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Here at Ridester, we’re always searching for new ways that you can make extra money with your car. Whether it’s driving for Uber and Lyft, delivering with Postmates and DoorDash, or even renting out your car with a platform like Turo, there are now more ways than ever to turn one of your most expensive assets into something that produces income.
From daily commutes and grocery trips to weekend road trips away from home, you’re probably using your car a lot on a daily basis. If so, your frequent driving habits may be able to earn you cash — instead of just costing you money. Through car advertising, you can start making money just by going where you need to go.
For many companies, your car’s surface is valuable ad space. The more you drive, the more drivers and pedestrians you pass every single day. If you’re willing to add a temporary car wrap to your vehicle — essentially turning your car into a moving ad campaign — many businesses are willing to pay you just for sporting their brand.
We’ll introduce you to the world of car advertising and four companies you can work with to get connected to earning opportunities.
- What Is Car Advertising?
- How Do Car Wraps Work?
- 4 Car Wrap Advertising Companies to Consider
- Frequently Asked Questions
What Is Car Advertising?
Car advertising is a marketing technique that uses vehicles like yours to promote a brand. In most cases, this will involve the use of a commercial car wrap, which is basically a sticker made of vinyl that goes smoothly on top of your paint job without leaving a scratch.
The odds are good that you’ve seen a car wrap at some point in your life. It’s simply a way of altering the exterior appearance of a vehicle using a special kind of decal. Typically, this decal is made of vinyl, though other materials are possible (we’ll get to this in a moment).
People have all kinds of reasons for putting vehicle wraps on their cars. For some individuals, it’s a cost-effective way to give a car a whole new look without the expense of a new paint job. In this category, you’ll find products like color change wraps, which use high-quality vinyl to change a vehicle’s color.
You can also use vehicle wraps to change a car to have a matte finish, chrome finish, satin finish, or even a high gloss finish. Some people will use carbon fiber vinyl wraps to make it look like parts of their car are more expensive than they actually are (by placing a carbon fiber wrap on the car’s hood, for instance).
Some people will also use vehicle wrapping to add protective coatings over a car’s paint. Protection film is often less expensive than getting new paint for the entire vehicle, and the owner can remove the coating if they ever want to sell the vehicle, leaving the original paint job intact.
Beyond personal use, we have commercial vehicle wraps. If you use vehicles for your business, you might decide to add a vinyl layer that shows your company’s logo, phone number, slogan, or any other relevant information that you want people to see.
Vehicle wraps aren’t just about changing a car’s appearance, however. In certain cases, companies will pay you to get a vinyl wrap that advertises a particular product. You can get a vehicle wrap for almost any kind of product that a company wants to advertise from car insurance to energy drinks. This wrap will usually include a company’s name, contact information, and eye-catching imagery or slogans.
When you are offered a car wrapping opportunity, you can choose to opt in or out based on the company you’ll be advertising. However, you won’t get a say in exactly what colors, images or text goes on your car. Sometimes, you may not see the design until you go into a designated vehicle wrap shop for the complimentary installation, which can take a full day (or more) to complete.
Car advertising doesn’t always take over the entire car. Sometimes, companies will simply request a decal, while others will use the ad space on top of taxis. However, if you’re looking for an easy side hustle (or simply a way to alleviate gas costs) as an everyday driver, you can expect most well-known car advertising companies to offer partial or full wrap opportunities.
But how exactly does this process work? And will it damage your vehicle? Read on to find out.
How Do Car Wraps Work?
So how exactly do car wraps work? If you’re unfamiliar with the process, you might think that putting a vinyl wrap over a car’s paint would cause damage, especially if the vinyl film ever has to be removed. Luckily, this is rarely the case as long as the car is clean and the owner chooses a professional installation option.
Auto wraps work using a special adhesive. The adhesive itself is immensely strong, able to resist both rain and UV rays. Despite its strength, this adhesive is relatively easy to remove with the right mix of solvents and a little heat. This makes it possible to remove the car wrap film without damaging the current paint.
