8 ways to make money from your car
Looking to make some extra income? Today owning a car gives you plenty of options...
We all know cars cost a lot of money.
Buying them is just the beginning. You need to fuel them up, and pay to keep them insured and maintained. And if you own them, they lose value 24/7, even if you don’t use them. Conversely, if you use them a lot, they’ll lose value even quicker.
However, they don’t have to be such a drain on your resources. Your car can in fact be used as a tool to earn either a living, or just some money on the side, or at least to defray some operating costs. Here’s our guide to doing so.
Before we go on, remember, in most cases you’ll have to declare this income and pay tax on it - sorry, we don’t make the rules - and there may be a requirement to obtain a different type of driving licence and make changes to your vehicle insurance.
Carpool with workmates
Many large employers use noticeboards (either the old fashioned ones or, increasingly, electronic ones on internal websites) to advertise these in offices and factories. They will link you up with workmates who live in your locality. In most places, the majority of car insurers will continue to cover your car, as long as no profit is made. So, if all the money goes towards covering your car’s running costs, you’ll be fine. Work out the fuel cost of the journey, and split it out.
Another bonus: for those in regions which have them, you’ll be able to use the High Occupancy Vehicle (HOV) lanes on your commute, so you might even save some time too. HOV lanes in the UK are still relatively rare, in places like Leeds and Bristol, but numbers are growing.
The downside is that while your start-the-day time will often tally with your passenger, your end-of-day may not – which causes problems if one of you is on a deadline and needs to stay late, for example. But for fixed-hours and shift jobs, this might be less of a problem. Here’s some of our colleagues getting into the carpool spirit, commuting in a McLaren F1.
Carpool with strangers
Even if you don’t find workmates that live near you, there will be others who work for a different company near you, so that’s where apps come in. They cut travel costs, and make you some money back for something you’ll already be doing. You might even make a new friend. These modern apps have rider reviews, and allow insistence on women-only for female drivers.
HOV lanes are also open to you. Not everyone, however, is comfortable with sharing their car with a stranger, and you lack the same workplace as something you have in common to gossip and complain about.
Apps & services include: BlaBlaCar, Liftshare, Gocarshare
Potential income: Help cover your running costs. Liftshare reckons you could save yourself £900 per year
Advertise on it
Believe it or not, there are companies out there which will connect you with advertisers to display their brand on your car. This involves stickers to place on the sides and windows, and in theory at least are easily removable, so don’t hurt the value of your car.
You may feel self conscious, and you will need to drive sensibly – if you don’t, other drivers may complain to your advertiser and your career in the industry could prove a short one.
Apps & services include: Carquids, Rollin Ads
Potential income: Carquids estimate £100 per month
How about renting out your car when you don’t use it? You register your car with the companies that offer this service. You do get the final say on who the car is hired out to, and can also hand the keys over in person. Some services offer the opportunity to insert a blackbox to monitor usage, though privacy rules in some places may restrict this.
Obviously the amount you make is based on the model of your car, its age, its mileage and condition, and how often you rent it out. And be aware, the added miles will increase the rate at which your car depreciates; most apps offer the ability to restrict miles to around 150 miles per day, with per-mile charges if you break that in the region of 58p. Some car types are much more popular than others, depending on location.
Generally speaking, your car needs to be available – which means renting out your ‘everyday’ car won’t be a goer. You’ll need to use the human touch, which will help your reviews on the service; remember, these services only exist because people have dialled out of the traditional car rental scene, for whatever reason.
Potential income: UK estimates suggest you can earn around £23 per day renting out a late model Ford Fiesta. Commission rates from the services can be hefty – 25% in the case of Turo – but they do at least take care of insuring the car during the rental period, which is one less headache.
Apps & services include: Getaround, Turo, HyreCar, Drivy, Hiyacar
This one is more about making money from your parking space, but it can be lucrative and involve you having to do very little apart from allowing someone else to use it. Various services allow you to sign up. Location is vital. Few people want or need to rent a space in the middle of nowhere where parking is plentiful.
However, if you live near a train station, airport or entertainment venue, you could earn some decent extra income – you can usually rent per hour, day, week, or month. The services usually take a commission on the deal, which in the case of JustPark is a reasonable 3% of the deal’s value, although for a monthly arrangement it will charge 20% on the first month only, then 3% after that. Park On My Drive differs by just charging you an annual registration fee.
