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How to retract a bid on eBay

Image showing person holding a smartphone with eBay logo on the screen
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If you've got bidder's remorse, understanding how to retract a bid on eBay should solve your problem. It's easy to bid on an item that you quickly decide you don't actually want, even if it's one of the best phones or best TVs. The trouble is, winning bids on eBay are binding, so if you win an auction you usually have to go through with the transaction. 

Thankfully, there's a way of backing out before you get that far by retracting a bid under certain circumstances. These are actually quite restrictive, with eBay only letting you cancel a bid if:

  • You have accidentally input the wrong amount, perhaps stating $5,000 where you meant $500;
  • You're struggling to get hold of a seller;
  • You find the seller has significantly changed the description of an item after you've bid.

As you can see, simply changing your mind isn't actually a valid reason. The first rule, then, is to think very carefully before you place a bid, reading the description thoroughly and being absolutely sure you want the item at the price you've stated.

You should also be aware that if you make a false claim when retracting a bid, a seller could report you to eBay, which may impact your ability to buy and sell in the future, depending on the overall circumstances.

With all that in mind here's how to retract a bid on eBay if it really is what you want to do.

How to retract a bid on eBay 

1. Visit eBay's homepage (opens in new tab) and login, then click Help & Contact at the top of the screen.

(Image credit: eBay)

2. To find the “Retracting a bid” page, type “retract bid” in the search box. 

(Image credit: eBay)

3. You can click on an item listed above the search results. You can also click the search result “Retracting a bid.” 

(Image credit: eBay)

4. If you click “Retracting a bid,” you can click on an item in the colored box. You can also click the blue “Retract a bid” button and select the item on the next page. 

(Image credit: eBay)

5. In all cases, you will have to give a reason why you want to cancel your bid.

If you click “I entered the wrong amount,” eBay will request that you rebid with the correct amount right away (although it won't force you into doing so). You will have to enter a new amount if you still want to have a chance of winning the item, though.

If you click “The description of the item changed significantly after I placed my bid” or “I'm unable to contact the seller by email or phone” you won't be requested to do anything more.

But if you click “Another reason,” you will be asked to click “Contact seller” to resolve the issue. You won't have the option to retract the bid. 

(Image credit: eBay)

6. When choosing anything other than “Another reason,” you will be able to click the “Retract bid” button.

(Image credit: eBay)

7. This should successfully retract your bid. Sometimes you may be directed to another form where you have to select the reason again and click Submit but, again, your bid should be successfully retracted. 

(Image credit: eBay)

How long do you have to retract a bid? 

You can freely try to retract a bid up until the final 12 hours of an auction. Within those final 12 hours, you can only seek to retract a bid if you've placed it within the last hour. 

So, for instance, if you've bid on an item with two hours to go and decide, five minutes before the end, that you don't actually want to go ahead, it's too late to retract your bid. In general, the sooner you retract a bid, the better for you, the seller, and other eBay users. 

Could a seller cancel my bid? 

Image showing eBay homepage with magnifying glass highlighting the logo

(Image credit: Shutterstock)

Yes. Sometimes sellers will cancel your bid because they've decided to end the auction early or they've made an error in their listing. They may also cancel your bid if they simply don't want you to sell their item to you.

But the ability for sellers to cancel your bids can work in your favor. If your reason for retracting a bid falls outside eBay's three criteria, you can contact the seller and plead your case. 

Clearly detail why you'd like to cancel the bid and you'll find that most sellers will grant your request. After all, it's less hassle for them to sell an item to someone who actually wants to go through with the transaction.

Now you've mastered how to retract a bid on eBay, you may also want to know how to block buyers on eBay. Or if you're thinking of skipping eBay and setting up your own online store, check out how to build a website of your own.

David Crookes is a freelance writer, reporter, editor and author. He has written for technology and gaming magazines including Retro Gamer, Web User, Micro Mart, MagPi, Android, iCreate, Total PC Gaming, T3 and Macworld. He has also covered crime, history, politics, education, health, sport, film, music and more, and been a producer for BBC Radio 5 Live.