How to Bid While Shopping on eBay

By Corbin HartwickUpdated on March 14, 2022

Tech Life Unity independently reviews everything we recommend. When you buy something after clicking on a link to another website, we may earn a commission. Learn More

Now that you know how the auction process works on eBay, it’s time to start making your bids towards winning some cool items! One of the great things about eBay is that through the auctions, you can get great deals on items. Remember, though: only bid for what you really want to win, and don’t bid more than you’re willing to pay for an item. If the winning bid for an item happens to be yours, you are obligated to buy the item, and most sellers won’t let you cancel!

For this tutorial, we’re going to assume that you’ve already created an account on eBay, and have already ordered another item. This means that you will have your account, billing, and shipping information all set up.

Bidding on eBay

1. Go to in your web browser and log in.

2. Find an item that you want to buy, and that is being sold in auction style, and click on it to see its details. (Note: if clicking on it just creates a new window or a pop-up window, you may need to click on that item again in the new window to see its details.)

3. Once you’re on the item’s details page, look over things like the description of the item, shipping rates, shipping times, types of payment accepted, and return policies. For an auction-style item, you may also want to check the amount of time remaining in the auction, previous bids, and the bid increment.

eBay item details


The bid increment is the minimum amount that a bid is allowed to increase by, and can be found by subtracting the current highest bid for this item from the lowest maximum bid that you are allowed to place for this item. In this example, the current highest bid is $41, and I am being asked to bid $42 or more. Therefore, the bid increment for this item is $1. Also note that the bid increment may change throughout the course of the auction.

If everything looks okay to you, then click Place Bid.

4. A window will pop up with different options on how to bid. If you want to quickly place a maximum bid that is a set amount above the current highest bid, then click one of the buttons across the top. If you want to make a custom maximum bid instead, click inside the box beside Place Max Bid, type in the amount of money that you are willing to bid for this item (as a maximum), and then click Place Max Bid.

eBay maximum bids

As we explained in our previous article, “How does Bidding on eBay Work”, eBay will take care of the rest for you. It will place bids on your behalf that are only enough to beat anyone else’s maximum bids by one bid increment, up to your own maximum bid.

5. If someone else outbids you on this item, you will receive a notification from eBay. Click the notifications icon () in the top-right corner, and click on the notification that says that you’ve been outbid.

eBay bidding notifications

This will take you back to the item that you bid on previously, and you will have the chance to make a new maximum bid. To do so, just repeat steps 2 and 3.

That’s a brief explanation of how to place bids for items on eBay! I’ve you’ve won an auction but no longer want the item, check out our tutorial on how to cancel an eBay order. Or, if you’d like to retract a bid you’ve made during a live auction, click the “Next Tutorial” button to learn how!