Most modern vinyl car wraps also use special air release technology to prevent unsightly bubbles from forming underneath the vinyl. Still, it’s essential that the car is free of all road debris and other dirt, as these will show up as bumps under the wrap once it’s applied.
There are three main types of vinyl vehicle wraps: panel wraps, partial wraps, and full wraps.
Panel wraps aren’t technically “wraps,” as they don’t require much shaping to get the vinyl to fit on your car. With a panel wrap, you apply a vinyl graphic to a particular body panel of your car. Usually, this will be one of the door panels, but it’s also possible to use this kind of wrap on your car’s hood.
Partial wraps take things a step further. They don’t cover the entire car, but rather a particular section of it. For instance, you might see someone use a partial wrap to apply vehicle graphics to the entirety of a car’s hood, trunk, or door.
With a full wrap, a technician will wrap vinyl around the entire vehicle. This is a more time-consuming process, but the result can be a complete transformation of a vehicle’s appearance, whether it’s to change the color of the car or display a large-format advertisement.
4 Car Wrap Advertising Companies to Consider
Most companies aren’t recruiting drivers directly for their car advertising needs. Instead, the majority of drivers go through car wrap advertising companies to find available ad campaigns, get wraps installed, and start earning money. Here are four companies that you can consider as you’re getting started.
Carvertise is easily one of the largest car advertising companies in the United States. It has a network of more than half a million drivers across over 75 markets. When you work with Carvertise, you’ll be promoting trusted clients, sometimes including well-known national brands like Amazon, Buffalo Wild Wings, Crayola, Sprint, and Lyft.
In exchange for using your car as ad space, Carvertise will pay you $300 to $1,200 per ad campaign. Your exact earnings will depend on how long a campaign is set to last, as well as what portion of your vehicle is actually wrapped. In addition to full wraps — which cover your entire car, rear window, and passenger windows — Carvertise also offers partial wraps, which only cover your car doors, rear window, and back bumper.
Anyone can fill in a driver application, but in order to get matched with brands, you must meet and continue to meet these requirements:
- Drive at least 30 miles per day
- Be fully licensed and insured
- Own a 2009 car model or newer
- Own a car with a factory finish paint job
- Be able to pass an interview and background check (with a clean driving record)
Once you’re approved, you’ll be placed in a pool of potential drivers for ad campaigns targeting your area. If you’re selected — usually based on your location, driving habits, and car specs — you’ll be able to schedule your complimentary car wrapping and unwrapping, then start earning monthly paychecks until the end of the campaign.
Wrapify is another big name in the world of car advertising, boasting its own portfolio of big-name clients like Google, Uber, General Mills, and Zoom — some of which you may get the chance to promote on your vehicle. However, Wrapify offers a few more car wrapping options than most companies.
Your earnings for Wrapify will vary depending on the following factors:
- How much time you drive
- When you drive (driving during the day tends to earn more than at night)
- Where you drive (high-traffic areas tend to earn more)
- Type of car wrap:
- Panel: $84–140 per month (on average)
- Partial: $196–280 per month (on average)
- Full: $264–452 per month (on average)
While a full wrap will always get you the most money (about $264 to $452 per month), Wrapify knows that not every driver wants to completely cover their car. If you want a smaller ad, you can choose Wrapify’s Static+ Rideshare Topper option — which covers your rear window and adds a taxi-style ad on top of your car for $174-$280 per month — or its Lite option, which only covers your car doors and rear window for $181-$280 per month.
You can also earn $196-$280 monthly with a partial car wrap, though this will still cover the full back of your vehicle (including the rear window) and its sides (below the windows) — more than Carvertise’s partial wrap.
