Ten eBay Buying Tips To Help You Get The Best Deal

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Looking for tips on buying preloved clothes on eBay? I’ve got ten of my best tips for you to help you always get the best deal.

I would love it if I could afford to shop from ethical clothing brands all of the time. Sadly this is not the case. This is where secondhand shopping comes in. It’s ethical, good for the environment, and cheap! 

As a working mum, I don’t always have the time or patience to visit charity shops until I find something I want. Therefore, when I need new clothes, then more often than not I head straight to eBay from the comfort of my sofa.

With millions of items listed there, it can be a little overwhelming. And sometimes you don’t even know if you are getting the best deal. To help you out, I’ve got my top eBay buying tips to help you become a savvy shopper.

My Top Ten eBay Buying Tips

Folded clothes on a chair with a blue text box that reads top eBay buying tips to help you get the best deal.

I’ve been buying and selling on eBay for 20 years now. As such, I really like to think I know a thing or two about shopping online on eBay and getting a good bargain. So without further ado, here are my top ten eBay buying tips.

I’ve split my guide into two main categories: searching and bidding.


With so many listings, it can be daunting trying to find exactly what you are looking for on eBay. Here are my top tips for finding what you want without feeling overwhelmed.

eBay can be a bit daunting if you just type in say, size 12 dress. A search like this will throw up thousands and thousands of results (557,498 at the time of writing!).

One of my best eBay buying tips is to use the advanced search function on the sidebar to narrow down what you are looking for. This saves you from scrolling through hundreds of pages.

For example, say I want a green dress, in a size 12, that’s knee-length with three-quarter length sleeves. I can specify all of these things in the advanced search bar, rather than doing a generic search for a green dress. And I can even specify my budget and if I would prefer it to be secondhand or unworn.

I can go further and specify if I want it to be from a specific brand, and if I want it to be located in the UK only. I find this approach to be a much more effective search method that’s much quicker in narrowing down what I want.

To do this, search for “green dress”. Select women’s clothing in the left-hand bar, and then select “women’s dresses”. From here you can then specify a whole number of variables, as in my example below:

ebay search tips for a green dress

I got 65 matches, which is a much more manageable number to view! You can even filter these down even further – specifying your maximum budget, the seller’s location and more.

2. Look At The Seller’s Other Items

Wendy from Moral Fibres wearing a yellow dress and navy cardigan bought from eBay.
Me in a bargain eBay outfit. The cardigan (99p), dress (£4.71) and belt (came with another £2 dress) are all eBay finds.

Another top eBay buying tip is if you find something you like then have a look at the seller’s other items. If you have a similar style, then they might be selling some other clothes that you also like in your size.

It’s often a lot cheaper to package several items together and post them than it is to post two separate parcels. Therefore a lot of sellers will offer a postage discount for multiple items. If it’s not specified, email the seller to ask. It never hurts, and might see you bag a cheeky discount.

3. Buy Out of Season

One of my top eBay buying tips is to consider buying out of season. For example, if you know you will need a new pair of winter boots then buy them in the summer. Fewer people will be looking and bidding on them out of season, helping you to get them for the best price.

4. Create An Alert

If you are looking for something specific on eBay and are unable to find it you can set up an alert. This means you will be contacted when someone lists an item on eBay that matches your search criteria.

5. Buy Bundles

When it comes to buying baby clothes on eBay I tend to avoid buying individual items of clothing as postage costs don’t make it particularly cost-effective. For best value stick to buying bundles of clothing. Just type in, for example, “boys bundle 9 12 months” to search for all the boys 9-12 month bundles. I also find buying bundles of basics such as vests and sleepsuits very cost-effective – once I bought 15 vests for 99p and £3.00 postage.

6. Support Charities Whilst Shopping

If you normally shop in charity shops and still would like to support charities through your shopping habits then there is a special eBay for charity page. Here you can search through all the items for sale, where the seller has specified that they will donate all or some of the final sale profits to charity.

You can also see items listed by charities themselves. This is because charities will often list items on eBay that they think will achieve a higher selling price on eBay than in their shops.

Collection of secondhand dresses
Some of my eBay finds from over the years.

Watching and Bidding

Not that we’ve covered searching, what about the watching and bidding aspect? Let me help you there:

7. Set a Reminder on Your Phone

Add an item you like to your watch list, and set a reminder on your phone for a few minutes before the item ends – that way you won’t forget about it.

8. Don’t Show Your Hand Until the Last Few Seconds

Another of my best eBay buying tips is to bid in the last few seconds of the auction. That way you won’t push the price up unnecessarily. This is known as sniping.

I tend to bid in the last six seconds of the auction ending. I type in the absolute maximum amount I’m willing to pay and hope for the best!

This way there is also less chance that you’ll get carried away and bid higher than your budget. Seven times out of ten I win the item for much less than my top budget. Of course, sometimes I’ve lost the auction, but such is life. I knew my budget and didn’t go over it, so in the end, I was a winner even if I didn’t get the item I wanted.

9. Consider The Auction End Day and Time

If you can, look out for items that end on weekdays during the day. They tend to go for less than items that end at the weekend. Of course, this is only effective if you are able to bid during these times.

Other Useful eBay Buying Advice

If you’re substituting visiting charity shops with shopping on eBay, and not purchasing the eBay charity items, then it’s only right to include a donation, no matter how small to charity. Thankfully eBay allows you to donate to a charity of your choosing at the checkout.

There you go – these eBay buying tips are how I keep my wardrobe stocked up without it costing the earth or a ton of money. If you think I’ve missed anything then do let me know in the comments below. I would love to hear your eBay buying tips too!

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  1. It’s the one thing that I’ve never really done. I buy other stuff from eBay but the buying clothes thing always has me procrastinating too much. Thanks for this though, interesting stuff.

  2. I always use the advance search setting as to get more details whos the seller & other filters.i try to buy mostly from sellers like Nextonly & they have really great products.

  3. Top tips! They will be useful for eBay pros and newbies.

    eBay buyers might also find useful a software for shopping comobuy.
    Thanks for your article!

  4. Love this post – as an avid Ebay shopper I absolutely agree with everything – top tips! This is the first time I’ve been through this blog and I’m smitten! x

  5. Wow these are some great tips.

    I usually sell on eBay to make money, but I occasionally buy items from there too. I agree with buying clothes out of season because that’s when sales will be slower for that seller and they may be willing to cut a deal with you. I know I would love to move some remaining inventory fast.

    Great post!

  6. Awesome tips! I buy second hand from eBay a lot and this is great advice. PS you look lovely in your photo! It’s nice to see your face. X Tamara