Would you like to make $400 a month doing what you already do—drive your car? There are companies which will pay you to let them literally wrap your car with vinyl advertising if you meet their criteria. Think of some buses you may have seen. Don’t have a car? If you satisfy their requirements, some companies will even provide a free car for you to drive. You may be thinking, sign me up! But, do you really want to do this? To help you decide, let’s look at the nitty-gritty: the driver qualifications, what you will be expected to do, what your costs might be and the possible damage to your car.
Will you qualify?
Drivers must submit an application or register. Besides the basics: name, address, contact information, age and sex, typically companies will also want to know:
- Who you work for and where
- What major roads you use
- How many miles you drive a month
- The year and make and model of your vehicle
- Your insurance carrier and the policyholder’s name
- About your driving record—any points or moving violations in the last 12 months.
Even if the initial sign-up process isn’t very detailed, if the company finds you interesting, expect it to follow up to get more details, especially about where you drive and when.
- Must be at least 18 (DrivenMedia requires you to be at least 21)
- Live and work in high population centers with a heavy commute
- Lead a very active lifestyle which keeps you on the road: busy families with active kids, sales people who make daily calls, couriers and shuttle or limo drivers
- Regularly drive on busy highways and high traffic surface streets
- Ideally drive more than 1,200 miles per month, though 800 is a common minimum
- Park in a very visible location
In fact, Autowrapped requires you to park outside where your car can be readily seen by passing vehicles and pedestrians. So, forget about garaging your car.
How long does it take to get a job?
Once your application has been accepted, it can take anywhere from a few days to a few months before you are offered a job depending on whether the company has clients available and how attractive a candidate you are.
How much will I be paid?
Anywhere from $50-200 monthly for a rear window ad to $200-400 monthly for a car, truck or SUV wrap.
How long do these jobs last?
Anywhere from 3-6 months to 2 years.
What am I expected to do?
- First, you will have to sign a contract.
- Since you were specifically chosen because of your lifestyle and driving habits, you will be expected to keep doing what you are doing. A significant change could jeopardize your contract. Autowrapped installs a GPS unit in your car to monitor your driving.
- Maintain auto insurance with limits which meet the company’s minimums. These are higher than state liability minimums. Some companies also require you to have collision and comprehensive.
- Drive in a manner which reflects well on the advertiser.
- Be an ambassador for the advertiser.
- Keep your vehicle clean and presentable.
- For additional requirements and expectations, see the section below comparing various companies.
How much will it cost me?
- First, steer clear of any companies which require an application or membership fee.
- Second, take stock of your auto insurance situation. If you already have liability limits of at least $100,000/$300,000 for bodily injury and $50,000 for property damage, your liability limits are sufficient. If not, you will have to pay more to increase them. Also, if you don’t have physical damage (collision and comprehensive), you may have to add it. Get a quote from your agent.
- If you have to wash your car year round, where will you do it? If you will have to pay for it, what will it cost you? If you live in an area where it snows in the winter, you may need to wash your car weekly.
- Consider also the loss of privacy. Are you comfortable with some company having a record of everywhere you go and when?
Still interested? Let’s look at some of the companies.
Who does this and how do they compare?
The following companies are in the transit advertising business. They are listed in alphabetical order with links to their home websites.
The table below contains some pertinent information about each. The data are sparse for companies which require registration to learn more about them.
|Company||Charges Fee?||Monthly Pay Rates||GPS Tracking?||Expectations & Comments|
|Ads2Go||No, but $1.95-$5.95 for priority listing with no guarantees.||$50 for cars with multiple magnetic signs covering 1000 square inches.||No||See FAQ’s.|
|AdsToGo (Canada)||No||Unknown||Unknown||No info without registering.|
|Autowrapped||No||$100-200 for rear window ads. $200-400 for vehicle wraps.||Yes. Data downloaded during monthly visit.||Extensive list. See Drivers and FAQs.Will provide car if you meet its criteria to drive.|
|DrivenMedia||No||$300-400 for wraps.||No, but wants to introduce soon.||See criteria & driver FAQ.|
|FreeCarMedia||No, but Home page has link to Free Car Solution, which charges $37.||Mostly rear window ads for $50+. Some vehicle wraps for $400+.||No||See FAQs.NOTE: Home page encourages you to click on Free Car Solution—don’t.|
|WrapMatch||No||Up to $400 for wraps.||No||Little info unless you are selected.|
As noted in the table above, FreeCarMedia has a link on its home page to FreeCarSolution. This site offers payment for driving a new car with ads on it or driving your car with ads on it. When I clicked on “Search for Opportunities” and entered my zip code, I was informed there were opportunities available. But, to see them, you must pony up $37. The site takes you directly to a page to enter your credit card information. Note there is no guarantee that these opportunities will turn into a paying job.
