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In recent days, many penny auction websites have integrated some type of Buy Now feature in the majority of their auctions.

For those who are new to this concept, a Buy Now feature allows losing bidders to invest the value of their bids toward purchasing an item at retail price.

If the key industry players are incorporating this feature (and they are), is this a sign that Buy Now is a must-have for penny auction websites?

Here are some reasons why the answer may be yes:

1. Buy Now removes the risk for new bidders.
If penny auctions are to grow as a legitimate business model, they need to constantly pull in new bidders. Those new bidders, on the other hand, need a safety net. This option allows newbies to experience the competitive shopping rush without devastating losses.

2. Buy Now allows casual or budget-minded bidders to strategize.
Most bidders have a real budget that they stick to (or should stick to) each month. If bidders with financial limitations are going to continue to supplement penny auction revenues, they need the assurance of the Buy Now feature to plan and spend intelligently.

3. Buy Now negates any accusations of gambling.
Several class-action lawsuits have been filed against penny auctions with the accusation that these sites are a form of online gambling in disguise. Though the argument has some flaws to begin with, a fair Buy Now feature removes potential losses and makes it even more difficult to prosecute a website that offers you, at worse-case scenario, a purchase at retail price.

As of December 2011, these are the sites in our penny auction directory currently offering some form of Buy Now. Some Buy Now options are better than others, so read the Terms & Conditions on each site carefully.