When people ask questions about how I obtain so many coupons for various products, I share with them that one of the many ways I obtain coupons I need is to trade coupons online. Coupon trading opens me up to an entire pool of coupons that I might not have access to, or which I might have to pay for from a clipping service. It also enables me to pass on to other coupon users those coupons that I do not need, but which may benefit their savings. Provided you keep in mind a few simple guidelines, coupon trading can be a beneficial addition to your couponing practice.
Coupon Trading Sites
The easiest way to being trading coupons is to join one of the coupon trading sites. I joined one when I first started out. It was nothing more than a bulletin board attached to a coupon site I visited. I found coupon trading to be a lot of fun and I anticipated receiving envelopes of needed coupons arriving in the mailbox nearly every day. Eventually, as the site grew busier, the owner added a forum, and I became a moderator there. I have learned a great deal about coupon trading and how to handle situations that don’t turn out as planned. When first starting to trade coupons, I would recommend that most people do this. While there are independent trading groups also online, there is more risk involved. On a moderated site, the benefit is having a facilitator available to help when problems arise. Also, on a moderated site, friendships tend to form and that also provides a level of protection. There are often ratings systems and if a member gets enough negative ratings they are not permitted to continue trading coupons on the site.
Independent Coupon Groups
Sometimes, there are independent coupon groups on social networks like Facebook, who set up with the primary goal of providing a place for virtual strangers to trade coupons. I would recommend only experienced couponers use these sites. It’s far more like the Wild, Wild West. You are on your own, and there is no moderation and no relationship, so if there are issues there is little recourse. However, I know many people who have used them with varying degrees of success. This group is dependent on people engaging in the honor system, so most people are honest in their dealings otherwise they get a negative reputation, the group gets a negative reputation and the group will eventually lose enough members to shut down, so there is some protection there. It is in the interest of the group to trade coupons constructively.
Some Tips On Coupon Trading
1. Be prompt & accurate when you trade coupons. Respond to emails and messages quickly, within the same day if possible, even if the answer is no, you do not wish to trade coupons with that individual. Keeping your word is crucial to building good coupon trading relationships.
2. Privacy is important. Do not exploit your trading partners’ personal information. For those have concerns about sharing a home address with someone you do not know well, a post office box is recommended.
3. Follow up regarding your trade. Let your coupon trading partner know that you have mailed your agreed-upon coupons. Let them know also when their envelope to you has arrived, and that the trade is complete. If there are any delays or developments regarding the coupons, be sure to let the other person know. If there is a ratings system or feedback system in place, use it. Good communication is the essence of effective coupon trading.
4. Many people throw in ‘extras’. ‘Extras’ are coupons that aren’t in the agreed upon trade, but which you think your coupon trading partner might like or enjoy. It’s a nice touch, but not necessary. If you decide to do this, try to avoid sending coupons that are clearly not on your coupon trading partner’s ISO list. If they don’t have kids, don’t send kid-friendly coupons as it seems like you are just dumping them off on someone else. ‘Extras’, when done right, give people an impression of good faith, thoughtfulness and generosity, especially if you have not traded coupons with them before. No more than 1-3 is necessary, and more is considered extremely generous.
5. Remember that if you engage in bad practices, such as photocopying coupons, and you trade them to others that they can be affected by such behavior, as can you. Also, remember you are vulnerable to others for their trades. Some people suggest not trading internet printables for this reason, but I believe it is up to each individual to decide what coupon trading they will engage in. Do what feels most comfortable.
And there you have it! Coupon trading, when done properly and honestly, is a great way to add unique or otherwise unavailable coupons to your stash. I like to trade coupons, not only for the variety, but for the relationships that can result and the savings, too!