SWAP COUPONS THAT YOU WON’T BE USING FOR ONE’S THAT YOU WILL
Trading coupons is nothing new to the veteran Canadian coupon saver but if you are new to using coupons let me show you how to maximize your coupon savings.
Many years before we started this blog we were what many people in Canada would consider extreme couponers but nothing like what you see on the American programs.
Our pantry was stocked and our cold room was filled top to bottom with everyday items that we used from grocery to health and beauty products.
Coupon Trading 101
What is coupon trading?
In a nutshell coupon trading in Canada is exchanging coupons for coupons whether it be in person or by mail.
Back in 2010 which is when we were in the middle of the coupon craze of extreme couponing in Canada things got a bit nutty. Coupon trading also consisted of trading for stamps although I’m not sure if this is still practice these days.
The idea of the stamps came into play when the person who wanted a coupon you had but nothing to offer you back.
Trading coupons for money is a no-no so permanent Canadian stamps seemed to be reasonable since you have to mail coupons to those you are trading with. Some people even go as far as to trade for gift cards because technically it’s not money.
Another thing to consider is the cost of stamps when trading coupons which is why most people, us included had a minimum trade limit of at least $10 to make it worthwhile. Anything under that meant we were wasting our time trading coupons unless they were free product coupons.
One thing I want to point out from the start is that there are ethical and non-ethical ways when it comes to coupon trading and the first one is not to trade for money. Coupons are not money and should not be sold for money. As far as I’m aware trading coupons is legal as is sharing your coupons with friends and family.
I’m almost betting that the manufacturer wants you to do this because this is the way word of mouth advertising is supposed to work.
You take a coupon and share it with someone and they get to learn about a product they may not have heard of before or are interested in trying but can’t find a savings coupon to lower the price.
Either way, its smart marketing for the manufacturer and they aren’t going to chase down free marketing from that perspective.
Almost every coupon has some form of disclaimer on the back and since 2010 when we were heavily into using coupons and coupon trading we’ve seen manufacturers increase the disclaimer to include product sizes and better explanations.
Back then it was not black and white when it came to understanding the meaning of a coupon so it was left open to interpretation which meant the consumer was often arguing their point with a cashier or store manager.
Example: One coupon per purchase does not mean the customer can only use one coupon per order. It means that for every product they buy a coupon can be applied to that specific product.
Then there were the coupons that had no specific expiry date that turned into a song and dance but later confirmed to mean there was simply no expiry. Common sense really but as a cashier I can understand wanting to make sure how coupons work before accepting them.
Even with coupon trading many traders want to see a photo of the coupon so they can read exactly what it says on it. Back when we were coupon trading we just typed out the specifics but with smartphones everything about coupon trading has increased transaction time.
Where do you trade coupons?
The best place to trade coupons is with friends and family in your area. We would meet up with a group of other friends who used coupons at a coffee shop and go through our binders together and trade coupons.
Staring a coupon exchange club in the area you live is a brilliant way to meet new like-minded money-saving friends and to swap coupons.
You can also join online forums at one of the best coupon sites in Canada called Smart Canucks where we did almost all of our online coupon trading.
Sourcing online coupon trading groups on Facebook, Twitter, Reddit and other social media platforms is also very common.
We would list all of the coupons we had on our profile or in a forum thread that we could adjust as they were traded. Another thing we did was that we created a wish list of coupons so others who were trading coupons could see what coupons we were really looking for.
With this kind of coupon trading you would post coupons in the mail and in return get what you asked from from the other trader.
This helped ease the process of back and forth messages when you could see what people wanted.
Finding Canadian Coupons
You can find paper coupon offline in many place around Canada and in some cases they are hidden so you have to watch out for them.
Here are some of the places you will find paper Canadian coupons that you can trade.
- Direct mail
- Grocery store coupon board
- Grocery aisles
- Product packaging (ex: General Mills Coupons on Cereal boxes)
- Direct from the company (call or email them)
- Phone books
- Flyer inserts (Smart Source, Brandsaver etc.)
- Printable coupons
- Discount coupons
Basically anywhere that a manufacturer can advertise you can find coupons so always keep your eyes open.
