How to Buy on eBay: Top 10 Tips and Tricks

With eBay being one of the top ecommerce companies in the world, it’s no wonder that millions of people shop on this platform.

However, buying on eBay isn’t quite as simple as opening a PayPal account, choosing the item you want, and paying for it. The truth is, if you truly want the best deals on your favorite items, you need to shop smart.

This article will show you exactly how to do that. We’re giving you the top 10 eBay buying tips you can use to land amazing deals.

10 eBay buying and bidding tips

Here are the 10 best tips and tricks for online shopping on eBay:

1. Do research

Before purchasing an item on eBay, do some research on the item’s price.

You see, not all products listed on eBay have fair prices. Many eBay sellers raise their item price to make more money.

If you’ve found something you want, head over to other merchants’ websites first to see what the going rate is for your chosen item. This way, you’ll have a solid idea of what the lowest price is that you can expect to pay.

2. Bargain with sellers

You shouldn’t be shy about bargaining with eBay sellers. The fact is, the same bargaining rules apply when purchasing items on eBay as in any other physical market.

Graph showing how a person should negotiate

Start by suggesting a lower price than the asking amount, or, before putting in an offer, simply ask the seller if they’d be willing to accept a lower price.

If you’re polite and offer a realistic price, chances are, you’ll walk away paying a lot less than if you hadn’t bargained.

3. Sign up for alerts on items you want to buy

If you can’t find the specific item you’re looking for, or think the price of the item you’ve located isn’t fair, there’s no need to continually search eBay every day.

Instead, you can set up an alert email that’ll notify you when the item becomes available.

All you need to do is:

  • Search for the item you want
  • Click on the “Save the/this search” link

By default, you’ll be alerted via email whenever a new item that matches your search is uploaded.

Image showcasing where the save the search button is located on eBay

(Image Source)

4. Bid your maximum amount

If you don’t have time to watch the progress of an online auction consistently to raise your bid, you could try bidding your maximum amount right from the start.

Know what to offer by researching the cost of the product and asking yourself what is the most you’re willing to pay.

This won’t only save you time, but will also increase the likelihood of getting that item since other people would have to top your bid to take the lead.

5. “Buy it now” and counteroffer

eBay’s “Buy it now” button gives you the option to purchase an item at a fixed price (i.e., without having to bid on it). Regardless, you can still disagree with the given price and suggest your own price.

A lot of sellers will be willing to adjust their prices to suit the customer’s needs, as long as it’s not below their reserve price — especially if they know that the purchaser is ready to buy the item right then and there.

6. Check eBay local

Depending on the nature of your item (such as its weight and value), you might want to consider the impact of the item’s location on the shipping charges.

For example, let’s say you want to purchase a new couch for your living room, but the item location is far from you. Since the item is really heavy, you’ll pay more for shipping. But, if you choose a seller nearby, your shipping costs will be less — which will decrease your total amount spent.

Luckily, if you’re located in the U.S., chances are good that you’ll find a local seller. In fact, in 2020, 31% of eBay sellers were located in the U.S.

Graph depicting the distribution of eBay sellers worldwide

7. Consider the shipping fee

When purchasing on eBay, don’t forget to check the shipping cost as well.

Almost 50% of U.S. consumers say that they expect free shipping when buying something in the $30–$50 range.

Luckily, many sellers include free shipping as part of their offer. An item with a higher price and lower shipping cost may cost you less than a less expensive item with a shipping charge. However, keep in mind that delivery time might be longer when you get free shipping.

8. Use coupons

One of the best ways to save money on purchases is to use coupons.

When searching for a specific item, always look for promo codes before making the purchase. On eBay, coupons are especially popular for items in the Tech, Fashion, Jewelry, Watches, Handbags, Home and Garden, Refurbished, and Sports categories.

Find amazing, high-discount eBay coupons here.

9. Use eBay’s mobile app

An easy way to stay on top of the most recent eBay listings is to use eBay’s mobile app. The app is available on both Android and iOS and has already received millions of downloads in countries all over the world. In the U.S., 17.6 million users have downloaded the app.

Graph depicting eBay mobile app downloads in different countries

Through the app, you’re able to:

  • Search for items
  • Keep track of watched items
  • Make purchases via the “Buy it now” option
  • Place bids on auction items

10. Find out what others offered previously

If you’re unsure about how much to bid on an item (which is the case for many secondhand products), you can easily find out what other people paid for similar items in past auctions.

To do this, simply change the advanced search settings to “sold listings” and sort by type.

This will show you a list of past auctions and what amount the items were sold for as well as each item’s reserve price, if it had one. This will help you determine what your maximum bid should be.

Buy items on eBay

By following the tips above, you can rest assured that you’ll be getting the best deals on your desired items every single time.

Want to learn more about eBay? Here’s a list of over 40 eBay statistics, including user stats, app vs. website stats, international selling stats, and more.

about the author

Tiara Rea-Palmer
Director of Partnerships
As an expert in online savings and an avid deal enthusiast, Tiara heads up retail relations at CouponFollow, where she stays up-to-date on all the best deals, discounts, and freebies, as well as negotiates exclusive coupons and offers for CouponFollow users. In her free time, you can find Tiara writing, DIY crafting on a budget, and traveling with free rewards card miles.