Earn gas money by turning your car into a billboard
Inflation is hitting everyone. But few have been as directly affected as independent drivers working for delivery and ride-hailing services, such as DoorDash, Uber, Lyft and Instacart.
Los Angeles-based delivery driver Richard Burton says he can spend $60 to $80 on gas in a single day. He now wraps his car with advertising to offset soaring gas prices. This gives him extra cash each month for a job he’s already doing.
A handful of companies seek out independent drivers to use their vehicles as rolling billboards. These companies will enlist anyone who drives a lot. But they’re particularly interested in app-based ride and delivery drivers, who are regularly on the road. These sites help drivers deal with soaring gas prices by paying a few extra bucks for every mile they drive.
The two main players in this market — Carvertise and Wrapify — pay drivers anywhere from $100 to $500 per month to place advertisements on their cars. Outside of taking the car to get it professionally wrapped, there’s no extra work involved. Generally speaking, the companies expect you to drive as usual. However, you can sometimes volunteer for “swarms” or contests that pay extra to simply show up with your wrapped car — or take photos of it wherever you are.
Whether your car broke down or inflation left you with more month than money, you sometimes need to earn cash in a hurry. These gigs can help.
“It’s completely passive income,” says Greg Star, founding partner of Carvertise. “We don’t ask drivers to do anything out of the ordinary.”
Demand for drivers willing and able to wrap their vehicles with advertising has never been better. Carvertise has seen double-digit month-over-month growth in advertising campaigns, Star says. That means most eligible drivers in big cities such as Los Angeles, New York and Chicago can easily score a campaign. There is less demand in smaller cities, however.
How it works
Carvertise and Wrapify, while similar, have slightly different ways of operating.
Wrapify pays based on how much of your car is wrapped in advertising and how far you drive. If you only want a partial wrap, the site estimates that you’ll earn between $180 and $280 a month. If you wrap the whole car, your earnings should range from $264 to $452 a month. However, your exact pay will depend on the advertising campaign you’re offered, the number of miles you drive, and when you’re on the road. The site records miles automatically through the app.
Carvertise pays a set monthly fee that’s generally $100. However, it offers additional payments for participating in “swarms,” pays bonuses and offers contests that can enable you to earn an additional $200 a month on average during a campaign. It also tracks mileage to assure advertisers that their messages are getting an appropriate number of views.
Theoretically, if you’re an insured driver with a good driving history and a late-model car, you can qualify to drive for either or both of these apps. However, they work best for people who drive with other ride and delivery apps. The reason?
Delivery apps tend to pay the most during high-traffic periods — lunch and dinner times, for instance. And ride apps pay the most for going to high-traffic locations, such as the airport and sporting events. These are the times and places that car advertising firms prefer because they’re likely to deliver the most eyeballs on your car ads.
It’s important to note that both Carvertise and Wrapify pay their drivers through direct deposit. They never send checks. If you get a check that’s supposedly from one of these firms, do not cash it. This is a pernicious fake check scam.
Con artists frequently pretend to be associated with these companies and will send consumers big checks that they urge you to deposit. The con artists say you should use the money to pay yourself and a car wrapping operation. You’re then instructed to refund the sender whatever amount was unused or unearned. Unfortunately, it can take your bank some time to realize that the check is bogus. When the bank discovers the fraud, it will deduct the check amount from your account. You are out the money you spent on the wrap (and what it costs to “unwrap” the car), as well as the money you sent to the crook. And, in some cases, banks have accused the victim/accountholder of fraud.
More than a dozen online platforms can help you save money or side hustle your way through vacation season.
If you get a check that’s purportedly from Wrapify or Carvertise, it’s a scam. To reiterate, these legitimate companies do not send checks.
Another thing you should avoid: Several sites have sprung up supposedly to compete with Carvertise and Wrapify. These companies include ReferralCar, Stickr and FreeCarMedia. Each asks drivers to either pay “deposits” for advertising banners or pay monthly subscription fees to be part of their membership network. However, they make no guarantees about whether you’ll earn a dime. And their pay formulas are so abstruse there’s no way to determine whether you should have earned money. We’ve never found a verified side hustler who has earned money with these sites, but plenty have complained about recurring monthly charges.
Simple advice: When a site says it’ll pay you — but only if you pay it first — walk away.
Kristof is the editor of SideHusl.com, an independent website that reviews moneymaking opportunities in the gig economy.