How to Make Money with Your Car: Creating Financial Freedom with Your Wheels
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Finding a good side hustle doesn't always mean brainstorming a bunch of new creative ideas or having to spend a huge sum of money on new equipment. Sometimes you can find the ideal source of extra revenue by using what you already have. Your car or van, for example. There are many companies set up in the gig economy for serving others. Simply having a car, a smartphone phone, and a good driving record is all you need to start earning (and you also consider joining an automotive affiliate program). In fact, you might be surprised just how many ways there are to make money with your car (find out if Carvana is legit).
There are many companies based around offering services you want. This article not only goes over common options like Uber, Lyft, and Instacart, but also does a deep dive into other much lesser known options, as well. If you want to know how to make money with your car you've come to the right place! Just read on.
The first way to make money with your car is to not overlook the obvious. Delivery driver jobs are always in demand. No matter what the situation, no matter what the economy, there are delivery driver jobs open. The actual wages for delivery drivers are often not very high but the right job can mean a lot of money in tips.
Many restaurants need delivery drivers. Pizza places are an obvious example. However, many different restaurants offer deliver services. Depending on where you live there might be other businesses that offer these services, as well. Flowers, special courier services, and specialty delivery services are all ways to make money using your vehicle.
There are even regular businesses that hire part-time drivers to make deliveries to businesses that make regular orders or to older clients (learn more in our guide on how to start a delivery business). When it comes to learning how to make money with your car, the delivery driver route offers a surprising number of opportunities. Possibly with a lot of cash tips, as well.
You need a license to be a registered driver of a taxi cab. That said, multiple mobile apps have allowed anyone with a solid driving record to apply as an independent taxi. These apps allow you to pick up people, act as a taxi to get them from point A to point B, and get part of the fee.
There are many individuals who use one or more of these programs to put together a full-time income. Even more use this as a side gig to bring in more revenue. You're not obligated to only use one company, either. You can earn money by using both Uber and Lyft. Many people do just that.
Uber really changed the game when it comes to side gig apps. Customers love Uber because it means there are always locals available who know the city available to give a ride quickly. If accepted as a driver, you get to mark when you are available.
This allows you to earn on your schedule. This flexibility can help you to work around one or more other jobs. Uber likes to tote a company-led study suggesting drivers across the country average up to $19 an hour. Other sites like Glassdoor suggest that the actual average is more in the $12-15 an hour range.
Uber is a great way to make your vehicle pay you instead of vice-versa.
Lyft has emerged as the biggest competitor to Uber's dominance over the paid ride app marketplace. Lyft is similar to Uber, and it pays drivers on both a per minute and per mile scale for every single paid trip. The higher the demand at the time, the higher the rates, the bigger the cut you get as a driver.
Lyft does offer an earnings calculator which lets potential drivers get a fairly decent idea of what they can make based on the city they live in and hours they plan on driving. This is a neat little tool to give you a realistic idea of what's possible.
Glassdoor has the average for drivers as $16 an hour. There are some outliers where drivers in large cities who put in a lot of peak time hours on the weekend can make many hundreds of dollars in even just one night.
Many individuals choosing to use their car to make a living will use Lyft and Uber.
While not quite the same as the clear “taxi focus” that Uber and Lyft has, iCarpool will be an interesting option for some people. Especially if your main vehicle is a van, min-van, SUV, or spacious 4-door car. For this particular app, you place in a place you're driving to and time. Others using the service can “rent” a space in your vehicle to get there, or there and back.
So you get paid to pick up other people that are already on the way to where you're going anyway. That's a win-win as you can go to where you need to go anyway, help others head the same way, and you get some extra cash for helping out.
Obviously there won't always be people interested in carpooling with you. There's no denying that iCarpool is still an interesting almost passive income app that will allow you to sometimes get paid for going where you were headed anyway.
Rent Your Car
Did you know renting your car is a thing? Sometimes a person can generally get by without a vehicle but has that one time they just need a set of wheels for a day. At other times an unexpected breakdown means the need for a car to run a few errands before the end of the day.
Whatever the reason, the demand is definitely there for renting cars from other individuals. You can often make good money with these apps while the person using them still pays far less than a traditional car rental.
Some major apps for this include:
Each one has its own terms so it's important for you to do the research on which one (or more) you're most comfortable with using.
If you have an extra vehicle, that can be a great way to earn extra money from your vehicle instead of having it just sitting there. Most of us don't just have an extra vehicle in the driveway. That doesn't mean this method won't work!
