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Different ways of buying

For your enjoyment and convenience, eBay offers several ways to shop.

Start by comparing buying formats and then learn more about each one.

If you're new to buying, also see buying basics.

Comparing buying formats
Method Benefits and considerations

Auction-style format

You bid up from the seller's starting price along with other buyers to get the best deal. You can watch the item to see how the bidding is going.

When the listing ends, the highest bidder wins the item and completes the purchase. 


  • Bidding can be lots of fun.

  • You can find some great deals.

  • You can use eBay Feedback and, if needed, eBay Resolution Centre.


  • You need to wait until the listing ends to buy the item.

  • You might be outbid.

Buy It Now

You can buy the item immediately at a fixed price. This can also be an option in auction-style listings.

If a seller offers this option, you'll see Buy It Now in the listing and search results.


  • You can buy the item right away.

  • You don't compete with anyone else for the item. Once you buy it, it's yours.

  • You can use eBay Feedback and, if needed, eBay Resolution Centre.


  • If you want the item, you have to act fast.

Ad format

Ad format connect buyers and sellers, who then complete the sale outside of eBay. You'll see "Ad format" in the listing and search results.



  • You can find items or services that don't fit into standard categories.

  • You can deal personally with the seller.


  • Ad format sales aren't backed by eBay services and protection, including Feedback.

  • Ad formats are offered only for items in certain categories.

Auction-style format

In an auction-style listing, sellers name a starting price and sell to the highest bidder.

Here's how to bid on an auction-style listing:
  1. Search or browse to find an item you'd like to buy.

  2. Review the entire listing and decide if you want to place a bid. Some things to note are:

    • When it ends (always in Eastern Time)

    • How many bids have already been placed on the item

    • Amount of the current high bid

    • Any pictures of the item

    • The seller's description of the item

    • Payment methods and shipping costs

    • The seller's return policy

  3. Enter your bid.

If you'd like to try automatic bidding, we automatically raise your bid only as much as needed for you to remain the high bidder. You can win an item for less than your maximum bid, but you can also be outbid if someone else enters a higher maximum bid.

Learn more about how bidding works.

Buy It Now 

Buy It Now is the simplest way to buy on eBay. It lets you buy an item when you want it, at a fixed price.

  1. Look for items with a Buy It Now price. Buy It Now appears next to items on category browse pages or in your search results.

  2. If you're only looking for Buy It Now items, click the Buy It Now tab on search results or browse pages.

  3. Compare similar items to figure out what would be a good price and what you're willing to pay.

  4. Look at the item description and make sure you're happy with the item and the seller's terms.

  5. Check the Buy It Now price of the item. This is the price you'll pay for the item. Also check the payment options, shipping cost, and any other additional costs that may be listed in the item description.

  6. To purchase the item, click the Buy It Now button in the listing.

Buy It Now variations Description

Items that only have a Buy It Now price

You can use Buy It Now to purchase the item right away.

Items that have a bid price and a Buy It Now price

You can place a bid or use Buy It Now to purchase the item immediately, before bidding starts.

Items that include a Best Offer option

If a seller offers this option, you can suggest a price that you're willing to pay for the item. Learn more about making a Best Offer.

Ad format

When you see an Ad format listing, it means that you deal directly with the seller and buy the item at a fixed price. Because your Ad format purchase is outside of eBay, you won't be able to use eBay Feedback.

To find Ad format:
  1. Click the Advanced link at the top of the eBay home page.

  2. Enter keywords about the type of item you're interested in.

  3. In the Buying formats section, select the Ad format check box.

  4. Click the Search button at the bottom of the page.

Here's a list of items you can buy using Ad format:

Businesses & Websites for Sale

  • Home-Based Businesses

  • Internet Businesses & Websites

  • Manufacturing

  • Marketing

  • Patents & Trademarks

  • Retail & General Stores

  • Service Businesses

  • Vending & Coin-op

  • Wholesale Trade & Distribution

  • Other

  • Wholesale Lots


  • Buildings, Modular & Pre-Fab

Trade Show Displays

  • Banner Systems & Signage

  • Pop-Up & Booth Displays

  • Tabletop & Portable Displays

  • Trade Show Display Accessories

  • Other

Real Estate

  • Commercial

  • Land

  • Manufactured Homes

  • Timeshares for Sale

  • Other Real Estate

Specialty Services

  • Artistic Services

  • Custom Clothing & Jewellery

  • eBay Auction Services

  • Graphic & Logo Design

  • Home Improvement Services

  • Media Editing & Duplication

  • Printing & Personalization

  • Restoration & Repair

  • Web & Computer Services

  • Other Services


  • Airline

  • Campground and RV Parks

  • Car Rental

  • Cruises

  • Lodging

  • Luggage

  • Maps

  • Rail

  • Travel Accessories

  • Vacation Packages

  • Other

Everything Else

  • eBay User Tool

  • Funeral & Cemetery

  • Information Products

  • Memberships

  • Reward Pts, Incentive Progs > Other

Other terms

In all types of listings, including Ad format, sellers must treat the buyer's contact information according to the eBay Privacy Policy. This policy prohibits sharing the buyer's information with anyone else as well as using the buyer's information for any purpose other than communicating with the buyer about the item, unless the buyer gives express permission to do so.

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