So, what do you get for your $37?
- Unlimited access to its free car locator program
- Comprehensive guide to getting a free car or getting paid to drive yours
- Free car apps ready to fill out
My reaction: big whoop.
A very telling sign, when I tried to navigate away from the page after searching for “opportunities,” I couldn’t even after confirming I wanted to. The only way to escape is to close the browser window. Even then, I had to confirm I wanted to leave in spite of a limited time offer of a $10 discount.
No link has been provided because I think you will just find yourself $37 poorer.
If you get an unsolicited email asking “Would You Wrap Your Car in an Ad for $300 Weekly?” delete it. It is a scam. First, they are willing to pay you even if you just have a bike. Second, although it says there is no fee, there is a really big one.
You are told you will receive a check in the mail. You are to deposit it, deduct $300 as your upfront payment and THEN wire the rest of the funds to a graphic designer who will wrap your vehicle.
Wires cost money—typically $25 and they are nearly instantaneous—taking just 2-3 hours vs. 2-3 business days for ACH transfers. Little time for regrets. If you take the bait, you will not only be out the wire transfer fee, but whatever money you send because the check is a fake.
Word to the wise: When something looks too good to be true, it usually is.
Some Important Stuff to Know about Vinyl Car Wraps and Rear Window Signs
At the end of the contract, you will want to remove the wrap or rear window sign. While high quality vinyl wraps made by 3M and Avery are usually easily removed, if improperly installed, they can be a nightmare to remove. In particular, the use of a primer, even 3M Primer 94, is NOT necessary and if it gets on the edges of the wrap, it causes the wrap and laminate to separate, leaving adhesive residue that is very difficult to remove.
Low quality wraps are more likely to become brittle after prolonged exposure to sunlight. Instead of coming off in large sections, they may only come off in tiny pieces.
If the finish of your car isn’t up to snuff, removing the wrap can damage your car’s finish even if the installation was otherwise perfect. In fact, Autowrapped states on its website that if your car’s finish does not meet 3M standards, it will install the wrap, but it is not responsible for any damage on its removal.
SignWarehouse, a site for wrap sellers and installers, cautions businesses to NOT include the cost of wrap removal in the installation price. Indeed, it advises them to charge hourly for removal because some jobs can take half a day. That’s half a day for a professional with the right equipment.
Finally, if you have a rear window defogger which operates by heating up resistance wiring, check to see whether the wires are inside the glass or on the glass. If the latter and they are on the outside of the window, just forget about it. Removing the sign may damage the wires and result in a repair bill.
Some Important Questions to Ask before You Sign that Contract
In addition to the above considerations, be sure to ask the following questions:
- What brand of wrap do you use?
- Will my car’s finish be inspected to see if it meets the wrap manufacturer’s specifications to ensure removal without damaging my car’s finish?
- Who is responsible for removing the wrap or sign after the contract is over?
- Will I have to pay for the removal?
- What happens if my car’s is damaged during the removal process? Will I be compensated? How much?
- What happens if you terminate my contract for cause (for example, you consistently drive less than the minimum mileage)—will you still remove the wrap or sign? Will I have to pay? Will you still be responsible for any damage to my car?
- If you currently park your car in a closed garage at work, ask if you can continue to do so. If not, will you be required to get a spot in an open lot close to the street? (If so, this may mean becoming a very early bird.)
Finally, be sure you read the contract before signing it and get any questions answered in writing. Any understandings should be noted in the margins and initialed by someone with the authority to make binding agreements.