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Online Auctions 101

Bidding online can be fun — and addictive! But before you visit eBay or other online auction sites, be sure you know the basics.

Is the seller reputable?
Most auction sites let buyers rate the sellers. Before bidding, check the seller’s rating and feedback comments. You can do a quick check for negative feedback at

Check for total costs
Make sure costs are reasonable; some sellers inflate shipping fees to increase profits. If buying from an international seller, ask about additional fees, duties and taxes.

Know the item’s worth
Don’t get caught up in a bidding frenzy and pay more than the item is worth. Be especially careful if it’s something you want to complete a collection. Factor in its intangible value to you personally. You may be willing to pay a premium price for it, but decide that price before you bid.

Plan your bidding strategy
Not all auctions are the “Going once, going twice, SOLD” type you see in movies and on TV. Some, especially eBay, are more like sealed bid/silent auction hybrids. The smart strategy is to bid only once just before the auction ends, so other bidders won’t have time to come back and outbid you. Since you only get one shot, place your maximum bid. eBay will only use enough of it for you to win.

For a comprehensive online auction education
Get more tips here; pay special attention to the section on scams.

USC Credit Union is not affiliated with or endorsing eBay or any online auction site; this information is provided solely for consumer education.


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