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Although there are now a lot of alternatives 13 Bargain Websites That are Cheaper than eBay 13 Bargain Websites That are Cheaper than eBay Read More , eBay is still one of the largest online marketplaces out there. And you can score some fantastic deals if you know how to search and bid correctly.

These 10 tips will help you optimize your searching and bidding on eBay to save you a lot of money on the items you’re looking for. Check them out and share your favorite tips in the comments below!

If you’re new to eBay, you may want to check out eBay Shopping 101 First-Time Shopper On Ebay? 5 Important Things You Need To Know First-Time Shopper On Ebay? 5 Important Things You Need To Know Welcome to Ebay Shopping 101. You are the select few, chosen to be trained as sharp-shooting Ebay bidders, capable of finding the best deals and winning every auction. Read More before getting into these tips. You should also read up on other online shopping tips 5 Useful, Money-Saving Online Shopping Tips You Should Know 5 Useful, Money-Saving Online Shopping Tips You Should Know Here are several tips and tricks to help you hold onto more of your hard-earned cash. Read More if you’re keen to save money.

Advanced Search

The first step in becoming an eBay buying master is to make sure that you’re finding the deals you want. There are a lot of great deals out there, but you’ll have to do some digging to find them. Using advanced search is the best tool in your arsenal for this purpose. Hit the Advanced link next to the search box to get started.

link-ebay-advanced

Here, you’ll see the sorts of things you’d expect: a search field, search terms to exclude (which is good if you’re looking for something very specific), the option to include searching descriptions as well as titles (do this!), different buying formats, and so on. Use as many of these options as you need to find the exact listings you’re looking for.

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ebay-advanced-search

Some of the most useful options in the advanced search are “Search including title and description”, “Condition”, “Listings ending within [time]”, “Best offer”, and “Free shipping”. Which ones you select will depend on how specific you want your search to be.

One more quick search tip has to do with categories: when you search for an item, eBay automatically selects and searches a specific category. When I searched for Fury of Dracula, a board game, eBay selected “Board games > Contemporary manufacture.” Be sure to set this drop-down to “All categories” to find items that have been listed in the wrong category, as they might have better prices.

ebay-auto-categories

Checking for Typos

This is a classic eBay tip: some people have really bad spelling or don’t check their spelling Why Typos Always Matter, Even Online & In Text Messages [Opinion] Why Typos Always Matter, Even Online & In Text Messages [Opinion] We all make mistakes from time to time. It's natural, a part of life, a learning curve which we use to better ourselves. Typos are no exception. They happen often, and if writing forms a... Read More before posting, and they end up posting an item with a typo. eBay’s search isn’t as sophisticated as Google’s, which recognizes lots of misspellings, so you’ll need to make sure that you try to seek out those errors and capitalize on them.

fat-fingers-search

There are a number of tools that will help you do this: BargainChecker, TypoHound, FatFingers, and many others are available. Just open up one of these sites, type your query, and it will search eBay for possible misspellings of your term.

If you’re familiar with search engine operators Master the Google Operands: Search Really Fast Master the Google Operands: Search Really Fast Read More , you can use similar strategies when searching from eBay. When you click on the search button in FatFingers, you can see exactly what it searched for: fantays flight, fantasy fligh, fantasy fight, antasy flight. You can use the same strategies manually. This search came up with a lot of results, indicating that this is an important tactic to use.

fat-fingers-search-results

If you see an item with an atrocious spelling error, you may want to bid on it immediately, as the seller won’t be able to make any changes to the item once it’s received a bid. This will lock in the spelling error and make it harder for competing bidders to find.

Look for Best Offers Posts

As mentioned in the advanced search tips above, you can search for Best Offers posts, which means the seller is willing to accept the best offer on the product. This is usually for a Buy It Now item, many of which are posted with prices that are far higher than anyone will pay on eBay. If you look for these and make offers, you might get lucky and save some money.

ebay-best-offer-search

This is especially true if the post has been live for a long time, suggesting that no one has wanted to pay the set price. Make an offer and see if you can convince the seller to part with their item for less!

Take Advantage of Notifications

There are a number of services that will alert you when an item matching a specific search term comes up on eBay. By using a site like StuffAlert (pictured below), ItemAlarm, or even IFTTT to get new post alerts IFTTT Recipes That Help You Save Money IFTTT Recipes That Help You Save Money IFTTT can be used to do nearly anything, and saving money is no exception. Here are some of the best recipes to help you live more frugally. Read More , you can nab some really great deals before anyone else has the chance to get them. Set up notifications for items you’re looking for, and let an app do the hard work!

stuffalert

Most people don’t have the luxury of watching eBay all day to see when when they need to put a bid in to snipe an auction away from other bidders. You can use eBay’s built-in tools to receive email or IM notifications (from My eBay > Account > Communication Preferences), but there are a number of other tools that give you more options. Unfortunately, eBay’s IM notifications only work with AOL and Yahoo! accounts.

ebay-alerts

Instead, you can try using a third-party notifier app, like Auction Sensor (which has a pretty bad interface) or uBuyFirst (Windows only). If neither of these work for you, you may want to set up something using IFTTT or Google Calendar reminders Reminders Make Google Calendar an Incredible To-Do List Reminders Make Google Calendar an Incredible To-Do List Do you maintain a to-do list and a separate calendar? It introduces friction because tasks and scheduling are interdependent. Google now solved this by introducing Reminders to Google Calendar on Android. Read More . If you have any other good tips for getting notifications, leave them in the comments below!

