Swap and save doesn't just apply to supermarket loyalty cards. Thanks to the frugal and green movements, more consumers are opting to swap their unused items, rather than go through the hassle of a garage sale or the expense of tossing them into the county landfill.
As a result, swap and barter websites have become vastly more popular than in their early days. We found 40 that allow you to trade just about everything, including services and jobs. Before we begin the list, however, here are a few tips for safer swapping.
And now to our list of 40 websites. Please note none trade in X-rated or adults-only materials.
Users can buy and sell just about anything, but bartering and swapping are also encouraged. This bare-bones, barter-matching website connects people in a radius of up to 400 miles from your home. As the site managers say, "It's free because (we're) not gold diggers." You can check out user reviews before interacting and contact the sellers before initiating a transaction. Trades are transacted face-to-face as the administrators avoid handling money.
The cashless Barter Quest offers the added feature of verifying users for member security. Matches for haves and wants are instantly made and you can trade nearly everything internationally. Negotiating is entirely up to users and availability for everything from services to computers to jewelry. Trades can be made between two people or multiple parties, all coordinated by Barter Quest. Members are charged a one-time verification fee before trading and there are fees for the transfer or redemption of "sale points," the site's non-cash exchange currency.
BookMooch approaches swapping very simply; give away books you don't need and get books you want for free. The service is free and sellers receive points for each item sold, which they turn around for more books. It's an endless cycle, but voracious readers will love it.
A mash-up between social media and swapping websites, BuyersTap allows you to buy and sell items using "Trade Credits." The site also lets you connect with friends, update your status, share pictures and videos, join groups with like interests and more.
Swap: Items, services or real estate
Sick of your home? CareToTrade allows you to arrange a trade deal without the expense of a realtor. The site also helps you barter your services for items or other services. Finally, you can arrange swaps for just about any category. Each post includes the exchange value and there's an escrow system for trades not performed face to face.
Keep your products to yourself; this is a barter-for-service site and they have a Neanderthal attitude about those trying to sell something. Still, swapping services is nothing at which to be sneezed. As with Craigslist, offers are divided into states, regions and services offered. Categories include beautification, domestic service, labor, hi-tech, business, legal, child, arts, and event planning. There's also a section for car pooling.
In a nutshell, you swap coupons for coupons or buy them from other members. The site purports to be the largest exchange club for everything from grocery coupons to furniture coupons.
What frugal list is complete without a Craigslist mention? While the majority of transactions on this free website are monetarily based, you'll find a "barter" section under the "For Sale" tab. Trades tend to be quite unusual, as in the recent offer of hunting equipment for an iPad. There's an interesting proposition.
Swap: Anything, including services
This altruistic site envisions "a world without money." Trades can include pre-made or homemade products and sections are divided into Moms, Motors and Healthcare. Don't have a skill to trade? Favor Pals allows you to swap for everything from moving furniture to party assistance.
Swap: Digital files
Here's an unusual one, but it's still basically a swap site. Upload anything to this site -- like photos, wallpaper, audio files, videos, or just pdf and text files -- then receive a random download in return.
This well-known wep site is really more of a give-away service. Grassroots developed and entirely nonprofit, Freecycle connects those who want to give away something -- from autumn leaves to goats -- with those who need leaves and goats. The goal is to recycle and repurpose while keeping stuff out of the landfill. Each group is moderated by local volunteers and membership is entirely free.
Gift Card Granny
Swap: Gift cards
Most sites don't allow users to buy, sell or trade gift cards because they're considered second-kin to cash. GiftCardGranny.com, however, allows you to buy and sell discount gift cards at up to 50-percent off the face value. It's a great place to dump unwanted cards and buy those to merchants you prefer.
Swap: Games and movies
This highly active trade community specializes in games and movies for all platforms. Fans can rate their purchases, chat with other game and movie fans, and receive bonus points towards future games and pre-releases. The community page also allows users to share information about game nights and something called the Goozex Olympics. Goozex charges $1.99 per swap.
