What Is a Bid?

Anbarasan Appavu

The price at which a market maker is willing to purchase a security is also referred to as a bid. In contrast to retail buyers, however, market makers must also display a bid price or ask price.

What Is a Bid?


• A bid is a proposal made by an investor, trader, or dealer to purchase an asset or compete for a contract.

• The spread between the bid as well as the ask is a reliable indicator of supply and demand for the financial instrument. 

• Market makers are essential to the efficiency and liquidity of the marketplace. 

• Bids can be made live, online, through brokers, or in a closed bidding process.

How a Bid Works

Buyers and sellers sustain the market. Every participant facilitates the acquisition and disposition of assets. Sellers are the entities that offer their assets for sale. Buyers are individuals who wish to acquire goods or services. These two parties typically conduct business at diverse locations, including auctions (live and online), the stock market, and retail establishments.

The bidding process for these goods and services depends on the market in which they are sold. For instance, auction bids can be made in person or online, whereas investors can bid through their brokers for securities such as stocks. Some bids are conducted in private, typically through a sealed procedure. This procedure permits impartial and conflict-free bidding.

In some instances, companies may submit bids in order to secure employment contracts. The bidding process involves sending packages to those who are interested. Governments or large corporations may issue these contracts for infrastructure, construction, and other projects in numerous industries, including:

• Public safety

• Information technology

• Healthcare

• Education

• Social services

• Consulting and management

• Art and recreation

Within the Coverage

The bid-ask spread is a reliable indicator of the supply and demand for a particular financial instrument. Simply put, the spread narrows as the investor's interest level increases.

In stock trading, the spread fluctuates constantly as buyers and sellers electronically match, with the spread's size in dollars and cents reflecting the price of the traded stock. A spread of 25 cents on a price of $10, for instance, equals 2.5%. However, the spread decreases to 0.25 percent if the stock price rises to $100.

The standard bid-ask spread in EUR/USD interbank quotes is between two and four pips (the price change in a given exchange) in foreign exchange, depending on the amount traded and the time of day the trade occurs.

Spreads are typically at their narrowest when both the New York and European markets are open in the morning. Typically, a bid of 1.1015 is accompanied by an offer between 1.1017 and 1.019. The typical USD/JPY bid-ask spread is between 106.18 and 106.20. Less actively traded currency pairs tend to have wider spreads.

Numerous buyers submit bids to acquire the goods and services they desire. These may include securities (stocks, bonds, and other investment types), commodities, currencies, and any other assets. The bid is the price a buyer is willing to pay for a stock, while the ask is the price a seller is willing to accept. Spread refers to the mathematical difference between the bid and the ask.

Upon concluding a transaction at the bid price, if the seller perceives strong demand, the bid and ask prices for subsequent transactions may increase significantly.

Market Makers

Market makers, also known as specialists, are indispensable to the efficiency and liquidity of the market. By quoting both ask and bid prices, they enter the stock market when electronic price matching fails, allowing investors to purchase or sell a security. Although specialists must always quote a price for the stocks they trade, the bid-ask spread is unrestricted.

Interbank traders serve as market makers on the foreign exchange market because they provide a constant flow of two-way prices to both direct counterparties and electronic trading systems. Their spreads widen during periods of market volatility and unpredictability, and unlike their stock market counterparts, they are not required to make a price in low-liquidity markets.

Types of Bids

There are multiple ways to submit a bid. As stated previously, the various types of bids vary depending on where the offer is being made. Below are some of the most common types of bids.

Auction Bids

Multiple bidders compete for specific assets, such as livestock, household goods, real estate, property tax liens, and art, at auctions. The rise of technology has enabled online auctions, which were previously only possible in person.

Buyers who participate in auctions compete with one another in an open bidding process to acquire the asset. They do so by submitting competitive bids in an effort to outbid the competition. Whoever places the highest bid wins the auction.

