Winning Strategies for Bidding in Timed Online Auctions


As interest in e-commerce continues to increase throughout the world, a record number of people are delving into the world of online auctions for the first time. As such, let’s take this opportunity to revisit frequently asked questions and some of our most common tips for successfully bidding in a timed auction online. 

Bidding in any online auction can be both exhilarating and overwhelming at the same time. If you most often work with an auctioneer in person or online, consider another option: the timed auction. 

What is a Timed Auction? 

Timed auctions run for a defined period of time, allowing bidders to register and place maximum bids on items with confidence. As the auction progresses, bidders have the opportunity to raise their bid amount. 

For those who are navigating this format for the first time (or simply need a refresher), we’ll help guide you on your way to taking home your object of desire. Here are some how-to tips from our team and advice from some of our most ardent timed auction participants. 

Bid at Your Own Pace 

To bid on a lot, sign up for an Invaluable account and register for the sale (you do this directly from the item’s information page). 

Once registered, place your bid by entering your maximum bid – the highest hammer price you would be comfortable paying for the item. From there, Invaluable will place incremental bids on your behalf to ensure you remain the highest bidder up to your maximum bid. Setting a maximum bid on an item ensures that you will not go over your limit and allows time to correct mistakes. If two identical maximum bids are submitted, the first bid received will win the lot. 

“As I work the bidding process, I enjoy timed bidding because it moves along to the next item without delay and thereby gets to my expected bid item that much faster…” says Invaluable timed bidder, Steven D. 

Monitor your bids in your member dashboard on the My Bids page, via email, or with the Invaluable mobile app on iOS or Android. If you are outbid, you will be notified and have time to increase your bid before the auction closes. The closing of a timed auction is determined by a defined end time. On Invaluable, the time and date listed for timed auctions is the time at which bidding closes. Be sure to place your bid before that time. 

“I like timed auctions because I can’t always acquire items at live auctions and need to be able to supplement my stock. Sometimes it is also nice to just sit and bid at my pace instead of following a live auction.” – Donna N., Invaluable user 

Control Your Auction Results 

A timed auction ends at the time specified by the seller; however, extended bidding may occur if additional bids are placed in the last two minutes of the auction. This is to prevent last-minute bidders from sniping the lot and to give all bidders a fair chance to acquire the piece. 

If you are the highest bidder at the close of a lot, you will receive an email or a mobile alert at the auction’s close notifying you of your purchase. 

“If you are the type of person that gets carried away during live bidding, the timed auction may help you set a limit on your bids,” says bidder Bob H. 

Thoughts from Our Team 

From those of us who receive questions and feedback from Invaluable bidders every day, here are some more benefits to remember as you weigh your bidding options: 

  1. Timed auctions are slower-paced, making them easier to monitor and less intimidating than live auctions for novice bidders. 
  2. By looking at the number of views and bids on a lot in a timed auction, you can tell which lots are the most popular (and therefore worthy of your attention) as the end of the auction approaches. 
  3. The auctioneer can set reserves for their items to ensure that it sells for a minimum amount. Look for the text “reserve not met” or “reserve met” to know if your high bid will be a winning bid. 
  4. If you’re bidding on the go, you can opt into our Text Alerts and download the Invaluable mobile app to keep track of your item. 

Looking for more? Check out How to Bid on Invaluable. Ready to get started? Browse online auctions on Invaluable and find your treasure today.