Why barter at all?

There are many advantages to bartering, here is a quick list:

Additional market share

Competitive advantage over those who don’t

Move idle inventory

Utilize excess capacity

No bad debt

Tap into wholesale buying power

Improve Cash Flow

Build a new network of contacts

You can also hear it from our clients' perspectives on our testimonial page.  Or fill out the meet with us form in the footer of any page and one of our barter experts will be happy to connect with you to answer your questions and provide you 20-30 minutes of free consultation about how you could incorporate barter into your business. 

I’ve swapped products and services with other businesses, why should I use Tradebank?

Tradebank has a network of over 3,000 member businesses in Canada.  Trading through Tradebank is easier than trading on your own.  We expose your business to more new prospects and help you increase your sales.  By working with us you can leverage our many years of experience in the industry.

Bartering through Tradebank removes many of the pitfalls of trading directly with another business.

Pitfalls of one to one bartering

  •  You need to find someone who has what you want and wants what you have and is open to the idea of a trade.

​Tradebank assigns you a broker whose primary responsibilities are to market your business to the network and help you utilize the barter credits (TRADEdollarsTM) to offset business and personal expenses.  Also, because you and your trading partner can bank the credit and use it with another one of the 3,000+ members, neither you nor the other party have to want what the other party has.

  • The value of the products and services being swapped need to be approximately the same value.

​Through Tradebank you can 'bank' any additional credit for the future, or if you do not have sufficient funds, we can quickly send you new business.

  • If you take something you don’t need immediately or accept a ‘credit on account’ – you may never have a use for it, or the business giving you the credit may go out of business or change ownership before you use it.

​Through Tradebank there are over 3,000+ members, so even if you do not have an immediate use, there will always be something you can use in the future.  We are also continually growing and adding members across the country, much of the growth is directed specifically to satisfy client requests.

Isn’t barter only for companies with bad cash flow?

The short answer is no.

Generally speaking we have found companies that are successful in bartering also have a healthy cash flow.   While barter can, at times, replace core costs, more often it is used to enhance businesses (and people’s lives) not save businesses from extinction.  That is not to say that bartering cannot save a business; however, you have to look at why the business is having poor cash flow and the type of expenditures they are incurring.  If they have a good product or service and just haven’t advertised enough – barter can certainly help.  Bartering can also help alleviate outstanding payables which will help cash flow.   Barter cannot fix bad management or businesses that sell products or services that are overpriced, are of low quality or are simply not a product or service that people want or need.  

Isn’t barter only for service companies?

Of course not, bartering works for any business that has excess capacity.  If a company has inventory on hand that is not moving as quickly as they would like, there is a great opportunity to barter.  

For example, a company with a million dollars of paid up inventory that is looking for a new sign.  Rather than cut a cheque for the sign, it makes more sense to trade some of the paid up inventory.

Isn’t barter only for companies with inventory?

Of course not, bartering works for any business that has excess capacity.  If a service business has un-booked time, they are better bartering the time rather than letting it expire.

Example #1 – an accountant just hired a new bookkeeper and only has their time 40% full but is paying a full time salary.  Rather than let the other 60% of the bookkeeper’s time go unbilled – it is better to trade the bookkeeping services and in exchange get business cards and office cleaning.

Example #2 – a golf course is only selling 75% of its tee times, every time a tee time is unfilled that revenue can never be recaptured.  Rather than lose that value, the golf course can trade the tee times for tent rental for a larger event.

Isn’t barter only for small companies?

No, while small companies can definitely reap the benefits of barter, it works just as well for multinational corporations.   Many of the top companies in the world do barter.  Often in a large corporate setting, bartering is known as contra.

Undervalued assets exist in every company – from idle or devalued property, plants and equipment to excess inventory, unwanted sponsorships, or underperforming business units. Instead of liquidating these assets for pennies on the dollar, companies can realize up to full value by trading them for ongoing business expenditures such as media, printing or travel.

I own a franchise, can I barter?

Yes.  If you own a franchise you should still be able to barter, so long as you make sure that you are including barter sales in your revenue when calculating your franchise royalty.  

Isn't barter just something people do under the table?

Most businesses properly report on their bartering activity - whether it is one-to-one or through an exchange.  However, undoubtedly there are many barter transactions (and monetary transactions for that matter) that go unreported. You are required by the Canada Revenue Agency to recognize one-to-one barter transactions at fair market value, which can be difficult to determine.  For Tradebank barter transactions the value is set at T$1 for $1 when calculating GST/HST/QST and for income tax purposes as well.

