For heavy commuters, ride-share drivers and those looking for passive income opportunities, car wrap advertising is a fairly straightforward way to pull in some extra money with little effort.
Just make sure the company is legit.
It’s no secret that the car advertising industry is plagued by scammers. They may email or text message you: You’ve been selected for an advertising campaign! You’ll earn hundreds of dollars a week!
The pitch isn’t a total fraud, but – spoiler alert – you’re not going to earn hundreds per week. Even the largest and best-paying companies don’t pay that much.
Still, after you learn how to avoid the scams and apply for the right ad campaigns, you could potentially rake in up to $500 per month by wrapping your car.
Here’s how to steer clear of scammers and find a legit gig.
Common Car Wrapping Scams
Some fishy companies run schemes where drivers purchase and install the ads themselves and then the companies ghost them. Basically, the scammers get free advertising and a few bucks from the decal or sticker purchase — without ever paying the driver.
One of the biggest red flags: if the company requires you to pay the up-front cost for the car wrap.
“Anytime you, as a driver, need to pay out of pocket, it is a scam,” said Judah Longgrear, CEO of Nickelytics, a car-wrap service for ride-share drivers.
Pay careful attention to how you’re getting paid as well. Some car wrap companies use a referral method where a stranger would need to see your ad, call a number or visit a website for verification before the company pays you anything.
Another common and more malicious scheme the FTC describes is a “fake check” car wrap scam, where a company tells you to front a costly ad installation. Then they send you a fake check as reimbursement, and – oops – they overpay you and ask you to send them back the difference. Then, days later, the original check bounces and you’re out the money from the installation and the money you sent them for overpayment.
And whether it’s for a car wrap or not, heed the FTC’s warning: “Never send money back to someone who sent you a check.” Don’t spend the extra cash, either. Wait for the check to bounce, and the bank will automatically withdraw the funds from your account.
How to Find Legitimate Car-Wrap Advertising Opportunities
Countless companies say they will pay you to wrap your car. Many of them are hyperlocal, meaning it’s impossible to vet them all.
As some general rules of thumb:
- If a company contacts you out of the blue, it’s likely a scam.
- If a company asks for money up-front, it’s very likely a scam.
- If a company says it will pay you lots of money without screening how much you drive, it’s likely a scam.
- If you’re still uneasy: Google [company name] + reviews. Check the BBB. Check its social media accounts.
Craigslist is a large source of classifieds that seek drivers for car wraps. As with any transaction on the site, proceed with caution.
The Penny Hoarder looked at larger car wrap services that offer ad campaigns in several regions around the U.S. These legitimate companies made the cut.
Founded in 2012, Carvertise is an advertising company that partners with national brands primarily in seven cities and the surrounding areas:
- Los Angeles
- New York City
- Wilmington, Delaware
The company offers partial and full wraps. Partial wraps cover both sides and may include bumper decals. Full wraps include decals on the entire body including all windows except the windshield.
Depending on your driving habits and the size of the wrap, the company pays you between $100 and $200 a month via direct deposit. Typical advertising campaigns last between two and six months, the website states.
To qualify, you must drive a 2008-model vehicle or newer, have a clean driving record and commute at least 30 miles per day. Fill out a driver application and sit tight for the company to get back to you when a campaign is available in your area.
Requirements: 2008 vehicle or newer; 30-plus miles per day; clean driving record.
Locations: Major cities in seven states.
Earning Potential: $100 to $200 per month.
Nickelytics is geared toward ride-share drivers who clock 30 miles or more every day. The company uses mileage logs for ride-share apps to ensure you meet the standards.
The company provides three different wrap options: Back windshield, light wrap and full wrap. The light wrap includes only doors whereas the full wrap covers the entire body plus the rear window. Depending on the wrap and your mileage, you can earn up to $500 a month.
Your car must be a 2010 model or newer. The majority of your miles need to be logged in one of the company’s eight major markets, which are primarily in Florida:
- Tampa, Florida
- St. Petersburg, Florida
- Fort Myers, Florida
- Cape Coral, Florida
- Naples, Florida
- Denver, Colorado
- New Orleans, Louisiana
- Portland, Maine
Longgrear, the company’s CEO, told The Penny Hoarder that he plans to expand Nickelytics to 20 cities by the end of 2020.
The Penny Hoarder confirmed with Uber and Lyft that car wraps do not violate company policies.
Requirements: Ride-share driver; 2010 vehicle or newer; 30-plus miles per day.
Locations: Eight cities in three states (more to come in 2020).
Earning Potential: Up to $500 a month (with full wrap).
According to its website, Wrapify operates nationwide and has wrapped more than 250,000 vehicles.
“Some cities and regions are much busier than others,” the website states. “Generally speaking, larger cities and towns have higher odds of getting campaigns compared to smaller cities and less crowded towns.”
To be eligible for a campaign, you must:
- Be 21 years or older.
- Use a 2010 vehicle or newer.
- Drive at least 50 miles per day.
- Pass a background check.
If you meet those standards, download the app on iOS or Android devices to begin the driver application. If selected, you will be able to choose between four advertising options, including a light, partial or full wrap and a “Static” rideshare topper (think: triangular roof ad on traditional taxis).
Each ad option comes with a range of possible earnings. According to the website, the lowest monthly rate is $174; the highest is $452.
Requirements: 21 or older; 2010 vehicle or newer; 50-plus miles per day; successfully completed background check.
Earning Potential: Up to $452 a month (with full wrap).
(Disclosure: The Penny Hoarder partners with Nickelytics to display ads on cars in the Tampa Bay area.)
Adam Hardy is a staff writer at The Penny Hoarder. He covers the gig economy, entrepreneurship and unique ways to make money. Read his latest articles here, or say hi on Twitter @hardyjournalism. Author Steve Gillman contributed to this article.