Sniping

A semi-controversial, though absolutely essential, eBay practice is called “sniping Can You Really Win Almost Any eBay Auction By "Sniping"? Can You Really Win Almost Any eBay Auction By "Sniping"? Contrary to what you may think, winning an eBay auction by sniping does not entail waiting outside other participants' windows, firing long-range paintball guns at them, and securing your bid via 4G while they clutch... Read More “: putting in a bid at the last second of the auction so other interested bidders don’t have the opportunity to outbid you and drive the price up. Getting the timing down on this is really difficult; if you’re too early or too late, it won’t work. Which is why there are a number of services that will help you do it.

gixen

Gixen and AuctionStealer are two free popular options — sign in with your eBay username and password, enter the item that you want to bid on and your maximum bid, and they’ll put it in right before the end of the auction, saving you the stress of trying to time it correctly. It’s a really simple idea, and these services are good at what they do!

Of course, entering your eBay credentials to a third-party site is a bit of a risk, especially if you have payment information stored in your account. It’s a better idea to open a second account that doesn’t have any saved payment information or a password shared with your other accounts to use one of these tools. Plenty of people have used their primary account names, and it’s probably safe, but why take the risk?

Check Late-Night Auctions

ebay-late-auction

Good sellers 11 Critical Tips On How To Sell More On eBay 11 Critical Tips On How To Sell More On eBay eBay is one of the top 10 most trafficked sites on the entire Internet, so it's no wonder that when that pang of consumerist desire hits us, we head straight to eBay. Auctions can be... Read More on eBay know when to post their auctions so that the highest number of bidders possible will be online when the auction finishes — this is usually on weekday evenings.

But someone who doesn’t really know what they’re doing might post a late-night auction that ends at midnight or 1:00 a.m., and that can be costly. With fewer people awake to snipe or outbid you, there’s a good chance that you can grab a good deal on these auctions.

Watch for High Opening Bids

high-opening-bid

If you’re looking to score a great deal on an item, it makes sense to look for really low opening bids, just in case you can capitalize. But the opposite strategy can also be a good one. It seems counterintuitive, but high opening bids could save you some money by scaring off other deal hunters.

For example, if someone posts an item that they think will sell for at least $100 with an opening bid of $75, and you bid $75, it’s possible that not many other people will stop by the auction, because the opening bid is too high. If you win, you save $25.

Bid with Weird Cents

weird-cents

It didn’t take long for people to realize that bidding an extra cent or two could win them an auction cheaply: if you bid $45, and I bid $45.02, I’ll win and not have to pay much more. Keep using this strategy, but choose lots of different cents values: $0.56, $0.92, $0.49, and anything else you can think of. You never know when it might pay off! You can also look at the bidding history of other bidders on your current auction to see if they use this strategy and plan accordingly.

Don’t Rely on Photos

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Only looking at items with photos is an inclination that many of us have — if the seller posts a picture of an item, you know what kind of shape it’s in and you know it’s what you’re looking for. But only looking at posts with images might make you miss a good deal; if you read the description of an item and the condition is reported as like new, it might be worth taking a chance on the item even if it doesn’t have a picture proving that it’s in great shape.

Be Patient and Detached

This is possibly the most important tip to keep in mind while you’re shopping on eBay. The online auction system is designed to take advantage of your emotions and cause you to bid more than you want to. Countdowns, notifications, and bidding wars all get you excited and ready to fork over more than you had originally planned. It’s crucial to not get caught up in the excitement.

dock-meditation

Instead, realize that patience will save you a lot more in the long run. Don’t get into a bidding war — instead, start a new search for the same product for which you can take advantage of a misspelling or a miscategorization. You might have to wait a week or two, but it could save you a lot of money, especially if you shop eBay regularly. Stay disciplined, and you’ll be much better off for it!

Your Best eBay Shopping Tips

These ten tips will help you find what you’re looking for and save a lot of money when you’re shopping on eBay, but there are plenty of other strategies out there.

How do you find that you get the best deals on eBay? Do you use specific apps or search strategies? How do you go about bidding? Share your best tips below!

Image credits: throwing money by ra2studio via Shutterstock, frankie’s via Shutterstock.com

  1. Teal
    February 5, 2016 at 6:13 pm

    I have never had any success with make an offer...I have tried about 20 times and all rejected. I did not low ball the seller as that would be insulting. I no longer even try. If I want the item Iook for an auction or just pay the asking price.