There tend to be two main situations where someone can rent out their car. Even if it's their only mode of transportation.
From the Airport
If you're going to be flying out of the city for days or even weeks, why not rent your car to someone flying into the city? This idea is what the FlightCar app was originally based around. Although they folded in 2017, there are a variety of localized apps that have taken its place.
These apps allow you to rent your vehicle out during a time you know you won't need it. In addition to that, renting out your vehicle can even save you on those pesky airport parking fees.
That's a pretty creative idea for how to make money with your car. Especially since it's earning side income for you while you're even out of town!
While at Work
Most other car rental apps tend to focus on short-term needs. This is where apps like RelayRides shine. You're going to be at work anyway, why not let your car earn for you? Then by the time you're done you have your car back to go home. For individuals with jobs requiring 10 or 12 hour shifts this can be an especially good option.
Renting out your car is an option that some people are going to be hesitant to try out, and that's fair (but we found out whether or not the popular option Turo is legit). This won't be for everyone. Especially if you tend to have a very nice, new, or high-end car. However, if you're willing to share the keys, this can be a way to make your vehicle work for you. Sometimes when you're even out of town!
Play Independent Delivery Person
Playing a delivery person doesn't always mean going to Pizza Hut or Dominos. The explosion of delivery apps means even if your favorite restaurant doesn't offer delivery, you can probably get their food delivered to your door, anyway.
There are more independent delivery apps out there than we could hope to fully cover.
The following five give a good sense of just how many opportunities there all. Not to mention the variety of specific food delivery services in between them all.
Uber Eats is one of the most widely known options when it comes to offering delivery from your favorite local restaurants without delivery options. Found as an option in locations that have a strong Uber presence, if you find the need for taxis lacking you can always pick up some orders for delivery.
Uber Eats serves favorite local restaurants participating in the program as well as fast food chains like McDonald's. You get paid per delivery with most of the income based on what people are tipping that day. The average hourly income comes out between $8-12 an hour. The best times to work are obvious lunch and dinner rushes.
DoorDash is another major delivery company that is always looking for new drivers with a clean driving record through their app. Plenty of people want food from their favorite restaurant but can't, or simply don't want to, go out. Using DoorDash you can pick up the order, deliver it, and get some extra income on the side.
While they advertise rates that can get as high as $25 an hour, and an average of $15, most drivers find that's optimistic for all but the busiest hours. Most fall in the much more modest $7-10 an hour range. This is especially true of off-peak hours in many places though if you work in a high price city like San Francisco or New York, you may earn more money there.
This is still a solid way to take some extra hours and get money to pay off debt, save up for a big purchase, or just fatten up the bank account. Get some really good tippers and this can turn into a very nice way to get paid just for using your car to deliver food.
Instacart is another app that is all about letting good drivers with their own vehicle make deliveries for other people. Instead of letting restaurants outsource delivery like DoorDash and Uber Eats, Instacart is all about home food delivery from grocery stores.
You get the list of things to purchase and at what store, you pick the stuff up while marking off the app one by one, and then deliver them. You get a small payment per delivery but tips tend to be stronger with Instacart than many of the other apps.
Why? Because if someone really needs groceries at home, they are willing to pay it. Thankful people are going to be likely to give a little extra in appreciation for the extra hassle of unloading all the groceries.
There's a pretty good article here on Side Hustle Nation about someone who made $10,000 driving for Instacart part time so the money is out there.
Amazon is maybe the most recognizable company name in the world. That company also needs help to keep up their legendary ability for fast delivery. Part of that is done with their own infrastructure. Amazon Flex is the other part of that equation. Make deliveries locally of Amazon packages. People get what they ordered online and you get paid for delivering these packages.
This isn't going to be available everywhere, but it is a position that is always open for more positions. The demand for orders from Amazon isn't likely to disappear any time soon.
For many people, sometimes you just need a drink. Saucy is one of several services that specialize in the delivery of alcohol. As of this writing it is only available in six cities (Chicago, Los Angeles, Oakland, Sacramento, San Diego, & San Francisco), but they may expand in the near future.
The pitch to users is simple. Alcohol delivered to your house within 30 minutes. For drivers in these cities who can take an area and a shift, the pay is pretty good. On the low end the average tends to be $10 an hour on a slow day but the numbers can easily top $20 an hour, especially on weekends.
You might be surprised how many people out there either don't drive, don't like to drive, or can drive but don't have a vehicle. This might be among a group of friends, or you may choose to advertise on sites like Craigslist.