This means that you are not avoiding tax by bartering.  Failure to report on barter transactions can result in additional penalties and interest should you be audited in the future.  

Another side consequence of under the table transactions is that you rarely have sufficient paperwork to support warranties or your legal case should the vendor provide faulty service.  So we recommend you well document all barter transactions whether one-to-one or through an exchange and report them accordingly.

How should I price my products and services when offering them on barter?

You (and all other members of the exchange) should be pricing products and services at no more than regular fair market pricing.  Members are not required to offer sales or discount pricing on barter.  If a seller attempts to inflate a price – you should not move forward with the purchase, and contact your broker.  We cannot force the seller to sell the product to you on barter at the regular price; (i.e. they could choose not to offer the item on barter at all) however, we can let them know that they may lose their membership if they continue to attempt to inflate.

While we try our best to ensure that pricing offered on specific products and services is not out of line, we are not ‘experts’ in pricing all items (e.g. antiques, construction).  When you are making purchase that you would normally receive a quote for, obtain several quotes to make sure you are happy with the price that you are being offered.  Always remember to reflect on the cost of the quotes before making a final decision.  The barter quote might be 10% more, but still be fair and actually be a better deal.

If prices through barter are at regular retail and I can get a sale, why would I barter?

When considering whether a barter deal makes sense, it is good to know your bottom line cash price.  We don’t have 100% of the businesses in the world on board, and the Tradebank member likely will not be the cheapest from a price perspective.  Once you know your pricing, you have to consider the cost for you to earn the barter credits.   For example, if a restaurant is looking to install a new sign - they proceed to obtain 3 quotes from comparable sign companies. 

Option A = $4,000 CDN

Option B = T$5,000 TRADEdollars

Option C = $5,500 CDN

Assuming from a quality and timing perspective that they would be happy with any of the vendors, option C would be eliminated.   However, we need to convert Option B in CDN in order evaluate whether or not it is also eliminated.  In looking at a restaurant, the cash costs it would have to absorb to earn T$5,000 TRADEdollarsTM are its food & beverage (+ royalty if a franchise), and the Tradebank brokerage fee when they spend the TRADEdollarsTM.  For the example, the F&B would be approximately 40%, the royalty would be an additional 5% and the Tradebank fee would be 12.95%.

Using these figures the T$5,000 converts to $2,897.50 CDN.  (T$5000 X [40% + 5% + 12.95%])

Therefore, once converted, Option B becomes the best option – saving the restaurant $1,102.50. *

Members who do not understand or accept this concept are rarely happy traders, and generally do not become long-term members.

*Savings = Lowest Cash Price less Converted TRADEdollarTM Cost = $4,000 - $2,897.50 = $1,102.50 

I did my “barter math” and I am basically a breakeven between bartering and paying cash for a particular purchase. Are there any other advantages of bartering?

Yes, even if the barter math says you are paying slightly more cash for a product or service, you can come out ahead when factoring in increased market share and additional word of mouth traffic from the additional customers who used your business as a result of bartering.  Obviously it isn't as attractive as when the barter math says you are saving cash as well.

What happens if I no longer want an account with Tradebank?

So long as your account is in good standing, you have complete freedom to close your account at any time.   You can choose to spend out any remaining balance on your account or donate the balance to charity.  Upon going on spend out, Tradebank requires you pay the brokerage fee in full on the remaining balance.  Once these fees are paid in full, you will no longer be charged the Quarterly Maintenance Fees.

What actions can cause me to lose my membership?

In most circumstances, you will have the option to make use of any TRADEdollarsTM that are remaining in your account.  However, the following are the reasons that Tradebank would determine they no longer wish to do business with you.

#1 - Being a bad trader and potentially damaging the reputation of the exchange.   This could be a result of the following:

  • Providing poor quality products and services to other members.
  • Failure to remedy or respond to complaints from other members.
  • Attempting to inflate pricing above regular retail pricing.
  • Baiting members by offering to provide products on trade & switching to cash when they go to make the purchase.
  • Going directly in to clients to purchase on trade when they have specifically requested to be broker only.
  • Being rude to other members or Tradebank staff.

We vet businesses before they become members; however, over time businesses and their economic circumstances can change.  In the end we know that negative experiences with other members can lead to loss of good member businesses – so we would rather remove those that are not good members.

#2- Attempting to convert leads provided through Tradebank into direct trades. 

#3 - Non-payment of fees.

#4 - Bankruptcy.

Note: If for whatever reason you are non-responsive to your Tradebank broker over an extended period of time, we may archive your account.  An account that has been archived can be re-opened at any time with your TRADEdollarTM balance intact.