Online Bidding

Online bidding sites function identically to traditional auctions. Sites such as eBay, eBid, and QuiBids enable buyers to congregate in a virtual arena and place bids on the products and services of their choosing.

For instance, someone selling a pair of designer sunglasses on eBay may set a minimum price for the auction. Until the seller accepts a bid, interested buyers may place a bid on the item by submitting a price they are willing to pay. Typically, these sites require buyers to create accounts and may also request credit card information.


In contrast to the previous two types of bids, participants in some venues are unaware of how much their competitors are bidding. This is the case for auctions with sealed bids.

In a sealed-bid auction, multiple bidders are given sealed envelopes in which to place their bids. The envelopes are then sealed so that no bidder can intentionally outbid another, ensuring a fair outcome. The winner is the bidder with the highest price. This type of bidding is typically reserved for contracts and real estate transactions.

Ensure that you do not exceed your maximum bid when participating in an auction.

Examples of a Bid

Let's examine the bidding process with two examples.

An auction at Sotheby's

Sotheby's is one of the largest art and luxury goods marketplaces in the world. It operates a network in 40 countries that caters to 44 categories, such as jewellery, contemporary art, and wine and spirits. Each year, the organisation conducts more than 600 live, online, and private auctions. On June 17, 2021, a buyer paid $2.68 million for a diamond weighing 50.03 carats that was unmounted.

A Trip aboard the Blue Origin

In June, Jeff Bezos, the founder of Amazon, held a month-long auction to sell a seat on his spaceship. The phone-based auction, which concluded on June 12, 2021, was conducted live. The unidentified winner bid $28 million to secure a seat on the Blue Origin with Bezos for a sightseeing tour departing from West Texas on July 20, 2021.

The Bottom Line

Bids enable individuals to acquire goods and services via auctions and other channels. It is a competitive process in which multiple entities attempt to outbid one another by increasing the amount they are willing to pay to acquire the asset. You can submit bids for a variety of items, including real estate, livestock, luxury goods, art, vehicles, government contracts, and financial instruments.

Typically, the difference between the bid and ask price for certain securities, such as stocks, is a good indicator of supply and demand. In spite of the fact that you may have your eyes on the prize, you should never exceed your maximum budget when attempting to win.

Bid FAQs

How Do Bids Work on eBay?

You can create an account or bid as a guest on eBay. Using the automated system is the most efficient way to submit bids. This field allows you to enter the maximum price you are willing to pay for an item. The website then places bids for you in increments, never exceeding your maximum limit. eBay will alert you if a competing bidder outbids you. You have the option of establishing a new maximum limit.

How Do You Cancel an eBay Bid?

eBay allows buyers to retract or cancel their bids under certain conditions. You may cancel your bid if you enter an incorrect amount, the seller makes a significant change to the item's description, or the seller's contact information is inaccurate. Bids can be withdrawn if there are more than 12 hours remaining in the auction. If there are less than 12 hours remaining, you may cancel your last bid if it was placed within the past hour. Contact the seller to see if they are willing to cancel your bid if all else fails.

How to Bid for Government Contracts?

There are multiple ways to submit bids for government contracts. To compete for these jobs, you may need to register your company with the appropriate agency or website. The majority of government contracts are bid on through a sealed-bid process, so you cannot see how your competitors are bidding.

You can submit your own bid for the contract through government bidding portals, which can be time-consuming. You can also utilize a bidding service, which can provide you with information on available government contracts in your region.

What Is a Google Ads Automated Bid Strategy?

Google Ads has an automated bidding strategy that places bids on a company's advertisements based on the likelihood that they will receive an online click. Depending on the type of ad, advertisers may have various objectives, such as increasing visits to their websites and increasing their visibility by placing ads at the top of Google search results pages.

What Is a Bid Bond?

A bid bond is a type of investment that guarantees payment to the bondholder in the event that the bidder fails to initiate the project. This provides the owner of the project with some assurance that the successful bidder will adhere to the contract and has the financial resources to complete the project.

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