The stigma of “selling out to the man” might seem like a quaint Gen-X concept if you’re feeling a pandemic cash crunch—so if you’re short on money and own a car, why not plaster your ride with ads as a way to make some extra bank?
The world of “car wrapping”
You can earn $100-$500 a month by putting ads on your car, which can go a long way toward offsetting car-related expenses like gas or insurance. It’s also a decent way for ride-sharing drivers to make a buck, too, since they cover so many miles and are already behind the wheel while on the job.
These ads can take the form of stickers or decals on your car, bumpers, or passenger windows, or, in the case of more expensive ad campaigns, as vinyl wrapping that completely covers your car (hence the commonly used term “car wrapping”).
Pay varies depending on the car wrap company you partner with as well as where and how much you drive. You’ll likely be offered more ad campaigns and make more money if you live or drive in a densely populated area, as more eyeballs will be exposed to the ads on your car.
How do you get started?
To get started, you have to have a clean driver’s record and a new-ish car (usually 2010 or later). You’ll also need to typically drive more than 30 miles a day. If that all sounds good, you can apply to be a driver at one of the handful of ad wrap companies that pair drivers with brands. Reputable companies include Carvertise, Nickelytics, and Wrapify (which is available nationwide).
Once your application is approved, the company will offer you ad campaigns (typically lasting between one to six months) and make arrangements to place the ads on your car. What’s more, throughout the duration they will typically track and pay for your mileage using proprietary apps.
Beware of scams
Both the Better Business Bureau and the Federal Trade Commission have consistently warned people about car wrap scams in years past, so you’ll need to make sure the company you are partnering with is legitimate. Scammers target people looking to make easy money through sketchy online ads. Usually the money offered will seem too good to be true (i.e., over $500 a month), and enticing promises will be made with very few questions asked of applicants. Confusing matters, the fake companies will send the applicants funds right away, but that’s no reason to trust them. Per Investopedia:
The idea is that this upfront money is to cover your costs in wrapping your car; it’ll be more than you need, so wire a few hundred bucks back to us, please, to “activate” your participation in our program. Of course, as you later discover, their check bounces—so the money you sent them ends up not being a reimbursement, but a gift.
Remember that legitimate wrap firms will not charge you anything in advance (another scam is to ask for an upfront “deposit”) or require you to reimburse them for overages. They should totally cover your installation costs without asking anything else of you. And the existence of these scams shouldn’t dissuade you from thinking car-wrapping isn’t a real business—just remember to avoid paying money before you make money, and you should be good.