Buying guide

A guide to online shopping with Trade Me

Whether you’re searching for something specific or are happy browsing, Trade Me is perfect for online shopping.

Last updated: 14 June 2023

How to search on Trade Me

We’ve tried to make searching for items on Trade Me as straightforward as possible, and there are a bunch of features to help you sort through hundreds or even thousands of listings to help you find exactly what you need:

Search via the search bar or categories

If you know what you’re looking for, just type it into the search bar. Be specific and use keywords e.g. ‘waterproof watch’ instead of simply ‘watch’. You can also browse via categories, which can help you see what’s out there before narrowing your search later.

Narrow your search using filters

Once you’ve loaded the search results, use our filters, such as ‘used’, ‘Buy Now’ or ‘free shipping’ to keep the results relevant. When looking for items that are large or difficult to ship, use the location filter to show listings only from your town or region.

Sort your results

Now that you’ve generated a search of relevant listings, sort them to show the most important ones to you first. Choose ‘Lowest price’ to display the cheapest, or ‘Latest listings’ to find the items recently listed.

Use your Trade Me Watchlist

The Watchlist feature is there to help you keep an eye on listings you like. Whether you’re comparing laptops or seeking DIY inspiration, simply click the yellow plus icon.

Use your Watchlist to:

Make listings easy to find

If something catches your eye, save it to your Watchlist now and find it easily later. You’ll also receive timely emails and notifications about the listing – a reminder that the auction’s about to close, an alert if you’ve been outbid, or even a fixed price offer straight to your inbox (if the listing closes without selling).

Compare listings

You can add up to 1000 items to your watchlist, either from the search results or the listing page itself. Having easy access to listings you’re interested in means you can easily compare them in one place before you bid or buy.


Your watchlist allows you to easily refer back to auctions you’ve lost to see how much they went for. This can be particularly useful if you want to carefully weigh up your options before you bid, or if you’re still waiting to stumble across the perfect listing.

Your Watchlist can help ensure you never lose track of items you like.

How to bid or buy on Trade Me

If you know how to use our bidding and buying tools, you won’t accidentally spend more than you wanted to, or miss out on purchasing an item you’d been watching for days. It's first useful to understand auctions on Trade Me:

  • An auction is where anyone can place a bid, and the highest bid over the reserve wins the auction.
  • The reserve price is an optional amount, which is higher or equal to the start price that’s set by the seller. An item won’t sell until bids have met the reserve – it’s the lowest price the seller is prepared to sell for. You will see a red ‘reserve met’ flag when it has reached that point.

Buy Now

A Buy Now will show on an auction as a fixed price offer. If you click Buy Now, you’ll immediately win the auction. Remember that the Buy Now will disappear once the reserve has been met, so if you find the perfect listing with a great price, don’t wait too long! Some listings are Buy Now only, meaning that bidding isn’t an option.


There are some bidding rules on Trade Me. For example, when bidding manually, there are minimum bid requirements which change depending on the leading bid. Setting an auto-bid will do all the work for you and keep you in the lead by automatically bidding on your behalf whenever you’re outbid by another member (up to your chosen maximum).

Trade Me payment options

There are different payment options on Trade Me, and the seller will choose what suits them. Options include cash on pick-up, bank transfer by exchanging details after the sale, using Ping or Afterpay.


When using Ping, your payment will not only go through instantly, you’ll also be covered by Buyer Protection up to $2,500. You can also use Ping to receive money instantly when selling items of your own. Ping is available to all Trade Me members, you just need a credit or debit card.


With listings that offer Afterpay, you’ll pay off the cost of the item in four fortnightly instalments but receive it immediately with no additional fees.

Check the shipping options before you buy.

Ask the seller questions

Our Q&A is a fast and effective way to get more information about a product.

Be specific

If you’re looking at a couch, avoid vague statements and be definitive about what you want to know, e.g. ‘are there any stains?”

Request shipping and location information

Sellers will usually note the pick-up location or postage fees, but sometimes they don’t, which is why we have a Q&A – it’s the best way to communicate with the seller.

View and give feedback

Our feedback system is designed to help you to decide who to trade with. You’ll be prompted to place feedback at the end of every trade. While it’s not compulsory, it helps others learn how trustful and experienced sellers are, and maintains our positive, online trading community.

Feedback ratings

Each member will have a feedback score out of 100%, and the number of positive trades they’ve completed. You can read through the feedback to get a better understanding of the experiences other members are having with them.

Be professional

Include what you liked about the seller’s communication, the product and experience in general. If you’ve had an unsuccessful trade, contact the member first – most problems can be resolved before placing retaliatory feedback.

Seller status

Sellers with the words ‘In Trade’ and ‘Top Seller’ beneath their username indicate that they’re a professional seller. You’ll be protected under the Consumer Guarantees Act for any trades you complete with them too.

Get started

Whether you’re shopping for convenience or fun, we hope our quick guide to shopping on Trade Me gives you the knowledge to browse, buy or bid with confidence.

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