As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.
When I was in 5th grade a kid came to school and told me about something called “eBay” where he had just won a Playstation 1 for $.01
Naturally, I found the site as soon as I got home and tried to find a similar deal. I bid on dozens of penny auctions and didn’t end up winning a single thing.
The reasons lots of reasons why I didn’t win but the most prevalent was: I didn’t know how to properly snipe a bid on eBay. I was just putting in my max bids and hoping for the best.
Knowing how to do it properly will greatly increase your chances of getting a great deal on eBay!
The most reliable method to snipe a bid on eBay is to watch the auction end and manually enter your bid with 3-5 seconds left. Bidding too early can increase interest from other buyers, ultimately increasing the sale price.
However, there are a few nuances about how this works and why you would want to try sniping rather than just trusting eBay’s auto-bid system.
So let’s get into it!
eBay Bidding: Sniping vs Auto-Bid
For the majority of people, eBay’s auto-bid system is perfectly adequate.
In a sense, it snipes the bid for you. You simply put in the maximum amount you want to bid and it bids for you in $.50 increments, pausing when you’re the leading bidder. If someone bids, auto-bid kicks in again and raises your bid until it hits your maximum amount.
However, there are two main drawbacks to eBay’s auto-bid system:
- More bids increase interest. Many people (such as myself) who cruise eBay looking for things to resell sort auctions by “Most Bids First” to see what has the most interest. If you use auto-bid and someone pushes up the bid incrementally it will end up with a ton of bids and be seen by more potential buyers.
- Pushing the price up too soon raises the final price. If you wait until the last minute to bid, the other buyers either won’t have a chance to raise their bid or they won’t have long enough to decide that it’s worth it to do so. People often become attached to an item and raise their “maximum bid” several times…don’t give them the chance.
Both of these issues are solved by holding in your bid until the end and placing your eBay bid at the last second. So how do you properly snipe a bid?
Snipe A eBay Bid In 3 Steps
1. Search For Your Item
If you are looking to snipe a specific item on eBay, following the search is the best method. It allows you to get a notification every time something that meets your search parameters is posted for sale.
I usually check my saved searching a couple of times per week. Since most items are listed on a 7-day auction checking daily isn’t necessary.
Once you find an item that you want to bid on, don’t add it to your watch list! Increasing the number of watchers on an item pushes it higher in search results, increasing your competition.
Instead, make a note of the title, seller, or auction number so that you can easily find it again through a search.
2. Return To The Auction Just Before It Ends
If you think you’ll remember when the auction is ending, trust me, you won’t.
Set a reminder in your phone with a note about the auction number or specific item. If you are not watching it eBay can’t send you an “auction ending” notification.
I typically return to the auction with 5 minutes to spare. This gives me enough time to read through the description and see if I missed anything, check for any edits/updates from the seller, and come up with my maximum bid.
Since eBay does not extend auctions for bids, when the time is gone, it’s gone. So have your game plan in place with a minute or two to spare.
3. Enter Your “Snipe Bid” As Your Maximum Price
Placing an eBay bid at the last second is not a good idea. Especially on an item that is likely to receive lots of late bids. Every time the bid jumps your page needs to refresh and you can miss placing your bid.
I typically place my final bid with no fewer than 3 seconds left. This gives plenty of time for my bid to make it through and be accepted before the auction ends.
If I’m in a bidding war with someone I typically place a bid with 6 seconds left which gives me time for one more try if needed.
Just because you are sniping doesn’t mean you can also take advantage of the auto-bid feature. Go ahead and enter the maximum amount that you’re willing to pay. eBay will help you win the auction for the lowest price possible.
Best eBay Bid Sniping Tools
There are a number of Sniping Tools that people have used to win auctions on eBay for several years.
Such 3rd tools are allowed on eBay but are not necessarily approved by eBay. What this means is that, yes, you can use them but you are responsible for vetting them before use. eBay will not be responsible for erroneous bids, tool malfunctions, etc.
The main issue is that to bid on your behalf, the sniping tool has to be granted access to your eBay account. Giving up your password to a 3rd party is always a tenuous decision so we recommend doing so only with well-known and established tools.
If entering a bid manually is not an option and you don’t have to use eBay’s auto-bid system, the most well-known tools include:
Some auctions we were lucky enough to snipe:
We’ve been buying on eBay for years and, during that time, we’ve gotten some really killer deals. Some of these are for ourselves but many of them we bought to flip. We routinely buy items off of eBay auctions to resell on eBay, Mercari, or Poshmark.
Here are some of our favorite wins lately:
Buying iPhones and Apple products on eBay can be easy money in the bank. If you can successfully snipe any current products you can relist for profit almost immediately!
Buying authentic Louis Vuitton bags on eBay is an entire business model for hundreds of sellers. If you can snipe bags on auctions from Japan you can often clean them ad double or triple your money.
Patagonia items sell extremely well on Poshmark and Mercari as well as eBay. In fact, it’s on our lists of the top-selling men’s brands AND the top-selling women’s brands!
Knives are one of my favorite things to resell. They hold their value well and can often be sniped as there are literally hundreds of thousands of knives listed on eBay at any given time. Succesfully sniping items is all about time spent looking for candidates!
If you are looking to sell shoes on eBay but don’t want to flip Nikes from Ross, look into bidding on luxury shoes. Most luxury shoes that are put on auction sell for a fraction of their real value and you can sell them for much more on a BIN if they’re in EUC.
How To Beat Automatic Bidding On eBay
Unlike many other bidding platforms, eBay does not extend auctions for any reason.
This isn’t really great for the seller but it does allow buyers to get some screaming deals.
Unfortunately, it means that you only get a single change to beat someone’s bid if you’re waiting until the last second to try.
If your bid fails to beat theirs, eBay auto-bid will immediately place their bid and you will lose. You cannot beat eBay’s automatic bidding. Even if you bid with a thousandth of a second left, you will still lose if your bid isn’t higher.
So really the only want to beat it is simply to bid your max bid at the last second or bid earlier so you have the chance to raise your bid if you change your mind (or find a nickel in the couch).
In closing, I have to tell you a sad truth, sniping on eBay is not as effective as it used to be. With so many buyers on the platform, nearly every auction gets enough traffic to push the price up near market value.
However, there are still some people foolish enough to list rare or unusual items with no general interest in an auction. Those are the places where last-second bids can really help you out!
Now that your sniping arsenal is stocked get out there and find something amazing to buy! Good luck!