By Tony Azzara | American Express Credit Intel Freelance Contributor
5 Min Read | April 1, 2022 in Money
If you’re looking for ways for your car to pay you back for all the money you put into it, then this article is for you. There are active ways to earn income using your car, like ridesharing and delivery services, and more passive options, like wrapping your vehicle in advertising, that can generate some side-hustle dollars.
Everyone knows the big two – food delivery and ridesharing – but the ways you can make money with your car are limited only by your imagination and your skills. What has life taught you that you can turn into a moneymaker? Let’s explore seven different ways to boost your cash flow by using your car.
1. Make Money with Your Car Delivering Food & Groceries
Back in the day, I drove a silver Outback that got me through college in the hills of Ithaca, NY. Thinking about that car makes me nostalgic for my old food delivery job. Neighborhood eateries almost always need delivery drivers, as do third-party delivery companies. Some grocery stores also hire delivery drivers, and so do companies that get paid by people to deliver their groceries. You can even deliver alcohol if you live in a state that allows it.
2. Drive for a Ridesharing Company
Ridesharing is different from carpooling. You may be behind the wheel in both scenarios, but ridesharing you do with perfect strangers. You need to meet a rideshare company’s requirements before they’ll let you drive. Requirements differ depending on the rideshare company and, often, by location. Some commonly held rules include:
Rideshare companies often require you to get a specific license. For example, three in New York City require drivers to comply with the licensing, coursework, insurance, and vehicle requirements of the local Taxi and Limousine Commission (TLC). There’s a $49 fee just to take the TLC exam, among other fees.1
3. Renting Your Wheels
If you use your car infrequently, or if vacation awaits, you may consider renting it out. Several companies run online marketplaces where you can offer your car for rental, and customers choose the vehicle they want based on what’s available, with pick-up and drop-off at designated locations. Think of it like a homestay or vacation rental company for cars.
If you live in the right location, this could help you generate dollars with little effort. For example, several of these ride-renting services operate only in certain major metropolitan areas, such as Portland, OR; Chicago, IL; Washington, D.C.; San Francisco, Oakland, and Berkely, CA; Boston, MA; and parts of northern New Jersey.
4. Advertising on Your Automobile
There are national companies that will pay you to display ads on your car while you drive your daily route. You essentially turn your car into a mobile billboard for a select period of time. Some companies give drivers the final say on what ads they can put on their cars, while others may not. To qualify for car advertising, you usually have to drive regularly in high-traffic areas.
5. Moving and Towing
If you have a car with a tow/trailer hitch, or a truck with significant size and space, consider going pro as a part-time mover. You can make money with companies that will pay you to perform various tasks, like helping someone move or tow their stuff from point A to point B.
6. Be Your Own Roving Services Provider
Combine the mobility of your car with your skills and interests to bring a service to your customers’ driveways. For example, if you love cars and have auto mechanic experience, your go-to side hustle could be repairing people’s cars wherever they are. If you don’t have mechanical skills, you can drive to people’s homes to wash their cars. Has a snowplow ever accidentally blocked you in? Well, in that case, a truck and plow attachment could serve as a way to make some extra money in the winter months.
This approach turns your car into a mobile operation center: Come up with your own business model, work on your schedule, and price your services accordingly.
If you have a child-care background and an SUV, consider child pick-up services. Busy parents often need the help. Or, you could use that van sitting idle in the driveway as an airport shuttle service. If your vehicle has a ramp, consider researching how to become a medical transportation vehicle in your area.
Every business comes with startup costs and overhead. For example, you might have to pay for permits or a special license, and you may need to pay more for car insurance if you’re driving more. And you’re certainly going to be hitting the gas station more often. But you might be able to offset some overhead costs with a branded gas station credit card with rewards, discounts, and deals, or a general-purpose rewards credit card that provides cash back or other rewards for gas purchases at any gas station. For more, read “How Do Gas Credit Cards Work?”
It’s a good idea to keep accurate records to see how much of your car-based side-hustle costs you can deduct from your income on your tax return. You may be able to use the actual costs of operating your car, including gas, oil, tires, repairs, insurance, tolls, parking, garage fees, license fees, registration fees, lease payments, and depreciation. But what can and cannot be deducted can be difficult to understand, so it’s best to consult a tax professional.
The material made available for you on this website, Credit Intel, is for informational purposes only and is not intended to provide legal, tax or financial advice. If you have questions, please consult your own professional legal, tax and financial advisors.