If you don’t mind driving around in a billboard, putting ads on your car could help you earn some passive income. It could also get you trapped in a pyramid scheme. Here’s everything you need to know about car decal advertising — and more importantly, avoiding scams.
Pyramid schemes? Scams? What? I just want to earn a little extra cash through car decal advertising.
Yeah, sorry, the car-wrap advertising industry is teeming with scammers, so much so that both the Better Business Bureau (BBB) and the Federal Trade Commission have specifically had to urge consumers to be wary of car-wrap scams. The BBB writes, “The jobs, which usually are connected to popular soft drink, energy drink or cell phone companies, are often fraudulent, and BBB suggests consumers use extreme caution when dealing with those offering the jobs. The ‘car wrap scam’ has been active for several years and has been the focus of previous warnings by BBB and other agencies.”
For example, car decal advertising company Stickr, which receives an F from the BBB, asks you to pay an initial sign-up fee for the decal advertisement and a monthly membership fee to be a part of their business. They promise to send you earnings that are pooled together from every driver on the advertising campaign, the idea being that more drivers equals more money for everyone. “Revenue share campaigns have guaranteed earnings,” a company rep named Amor tells me. “The shared revenue pool is defined as the total amount of money earned for the campaign by all drivers advertising with that campaign.”
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The problem is that, while some make a bit of money, many drivers say they pay Stickr more than they make, or end up making only a measly couple bucks a month. See an in-depth explanation of how the math pans out here; multiple complaints about losing money to Stickr here; and even more stories about losing money to Stickr here. Former Stickr user Dominick Barbato tells me that they never paid him for the ad he put on his car but continue to charge him a monthly membership fee, despite him emailing them to cancel numerous times. (There are many other reviews recounting exactly what Barbato experienced.)
Dang. How can I avoid being scammed?
If a car advertisement company ever reaches out to you, asks you to pay for anything or sends you a check to have your car wrapped — which, whoops, they “accidentally” overpaid you and are now asking you to send them back the difference — chances are they’re up to no good. “If you put money into it, you’re not going to get money out of it,” Barbato warns.
Gotcha. Are there any legit car decal advertising companies?
Yes! Carvertise, Nickelytics and Wrapify are all genuine car-wrapping companies. You can usually spot legit companies because they have detailed applications and contact information, including their physical address, posted clearly on their websites. Likewise, they should have detailed information regarding qualifying standards for participating in their programs — what car you drive, how many miles you cover, what your driving record looks like — on their website and on their application. Most importantly, established car advertising companies never charge you any fees whatsoever.
How do I qualify?
It depends on the company, but the most important thing is that you spend a lot of time driving. To qualify for Carvertise, for instance, you need to drive at least 30 miles a day, have a 2008 vehicle or newer and a relatively clean driving record. To qualify for Nickelytics, they prefer if you work for a ride-share company, like Uber, Lyft, Postmates or Doordash.
Keep in mind also that most car advertisement opportunities are only available in major metropolitan areas, where more eyes are on your car. Wrapify, in fact, only pays you when you drive within “campaign zones” that are set by the advertiser. (Most car advertising companies have apps that track your driving and log your earnings.)
Can I choose what I advertise on my car?
In most cases, the company will act as a sort of agent for you, trying to pair you with an advertiser who wants to market their message on your car. This doesn’t mean you get to choose exactly what gets advertised on your car, but they should give you some options, and you can pick whichever one seems most appealing. You can always say no, but then you don’t get paid.
Speaking of pay, how much can I make?
This varies quite a lot, depending on your car, how much you drive and how large of a wrap you opt for (advertisements range from rear window decals to your entire car). If you have full coverage and drive around their campaign zones daily, Wrapify estimates that you can make between $264 and $452 per month. Meanwhile, Carvertise will pay you between $100 and $200 a month, and Nickelytics say their drivers average around $250 a month. Most campaigns last for a few months before you need to take your car in to be re-wrapped for a new one.
If I want to stop, am I stuck with an advertisement on my car?
Nope! The company will remove the advertisement from your car once the campaign ends. However, if you want to remove the wrap before the term has come to a close, you may face an early termination fee. Wrapify also notes that if your car has “rock chips, dents, scratches, rust or paint/clear coat damage,” it may be susceptible to lasting damage from the advertisement.
So, should I do it?
That’s up to you! The impression I get is that you don’t want to be driving out of your way in order to advertise, because you may end up only making enough to cover the extra gas you’re burning through. But the nice thing about the legit companies I mentioned is that you can always sign up and turn on the app during your normal routes, and they’ll do the work of finding a campaign that fits your driving habits. And if you’re able to find one that requires no change whatsoever to your normal commute, hey, you may end up making an extra couple hundred bucks a month.
Just don’t expect to participate in any car shows.