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Seniors - Make Good Money Selling Coupons on eBay

By: Skip McGrath

Selling coupons on eBay is a great way to make extra money.  You won't get rich doing this, but you can make a few hundred extra dollars a month with very little effort.

Have you ever received a free coupon in the mail? Of course you have. I get free coupons all the time. Usually, though they are for products I am not interested in, so I do what most people do --I toss them. That is a big mistake. If you don't believe me, perform a search for "coupon" or "product check" on eBay. Be sure and use the completed items feature so you can see what they actually sold for.

This is a great part -time business for seniors. Coupons are easy to find, easy to sell and easy to ship.

My daughter-in-law, Lissa, recently presented us with a new grandchild. As a new mother she started receiving all kinds of coupons and product checks in the mail. She used a lot of them, but there were others that were for brands or items she didn't use, so she started selling them on eBay. Think about this: What other product can you get completely for free, that you can sell for hard cash. The coupon you don't want may be really important to someone else.

Where can you get coupons? First of all check your mailbox. Next there are dozens of online sites where you can register and the manufacturer will send you free coupons.  Just type "free coupons" into Google and you will get plenty or sites. The sites of the actual manufacturers are the best.  If you hit a site that wants any kind of fee, just forget it. Those are scams.  There are plenty of websites where you can print out free coupons.

Look in your Sunday newspaper and almost any magazine. Free coupons are literally everywhere around you. Don't forget to tell your neighbors and friends that you will take any coupons they don't want.  Magazines are great for coupons. If you don't subscribe to a lot of magazines, then look for them when you are waiting at the doctors or dentist.

Since my daughter-in-law, Lissa, has been doing this profitably, I asked her to write an article on her experience selling coupons. Now Lissa is not an official geezer like us and she writes mostly about her experience selling coupons related to baby items -but there are tons of coupons available in the senior market. I get them all the time. So take a look at Lissa's articles below and see if you think you can do this.

Selling Coupons on eBay

By: Lissa McGrath

As a new mother I was getting tons of coupons for baby products that I didn't use. I had seen coupons on eBay before so I decided to try selling a few of my own. Once I started I realized that it wasn't just baby coupons that were hot sellers on eBay --there are coupons for almost any item you can think of! As of this writing, there are 12,751 coupons for sale on eBay.

Before I talk about the other coupon types, let me show you the results of my six auctions this week. I sold $45.00 worth of formula retail checks which are a bit more desirable than retail coupons because you are not limited to just one per transaction. Still, I have seen just coupons selling for a decent profit too. Remember - I got all of these for free in the mail.

$ Amount of Coupons Selling Price
$18 (two x $7 and one x $4) $14.66
$5 $3.24
$5 $3.58
$5 $3.58
$7 $5.53
$5 $3.55

Retail Value: $45.00
Sold For: $34.14
eBay Fees: $5.09
Inventory Cost: $0.00
Profit: $29.05

I know $29.05 doesn't sound like a lot, but consider that it took me five minutes to write the listing and they are almost identical so I just changed the amount for each auction, and there were only six auctions. Also, there was no cost to me which is very important if you don't have a lot of money (like a new stay-home Mom or someone on a fixed income).

 My total time invested in these six auctions including photographing the items was less than 30 minutes.  So $29 for 30 minutes work didn't sound to bad.

And, as I said, it's not just formula coupons that are hot sellers. The following items are from an eBay completed items search for coupon that I performed today. I'm showing a sample, so these are by no means the only types out there.

Store/ Product Type of Coupon Selling Price on eBay
Victoria's Secret 30% off total purchase $195.00
Gymboree $250 off $500 purchase $125.00
Gymboree 20% off purchase $10.00
NY and Co $15 off $30 purchase $4.25
Bed, Bath and Beyond 20% off purchase $10.50
Home Depot 10 x 10% off purchase $50.00
Home Depot 5 x 20% off purchase $49.11
Ford $750 off 2006 Ford vehicle $50.00
Omni Hotel 50% off weekend stay $46.00
Harrah's Las Vegas 4 x $20 food voucher $45.97
Marriott Hotel Premium Pounds $152.00
Sleep Comfort 15% off sleep number bed $18.00
Seaworld 4 x 50% off admission $50.22
Starbucks 25 free drinks $67.26
Iams $6 off dog treats $3.00
Infusium (hair products) Free product $10.53
Gatorade 20 x $0.50 off product $10.10
Swiffer Free swiffer wet jet $11.50

These are just a few examples of the tens of thousands of coupons that have sold on eBay in the last two weeks. Every one of these examples was a coupon the seller likely got for free in the mail, email or by signing up for a mailing list from the company.