Swap: Vacation homes
Need a vacation but can't afford hotels? The website allows you to swap homes, yachts, RVs or whatever space and location suits your fancy. A three-month membership is free, then the basic annual fee of $9.95 per month gets you unlimited inquiries and access to member-only features, including notifications of potential exchanges in your desired location.
Swap: Vacation homes
Exchange your home for another in more than 70 countries with no charge for the service. Users upload personal info, details of the swap, desired swap dates and locations, and lots of photos. The English-language site is worth a look just to see some beautiful homes around the world. The itamos service is connected to social networking so users can exchange with friends-of-friends and endorsed contacts. The most popular home exchanges are between the U.S., Paris, Amsterdam, London, Barcelona and Berlin.
Post an offer, invite family and friends to swap, and encourage others to help you go green. The Linux-powered site is free and also links up traders for face-to-face exchanges.
List a Wish
Swap: Family stuff
This social networking website allows women to trade products for themselves, their families and their homes. In an altruistic vein, List a Wish also bands together to help needy families and allows women to emotionally support each other. Users earn Karma Points for interaction and quality of trades.
This auction site allows you to earn credits for giving away your extra stuff and then use them to win stuff you want. Receive 400 credits automatically when you register and another 100 after listing your first auction. You can also earn credits for inviting friends to join and connecting with Facebook and Twitter. The site is definitely G rated, with an extensive posted list of prohibited items.
Swap: Makeup, perfumes and other personal-care products
Did you ever buy a powder pack or lipstick only to find it just didn't work with your coloring? Then this site might be right up your alley. While it might sound a bit gross to use someone else's makeup, the savings well make it worth getting over that ick factor. (Just NEVER someone else's mascara!) Members swap for points towards future purchases. MakeupAlley is actually more of a community than a swap site as it also allows members to review products, trade tips and participate in message boards.
As with many of these sites, this service uses a point-driven system in which members earn a point for sending in books and are charged a point for receiving books. With over three-million titles available, however, there's little chance of getting stuck with points because you can't find a desirable book. Membership is free. but PaperBackSwap does solicit donations.
Swap: Women's clothing, accessories and (go figure) textbooks
This online Mecca for fashion hounds allows users to trade online for clothing and accessories (with the occasional textbook thrown in). This virtual thrift store allows members to swap clothing and accessories while chatting about fashion. You can exchange items in person, if your swap-partner lives nearby. There's lots of member interaction, in which fashionistas can create a profile page, ask each other questions, post photos of their finds, and generally keep in touch with like-minded gals.
If you're unemployed with time on your hands or simply in need of some help, Skills2Barter encourages users to join the "cashless economy" with a free account that allows you to swap your skills and services with like-minded individuals.
Swap: Books, games, music, movies and clothing.
Trade media (games, books, music and movies) in "Swap Media." Refresh your wardrobe at a local swap meet through "Swap Events." Swap.com also is in the process of developing "Swap Market," where you'll be able to swap anything with anyone, notify your Facebook friends of exchange desires; and review what your friends have and want.
Swap a DVD
In short, film fans trade DVDs for preferred discs. You'll find an intuitive search engine similar to IMDB.com, which allows you to search by title, keyword, actors or directors. Can't find the title you want? Simply place it on your Wish List and the service will notify you when it's available. Credits are issued and deducted for swapped titles and shipping is paid for by the seller.
Users post an item they don't want and receive coupons, which they can then swap for stuff posted by other members. There are no fees involved as the site is paid for through advertising.
SwapAce allows users to negotiate, trade, buy and sell just about anything, including services. The site design is a thing of usable beauty, which is rare among swap sites. Listings top 80,000 items from more than 200,000 users in over 150 countries.
Swap Baby Goods
Swap: Baby goods
Raising a child is expensive and particularly so during the first couple years. Swap Baby Goods is free and designed to handle all aspects of babyhood as well as motherhood. Parents can buy, sell or swap baby items they no longer need.
Swap: Goods, cars, services and homes
SwapDen advertises itself as a 100-percent free online swap meet with the motto, "Your money's no good here." In a twist from other sites, you can sign up to receive SMS text message alerts for items on your Wish List.
