First Time Guide on How to Buy on eBay

Get the Most out of Your First eBay Purchase Experience

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Because eBay is such a large, sprawling website with features for buyers and sellers including both individuals and businesses, it sometimes can be difficult to know where to begin.

If all you want to do is buy something great you've seen on eBay, you can do so by following a few easy steps.

Sign up

If you haven't already, join eBay now since you have to be a member in order to buy. Make sure you read the rules carefully about what's expected. There's a certain etiquette to doing business on eBay, which relies heavily on feedback from buyers and sellers. 

Be smart

Also be aware that as a newbie to eBay, you're a little bit of a target for potential scammers or identity thieves. Be suspicious of any emails purporting to be from eBay looking for password information or other personal data. 

Search and browse for items

Once you've joined and have a specific type of purchase in mind, either visit eBay's front page and type a few related keywords into the search box or browse through the listings by category to shop for the item you have in mind.

Next, find a few of these items in your ​search or browse results, and click on the ones that interest you to evaluate the data in the listings. After you've found a likely candidate, doublecheck the price, seller quality, shipping information, terms, and description to make sure the item is the one you want.

Place your bid or buy it now

When you're ready to bid or buy, either place your bid or "Buy It Now." If you bid on an auction rather than purchasing with Buy It Now, watch your bid in My eBay to ensure that you win.

There are ways to help boost your chances of winning, such as so-called auction sniping sites. These are automated services that make bids for you at the last moment before an auction ends. Once you're more experienced at eBay, they're worth checking out if you envision participating in a lot of auctions. If you're planning to be more of a buyer than a bidder, you may not need sniping sites. 

You've made the deal—now what?

After you've won an auction, close the deal by making your payment via PayPal or whatever other means you've agreed to by bidding on the item.

Be careful with payment options, and beware of conducting any business outside eBay with sellers; some may approach you after an auction or sale via email with "deals." If you conduct business with a seller outside of eBay, you have none of the purchase protections eBay offers, and it can be much harder to protect against a deal going awry or getting ripped off.

Once you've received your item and are satisfied with it, leave feedback giving your opinion of the transaction. This is a key feature of eBay and can be a good way to determine whether or not you want to do business with someone. If their account is relatively new, or they have a low rating from other buyers, tread carefully with any deals.