Timing Strategies for Bidding on eBay - dummies

By Marsha Collier

Buying at auction can be a tricky venture. And most who do have their strategies. Your success on eBay can be dependent on a good strategy as well. Here are a few to get you started.

The lounging-around strategy

Sometimes the best strategy at the beginning of an auction is to do nothing at all. That’s right; relax, take off your shoes, and loaf. You may want to make a token bid (the very lowest you are allowed) or mark the page to Watch on your my eBay page.

It’s sometimes wise to take this attitude through the first six days of a week-long auction you want to bid on, and it works pretty well. It’s a good idea, however, check in every day to keep tabs on important items you’re watching on the my eBay page.

If an auction has received no bids 12 hours before the auction ends, the seller has the right to change the minimum bid. Also, if there is a Buy It Now option on an auction, someone can swoop in and purchase the item for the stated price.

If you place the minimum as a token bid when you first see the auction, you can foil a Buy It Now from another bidder. (Buy It Now is disabled after a bid is in place.)

If you see an item that you absolutely must have, mark it to watch on your my eBay page (or make a token bid) and revise your maximum bid as the auction goes on. This is exceptionally important.

As you check back each day, take a look at the other bids and the high bidder. Is someone starting a bidding war? Look at the time when the competition is bidding and note any patterns, such as lunchtime bidding. If you know what time your major competition is bidding, you can bid after he or she does (preferably when your foe is stuck in rush-hour traffic).

The beat-the-clock strategy

You should rev up your bidding strategy during the final 24 hours of an auction and decide, once and for all, whether you really have to have the item you’ve been eyeing. Maybe you put in a maximum bid of $45.02 earlier in the week. Now’s the time to decide whether you’re willing to go as high as $50.02. Maybe $56.03?

No one wants to spend the day in front of the computer, but if you have a smartphone, you might want to use the eBay mobile app while running errands. Just make a note reminding you of the exact time the auction ends. If you’re not going to be near a computer when the auction closes, you can also use an automatic bidding software program to bid for you.

In the last few minutes

With half an hour left before the auction becomes ancient history, head for the computer and dig in for the last battle of the bidding war. You should sign on to eBay about 10 to 15 minutes before the auction ends. The last thing you want is to get caught in Internet gridlock and not get access to eBay. Go to the items you’re watching and click the auction title.

With 10 minutes to go, if there’s a lot of action on your auction, click reload or refresh every 30 seconds to get the most current info on how many people are bidding.