Ask Stacy: Can I Get Paid to Put an Ad on My Car?

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We all want to earn a little extra scratch. And what better way to do it than by getting paid for doing something you’d be doing anyway – like driving around.

Here’s a question I recently received. Maybe you’ve seen a similar ad and been tempted to respond…

Hi, this sounds like a great job for me looking to make extra cash. I would drive a new car provided by a company, who pay me to drive it around with all their ads all over it. I would have to pay a one-time-only membership fee for $39.95. Is this too good to be true?
- Alice

The instant I read this email, a great tune popped into my head. Remember the song by Dire Straits, Money for Nothing? Before we continue, have a quick look at the following video to see what computer animation looked like in 1985 – and turn it up to remind yourself and those in the next cubicle that you’re still a rocker at heart. Then we’ll move on and answer the question that reminded me of this classic hit…

So if the question is “where can I find money for nothing,” there’s only one answer.

Money for nothing?

The ad Alice referred to is indeed an example of money for nothing. Unfortunately, however, the people getting the money are the ones who placed the ad, not the ones who answer it. This is one of many classic scams, with all the classic elements…

  • It’s reasonable: Why wouldn’t companies want to advertise this way?
  • It doesn’t cost much: What’s $39.95 compared to even a remote chance you can get paid to drive a new car around?
  • It offers an element of truth: We’ve all seen cars wrapped with ads. Somebody must be getting paid to drive them.

There actually are companies that pay people to drive wrapped cars around – or at least there were when I last did this story in 2006. But the waiting list was thousands of people long, you already had to have a car, you had to live in a major metropolitan area, and most importantly, there was no membership fee involved.

I haven’t seen the ad Alice is referring to, but I don’t have to. I wrote a post a while back called The 10 Golden Rules of Scam Prevention. When you’re done here, check it out. In the meantime, here’s a cut and paste of two rules that apply to this topic…

Rule No. 6: Seek and you shall find – in 0.31 seconds.

Last month, I got an email from a reader asking if she should pay some website $400 to get a government grant for her small business. Here’s what I did: I went to a search engine and put in the words “government grants for small business.” In 0.31 seconds, I was directed to a U.S. government website with these exact words: “The federal government does not provide grants for starting and expanding a business.” Thus, the site was a rip-off. Problem solved in less time than it probably took for the reader to send me the question.

The Internet is a powerful tool – use it.

Following that rule, I just put the phrase, “Can you get paid to drive a car with ads?” into a search engine. In 0.29 seconds, I got 468,000 results. From those results, I quickly found the following…

  • IveTriedThat.com: “Your chances of getting paid to drive ads on your car are about the same as you becoming the next American Idol. And above all, don’t pay for a list of companies that hire drivers!”
  • InternetCrimeComplaintCenter: “Individuals were advised they would be paid an average of $400-$600 per week in exchange for driving around with vinyl advertising signs wrapped around their vehicle…The employment offer was, of course, entirely bogus.”

Now, here’s another of my 10 Golden Rules that applies…

Rule No. 10: If it sounds too good to be true…

This saying has been repeated so many times it’s practically meaningless. But it’s true. The best way to avoid getting ripped off is to simply ignore people and companies who promise simple solutions to complex problems. They don’t exist. Nobody is going to show you how to buy a house for $398, nobody is going to provide a consistent 12 percent return without risk, and nobody knows how to make big bucks with little effort at home in their spare time. Think about it: If these claims were true, why would the people making them share that information with you?

In the 22 years that I’ve been doing consumer news, I would say that every single time somebody asked, “Is this too good to be true,” the answer was yes. If anyone, no matter who they are or where they live, could get a new car this way, wouldn’t all of us be driving billboards?

Even if you’re in Dire Straits, I’d steer clear of this example of money for nothing. And by the way, I also have no idea where to get chicks for free.

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