I am a franchisor, why should I encourage my franchisees to barter?

As a franchisor it is a good idea to encourage your franchisees to barter to help them grow their local business.  If you are a newer franchise system or entering a new market, barter can really help with market penetration and awareness.   You can choose whether or not you will accept barter credits back from the Franchisee for any portion of royalty or ad fund.  The final decision regarding accepting barter in a particular market should be the franchisees. 

We have had several franchisors offer a portion of the upfront franchise fee payable in barter over time.



What are Tradebank’s fees?

One-Time Activation Fee: $495

Brokerage Fee: 12.95% of purchases*

Account Maintenance Fee:  $25 per month, T$25 per month  

All fees are plus applicable taxes.

*Purchases are defined as TRADEdollars(R) leaving your account.

Note: There is a $20 charge for an NSF payment, and 2% per month late payment charge.  Of course you will never pay these - because your payment will clear and you will sign up for Easypay and never be late paying.


Tradebank charges the transaction fees in Canadian Dollars because like all businesses, we have costs that cannot be traded.  The largest expense in our business is our people.

Tradebank only recommends businesses take up to maximum 10% of their revenue in trade, as taking more than this can cause a burden with respect to non-tradeable costs.  Tradebank currently averages between 15-20% of our total revenue in TRADEdollarsTM from the portion of quarterly fees that is accepted in TRADEdollarsTM and TRADEdollarsTM accepted collecting what would otherwise be bad debts.

What is Easypay?

Easypay is an automatic fee payment system.  On the 20th of each month we will charge your credit card or bank account the fees that were outstanding at the end of the prior month.  For convenience and to ensure their account is good standing when they go to use the TRADEcard, most clients choose to pay via Easypay.  There is no additional charge for this service.

Going on Easypay allows you and your broker to focus on generating new business for you and turning that new business into value, not on administrative task of paying the bill.

What are TRADEdollars (Tradebank Dollars, T$’s)?

TRADEdollarsTM is the official currency of Tradebank. Trade transactions between companies are actually converted to trade credits or "TRADEdollarsTM" (one TRADEdollarTM is equal to one CDN dollar in value) and are reflected in each company's "trade account". The T$ to CDN$ conversion rate is fixed at 1:1.

Can I deposit my TRADEdollars into a Canadian registered bank?

No. The TRADEdollarTM cannot be considered legal tender, securities, commodities, and cannot be redeemed for cash through Tradebank or transferred to any other barter company or trade organization.  The only way to obtain value from a TRADEdollarTM is to use it to purchase other products and services available on the network, or you can make a donation to the Foundation.

Is my Tradebank account a receivable?

When setting your Tradebank account up in an accounting system, it should be treated the same as any bank account.  Bookkeepers that struggle with processing Tradebank transactions have usually erroneously set the account up as a receivable. 
By setting the account up as a bank account,  you can then set customers you receive through Tradebank as customers in your system, and when you invoice them, you will be able to properly process the sale in your system.   You can also set vendors up properly and pay them using the Tradebank account.   Tradebank Inc. will be a vendor with respect to the fees on your account.   In the majority of transactions, Tradebank is neither buying your products/services, or selling you a product or service.
When preparing your financial statements your bookkeeper / accountant should reclass the Tradebank balance to an ‘other asset’ class.

More on Accounting and Tax can be found on this page- click here

Do I have to have TRADEdollars in my account to make a purchase?

Yes. You must have the TRADEdollarsTM in your account to make purchases within the Tradebank Network.  You can apply for a loan should you have an immediate need and not have sufficient funds in your account.  A loan may require the payment of a financing charge, interest and/or a security deposit. 

How do I know who else is in the network?

There are multiple ways to find out who else is available on the network: you can log into www.thinktradefirst.ca and look in the directory, call your broker, attend TRADEevents and review the weekly TRADEflash. Overall, creating an open relationship with your TRADEbroker is the most effective tool. 

Every week you should scan the TRADEflash; there may be several weeks where there is nothing you are interested in, and then that next week you may see five or six things you could really use.

Can I be an exclusive vendor in a category?

Generally speaking we do not offer any vendors exclusivity.  Each region will be looking to fill their roster of clients in each category. We prefer that there be a minimum of two providers of any particular service/product.  Some categories will require there be multiple clients in a particular region (eg. restaurants) or the business will be swamped with trade customers. Typically trade business should be no more than 10% of a business’s overall revenue.

We have worked in some limited exclusivity in certain scenarios - so if you are interested, this can be part of the discussion when you "Meet with Us".  

How will you promote my products and services?