    • Dann Albright
      February 5, 2016 at 10:56 pm

      I don't have much experience with making offers, but that's good to know. I guess it might be worth the effort if there's the possibility of getting a great deal, but otherwise looking for an auction is probably a better way to go.

      • Jeff C
        February 5, 2016 at 11:02 pm

        There are some sellers that will take most reasonable offers, then there are others that make you wonder why they even have it on their listings.

        • Dann Albright
          February 5, 2016 at 11:12 pm

          It's good to know that it does work sometimes. I'll keep that in mind when I'm bidding in the future.

          Thanks for sharing your experience!

    • Overlord_Laharl
      February 8, 2016 at 2:44 am

      you probably went to low to draw the sellers interest.
      or went below their best offer minimum.

      im an ebay seller and i also offer the following "make an offer" advice
      1) dont worry about low balling it by a little, sellers can "make a counter offer" to get closer to what we want.
      2) sellers can set an acceptable minimum for best offers. if you offer to little it will auto decline, and count as one of your 3 offers attempts.
      3) also some sellers will make a listing with best offer but have no intention of accepting the offer (even if your offer is $1 less than asking. they will use your 3 offer limit. and then decline the final offer to make the full price sale.
      4) also some sellers have a minimum they will accept an offer for, for me if its a $50 item, i usually set my minimum to $40 and expect to get it to the $45-$47 range.
      5) if buying multiple ask for volume discounts or make offers with the quantity
      i recently sold 2 raspberry pi model B's (including pibows) i was asking 45 and would have accepted 40 from a single item buyer
      however a buyer offered 70 (35 each) i accepted, because i was able to sell more at once.

      not necassarally best offer advice
      if your item is shipping from china/hong kong look up the prices on aliexpress or alibaba as those are marketplaces some sellers use to get goods. never offerfor less than the lowest or average price on there, as sellers will not offer an item for a loss. it makes no business sence.
      also add 20% to the alibaba/express prices to so your offer includes ebay/paypal fees, which the sellers have already calculated themselves based on their fee structure.

      • Guy McDowell
        April 6, 2016 at 12:36 am

        Great detailed advice. Thank you!

      • Dann Albright
        April 7, 2016 at 1:37 pm

        That's a lot of really great information! It's interesting to hear that sellers use the Make an Offer feature without intending to accept an offer. I wouldn't have guessed that. These are all fantastic things to keep in mind while shopping on eBay. I'll definitely be saving your comment in a file somewhere so I don't forget it. :-)

  2. Jeff C
    February 5, 2016 at 3:38 am

    Don't assume it's only complicated words that get misspelled.

    For example you would be surprised how many people spell Duke D u c k on eBay listings.

    • Dann Albright
      February 5, 2016 at 10:55 pm

      That's true! I've learned that using FatFingers—just about anything can be misspelled, so it's good to check for everything.

      Thanks for reading!

  3. candacemiller
    February 4, 2016 at 5:48 pm

    kan

  4. candacemiller
    February 4, 2016 at 5:48 pm

    ahy

  5. Andrew
    February 3, 2016 at 7:08 pm

    I do think the best way is to go when taking a gamble is knowing quite a bit about the purchase. With the Airport Expresses, I knew that when they just flash orange, they need a hard reboot...so the gamble was LOW.

    Cheers!

    • Dann Albright
      February 5, 2016 at 10:54 pm

      Yeah, that's definitely a good idea. Can't just hope to fix something if you don't already know quite a bit about it. :-)

  6. Yodi
    February 3, 2016 at 6:56 pm

    +1 on the notification utility! I am signed up for notifications whenever the Levi's Store and the Hanes Store on eBay are having a sale. I get outstanding deals!

  7. mma173
    February 3, 2016 at 5:06 pm

    You missed one great tip. You can turn you search into RSS feed by adding “&_rss=1” to the end of the search URL.

    • Dann Albright
      February 3, 2016 at 6:38 pm

      That's a really good idea, especially if you use an RSS reader to keep track of your other news (I know it's not the most popular way anymore, but I still do a lot of RSS reading). I think I'll have to take advantage of this one!

  8. Andrew
    February 2, 2016 at 10:39 pm

    Another good way to go is do an advanced search for finished auctions, then you can find what something is going for...on average. Lots of times you can find something 'Buy It Now' for that price. Then you don't have to monkey with an auction at all...you just go and get a decent price.

    I also like to take gambles on things when people don't seem to know what they're doing. I've purchased a couple Airport Express's that just needed a hard reset to work perfectly. People put them up 'As Is' without looking into how to fix it.
    So if someone is selling a laptop that won't hold a charge, get it and get a new battery...easy peasy.

    • Dann Albright
      February 3, 2016 at 6:38 pm

      Checking for completed prices is a great idea, too—you can learn a lot from seeing what people are paying for certain products. Taking gambles on potentially easy fixes sounds like a fun way to get good deals, too! I supposed it depends on how much you're willing to risk on a product that might actually have serious problems, though you're right about people not wanting to take the time to figure out how to fix things. It's often a matter of finding the right thing to do and then taking a minute or two to do it.

      Thanks for your comment!

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