When you first sign up for an account on eBay, one of the first decisions you are asked to make is to select a user ID. While this can seem like a simple, throw-away step, there are a few things to consider before you select one. Even if you already created a user name, I would recommend that you read what I have to say and see if you would like to change it.

Firstly, ask yourself if you intend to become a seller anytime in the near future. If you anticipate selling items on eBay in the future with any consistency, I would recommend reading my other guide on choosing a user ID for sellers as there are a whole other host of things to consider. If you aren’t considering selling right now, however, you can always just change your name later.

While you have the option of changing your User ID at anytime (but only once per each 30 days), you build up a relationship and come to be identified with whatever you choose so the more often you change it, the more you run the risk of losing that relationship. As a seller, I very often give extras or other special treatment to the usernames I recognize as past and loyal customers and by constantly changing your name, you are making it harder for sellers to recognize you. In addition, your eBay Blog, forum username and About Me are all tied to your user ID so you make it harder for your online friends to find you when you change these.

On the other side, if you have had some bad dealings with a seller in the past, you may wish to change your username to disassociate yourself with that bad experience.

First, when choosing a user name, make sure that you are not running afoul of any eBay polices. The full list of User ID restrictions can be found here:

The following list includes characters and elements that you cannot include in a user ID:

  • The @, &, ‘, (, ), <, or > character.
  • Spaces or tabs Tip: You can use a hyphen to represent a space.
  • Elements that imply an email address or Web address (for example, xyz.com), including but not limited to .com, .net, .org, .edu, or any variation of such (for example, _com or -com). Your user ID can, however, contain an element of an email address or Web address (URL) that, when viewed outside the context of the email address or Web address, identifies you or your brand (for example, xyz).
  • Consecutive underscores __
  • An underscore _, hyphen -, or period . at the beginning of a user ID (for example, -cardcollector )
  • The word eBay (only eBay employees can use the word eBay in their user IDs).
  • The letter e followed by numbers
  • Obscene or profane words that violate eBay’s guidelines. See eBay’s rules on profanity
  • The same user ID as another seller or similar to an eBay Store name.
  • A user ID that is similar to the name of an eBay Store
  • A term that could be confused with a third-party’s trademark or brand (for example, CocaColaSeller)

Any efforts to trick the system and sneak a username past these restrictions will only get you suspended so I wouldn’t try it. Once you have found a name that is acceptable to the eBay supercomputer, there are still a few other things to consider.

While many people do everything below and have great success on eBay, let me just give you a quick list of things to consider when creating your eBay buying ID. While none may end up being a problem for you, you should have at least thought of everything below before you create your name.

  • Your username is a seller’s first impression of you. If your username is something like deadbeatbuyer or overreactingpsycho, even if you meant the name to be ironic or funny, you will still go into every transaction with a bit of tension to start out with. Especially when you are a new buyer, sellers often ban buyers based on their usernames alone so this is something you should consider. That said, I once knew a monster of a buyer whose username was (changing slightly to protect the evil) sweetlovinggrandmother.
  • Don’t give away personal information in your username. While eBay has made strides to protect User IDs in recent history, your username is still rather public. Many people use their real name as well as real birthday in their username which is just an invitation to identity theft. Stop and think about your username before you create it.
  • Don’t tip your hat! If a buyer is bidding on a Star Wars item that I am selling and their User ID is obsessedwithstarwars, I, as the seller, have certain expectations about how they will behave. Same goes for the other buyers bidding on the item with you. While this may not bother you, it is something to consider if you prefer the dark horse method of bidding where you don’t show all your cards right away.
  • Generic names can be good or bad, depending on what you are after. As I mentioned above, your username is your eBay identity throughout the entire site. You want the sellers you like and the friends you’ve made to be able to recognize your name with they see it. (“Oh, there is my old chum 91735872!”) Now, on the flip side, if you do not plan on getting involved in the community of eBay at all, this may be just want you want so as to remain anonymous so this can also be a good strategy.

How did you come up with your username?