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How to Place Your Bid on an eBay Auction

Okay, so you've found the perfect item to track (say, a really classy New Kids on the Block wristwatch), and it's in your price range. You're more than interested — you're ready to bid.

If this were a live auction, some stodgy-looking guy in a gray suit would see you nod your head and start the bidding at, say, $2. Then some woman with a fierce hairdo would yank on her ear, and the NKOTB watch would jump to $3.

eBay reality is more like this: You're sitting at home in your fuzzy slippers, sipping coffee in front of the computer; all the other bidders are cruising cyberspace in their pajamas, too. You just can't see 'em. (Be really thankful for the small things.)

When you're ready to jump into the eBay fray, you can find the bidding box at the top of the auction item page. If the item includes a Buy It Now option, you see that next to the bidding form.

To fill out the bidding form and place a bid, first make sure that you're registered and then follow these steps. After you make your first bid on an item, you can instantly get to auctions you're bidding on from your My eBay page.

  1. Enter your maximum bid in the appropriate box.

    The bid needs to be an increment or more higher than the current minimum bid. The lowest amount you can bid is displayed just below the Place Bid box.

    You don't need to put in the dollar sign but do use a decimal point — unless you really want to pay $1,049.00 rather than $10.49. If you make a mistake with an incorrect decimal point, you can retract your bid.

  2. Click Place Bid.

    The Review Bid page appears on your screen, filled with a wealth of legalese. This is your last chance to change your mind: Do you really want the item, and can you really buy it? The bottom line is this: If you bid on it and you win, you buy it. eBay really means it.

  3. At this point, you have to sign in if you haven't already. If you're signed in, skip to Step 4.

  4. If you agree to the terms, click Confirm Bid.

    After you agree, the Bid Confirmation screen appears.

When you first start out on eBay, start with a token bid — a small bid that won't win you the auction but can help you keep tabs on the auction's progress.

After you bid on an item, the item number and title appear on your My eBay page, listed under the Buy heading. The Bidding list makes tracking your auction (or auctions, if you're bidding on multiple items) easy.

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eBay considers a bid on an item to be a binding contract. You can save yourself a lot of heartache if you make a promise to never bid on an item you don't intend to buy. Don't make practice bids, assuming that because you're new to eBay, you can't win; if you do that, you'll probably win simply because you've left yourself open to Murphy's Law.

Therefore, before you go to the bidding form, be sure that you're in this auction for the long haul — and make yourself another promise: Figure out the maximum you're willing to spend.

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