The Best Online Swap Sites
This article shares tips from the 16th episode of Dealista,our podcast that'll help you get more for less.
Buying new is so pre-recession, and with so many online swap sites available for the picky trader, there’s no excuse not to get out there and start trading your excellent-condition, used items for something of equal value. We’ve already covered a handful of the best clothing swap sites around (check out these 5 favorites of our own Xin Lu), and in a recent Dealista episode, we dig a bit deeper to cover makeup, books, and video games, too!
Here’s the scoop on the rest of our top picks.
While some people will get icked out by the thought of trading makeup, there really is no better way to snag those hard-to-find and discontinued items that you find yourself unable to live without. MakeUp Alley has over a thousand new items added daily, making this free-to-register site a legit way to score that certain shade of blush you thought you’d never find again. New products, samples, and slightly-used items are the norm here, although we highly recommend you steer clear of anything that appears gross. (Used mascara is always a no-no. It’s a common way to get an atrocious eye infection.)
Monthly book rental sites are hot markets right now, but why pay even $10 to read someone else’s cast-offs? With BookMooch’s totally free swap interface and so many listings to choose from, you can read for the cost of media mail postage — and nothing more! Those with extra books lying around and no interest in accumulating more may find their donation program a good fit. (You can donate your used books to charities like African Literacy and children’s hospitals!)
Ever since CD Warehouse went bust, many of us have sadly been unable to dump our used CD’s and DVD’s anywhere they may be wanted. SwapTree has super-intuitive free swap system, however, there is a slightly less-slim chance that someone out there may want your used copy of 80’s hair band ballads. Throw in the ability to trade video games and books, and you have yourself the all-in-one site for entertainment swapping! Just trade items of like-value, and skip the need for complicated transactions. As long as the items are worth the same, they can be traded outright for the cost of shipping (books for DVD’s, for example).
Before your drop $40 on that genius-baby babble toy, see if you can get it for free! Zwaggle guarantees that even if your little Einstein doesn’t like it, you’re out nothing more than the cost of shipping. With free sign up and trading points that can be earned and used for redemption on baby clothes, toys, books, swings, and nursing accessories, it’s just like a baby consignment sale without the high markup and piles of unmarked onesies. The built-in FedEx shipping tool makes sending and tracking easy (you’ll never wonder if your package made it there), and a charity option lets you donate your earned points to causes that help kids so that they can shop for free! (New users get points just for signing up.)
SwapBabyGoods is another wonderful option for parents on a budget. This swap site lets those without anything to trade get in on the action, too! See something you like? You may be able to buy it outright, making it a perfect option for those who don’t want to wait around until they’ve given things away.
Ready to trade? Read these additional quick and dirty tips for getting the most out of swap sites.
Research, Research, Research.
Swap sites can be a dime a dozen, making it hard to tell which ones are on the up-and-up. Use your instincts and steer clear of anything that doesn’t show much activity and a limited number of new listings. (The same goes for traders, who only have feedback to give them credibility. If you can’t find anything positive about a trader, don’t swap with them!)
Keep it safe.
Even though you’re not using cash to make a purchase, common sense should be used to keep your personal and financial info away from those who may use it for evil. Keep your screen name unlike your real name and avoid posting anything too personal to your profile (pictures really don’t have to be used). Sites that handle shipping for you are a good bet for keeping your info more private, as well.
A photo is worth a thousand words, and many people prefer listings that use them to explain the condition of an item. The more complete a description, the more you have to go on, so avoid listings that appear confusing or don’t explain anything about the item to be traded. Swaps should be treated like a sale!
Use common sense.
Don’t ever swap disposable items that aren’t in their original packaging and wash clothing items as soon as you receive them. If you get something that isn’t in the condition promised (or arrives broken or damaged) go back to the trader to find a reasonable solution. Most sites don’t offer a formal grievance process, so be prepared to handle disputes on your own.
If you enjoyed these tips you can find more in our show's archive.