Craigslist – How to Shop and Buy on Craigslist

Craigslist is one of the best online marketplaces there is and, when it comes to buying and selling, there may not be a site that comes close to being as easy as well as cheap to use for this purpose. Nevertheless, there are some tips to doing both, and the home page may look overwhelming to the first time visitor. Please, don’t let the home page scare you off! Craigslist is very useful once you become more familiar with it. Here, we’ll take a look at some things to know about shopping and buying things on Craigslist.

Shopping and buying items on Craigslist is easy. You just need to browse the relevant category and, when you find something you want to buy, you can just reply to the ad. And best of all, you don’t need to have any kind of account to browse or purchase anything.

Craigslist has a “for sale” section right on the home page, and this is divided into sub categories, so you don’t have to browse through appliances, cars, electronics, and clothes, while looking for a used dresser.

And, when you go into the for sale section or one of its subcategories, you have a keyword search field, a category field with a drop down menu, a selection for searching by title or entire post for keywords, a check box for images, and a price range field.

So, looking for a Kodak Z915 camera? Under the “for sale” section, you can click on the sub category “photo+video“.

Then, in the keyword field, type in Kodak Z915. You can leave the category field alone, as you are already in the category you need to be in. However, if you search here and find no results, you can always click the drop down menu in the category field and select another category the camera might be in, such as “electronics”. Next, you can put a check in the image box so that only ads with an image will come up. And, if you want to pay no more than $100 and no less than $50 to ensure that you’ll eliminate poor quality products, put your figures in the price range field. Then click on the “Search” button, and mostly relevant ads will come up.

In terms of relevance, some ads will still come up that may not be as relevant to your search, or not be relevant at all, depending on how they are titled. In the example above, you may still come up with an ad that says “Kodak Camera, Sony Walkman, and other electronics! ($1)” . When you click on this ad, you may see several items showcased and the prices may be different, with the Kodak Z915 camera priced at $150, which is out of your range. In some cases, the Kodak camera won’t even be the model you’re looking for!

Tip: When shopping for items, real estate, or an apartment, always put a check in the image box! This lets you see what the condition of the item, apartment, or property is, and even if it is the correct item you’re looking for. I’ve seen ads for cars where the wrong make and model is pictured!

Once you find the item you want, you can reply to the ad. Some ads will only have a phone number, or only allow you to click on the “reply” button. Replying to an ad does not mean you have bought the item. You can reply to ask questions if you wish.

Unlike E-bay or Amazon, Craigslist does not act as a middleman, helping to insure that the transaction goes smoothly and safely. Craigslist only allows buyers and sellers a common online place to conduct business. Once you’ve decided to take a personal look at an item, you and the seller have to make your own arrangements. Here’s some tips for a successful, and safer, transaction.

  • If you’re dealing with a business, you’re probably safe just going to the business itself, but, if dealing with a private party, arrange to meet in a public place, such as a coffee shop or inside a mall, where there are people about. Meeting at your place could result in your being robbed, or burglarized later on. Meeting at their place could also lead to your being robbed or worse. Exception: If you know that they are having a garage sale, then you can go there, but make sure when you drive up that they are really having a garage sale. If not, then keep going!
  • If dealing with a private party, don’t pay with a personal check! This gives them your checking account number. If a check is required, use a cashiers check or money order.
  • If buying electronics, try to meet at a place with plug-ins, so you can test the item. Many coffee shops and fast food places now feature WiFi and will often have places to plug-in laptop computers and other electronics.
  • Don’t jump at the first ad showing the item you’re looking for. Shop more because you may find offers that are cheaper or offer more for the same price. Some people over price their items while others under price them and there can be large variations in pricing and quality for many items. Generally, going back several days will show you all that there is. Many ads are repeated day after day until a product sells and sometimes, the price even comes down!
  • Never, never send money to a private party or business that you don’t know for a product that they claim they’ll send to you! Not Ever!! Anyone who requests this should be regarded as a scam artist! This is one reason you will see warnings on Craigslist to “Deal Locally!”.

So, these are the basics of buying things on Craigslist. Good luck shopping and stay safe! 🙂

If you want to know how to sell on Craigslist, see my post,Craigslist – How to sell on Craigslist”. And if you know anyone who wants to know more about Craigslist, send them to this site!

Thanks for reading!  🙂

One thought on “Craigslist – How to Shop and Buy on Craigslist

  1. Thanks for the sensible critique. Me and my neighbor had been just preparing to complete a bit research about this. We received a grab a guide from our region library but I believe I discovered much more clear from this post. I’m extremely glad to see this kind of magnificent information being shared freely out there.


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