If the plan is coupon trading then you will want to keep your eyes open for paper coupons. These days you will still find lots of paper coupons but not as many as there were back 10 years ago since the arrival of rewards programs and coupon apps have flooded the online market.
Even so paper coupons in Canada are still flowing and worth the money if you find coupons that you will use or that you can swap by coupon trading with others.
As I mentioned briefly above stay away from trading printable coupons, scanning them or anything of that sort as it’s a big no-no.
Printing for coupon trading
These days manufacturers use coupons printing services online which only allow the person to print x amount of coupons set out by the manufacturer and they come with a unique code.
This prevents people from photocopying them for multiple uses which they were not intended. Even so there are those sketchy people who do this and in essence screw the system for everyone else who tries coupon trading the right way.
People will still trade them as I don’t think anyone will stop them unless they start to ask for identification for those printable coupons with the person’s name on it.
Coupon trading is supposed to be a simple way of sharing coupons that you won’t use and not a means of taking over the job of the manufacturer to market the coupon.
Consider what they had to go through to put the coupon out there and why they may have chosen specific areas or climate times for that coupon. There’s always a plan behind everything and reasons for what they do and for that it costs money.
There are do’s and don’t when it comes to collecting coupons in Canada.
- Don’t take all of the coupons (2-4 coupons is reasonable)
- Don’t steal flyers or flyer inserts
- Do ask for extra flyer inserts from friends, family or paper carrier. Sometimes apartment buildings have extras you can ask the superintendent for.
- Collect coupons even those you know you won’t use especially if they are high value coupons
- Insert the coupons you will use into your coupon binder by category. We used hockey card plastic sleeves that we purchased from the Dollar Store and dividers. Each part of our binder was product specific such as Dairy, Produce, Laundry, Cereal, Pet etc. You can name your coupon categories as you wish.
How to create a coupon list and a wish list
The coupons that you won’t use set them aside and then categorize them so you know what you have. It makes things far easier when coupon trading when you can find what you need fast.
Some coupon trading pros also use an excel spreadsheet or word document where they type in all of the coupon information so they can easily locate it without having to go through their binder.
Ideally whatever makes coupon trading organization easy for you I’d say approach it from that perspective as there are no hard and fast rules.
The other bonus to typing out what coupons you have and the expiry date is that you can easily copy and paste the information if you are coupon trading online with someone.
Even better would be to send the entire spreadsheet so the other person you are trading coupons with can look at everything you have to offer.
You could even use Google Documents or other online data bases that are free to document all of your coupons and send a link to those you plan to trade coupons with.
This cuts down on communication time as you’re not spending time with back and forth messages to your coupon trading partner.
Back in the days when we were coupon trading on Smart Canucks we typed out every coupons into our SC profile so anyone visiting could vies what coupons we had to offer up for trade.
These coupons will be the coupons you offer to others who can use them so you can request coupons from them that your family will use.
It’s a great way for you to save money on everyday grocery and personal items above and beyond typical flyer sales and rewards programs offered by Canadian grocery stores and manufacturers.
Coupon Trading Tips
- Only offer the original coupon
- Only offer unused coupons
- Only offer coupons that are not expired
- Only offer coupons available for use where the person lives
- Never send money and be cautious if you buy and sell coupons on Ebay or other platforms
- Be cautious if sending gift cards for coupons
- Always share all of the coupon details with the person you are trading with before accepting a trade.
- If you’re not sure about the weight of the envelope get it weighed for accurate postage at Canada Post.
- Post your coupons as soon as possible so there are no delays.
A happy trade involves proper etiquette and making sure they arrive on time.
In the event coupons go missing it’s tough to figure out a solution but that’s up to the individuals who trade. Sometimes you may find yourself in a pickle and you’re S.O.L.
There’s no insurance when it comes to coupon trading.
Coupon trains start out with a conductor which is the person who created the train who then adds passengers. They get to add as many passengers as they’d like but keeping it low means coupons get around faster.
The idea of the train is that the conductor creates a set of rules that everyone must follow and then stuffs the envelope with unused coupons that are not close to expiry.
- Not more than two of the same coupons should be included (read your train conductor rules)
- Long expiry dates and Canadian coupons only
- Read wish lists of the train passenger and conductor
- Keep the train moving as fast as possible so you don’t get pinned a slow rider by other passengers
The train conductor may ask all passengers to submit a wish list of coupons so he/she can stuff the envelope with as many of those as possible and for other passengers to use for reference.
