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How to Bid at an Auction

If you are unfamiliar with auctions, there are potential pitfalls awaiting you when you start bidding. Keep these tips in mind when you place your bids.


  • Step 1: Watch the auction Watch the activity on the auction floor for a while before you start bidding if you are not familiar with the way auctions work.
  • TIP: Have a top price that you are willing to pay in mind before you start bidding on an object.
  • Step 2: Do not respond to the auctioneer's opener Do not respond to the auctioneer's opening price. This price will probably be too high, and you should wait to see if the auctioneer's opener is dropped.
  • Step 3: Let someone else start bidding Let someone else make the first bid if you are new at auctions.
  • Step 4: Wait for a bidding contest Wait to see if two bidders start bidding against each other. When one of the bidders drops out, make your offer if you are still interested in the item being auctioned.
  • TIP: Try asking the auctioneer at this point whether an incremental bid will be accepted. For example, if the top bid is $50 and the auctioneer is asking whether anyone will offer $60, ask whether a bid of $55 will be accepted.
  • Step 5: Place your bid Place your bid by raising your hand or your number card, or if the auctioneer is waiting for a decision from you, by nodding your head.
  • FACT: Auctions have been in existence since at least 500 BCE when women were auctioned off as wives in ancient Greece.

You Will Need

  • Auction
  • Opener
  • Bidding contest
  • Raised hand or number card
  • Nod of the head
  • Top price (optional)
  • Incremental bid (optional)

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