When you open a Tradebank account, there are a number of tools that you can use in order to make your trading experience successful in terms of buying and selling on the network.  All of these tools are included in our fees, there are no extra costs.

Please go to the "Trade Tools Page" CLICK HERE for more information on our tools.


What are the core trading rules?

Tradebank has established its trading rules to make the network as fair and equitable as possible for all of the members to utilize barter effectively.  

For a full set of the rules and regulations of Tradebank – please read the CARDHOLDER AGREEMENT


Here are a few of the key rules:


Client “calling statuses” are the means by which merchants want other members to contact them to arrange to buy from them.

If the seller is Broker Only, it means that any buyer wishing to make a purchase must first contact their broker to arrange the trade.  In most circumstances the broker will only be ensuring that the seller can and is willing to provide what the buyer is looking for on trade.  The specific details of the product or service would then be discussed between the clients.

If the seller is Client Call Direct, it means that the buyer can contact the seller directly and arrange the trade.  Please remember to identify yourself as a Tradebank member / client when you go to these clients.

Why aren’t all clients client call direct?

Generally speaking, the primary reason clients are Broker Only is to help control the trade business they are receiving.  Tradebank may assign Broker Only status if there are restrictions on times of service, or in the products / services offered on trade, or if they are selling a product where the demand is greater than the supply within the network (eg. hot tubs, cars).  Clients may also want to filter the clients they service through the broker.

Why should clients respect Broker Only calling status?

1)      The owner of the business may not have explained Tradebank to their staff – the salesperson at the time may inadvertently accept payment in TRADEdollarsTM not understanding that it is not a “regular” form of payment, creating confusion for you and them.

2)      The owner of the business may not feel comfortable saying “no” directly to another member, and hence, will provide goods and services that they did not actually want to sell on trade.  This can lead to the member deciding to leave the network.

3)      In high demand / short supply categories, there may be a waiting list for the product. Trying to “jump the line” is discourteous to other members.

4)      Ignoring the rule may result in your account being closed.

As a Broker Only Client, if and when approached directly - thank the member for their interest and politely refer them to a broker, then call your broker and advise them of the occurrence.    


Ideally all trades, regardless of size, would be full trade.  However once a certain dollar level is reached it can be cash flow prohibitive to offer some goods or services at full trade.  Tradebank has established $5,000 including taxes as being the threshold where a cash component can be introduced.  Please note, however, that many full trade transactions are well in excess of $5,000.  

a)      Promotes Fair Trading: This threshold helps ensure fair trading among members.  It would not be fair for a restaurant to accept full trade for a $100 meal and then have to pay 50/50 for a $100 lube and filter on their car.  The transactions are of approximately the same value and same cost of goods sold.

b)      Price Protection: Another reason that the threshold maintains fairness is in “protecting” pricing of products and services.  For the most part people will do due diligence by getting quotes etc. on purchases greater than $5,000, but are less apt to do the same on purchases less than $5,000.  Hence, there is a natural price protection through the quotation process as the buyer will be able to catch any overpricing; whereas deals that weren’t sent for independent quotes would rely on the buyer’s knowledge of “fair market” pricing for the particular purchase in question.

c)      Simplifies Transactions: Finally, it simplifies the smaller transactions, which would be cumbersome from an invoicing and recordkeeping standpoint if they were done at part-cash and part-trade. 

Note: The buyer is not required to move forward on a cash/trade blend just because it is offered by the seller; the buyer might only move forward if the deal is full trade.  Many times buyers are increasing their budget, enhancing lifestyle using trade and do not have a cash budget to put together a particular purchase. 

Tradebank requires that all transactions be at fair retail pricing.  In most cases (unless you are sell iPhones) this is not MSRP, it is the regular retail price.  If a merchant is having a sale, it means they can choose to offer the product on trade at anything between the sale & regular retail price or not offer the product on trade during the sale.  It is the buyers optio, then, to purchase the item at the price offered in trade or the further discounted price in cash. 


If, as a buyer, you have accepted an agreement with a seller that contravenes the blend rules or the pricing rules, we cannot fix the agreement for you after the fact.  We also cannot force the client to accept the business within the rules (i.e. they can opt not to sell at all instead of lowering the price/selling full trade).



What are some Best Practices when using my TRADEcard directly with another member to make sure my trade will go smoothly?

  1. Call the client before dropping in. The seller may not be accepting trade at that time (on standby).

  2.  Let the client know that you are a trade customer when you arrive:

(a)   Most business owners like to know how it is you heard of their company.

(b)   There may only be certain products and services that they offer on trade.  These should be outlined clearly in the description of the client’s account; however, it is possible the description may be out of date.

