A max bid, formally known as a maximum bid, is the highest bid you are willing to pay for an item on eBay. This only applies to the automatic bidding function on eBay. When you decide to bid via the automatic bid option on an auction, eBay asks you what your maximum bid is. You are not required to bid that amount from the start; the site asks for your maximum bid so it knows when to stop automatically bidding for you.
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When you place your first bid on an item for sale on eBay, enter the highest price you are willing to pay. eBay will not enter your highest bid initially, but rather post only the minimum bid required to make you the new high bidder. If other users post a new bid, or have previously set a maximum bid, eBay will continue to automatically bid for you until you are the new high bidder. eBay will never place a bid for you that exceeds your maximum bid.
eBay bets for you in small increments as necessary until your maximum bid is reached or you win the item. The bid increments may vary, as they depend on what the current high bid is and if the seller required a certain minimum increment when she listed her item on the site. Whenever eBay automatically posts a new bid on your behalf, you receive an e-mail informing you about the action. Likewise, if your maximum bid is outbid, you are informed.
Other eBay users are not allowed to see what you have selected as your maximum bid. This prevents another bidder from know exactly how much she needs to bid to outbid you and win the auction. You are also unable to see other users' maximum bids, so when you place your own max bid you must estimate the price required to become the highest bidder.
A reserve is the minimum amount a seller is willing to accept for her item, and it is only visible to her. If the maximum bid you set is not at least the reserve amount, you are not guaranteed to win the item. When the auction is over, if you are the high bidder, the seller can select to sell you the item or relist it on the site. If your maximum bid is over the reserve, eBay automatically makes your first bid the reserve amount.
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