You may or may not know about the age-old practice of bartering, but there are several sites on the Internet that could possibly save you money through the process of exchanging goods and services in lieu of monetary compensation.
Say you have web design skills but you can’t afford to buy an iPad, well you just may be able to exchange your skills for that popular mobile device. Or maybe you have a Canon camera but you’re looking to trade it for a Nikon of a similar model. Bartering websites are similar to eBay in which ads are posted for items and services of exchange. Barterers contact one another and make an offer for those exchanges. Though there is some risk involved, it’s best to start bartering on a local level where you can meet the person you’re making the exchange with. But as you will see, there are bartering sites set up that can assist in making your exchange with other barterers across the country or even around the world.
As you might expect, Craigslist is not only a free and widely known place to buy and sell goods and services, but you can actually also barter items and services on there as well.
Simply find your local Craigslist homepage and click on “Barter,” listed under the “For Sale” section. Depending on the city or town where you live, you will find a whole host of offers. In my area, barter listings included a “Car for the weekend,” a “A Beautiful Honora Pearl Necklace,” “video services,” and “baseball/softball lessons.”
When you find an item or service you’re interested in, you contact that person and make the seller or buyer an offer. Likewise you can post your own sales. In using Craigslist, depending the what you’re bartering, you might want to set up an insurance payment via PayPal, cash or cashier’s check, that is acceptable to both parties. It’s also a good idea to barter on a local level, if possible.
Swap.com is a very straightforward trading site that focuses on the trading of books, CD’s, movies, and video games. You need to be a Facebook member to register on the site. Once you’re a member, you simply create a “have list” and a “want list” of items. When you’re ready to swap, choose the item you want to trade and an email will automatically be sent to the other trader in the transaction. If the trader(s) accepts, you’ll get an email letting you know the trade is completed and you will then be provided the shipping address where you need to ship your item.
The only cost associated with swapping on Swap.com is shipping costs. Similar to eBay, members of the site are rated by other members about how fast they shipped the item and if the item was what it was described to be.
SwapTreasures.com seems to feature almost any item you may want for trade – from antiques, to electronics, to video games. You can follow SwapTreasures on their Facebook and Twitter pages, but you’re pretty much on your own when it comes to setting up a trade.
There are absolutely no sign-up fees or point systems for this site. You send or receive offers, set up the trade, and make the exchange. Each member has a membership page, and positive and negative ratings can be left about members. You can also do a search in your local area for wanted items.
U-Exchange, an international site for US, UK, and Canadian citizens, is similar to SwapTreasures. There are no membership fees involved. U-Exchange makes its revenue from advertising on the site.
As with other bartering sites, you create or respond to items you want to trade and email contacts about the trade offer. You don’t have to be a member of the site to start making contacts, but the process of contacting registered members of the site is easier if you too are signed up. Listings for this site include items and services, bartering for vacation housing, and vehicle and boat trades.
You can use the site’s Google map and keyword features to search for local listings as well. Many of the listings that I linked to didn’t include photos of items up for trade. Providing a few photos as you would on eBay is one of the best ways to get your listing responded to. U-Exchange is not a very well designed site, but its listings seem pretty wide and varied.
BarterQuest is the most well designed and active bartering site of the ones listed for review. Categories for trading items and services are varied, including cameras, furniture, sporting goods, video and computer games, and even gift certificates.
While the trading is absolutely free, you must have your account verified, which costs $9. However, this one-time verification fee is waived if you can get three of your friends to sign up on the site as well. You still can search the site before getting verified and begin making a list of the things you have to trade and another list of things you’re looking for.
BarterQuest uses a matching system to match your “have” items and services with your “wants.” The site also has a point system so that if you don’t have something of “equal value” to trade, you can use points as part of your negotiation.
One other great feature about BarterQuest are Clubs, which are focused on particular types of traders, e.g. freelancers, animal lovers, technology gurus, small business owners, book lovers, etc.
Bartering with strangers online may feel a little risky, but depending on what you’re trying to barter, the process could save you some money if you’re on a tight budget.
Let us know what you think of the online bartering system. Have you ever tried it? What were the results?
Image credit: Shutterstock.com