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eBay's "Minimum Bid Increment"

The highest bid does not always win!

Example 1
Example 2
Sniping vs. Manual Bidding
Sniping Buy-It-Now Items

While most eBay gurus say, "The highest bid always wins," it is more correct to say, "The highest bid always wins, as long as that bid is at least one Minimum Bid Increment (MBI) higher than any previous bids." In other words, the high bid does not always win, due to the minimum bid increment. So, the order of bids matters. And the cost of the item factors in as well.

The MBI is often forgotten in times of heated competition. For a bid to register on eBay, when there are already at least one (1) or more existing bids, the MBI must be added to the current price to win.

If two bidders are using a snipe service, and the bid amounts are within the range of one MBI, the earlier snipe will win, not the later snipe. This situation occurs frequently.

Pad your bid amount not by pennies, but by rounding up to the nearest MBI. For example, if you are considering a bid of $250.01, try $252.50 instead.

See the chart at the bottom of the page. Two examples follow.

Example 1

Case 1 - Mary's High bid Wins


The auction begins.

Fred bids $100.

Mary bids $105.

Mary wins the auction since $105 beats $100.

Case 2 - Mary's High Bid Loses!


The auction begins.

Fred bids $100.

Mary bids $102.

Mary loses!   Her higher bid of $102 does NOT win this item. She didn't meet the Minimum Bid Increment of $ 2.50. Her bid will not show up in the bidding history.

Example 2

In this example, the following are given:

  • You set a snipe at service #1 to fire at 10 seconds for $1,000.
  • A competitor sets a snipe at service #2 to fire at 2 seconds for $1,000.
  • Each sniping service places two or more bids at the same time.
  • All clocks involved are synchronized to eBay.

Here is what occurs for each snipe:

  1. One of your bids hits first at 10 seconds before closing and receives the message, "Congratulations, you are the high bidder."
  2. Your subsequent bids fire and eBay returns the message, "You are already the high bidder. To increase your bid, please bid (bid amount) or more."
  3. All of your competitor's bids hit at 1 second before closing and eBay returns the message, "Your bid is too low. Please bid (this amount) or more." for all of them.
  4. You win, because your bid came first.

The above example is true even if the bid is higher, but still not high enough to meet the cost plus minimum bid increment.

As the minimum bid increases with the current price of the auction, the higher the cost of the auction, the more important it is to bid earlier, not later. This is only important at items over $10,000, however, and so this is really just a concept, rather than something that should cause concern.

Sniping vs. Manual Bidding

Seven (7) seconds is a good choice. When a manual bidder receives an error that their bid is too low, ten (10) seconds is enough time for an expert to change their bid manually.

eBay U.S. Minimum Bid Increments

(For other currencies, consult eBay's "Minimum Bid Increment" page for your country's eBay site.)

Current Price

Bid Increment

$ 0.01 - $ 0.99

$ 0.05

$ 1.00 - $ 4.99

$ 0.25

$ 5.00 - $ 24.99

$ 0.50

$ 25.00 - $ 99.99

$ 1.00

$ 100.00 - $ 249.99

$ 2.50

$ 250.00 - $ 499.99

$ 5.00

$ 500.00 - $ 999.99

$ 10.00

$ 1000.00 - $ 2499.99

$ 25.00

$ 2500.00 - $ 4999.99

$ 50.00

$ 5000.00 and up

$ 100.00


Sniping Buy-It-Now items

Note: If the auction is also a Buy-It-Now item with zero (0) bids, sniping does not work, because eBay rejects bids over the Buy-It-Now price. To get around this, you can place a very low bid on the item manually, after the item is first listed. This converts it to an auction, and then sniping bids will be accepted. For more information on this situation, see Why Did I Lose?