There”s a new Internet trend “swapping” the country. Thanks to the green movement and a soured economy, it”s become cool to swap, trade and barter for products, services and even real estate. Many websites avoid cash exchanges entirely, preferring a system in which members sell an item for points, which they then can use to make purchases.
Few of these sites have complex designs — think Craigslist — but don”t be swayed by their simplicity; attractive formatting doesn”t necessarily mean the deals are fewer or lousier. In fact, some of the most basic sites are also the most popular.
An extensive examination of available services turned up the top 10 worthy of your attention. Most are non- or minimal-profit and all are G-rated. That means alcohol, tobacco and other adult products are prohibited from swapping sites.
BookMooch has to be the cutest site with its illustrations of gowned bookworms and jogging books. The free service works on a non-monetary system in an endless cycle of earning and spending points. The process is perfect for voracious readers who simply can”t throw away a book, whether they liked it or not. BookMooch pays its bills by tapping into the Amazon.com book database, allowing them to receive a commission for every book bought via these links.
2. Caveman Trading
Caveman Trading takes a Neanderthal stance on paying for something they believe should be free. Free membership allows users to swap any service they wish to offer, from domestic labor and high-tech assistance to childcare and event planning. Ads run for 600 days at no charge and are listed by state, region and category.
This is a great service if you”re a coupon addict. Members simply swap those they don”t need for those they want. Claiming to be the largest exchange club, Couponless deals in everything from grocery to furniture coupons.
4. Gift Card Granny
Swap: Gift Cards
Many non-monetary sites ban gift card swaps because they consider them just plastic cash. The well-reputed site lets you sell cards you don”t want and buy discount cards from merchants you prefer and save up to 45 percent on over 15,000 gift cards from a wide variety of retailers. Gift Card Granny has even created an intuitive step by step guide on how to sell your gift card.
Swap: Games and Movies
The most active video-game-trading community offers games and movies for all platforms and formats. The easily searched site is run on a point system, but you”ll pay Goozex $1.99 per swap. Lots of extras are included, like seller ratings, chat rooms, and pre-release buying opportunities. The community page includes information on gaming nights and something they call the Goozex Olympics.
6. Home Exchange
Swap: Vacation Homes
Sick of staycations? Want to live like a local, rather than a tourist? Home Exchange may be the best frugal way to see the world. Members can swap homes, RVs, yachts or any other living space. The site boasts more than 40,000 listings in 143 countries. Your first three-months of membership are free so you can test out the service. After that, you”ll pay $9.95 per month for unlimited inquiries and access to such member-only features as instant notification of desired swap offers.
This auction-oriented site allows members to earn credits by selling unwanted stuff, which they can then turn around to buy other stuff. There are lots of opportunities to earn extra points, including 400 credits for registering, 100 for listing your first auction, and various numbers of points for spreading the word via Twitter and Facebook.
8. Rehash Clothes
Swap: Women”s Clothing, Accessories and, umm, Textbooks
This online Mecca for fashion hounds allows users to trade clothing, accessories and, for some reason, textbooks. You can exchange items in person, if your partner lives nearby, or deliver through your preferred shipping service. There”s lots of member interaction, in which fashionistas can create a profile page, ask questions, post photos of their finds, and generally keep in touch with like-minded gals.
Swap: “Anything for Anything”
Swap, buy, sell and meet other swap fans through this well-designed website with over 80,000 items and 200,000-plus members in over 150 countries. Users create a wish list of wants and needs (including products, services, jobs, events and activities), then advertise or make an offer on their desired listing.
Swap: Baby stuff
Zwaggle is a “sharing” service connecting parents who want to exchange gently used baby gear. The system is based on points (or Zoints) and member information remains confidential, unless the user prefers to go public. You also can create a Zwaggle Group, which allows you to advertise swaps only to family and friends, instead of the website”s entire population. If your baby no longer needs infant supplies, the service helps you donate unused Zoints to nonprofits for a tax deduction.
About Andrea Woroch
Andrea Woroch is a consumer and money-saving expert for Kinoli Inc. and is available for in-studio, satellite and/or Skype interviews and to write guest posts or articles. As a nationally recognized media source, Andrea has been featured on NBC”s Today Show, Good Morning America, New York Times, Kiplinger Personal Finance, CNNMoney and many more. To view recent interviews or for more savings tips visit AndreaWoroch.com or follow her on Facebook and Twitter.