Swap: Clothing, accessories and cosmetics
This international fashion website claims to offer 100 percent sustainable items, but that's difficult to verify. Now in its sixth year, the club has more than 40,000 members around the world, including Oprah Winfrey and Jessica Simpson, and over a million swap items. All trading is strictly one-on-one and no points or swap bucks are involved. If the person you contact doesn't see any items in your profile they want, then it's no deal. There are no user reviews but members can endow tokens indicating the swapee is trustworthy.
This bartering site allows members to give away nearly anything and receive transferable points for items they desire, ranging from antiques and tickets to sporting goods and electronics. New members receive $25 worth of points upon registering. A search tool allows you to find traders in your region with whom to barter.
Swap: Video games
SwitchGames calls itself a "Peer to Peer Gamer Revolution." Members sell and trade directly with gamers (instead of dealing with trade-in credits), then pay a 10-percent commission and a mailing-label fee of $2.95. Delivery is guaranteed on all purchases or your money back. The site owners hope to add the trading of consoles and accessories in the future.
You must have an .edu email address to rent out books to other students, receive payment, then withdraw the money or use it as credit for your own purchases. At the end of the semester, textbooks fly back to their owners for free. You can also track offers and requests via Twitter.
TGN (aka Trade Games Now)
Swap: Video games
Once you've "pwned" a game, it's time to move onto the next challenge. TradeGamesNow is a free trading site that provides members with tools for trading their played-to-death games, DVDs and music for new titles. TGN is very firm in requiring members only swap original published materials.
The Title Trader website allows members to swap items for "Request Credits," but you can also pay cash for desired listings. Standard trading is free, but users can now pay a $19.95 fee for such Premium Features as buddy lists and a daily newsletter. Mailing is the sender's responsibility, although you can track UPS deliveries for 18 cents per shipment.
Swap: Anything, including real estate
Another all-purpose site, Trade Attic allows members to swap everything from kids stuff to real estate. As an added attraction, members can offer their services to other users. Listing is free, although you'll pay $1.95 for better placement or $4.95 for a featured-ad status.
Swap: Anything, including real estate
Standard listings and registration are free on Trade Away, where you can sell, buy and trade auction style for nearly everything imaginable. Trades can be bartered for cash or TradeCredits, which you can spend immediately or keep for future use.
Trade for Travel
Swap: Donations for a Dominican Republic vacation
Here's an interesting concept in charity giving: Donate your materials and/or time to help schools in the Dominican Republic and cut the cost of your visit by 10 percent to 50 percent. The do-gooder system is possible thanks to villa and hotel owners on the island.
Swap: Anything, including services
This freebie allows users to sell or barter items or services in a wide variety of easy-to-search categories. Members can pay in a direct swap or with cash. There's also a student-only section. The site is strictly G rated and doesn't allow exchanges or sales of weapons, alcohol, tobacco, etc.
This free service allows members to barter, swap or sell normal and strange stuff, like businesses, farming equipment, precious metals and livestock. The site serves only as an intermediary, allowing you to post products or services and, when the deal is accepted, receive the contact information of the buyer or seller.
No barters, commissions or currencies are involved in U-Exchange trades. This multi-national site allows users to search by local or international traders, as well as by keyword. Privacy is guaranteed and each member is given a homepage that's password protected. U-EX charges no commission, preferring to pay for the service through advertising.
Swap: Baby stuff
Zwaggle calls itself a "sharing" site that allows parents to exchange gently used baby products for points (or Zoints). Member information remains confidential unless the user prefers to make it public. The inventory ranged from nursery decor to clothing and baby gear. Zwaggle also offers a method to connect with community sites and write product reviews. You can also donate your Zoinks to local and national charities for a tax deduction. Members receive 25 Zoints upon registering and an integrated FedEx tool makes it easy to calculate shipping costs. Members also can set up a Zwaggle Group, in which they offer swap items only to family and friends, instead of the website's entire population.