If any of these car advertising options intrigue you, Wrapify makes it easy to sign up and get matched with campaigns through its Android or iPhone app. But before you sign up, you should meet the following requirements:
- Be at least 21 years old
- Be able to pass a background check (including a clean driving record)
- Own a 2010 car model or newer
- Own a coupe, sedan, SUV, pick-up truck, or minivan in good condition (see ineligible vehicles here)
Once you apply, just turn on location services on the app so Wrapify can track your driving habits. This way, the car wrap advertising company can match you with opportunities based on when, where, and how often you drive. You’ll be able to set up a free wrapping appointment soon after you get your first match.
To learn more about using Wrapify, check out our comprehensive review.
3. Free Car Media
Free Car Media offers some of the best car advertising options for drivers who want more subtle advertisements. If you just want a bit of extra cash, the company may be able to connect you to rear window ads that pay about $50 per month. Of course, full wrap advertising options are still available and much higher-paying (up to $400 per month).
The Free Car Media driver-client matching process is much like its competitors’. You fill out an application and wait for opportunities in your area, which may take anywhere from a few days to several months. As long as you have car insurance, maintain a clean driving record, and are located in the U.S., you may qualify based on your driving habits.
After getting selected, most drivers will get details about where to go to get their car wrapped. However, if you’ve been matched with a small rear window campaign, you’ll have the decal sent directly to you with installation directions. Free Car Media sometimes does complimentary re-wrappings when needed, since their campaigns can last anywhere from a few months to two whole years.
This company is also great to work with because it has the highest Better Business Bureau rating (an A+) out of all the leading car wrap advertising brands.
4. Pay Me For Driving
If you’re based in the St. Louis, Missouri area, Pay Me for Driving is a well-known car advertising company that offers opportunities for you to support small businesses while earning money on the road. By applying to work with a local brand, you may even have a greater chance of getting matched since there will be far less competition from other drivers.
Like Free Car Media, Pay Me for Driving offers both rear window decal and full wrap advertising options. The exact payment you’re offered can vary greatly from client to client, and you may be paid through one flat fee, commission, or recurring payments. You’re not obligated to accept an ad campaign if it doesn’t work for you.
To start getting matched, you simply need to fill in a driver application and meet these requirements:
- Be at least 18 years old
- Have a Social Security number
- Have a valid driver’s license and car insurance
- Live and work in St. Louis, St. Louis County, or St. Charles County
- Own a car that’s driven regularly (any changes in driving habits must be reported)
- Own a car that’s clean and damage-free
- Be willing to report car wrap damages within 24 hours and get your car repaired
- Be able to pass a background check (no serious traffic violations or criminal record allowed)
When you’re matched, you’ll either receive a rear window decal to self-install or get details about your complimentary car wrapping. You’ll also receive a driver agreement and contract that you’ll need to review and sign.
Frequently Asked Questions
When you turn your car into a moving ad, you can make extra cash just by keeping up with your frequent driving habits. To learn more about car wrap advertising, read our answers to these common questions:
Can I earn money through car wrap advertising while driving for Uber or Lyft?
While many car advertising companies will highlight the gig as a great opportunity for rideshare drivers, you actually can’t wrap your car if you want to meet Uber or Lyft vehicle requirements. Both rideshare companies have fairly strict cosmetic standards for the vehicles that represent their brands, so car wraps with ads are definitely a no-go.
You can quickly get booted off a rideshare app if you show up to a vehicle inspection with a wrapped car or get reported by a rider for having a vehicle that doesn’t match its in-app description. You may be able to get away with small decals, but to protect yourself from deactivation, we recommend forgoing car ads altogether.
How do I know if a car wrapping company is legit?
Car wrap scams are a definite concern — one that the Federal Trade Commission and Better Business Bureau have both warned against. Legitimate companies will never ask you to pay upfront or wire money for any reason.
According to the FTC, one common scheme involves scammers requiring drivers to wire money to a “wrapping company” after sending a bad check that will supposedly reduce the cost. In all cases, the check bounces after the driver has already wired the money and no wrapping is done.
