What they trade: Books
The rules: BookMooch is a point-driven book community that lets members trade books for free. You earn points when you give books away (one point) and lose points when you "mooch" a book from someone (minus one point). If you're looking for foreign-language books, members can also give and receive books outside of the U.S. (You earn three points when you mail a book internationally and lose two points when you receive an international book.) Alternatively, members can score points for donating books to charities or schools. Any book you receive is yours to keep or trade. Postage is the sender's responsibility.
What they trade: Books
The rules: With over three million books available, PaperBackSwap is one of the largest online book-sharing communities. Like BookMooch, the site revolves around a point-driven system wherein members gain a point for sending books and lose a point for receiving books. Although membership is free, PaperBackSwap may solicit donations and shipping is again the member's responsibility. In addition to book trading, PaperBackSwap stresses the community aspect of its site and features members forums with the ability to send private messages to other members.
What they trade: Video games, accessories, and consoles
The rules: Tired of being ripped off at the store? SwitchGames is a trade-in center for gamers who want to trade their used video games, consoles, or accessories. The site allows members to earn achievement badges for their positive ratings and successful trades. The site has a heavy community feel with the ability to chat, create Buddy Lists, and customize your member page. Trading, however, isn't always on a 1-for-1 basis. For instance, you can trade two or more items for a game that you really want. Although the site will let you trade Wii, Playstation 3, or Xbox 360 games, the majority of content revolves around the Xbox 360.
Swap a DVD
What they trade: DVDs
The rules: This online mecca for moviegoers lets its users trade their old DVDs for movie titles they want. The site has an excellent search engine that lets you search for DVDs by actor, title, director, or keyword. If you can't find the movie you want, you can add it to your Wish List and Swap a DVD will e-mail you when it becomes available. The site also has a Netflix-like queue that tells you when your DVD is being shipped. Most DVDs can be swapped for 1 credit, although some may cost more. Members earn credits by sending their DVDs to other members. Shipping is paid for by the sender, although the site helps you print shipping labels.
What they trade: CDs, DVDs, books, electronics, clothing, tools, more
The rules: In addition to movies and CDs, Title Trader lets its members swap PC components, tools, toys, and apparel. The site works on a point system, although members are also allowed to buy items from each other. Shipping is the sender's responsibility and the site offers UPS delivery confirmation for an additional $0.18. A premium upgrade ($19.95/year) gives members access to Title Trader's daily newsletter, buddy lists, and a lifetime "Premium" status.
What they trade: Apparel, CDs, books, DVDs
The rules: According to Rehash, the average American throws away 67.9 lbs. of clothing a year. In an effort to curb that number, Rehash has created a virtual thrift store where members can talk fashion and swap clothes without spending a dime. You're allowed to offer more than one item per swap if there's something you really like. In addition, members can choose to swap in person (if they live locally) or via their preferred carrier. (Rehash takes a very hands-off approach to shipping.) The site has a heavy online community and members can participate in forums, ask fashion questions, post photos, and create a profile page.
The above sites are only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to online swapping sites. Although you could make more money on places like eBay, it's the trade incentive and in some instances, the community feel, that draws people to these sites.
Louis Ramirez is dealnews' Features editor.