the Buy It Now price, so think critically about a suggestion that is less than what they are asking for with Buy It Now.

11. Choose the right item.

This goes for all online purchases, but it’s worth it to do research to determine the market value of what you are trying to buy. This will help you make realistic offers that sellers will accept, while also ensuring you will get a great deal.

Look for an item someone would be willing to let go – not something mass-produced or too run-of-the-mill. The best items to make Best Offers on are unique, rare, or are difficult to sell. Check out similar items on other websites before making your first offer to the seller.

Rules for buyers for making Best Offers

Making Best Offers on eBay does come with a few stipulations. To read the full list of rules, check out eBay’s help page on the rules to Best Offers here. Here are the basics:

  1. Best Offers are good for 48 hours – It will expire after that, whether the seller responds or not.
  2. Best Offers expire when listings end – Even if your 48-hour period isn’t done yet.
  3. You are required to complete the transaction – If a seller accepts your offer, you must pay the amount you stated. If you don’t, not only will you not get the item, but you will also risk being banned from eBay.
  4. You can make up to 5 Best Offers for most items – Expired, declined, and retracted offers all count towards the limit of 5 per item.
  5. There are minimum Best Offer amounts – These are determined by eBay and varies by country.
  6. Keep your info to yourself – You can’t include contact information such as an email address, phone number, or URL in a Best Offer.
  7. The price you offer only includes the item, and not shipping – For listings in which the seller has specified shipping costs for the item, the Best Offer price includes only the listed item. For listings in which the shipping costs aren’t specified, the buyer can choose to include shipping costs or not.
  8. Not every item has the option for a Best Offer – If the Make Offer button doesn’t appear in the listing, the seller may not be interested in receiving offers. If you do contact a seller to negotiate price or terms, you shouldn’t attempt to buy the item outside of eBay.

Pro Tip

Remember, Best Offers on eBay are only valid for 48 hours. If the seller hasn’t accepted your offer by then, it has expired.

How to make a Best Offer on eBay to snipe items

To make an offer on eBay, it’s as simple as finding the item you want to bid on, and clicking Make Offer. It will be under the Buy It Now or Add to Cart buttons always listed with items. This button will only be visible if the seller allowed Best Offers on the item when they listed it.

Making a Best Offer on eBay

Though the process for making an offer is quite easy, if you want a detailed step-by-step breakdown, this guide to making Best Offers can help you.

How to cancel a Best Offer on eBay (and when you can)

There are only a few instances when canceling a Best Offer is allowed on eBay. They include:

  • You accidentally entered a clearly incorrect amount (a typo)
  • The description of the item has changed significantly since you made your offer, possibly because the seller made a mistake
  • You cannot contact the seller to retract the offer with their approval

To retract your Best Offer, you need to fill out the Best Offer retraction form on eBay, and have specific information ready for the item.

Pro Tip

It’s not too late to retract your Best Offer! If you need some extra help, here are detailed instructions on how to retract a Best Offer on eBay.

Remember that retracting a best offer isn’t the same thing as cancelling a bid in an eBay auction, though the two are similar. Make sure you know whether you made an offer or bid on an item before trying to figure out how and if you can take it back.

Why do sellers accept Best Offers?

Sellers accept Best Offers because it helps them make sales that they otherwise might not have. Often, if a seller has had an item listed for a long time and it just won’t sell, or they have another reason to get rid of something quickly, they will accept a Best Offer.

Gaining some insight into why a seller would accept a Best Offer can help you suggest an amount that gets you the item. Here are the main reasons sellers accept and allow Best Offers on their items:

  1. They have had it for a long time – The item they are trying to get rid of is old, or taking up space, and they want to get rid of it quickly.
  2. They have had trouble selling it – If the seller has an item they just can’t seem to unload after having it listed for months or years, they may be willing to accept an offer.
  3. They have too much of what they want to sell – The seller has too much of something that generally sells for low prices, or they have the last of a bunch of inventory they’ve already sold; selling the remaining items for lower prices to make room for new inventory makes sense.
  4. They have a rare item – Determining the value of a rare item is difficult because it’s quite subjective, so Best Offers work well for these kinds of items.
  5. They have an item where the value is different to different people – Some items have subjective value. For example, a woman’s odd shoe size can sometimes be more valuable than a standard size 7 because they are harder to find in retail stores.
  6. They have had trouble selling it – Any other reason that has caused the seller difficulty will incentivize them to sell the item for whatever they can get for it.

Pro Tip

See it from the sellers’ perspective! If you want to learn more, check out our article that explains eBay Best Offers for sellers.

Other helpful tips and tricks for saving money on eBay

We hope that helped fill you in on how to win your items on eBay with Best Offers. If you want the inside track on other great ways to win your auctions and save money with eBay, check out these articles below.

Best 13 Websites Like eBay for Getting Great Online Deals

These websites are great alternatives to eBay for finding deals online. Learn about websites you didn’t even know were out there that focus on daily deals and sales.

How to Avoid Being Scammed on eBay as a Buyer or Seller

Scams are run through eBay quite frequently; learn how to spot and avoid them here.

How to Contact eBay Customer Service

If you have any issues with your Best Offers, contacting customer service is a good last resort for any buyer.

How to Use eBay.com (course for buyers on eBay)

If you love eBay, make use of this free course with step-by-step tutorials on everything you could possibly need to know about eBay!

How to Sell on eBay (course for sellers on eBay)

If you’re thinking of becoming a seller or want to learn more about how it works so you can continue your reign of getting amazing deals on eBay, this course will give you everything you need.