The first person on the train stop gets the envelope and looks through the coupons to take out what they would like.
When they do this they replace what they took with the same amount of good coupons (not crappy coupons like $1 off dog food). It really all depends on the rules the conductor sets out for the coupon train.
The same mailing rules as described above apply to a coupon train. You may even have to pay in coupons or stamps to join the train ride which is part of the conductor rules. Again, there is no insurance on these coupon trains if the train stalls at stop or goes missing. It’s all risk.
Virtual Wish Train (VTR)
We joined many virtual wish trains over the years which are popular mostly because you get what you are looking for rather than an envelope of coupons that you have to fish through in hopes of finding something you might like as you would on a coupon train.
Joining a Virtual Wish Train meant that you could join a train that was coupon specific ie: Dog Food, Health and Beauty or mixed bag of wish list coupons for trading.
Once you have your wish list of coupons that you REALLY want you send the list to your train conductor either by mail or computer. The train conductor then distributes your wish list to the other passengers so they can review it.
The great thing about the VTR is that you will only get the coupons on your wish list so you’re guaranteed to be a happy coupon trading experience.
In the event you don’t have certain coupons a rider requests on their wish list simply adding permanent Canadian coupons one or two would solve that problem.
I remember one coupon in particular we were collecting was the $1 off Majesta toilet paper with no stipulations as to package size. They were often on sale for $1 at the Bargain Shop which meant we got 4 packs of paper towel for free or just the taxes. Score.
We still have lots of these packages of toilet paper to use up in our basement.
Finding Canadian Coupons Online
Here are many of the most popular online sources for coupon savings and rewards programs in Canada that also help save your grocery budget money.
- Earn Extra Cash when you shop online. Sign up with EBATES Canada and receive money back when you shop! We LOVE it!
- Don’t miss the savings by signing up for Checkout51 and other Coupon Apps.
- Honey Honey is a browser extension that automatically finds and applies coupon codes at checkout with a single click.
- Great Canadian Rebates
- My Points All payouts are made through gift cards to Amazon or other leading retail companies.
- Go Coupons
- Snap Groupon
- Receipt Hog
Aside from the above paper coupon trading is a lucrative money savings adventure for many people because the more money you can save the better it is for the budget. I mean, who wouldn’t want to save more money if they had the means to do so and the time?
We did and we have a full box of coupon trading envelopes to prove it. Yes, we kept all of the envelopes after a trade came in but I”m not sure why. Perhaps we thought we would look back one day to see how many coupon trades we actually did.
Hold on, let me go count because now I’m interested to know. Darn, I packed them away but once I find them I’ll come back and update this post with a photo and number.
Coupon FAQ’s and Acronyms
Understanding the online coupon lingo can be tough for a coupon trading newbie so I’ve put together a few popular coupon acronyms to get your started on your journey.
- CPN = Coupon
- CS= Customer Service
- E-Coupons=Electronic Coupons
- GC=Gift Card
- MM= Money Maker
- LC= Loyalty Card
- OOP= Out of Pocket
- OOS= Out of Stock
- PP= Purchase Price
- Peelie=Package coupon
- SCO=Self Checkout
- POP=Proof of Purchase
- MIR– Mail in Rebate
- PM= Price Match or Message me
What are high-value coupons?
High Value coupons are generally coupons that are Free or offer a high dollar amount off of a product to make it very affordable or near free.
What is an FPC?
If you see the acronym FPC that stands for Free Product Coupon or you get a free product with the coupon. In some cases you may only pay the applicable taxes.
What is BOGO?
Anytime you BOGO or B2G2, B1G1, B2G1 they simply mean Buy x amount Get x amount Free.
- Buy one get one free
- Buy 2 get one free
- Buy 3 get 2 free
I hope you learned a little bit or more than you bargained for reading my post about coupon trading in Canada because every dollar saved is a dollar you can put towards something else in your budget.
Discussion: Share your coupon trading tips and experiences below. If I’ve missed anything important I will add it into the blog post since it has been years since we’ve joined the coupon trading train.