   3.  It is possible what you have in mind may be outside of “normal” business for that client.  If you think this might be the case then call your broker first (e.g. a party of 10 or more to a restaurant, a large order of gift baskets from a florist).

I am considering accepting the TRADEcard directly. Are there any guidelines I should consider? Advantages?


By accepting the TRADEcard directly you will:

  • Increase the amount of business that you receive.
  • Be more user friendly for buying clients – creates better experience for your customers.
  • Be able to negotiate without assistance from the broker, which frees up your broker’s time to focus on satisfying your purchase requests.
  • Buyer will find it easier to meet tight decision timelines – ie. don’t have to wait for broker – or mailing of certificates.
  • Increase out of region business - clients passing through don't have to plan ahead to get certificates or call their broker for a reservation.


 1.  Tradebank is not an honour system; process transactions in the same timing as you would if the buyer paid via any other method. 

 2.  If at any point you need to go on standby status please advise your broker ASAP.  The Tradebank office would appreciate at least 10 business days’ notice.  Regardless, it takes at least 2-3 days to inform the majority of the membership – during this time you should still accept the TRADEcard.

 3.  Remember to keep your broker “in the know” with regards to any changes to goods / services offered in order to keep your directory description up to date.

When should I process barter transactions?

Not only does Tradebank request you process the transaction as soon as possible, it is in your best interest to do so.

If you wait on processing a transaction, Tradebank may not be able to process (even if the broker had said the client was good to purchase at the time of sale). 

A seller is not charged fees, so there is no advantage to holding back transactions.  Additionally, you will be at a disadvantage with regards to decisions about allocation of goods since your trade balance and sales volume will not be as high as it otherwise would be.

It is important that all accounts be as current as possible month by month so that statements reflect the latest possible information.

Buyers also appreciate timely processing so that they can know how much trade they have available.


Tradebank wants to protect both buyer and seller by helping to ensure that legitimate transactions are not reversed.    If a buying client challenges a purchase recorded on their statement (within 45 days of the statement date), Tradebank contacts the selling client and requests that they produce proof of purchase.  Approximately 30 business days is given to the selling client to produce a signature supporting charge – if no proof is available then the transaction may be reversed.

The best proof is signed documents (contracts, TRADEslips,  or mobileTRADE).  However, communication via phone (recorded) and email between the clients and with the broker will also be considered.

What if I am not happy with a product or service I have purchased from another member?

The first step is to contact the company that provided you the product or service.  More often than not a calm phone call to the other member can rectify the issue.  If you are unable to come to a resolution, you can contact your broker and make them aware of the situation.  We will try to help where we can, but we cannot actually arbitrate the issue, nor do we insure or guarantee your satisfaction with any transaction.  Often times where we are able to help are circumstances where there is a communication breakdown between the parties. In extreme cases you may have to take the member to small claims/court to receive remuneration.  If we are made aware of a member who is providing poor quality service or otherwise creating issues for people purchasing for them, we will remove them from the network. 

Does a business have to offer all of their products or services on trade?

No, there are many instances where a company may only offer certain products / services on trade. For example, if a company has a loss leader they would not be required to offer it on trade.  If a company has a sale they can choose whether or not to offer the products on sale for trade.  If there is a particular product/service that has an extremely high COGS it may be excluded.

However, if you have the type of business where a customer can't obtain benefit from one of your services without obtaining another one of your services the total service should either be offered on trade or none of the service should be. This is easier to explain in specific business examples - please discuss with your TRADEbroker.

Can I have more than one account?

Yes, if you have multiple businesses you may have more than one account. The fees on each account are the same.

Also, you can have sub-accounts for yourself and your staff.

I have multiple locations. At which Tradebank office is my account to be managed?

In general terms, based on our franchise agreement, the head office of your business would dictate which Tradebank office your account will managed from.  However, all your locations can be advertised in the directory, and you can purchase products and services from clients in the other areas by going through your broker.  Each account is assigned a specific broker - and all brokered purchases are to directed though that individual.  If the various other locations have separate local management (with purchasing authority), then separate accounts can be set up for each location.   Each location would then deal directly with the local office to make purchases.

Larger corporations with a national scope may be brokered at the local level, or the Tradebank corporate office may directly oversee the management of the account.

What is the connection with Tradebank International out of Atlanta?

Tradebank International out of Atlanta is a separately owned and managed corporation with its own separate franchise/business model.  

Tradebank Inc. has licensed the use of the Tradebank name and logo in Canada since 1996.  However, both barter organizations have their own independent banking and client management software systems.