Coupons are the easiest items to list. All you need to include is the store/product, expiration date, restrictions, and I like to put a picture of the coupon. You only need one picture, so if you are using eBay's sell your item form or Turbo Lister, the picture is free. eBay now has free gallery photos so buyers see your pictures when they search.

As you can see from my results, it is better to list coupons as a set rather than individually. When you consider the listing and optional fees as well as the selling price, you can see that I made 74 cents on the dollar for my set of $18 worth of coupons. My $5 coupons sold for an average of $3.49 each, but after the fees that is actually only $2.75 profit, which is 55 cents on the dollar. My $7 check sold for 67 cents on the dollar.

However, if I list an individual coupon each day of the week, I have one visible low price auction "ending soon" at all times. That gets people clicking on my auctions (and hopefully clicking through to my other, more expensive, auctions). So, if you have lots of coupons available and a good number of other items listed, making a little lower profit on the coupons may be worth it in the long run.

I use an auction listing service called Auctiva at Auctiva is free and it really saves time listing things on eBay. And Auctiva gives you a free slide show gallery that rolls across the bottom of your auctions.

In the Auctiva slideshow buyers can see all of my other items. Not only does that get me multiple bids on my coupons (the six auctions I listed had only three unique buyers), but it also gets them looking at other coupons and items I may have on eBay.

Look through your Sunday paper and any magazines you get for coupons, and instead of throwing out the direct mail your mailbox is stuffed with, open it and see if there are any interesting coupons. Just because you have no use for it, doesn't mean someone else doesn't. You can also find some pretty good coupons online with a bit of searching.

I have been selling on eBay for years but had never really tried coupons. Right after I read Lissa's article I thought I would give it a try. That day I received a Valpak envelope in the mail. This is an envelope that comes every month with coupons. Most of the coupons tend to be local businesses, but there are always a few national coupons in there. When I looked inside one of the coupons was a $50 coupon good on any flight on Continental Airlines.  So I gave it a try. I put the coupon up on eBay and it sold in a 5-day auction for $23.  Because I have a pretty much full-time eBay business selling other products I don't really have the time to find and list coupons, but I keep my eyes open for easy ones like this and since then I have sold about a dozen different coupons at prices between $5 and $15 each and I sold a $50 Disneyland coupon for $22. Like I said, you won't get rich doing this, but these small amounts of money can really add up and this is a great way to earn a few hundred extra dollars a month with very little effort. Having said that, I do want to tell you that I met a woman at the eBay convention in Chicago who is a professional coupon seller who makes about $2000 a month on eBay.  I am sure she has some secrets that we don't know about, but this is probably one of those businesses that as you dive into it you learn more about it.

eBay Regulations

eBay does have some rules about selling coupons. Here is the official eBay policy on coupon sales:

The following limits are placed on the sale of coupons on eBay:

  • Expired Coupons: The sale of recently expired coupons is not permitted on eBay, as such coupons serve no valid purpose and could be used in a fraudulent manner. Collectible coupons that clearly cannot be redeemed may be permitted.
  • Electronic "scanned" coupons: All coupons sold through eBay must be physically delivered to the buyer, and may not be delivered by electronic means for home printing. Further, to reduce the potential for coupon abuse, eBay asks that sellers refrain from placing clear, unaltered scans of coupons in their listings that could be copied, printed and redeemed in stores. The sale of scanned or photocopied coupons may violate federal copyright laws, and sellers of such unlawful items could face prosecution under federal law. eBay will not tolerate such transactions through its site.
  • Bulk coupon sales: Bulk coupon listings are defined as listings that contain more than 20 coupons for the same item, or more than 100 total coupons. If it is unclear how many coupons are offered, the listing will be considered in violation. Coupon inserts (packets of coupons typically found in newspapers) are limited to a maximum of 5 per listing, unless the seller indicates in the listing that the quantity of coupons for sale is under 100 total coupons.
  • Coupons for "free" products: Coupons for free products, with no purchase required, are limited to two per listing. Internet home printed coupons are also limited to 2 per listing.


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