Are these claims about free cars too good to be true? Are there companies who will actually provide you a free car?
Yes, almost, but not quite true. There's a little more to it. However, there's enough truth in it and enough potential opportunity to make it worth a serious further look.
The companies DO exist, and they DO pay people to drive, and they DO provide free cars. Real people are currently participating in these kinds of programs every day.
How Does it Work?
In short, you agree to drive a car that displays advertising for a company's product or service. Since you do the advertising, you get a free car to drive or get paid to drive your own car. In some cases, you may get a free car AND get paid to drive too.
These arrangements are typically not handled directly by the company selling the product or service, but by an marketing or advertising company hired by the product/service company. Some of these marketing and advertising companies provide brand-new vehicles, some offer almost-new vehicles from their fleet, others may pay you to drive your own car.
The company "wraps" the car in an easily-removable paint-safe vinyl film that contains an attractive graphic ad that promotes a client company's product or service. For example, the ad might promote a cell phone service or a new restaurant in town.
Some ads might cover the entire vehicle (looks great on SUVs, minivans, PT Cruisers), some only partially, and some only on side or rear windows. Don't worry, you can see just fine through windows that have vinyl ads applied.
The company offering the product or service pays the advertising company, who pays you to drive your own car or provides you a free car with the advertising already applied.
The amount you get paid, or whether you get a free car, depends primarily on three factors:
- Number of miles you drive per month
- Where you drive
- Where you park
In other words, you're selected according to the number of people who will potentially see your wrapped vehicle in an average day.
You'll be paid more and have a better chance at a free vehicle if you drive lots of miles and drive in a heavily populated and high traffic area. In some cases, you may be asked to drive a specific route every day. The more people that have a chance of seeing your car as it's being driven or where it's parked, the greater your opportunity.
If you only drive a few blocks to a part-time job, back and forth to school in the suburbs, or just to church on Sundays, you probably won't qualify for this kind of program.
It's not too difficult to figure out whether or not you might qualify for one of these cars-for-free programs when you consider the objectives of the advertisers. They simply want their ads to be seen by as many people as possible in a specific area.
What's the Catch ?
You have to be at least 18 years old, have a drivers license, and have a good driving record. You pay for insurance and, in some cases, for maintenance, especially if you drive your own car.
New cars aren't always available and you may not be able to drive the make/model of your choice. However, depending on the company, you may have enough choices that you can find something that you like.
You may or may not be able to select the ad that goes on your car or the duration that the ad stays on the car. Of course, if you don't like the ad program, you can turn it down and wait for a better one. Most ads are attractive and well designed so that you wouldn't be embarrassed to be seen with it.
Keep in mind that the "free" car belongs to the advertising company, not you. At the end of the agreement, which could be as much as five years, you give the car back.
Also remember that the ad stays on your car 24 hours a day, seven days a week. You can't take it on and off. If this is your only car, you must be prepared to drive the car everywhere you go — to weddings and funerals, to work, to school, to the mall, and everywhere else that you drive.
Competition for free cars is very heavy, outstripping demand in many cases. It may take up to 90 days to get accepted into a program. Therefore, you have to be well qualified and patient in your attempt to land one of these deals. Free is not always easy.
But, for a car, it might all be worth it.
How Do I Sign Up ?
There are many companies, in many different locations in the U.S. and other countries, that use this form of vehicle-based advertising. Some companies only advertise in a specific city or advertise certain types of products. Some provide new cars, others only pay you to advertise using your own car, and some do both. Some do full-car wraps, others may only do spot ads.
Therefore, the best way to find the companies that would work best for you, where you live and drive, is to "subscribe" to an information directory that lists all such advertisers. These directories are compiled and provided by companies who specialize in this kind of service. There are a relatively small number of these companies, who can be found on the Internet, in newspaper ads, and in auto-related magazines.
There is typically a one-time charge for the directory subscription, usually about $30, and usually with a 90-day money-back guarantee.
Since the directory is always changing and being updated, make sure you get a lifetime "membership" if possible, and that all future updates to the directory are free.
With the list of advertising companies and contact information, it's up to you to apply for their programs. Some directory companies offer help with the application process, although you should not pay extra for this service. And you should not pay extra for a "premium" listing or to be placed at the "top" of the list of applicants.
Be honest and provide accurate information in your application. Most companies will check your credentials. Of course, there are no guarantees that you'll be accepted or that you'll find a deal that you like, but completing an application is a small investment of your time for the chance at a rewarding possibility.
Where Do I Get the Information I Need ?
The following companies listed below provide free-car and drive-for-pay program directories. The directories include programs in the U.S. and other countries all over the world.
Not Free, But Close
Salvage cars that have been declared total losses by insurance companies can often be a source of easily repaired vehicles at low cost. In many cases, these vehicles have only minor problems, possibly only water damage.