eBay's Automatic Bidding System (Proxy Bidding)
In this article
eBay uses an automatic bidding system to make bidding on auctions more convenient and ensure that you're in control of how much you spend on an item. There is nothing you have to set up in order to bid in this way. When you bid on an auction style listing you will be placing bids using this method.
How automatic bidding works
When you place a bid, you enter the maximum amount you're willing to pay for the item. The seller and other bidders won't know your maximum bid amount.
eBay places bids on your behalf starting with the next bid increment for the auction. We'll bid as much as necessary to make sure that you remain the high bidder (or to meet the reserve price). We'll keep bidding for you until bidding reaches your maximum amount.
If another bidder has placed the same bid before you or a higher maximum bid, we'll let you know that you've been outbid so that you can place another bid if you want. However, if no other bidder has a higher maximum bid at the end of the auction, you win the item even if your bid doesn't go as high as your maximum bid. You could pay significantly less than your maximum price. This means you don't have to keep coming back to re-bid every time another bid is placed.
You won't necessarily pay the amount of your maximum bid. eBay will increase your bid on your behalf, using only as much of your bid as is necessary to maintain your high bid position. Your maximum bid is kept confidential (until it is exceeded by another bidder). To see the automatic bids in an auction, go to the bid history page and click the "Show automatic bids" link.
Here's an example:
The current bid for an item is $10.00. Tom is the high bidder. (Tom has placed a maximum bid of $12.00 on this item, but his maximum bid is kept confidential from other eBay members.)
You see this item and decide to place a maximum bid of $15.00. You become the high bidder because your bid is greater than Tom's bid.
A bid increment of $0.50 is added to Tom’s maximum bid of $12.00. That means that your current bid is now $12.50. Tom is sent an email that he has been outbid.
The fine print
In Reserve Price Auctions, if your maximum bid is the first to be greater than the seller's reserve price, the eBay system will automatically jump the price up to meet the reserve, and bidding will continue from there.