When buying items in the auction house, it's not immediately apparent (or at least, wasn't to me) how bidding works. Buyout is straight forward by comparison.

Based on my own selling experience, it seems like very few people are making use of the bid option; perhaps because it's not obvious how it works.

Basically, what happens when I choose to bid on an item?

  • I suspect many people don't use the bid option because of the rather long auction time of 2 whole days - if you're not looking for hhigh-end gear but only something better than your current one, waiting 2 days is way too long because you'll most likely have found better items yourself.
    – Wieland
    Commented May 27, 2012 at 8:08
  • @Wieland I speak purely hypothetically, you could very well be correct. Certainly at lower levels (say <40) that makes sense. I'm up around 52 now and drops that are actual improvements are really really rare, so AH-ing even at a two day lead time is viable. Commented May 27, 2012 at 19:11
  • 1
    Question should be close as there is no longer an auction house for diablo 3.
    – l I
    Commented Mar 18, 2014 at 15:30
  • @z- Question should not be closed. See this answer to your own meta question about D3. Commented Mar 18, 2014 at 15:52

1 Answer 1


When bidding on an item, you're actually setting a maximum bid (the UI does say that, but it's easy to miss; I know I did). The auction house will slowly increase your current bid as needed to keep you winning the auction, until you exceed your maximum bid.

When you place a bid, you'll get an entry in your Auctions tab that looks like

enter image description here

When I first bid on that item the displayed Bid was around 500. The auction house immediately made the current bid around 510, with me winning. As other people have come in and placed bids, my current bid has increased to exceed their maximum bids.

If you win an auction you get both the item and the gold difference between your maximum bid (which you ponied up in full when you placed it) and the current bid when the auction ended (less transaction fees, naturally). Hypothetically, if that auction were to end right now I'd get back about 18k in gold and the Champion Apex.

Blizzard explains the process here:

[T]he system will automatically place a bid at the lowest possible winning price, in 5% increments (but no lower than 10 gold / $0.10 USD or equivalent), up to the maximum the player sets.

It's not clear to me what that 5% is a percentage of, but I suspect it's the Current Bid.

Note that your maximum bid is not visible to other people. While it could be determined by placing bids incrementally higher bids, this is so tedious as to render it basically untenable.

As a complete aside, the complexity of the commodity and bidding portions of the auction house is sort of impressive. It makes the recent outages more understandable, if still really really frustrating.

  • I din't understand this answer, so to clarify: If you bid higher than 5% over the current bid, it will only place a bid of 5% over the current bid instead of your actual bid.
    – MrFox
    Commented Mar 12, 2013 at 9:08

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