Potential income: JustPark estimates a decent spot could earn you £1000 per year. Recent data from YourParkingSpace suggests a spot in a nice part of London could be worth over £2200 a year.
Apps & services include: Spot, Just Park, SpotHero, ParkLet, YourParkingSpace, ParkOnMyDrive
This is the one service listed in this story which nearly all readers will have experienced, albeit usually from the other side of the fence. Since launching a few short years ago, the ability to summon a taxi from a smartphone has upended the industry across the world. The biggest player is Uber, which now operates in 20 major cities in the UK and hauled in £8.7 billion globally in revenue in 2018.
The advantages of driving for such a service is that you can switch on or off as you please, and at the end of your chosen hours can request a fare that heads in the same direction as your home, though before that time you generally don’t get to know where the rider wants to go before you pick them up.
‘On time’ tends to be high – there’s a lot of trade around in most places, but per-mile rates are relatively low so you have to work at it. It’s usually pretty safe - after all, the app knows your passenger’s identity and has their credit card number - and the drivers we’ve spoken to say it’s much safer than working as a traditional taxi driver.
You will need specialist liability insurance, however, and because of the enormous mileage that professionals clock up, this can be very expensive. But cheaper versions are available that activate only when the app is active.
Finally, depending on your country, region, you may need a special commercial driving licence, though usually only when you drive as a full-time job as opposed to a sideline gig.
Apps & services include: Uber, Gett, Kabbee
Potential income: Uber in the UK claims that a driver working a 35-45 hour week should make around £565 per week, after Uber takes its cut but before vehicle costs such as fuel and insurance.
How to make more money? Mainly from tips, 100% of which go to you in most cases. US website Ridester suggests freebies like water and mints can more than pay for themselves, alongside plain old-fashioned friendly, polite, and professional behaviour towards passengers, and good, smooth driving. Higher earnings – and costs – are available driving more upscale vehicles, for example Uber Lux, but the expectation at that level is for dress and manners as good as a chauffeur.
One of the clever ways ride-sharing drivers boost their income is to be simultaneously drivers for other type of service, such as grocery collection and delivery. This can boost ‘on’ time and thus income levels. There are several services you can sign up with. In most cases you’ll have to submit to a criminal background check, be over 21, have a decent newish smartphone, be eligible to work, and be able to lift weights of at least 14kg.
Otherwise, it’s a bit like ride-sharing, except for the fact you meet your customer at the end of the journey rather than the start. But it usually involves doing the actual shopping as well, so make sure you enjoy that part as well as driving. As usual, there’s a review system with optional tipping, so it pays to be polite.
Apps & services include: Instacart, Peapod, Shipt, Fresh Direct
Potential income: In America, Instacart reckon you’ll make at least US$10 (£7.70) per hour working for it, with potential to make up to US$25 (£19.23) per hour, potentially even more if you have generous high-tipping customers.
Restaurant food delivery
These services followed on quite closely from the ride-sharing services, and indeed in the case of UberEats, are direct spin-offs. A bit like working for a service like Uber, you’ll have to work hard to make a half-decent living, but there should be a fair bit of work around in most larger cities, at most hours of the day. Much like grocery deliveries, you’ll generally pick up your food from a local restaurant and deliver in your vehicle.
Unlike grocery delivery, time is more the essence; people like their food hot, and tips may be dependent on that. As you know, people like to eat at breakfast time, lunchtime and dinner time, so you’re going have to work those periods to maximise revenue.
Potential income: UberEats pay a minimum of £4 per delivery in the UK, before Uber’s 25% service fee. Just Eat will pay you £150 just to sign up, assuming you perform 25 deliveries within 25 days. Surge pricing applies at busy times, so you’ll make more then. Tips will be an important way to boost income.
Apps & services include: Caviar, Deliveroo, DoorDash, Munchery, EatStreet, Uber Eats, Grubhub, JustEat, Postmates
These services are generally less time sensitive than grocery and hot food delivery services, which may reduce stress levels. With the burgeoning growth of e-commerce, there are many opportunities to become a freelance delivery agent for many of the largest players, who often need ‘last mile’ help to get from a local distribution centre to a consumer’s doorstep.
The big player in most places is inevitably Amazon, where drivers on its Flex service can find themselves delivering for Amazon.com and PrimeNow.
Potential income: Amazon Flex estimates earnings of £15 per hour, with earnings on the upper end dependent on having a larger vehicle with more capacity for packages.
Apps & services include: Amazon Flex, Favor, Roadie, Hermes, Yodel