It doesn't seem fair: You get paid for eight hours of work, but you don't make a cent for the two hours it takes to get to the office and back.
Well, if you're willing to wrap your car from bumper-to-bumper in advertising, you could make money on the way to work, to the grocery store and anywhere else you go.
You've probably seen these mobile billboards all over your hometown. So how do you sign up, and how much money can you make?
As long as you know where to look (and avoid the scams out there), you could get more than enough cash to cover basic bills or pay down debt — just for going about your daily commute.
How do you sign up for a car wrap?
Even if your car ends up covered in logos for Coca-Cola, Shell or Zoom, the big companies themselves won’t be paying you. Instead, you’ll be working with reputable ad agencies that specialize in vehicle wraps, a budding form of out-of-home (OOH) advertisements.
Some major industry players that wrap cars for everyday drivers include Carvertise, Wrapify and even Uber.
To qualify, you will typically need to drive a certain number of miles each day or week, have a newer vehicle in good condition and live in an area (typically a major metropolis) where advertisers are running their campaigns. Once you’re approved, the ad company will pay for your vinyl wrap. All that’s left is to rack up those miles.
And, no, a professional vinyl wrap won’t hurt your paint job, so long as it’s already in good condition. In fact, it may help protect your paint.
“The vinyl serves as a shield between the paint and the weather, protecting it from damage. It may also protect you from minor dings and scrapes produced by rocks or debris,” writes One Source Media, a New York-based signage company that provides vinyl wraps.
“When properly removed, the vinyl will not leave any residue or peel any paint or clear coat.”
How much can you make?
With legitimate car ad companies, you can earn a few hundred dollars per month so long as you’re meeting the general requirements.
With Carvertise, you can make between $100 to $300 per month depending on the size of the ads — given that you drive at least 30 miles per day.
Wrapify works similarly. You can choose the size of your vehicle wrap or opt to have a taxi-like topper installed on your roof. Wrapify will compensate you as much as $452 per month for 35 hours of driving through in-demand areas.
Uber OOH is a little different. It’s currently available to Uber and Uber Eats drivers in six major cities — with 16 more in the works. Eligible drivers can earn $300 for the initial vehicle topper installation and $100 for each week of 20 hours of logged driving time for Uber, according to the program’s announcement in Adweek.
If a company promises pay well outside this range, be very cautious. It’s likely a scam.
Watch out for common scams
The Federal Trade Commission has warned about car wrap scams for years, urging consumers to be wary of emails, texts, phone calls or job board listings that promise hundreds of dollars per week if you wrap your car.
“The gist of the scam is this: Scammers send emails and post to social media and job boards with messages like ‘GET PAID TO DRIVE,’ wrote FTC Education Specialist Ari Lazarus in a late 2020 alert.
“They offer to pay you up to $700 a week if you’ll drive around with your car (or truck or bike) wrapped to advertise a well-known product. But they’re not really affiliated with the brand. They just want your money.”
So far, the proposal sounds very similar to the legitimate companies mentioned above. So how do you distinguish the scammers from the real deal?
Scammers will ask you to pay for the car wrap. Or, they will send you a check (which will undoubtedly bounce) to pay for the wrap. No matter what, you should not be forking over any cash.
The promised pay per week is very high. Legitimate car wrap campaigns pay between $100 and $450 per month. Many scammers promise that amount or more per week. Inflated pay is a telltale sign something is up.
The scammers will reach out to you, unsolicited. You should always exercise extreme caution when anyone reaches out to you about money matters. Car wraps are no exception. If you didn’t sign up with a reputable company, don’t ever provide personal information to someone reaching out to you about a car-wrap opportunity.
How would a car wrap affect my auto insurance?
Generally speaking, insurance providers don’t prohibit car wrap ads, and wraps likely won’t affect your auto insurance rates directly. It’s a reversible and purely cosmetic change that doesn’t affect the structure or overall value of your vehicle.
While the ads may not be expressly forbidden, Loretta Worters, vice president of media relations at the Insurance Information Institute, tells MoneyWise that auto insurers might view you as a riskier driver due to the high-mileage requirements of the car wrap gigs.
“High mileage means greater risk,” Worters says. “Apparently these [car-wrap ad] businesses will have drivers drive in certain areas that are busy, so again there is a greater risk of an accident in more urban areas than rural areas.”
Additionally, some municipalities may set rules declaring your car a commercial vehicle if you get it wrapped in an ad. That would force you to buy commercial vehicle insurance, separate from your personal auto insurance — and likely a little more expensive.
“That’s why it’s best to speak to your insurance agent before you consider making money with wrap-around ads,” Worters says.
Other easy ways to earn and save
Legitimate car wrap opportunities can be hard to come by. They’re not available in every area. You might not have a new enough vehicle. And maybe you don’t drive 30-plus miles per day.
That’s OK. If you were hoping a car wrap could open some extra space in your budget, you have other easy options:
Cut your insurance costs. If you haven’t shopped around for auto insurance recently, chances are you’re leaving money on the table. Sticking with the same company all the time could be costing you over $1,100 per year.
Put your spare change to work. You don’t need a lot of money to jump into the rising stock market. A popular app helps you invest in a diversified portfolio using little more than your "spare change" from everyday purchases.
Shrink your shopping expenses. With so many stores online, tracking down the best deals can be exhausting. A free browser add-on takes the work out of the equation by automatically hunting for lower prices and coupons before you click "buy."
Wrangle your debt. If you’re burdened by high interest rates — like the kind on credit cards — a debt consolidation loan can help you get ahead. Switching to a better loan can help you streamline your payments, lower your interest rates and even reduce the amount you owe each month.
This article provides information only and should not be construed as advice. It is provided without warranty of any kind.