In addition to being wary of companies that ask you to transfer money or share private financial details, you should also be cautious about working with any brand that guarantees over $400 per month. While the brands we mentioned are legit car wrap companies, actually earning that much money is extremely rare.
Will car wraps damage my car’s paint?
As long as you get your car wrap installed and removed by a professional — or very carefully follow directions — your paint job should be completely safe. In fact, some car owners even choose to get clear wraps specifically to protect their vehicle’s factory finish, so your wrap may even protect your car, just like hand waxing and car covers do.
Will having a car wrap affect my insurance rates?
Generally, no. From the perspective of your insurance company, having a car wrap is no different from painting your car a different color. That being said, we recommend you check with your insurance agent to make sure that getting a car wrap won’t raise your rates.
Can I install my own vinyl automotive wrap?
Yes, it is possible. You’ll need the right installation tools, including a squeegee to smooth out any air bubbles and a utility knife to cut the vinyl to size. You’ll also need to be comfortable removing your car’s mirrors, as this tends to make the process easier.
Generally, however, we don’t recommend installing your own automotive vinyl wraps unless you know what you’re doing. Removing the wrap yourself can prove especially problematic, as you risk damaging your car’s paint (or injuring yourself) with the necessary heat gun and solvents. Any damage as a result of this process can make it hard to sell your vehicle.
A much better option for most people is to take your car to a professional car wrap shop. Be sure to read the shop’s reviews and verify that they use the highest quality materials and have the highest standards for their work. That way, you run less risk of hurting your car’s resale value. Another benefit of going with a shop like this is that you have access to a greater range of custom design options and high-end vinyl products.
How long can a car or truck wrap stay on a vehicle?
This depends on the product that you use. The life span of most vehicle wraps is a few years, as long as you choose a great product and professional installation. However, you’ll usually have the wrap on for less time if it’s from a company like Carvertise or Wrapify (since the contracts these companies have with advertisers only tend to last a few months).
How can I take care of my car wrap?
As long as your car wrap was installed by a professional, you shouldn’t have to do much to care for it. The wraps are designed for outdoor use and all the hazards that come with it.
Generally, you should avoid taking your wrapped vehicle through the car wash, as the friction from the brushes can damage the vinyl. You should also avoid anything else that could scratch the wrap (such as driving off-road).
Are there certain vehicles that can’t get car wraps?
Theoretically, a skilled technician can wrap any sort of vehicle. However, Wrapify does mention that the following types of vehicles tend to be more difficult to wrap (and are therefore ineligible to participate in their program):
- Jeep Wranglers
- VW Beetles
- Commercial vans
- Fleets of vehicles
- RV/motor homes
- Freight vehicles
If you’re just getting a vehicle wrap done for your own purposes, then you don’t need to worry too much about the above restrictions. Just be aware that you may end up paying more for wrapping these types of vehicles.
Earn Money Effortlessly
Car advertising is an easy way to turn your car into a moneymaker. Once you have your wrap installed, all you need to do is drive around your city like you normally do, and you’ll have extra cash in your pocket. As long as you don’t mind a bit more attention when you’re on the road, you’ll be earning money without a thought.
While car wraps and ridesharing may not be the perfect match, Uber and Lyft drivers can still make money by putting ads inside their vehicles. Learn how you can make extra money by bringing entertainment and advertising platforms like Vugo and Play Octopus into your car for riders to view.
Brett Helling is the owner of Ridester.com. He has been a rideshare driver since early 2012, having completed hundreds of trips for companies including Uber, Lyft, and Postmates. In 2014 he acquired Ridester.com to share his experiences with other drivers. His insights are regularly quoted by publications such as Forbes, Vice, CNBC, and more. He is currently working on a book about working in the Gig Economy, expanding his skill set beyond the rideshare niche. Read more about Brett here.