If you’re looking to save money, most financial experts say the first thing you should cut is your car. Between maintenance, gas, insurance and the occasional scratch and dent, owning a vehicle isn’t cheap — especially if you live in a major city where you also have to factor in the cost of daily parking, which can reallyadd up.
Owning a car doesn’t have to be a financial burden, though — and I’m not talking about cutting corners by choosing cheap gas or skipping necessary maintenance. Instead of looking at your car as a money-pit, turn it into a money-making tool. Here are a few creative ways to use your car to earn some serious cash.
1. Ridesharing. Several companies offer apps that let consumers use their smartphones to instantly hail a driver to chauffeur them around town or to the airport. Two of the most popular options, Uber and Lyft, hire drivers like you and me — people who get paid use their own cars to drive passengers to relatively nearby destinations.
These companies have a strict screening policy, so you can’t just sign up today and start earning cash tomorrow. However, as long as you have a clean driving background (and a clean car) you should be good to go. You’ll be able to set your own hours, so if you’re not into driving around drunk twenty-somethings at midnight on Fridays, you can opt to drive businessmen to and from the airport on weekday mornings.
Uber helps drivers make cash through its innovative app, where unlike in taxicabs, the tip is automatically included in the price of the trip. The company has previously stated the median driver in New York City makes $90,000 a yearin “business income,” though this doesn’t included the costs of gas or insurance. Most drivers also don’t consider Uber their primary source of income, though “16 percent [of drivers] say Uber is their largest source of income but not the only one,” according to a survey the company released in January.
If you have a car — and need some extra cash — partnering with a ridesharing service might not be such a bad idea.
2. Renting. If you travel often, leaving your car at the airport is a hassle. Not only can parking at the airport cost you a lot of money, but there’s always a risk of damage or even theft.
But what if you could get paid to leave your car at the airport? Rent your vehicle out through FlightCar, which connects you with other travelers pre-screened by the company. In addition to getting paid if your car is rented out, you’ll get free parking and a car wash.
How much you can earn depends on what type of car you have, which airport you choose and how many miles the renter drives. For example, if I left a 2014 Hyundai Tucson at San Francisco International while I went on vacation, I’d get paid 10 cents for every mile someone else drove it. While most cars are driven less than 40 miles on average per listing day, if your car is driven more than an average of 75 miles per day it’s listed, you’ll get paid 40 cents for each mile over 75.
Considering the alternative — paying around $10 a day to just let my car sit in a parking lot until I’m home — this is definitely a program worth checking out if you live near one of these locations. If FlightCar doesn’t operate at your preferred airport, try similar companies like Relay Rides or GetAround.
3. Advertising. Don’t feel like driving strangers around, or letting strangers drive your car? Another great way to make money with your car is to turn it into a moving billboard for brands you love.
A company like Advercar can help match you up with brands that will pay you touse your car as an advertising platform. The brands Advercar represents want to reach specific audiences with their ads, so they’ll pick drivers who meet certain criteria, such as those with long commutes or parking spots in highly trafficked areas.
To qualify as an Advercar driver, you’ll need to drive a 2007 or newer vehicle in excellent condition, drive at least 30 minutes a day and complete an interview process.
If turning your car into a billboard doesn’t sound too embarrassing, consider applying to Advercar or other advertising companies. You could make up to $500 per month for each campaign. Plus, since you’d be assigned a campaign based on your driving patterns, you wouldn’t have to go out of your way; you’d just drive as you normally do and pocket the extra cash.