If you're part of a large group like a church, it's worth asking around. Case in point, about a decade ago I was between moving from one place to another without a car and had to start training for a new job…that was 13 miles away from my apartment. Shot a note to the pastor of the last church I went to, he knew someone unemployed with a car, and I gladly paid gas money and $20 a day just to get dropped off in the morning for two weeks.
We've all had the feeling of there being far too much to do and not enough time. Pick up some of the slack for someone and they are often happy to even pay cash for the help.
Sometimes people need help with one specific task. This is where an app like task rabbit comes in. People request someone with a vehicle for a very specific type of work. This might be loading a sofa into a pickup to take to a dorm. Or filling a van with bags of cans to take to the recycling center. Or something else entirely.
With task rabbit you will see what a person specifically needs to be done, and you get paid for offering your help as well as the transportation (and you may also be interested in our in-depth guide on how to start a transportation business). This lets you pick and choose the tasks that are best for you. Then you can leave the ones that aren't great fits to someone else.
Advertise for Someone
If you are really concerned about your car looking brand new and spotless then this might not be right for you. However, if you don't mind wrapping your car in a large advertisement there will be plenty of sponsors willing to pay.
You can look at making a deal with a local business directly or work with a broker like Wrapify.com which specialize in connecting you with companies eager to get their branding out. Back window decals often go for around $50 a month while people willing to put a full wrap on the car can get up to $400 a month in some cases.
This is a strategy that isn't just confined to the track of NASCAR. This has been used by many businesses to advertise locally from construction to real estate. If you don't mind making your car a moving billboard, you can receive a monthly payment.
Moving & Hauling Services
Look, nobody likes to move. No matter how many times you've done it, packing everything up is always more work and takes more time than you think it will. If you have a truck or large van you can help out by offering moving and hauling services.
This can be done with task related apps, from answering ads of people looking for more vehicle help, or even just keeping track of what your social circle is up to. Many people are perfectly fine with a car or two until they need to move a couple of pieces of furniture. Then they need help.
Moving and hauling services are always going to be in demand. This is a great way not only to make money with a side gig but also help out others as you do so. This is one of the main ways to make money with a van.
Learn to Flip
One of my first really successful side gigs out of college was going to flea markets, estate sales, and garage sales looking for old antique books. The emergence of eBay in the early 2000s was also a part of that. Playing the part of a “book hound,” I would find valuable first editions for usually less than $5, and then turn around and sell them to collectors or antique book sellers for far more.
Flipping wasn't a widespread thing back then, but the opportunities have only grown. I always loved reading, writing, and history, so antique books made sense. I learned about them, studied the subject while at home, and went out focusing on that.
There are thousands of collectibles and antiques out there you can specialize in. Flipping can apply to new things, too. Find something cheap, sell it for more. The entire retail arbitrage movement came from this.
Learn about how this works. If you can find a direct mentor, great. If not, there are plenty of amazing resources online. The Ultimate Arbitrage Course on Udemy is an excellent inexpensive resource. Look at Gary Vee's Trash Talk videos.
Figure out what most interests you or excites you and start learning. You can then use your car to learn what the local area has to offer. Garage sales, flea markets, and estate sales are three fantastic options. Depending on what you focus on there might be even more choices.
This is a fun way of making money with your vehicle that can also lead to making money vlogging with YouTube videos (check out how to start vlogging), blogging online, or both.
Taking Care of the Business Side
There are going to be expenses that come with using your car to create business income. While using your car to make money, there are going to be extra expenses. You need to keep these in mind if you are going to get the most out of your efforts.
Money you make on the side gets taxed at a higher rate because you're covering your own taxes when self-employed. Many first time entrepreneurs are surprised by this. You pay half of those when working for someone else, and the employer covers half. When you're making your own money, you're paying the full 15.3% yourself.
Keep those expenses in mind. You need to save some for taxes.
Also keep in mind that if you use your car 2x, 5x, or 10x as much then you will rack up more expenses for vehicle care. Changing out tires, oil changes, and fuel costs are all going to be higher and you need to take that into account.
Tracking these expenses and staying ahead of it will help determine just how profitable your car-based side hustles will be. There are many ways to earn money with your vehicle, but you don't want to end up getting hit hard by the tax man later.
There's no shortage of ways to make money using your car (and there are even ways to get paid to drive a car across the country). Whether you use several of these services together to make a full-time income or create a good paying side gig, there are plenty of opportunities here. You can take a major expense of your car and turn it into a serious financial positive.
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