4 Ways to Make Money on the Side With Your Car
From peer-to-peer taxi services to new platforms that allow you to rent out your ride when it's idle, here are a few of the ways that a set of wheels can drive money-making opportunities.
1. Take Someone Else for a Ride
The emergence of Uber, Lyft, and other peer-to-peer taxi services have turned drivers with free time into cash-generating chauffeurs. "Be your own boss and get paid in fares for driving on your own schedule," Uber promises on its website.
You don't need a chauffeur license or cab medallion to sign up for any of the growing number of peer-to-peer taxi services. You sign up as an independent contractor, using the Uber app to pick up nearby fares that fit your availability.
It's not a perfect gig. Uber once claimed that drivers were averaging $25 an hour as Uber contractors, but that doesn't take into account gas, wear and tear, and any of the factors that may increase maintenance or insurance costs. However, it's still the most popular way to get paid using your car these days, and that's not going to change unless the industry falls under tighter regulation.
2. Feed the World
If you enjoy the concept of providing a driving service but prefer to deal with bags of takeout food instead of chatty passengers, there are plenty of upstarts looking for Uber-like drivers. Postmates -- a leader in this niche -- has an app that offers available drivers the opportunity to pick up a takeout order. If accepted, the driver will then be notified where it ultimately has to be dropped off.
There are challenges. Easy parking may not be available at the restaurant. Unlike peer-to-peer cab platforms, food delivery services have a peak period between 6 p.m. and 8 p.m. That may actually be convenient for folks with a 9-to-5 looking for some extra scratch, but you're also at the mercy of tips beyond commissions.
3. Getting By on Your Own Supply
Another booming niche is general delivery service. Instacart is a leader here, promising independent contractors as much as $25 an hour to shop or deliver grocery orders. As long as you're at least 21, have a recent smartphone, and can lift 30 to 40 pounds, you might be a good fit for Instacart. You may not even need a car for this one, since personal shoppers don't have to be the ones who make the actual delivery.
This niche could get crowded soon. Uber and even Amazon.com (AMZN) are reportedly testing out crowdsourced delivery services. It's a win-win-win for small businesses that can't offer in-house delivery, drivers and shoppers looking for money, and homebodies willing to pay up for convenience.
4. Share the Wheel
One of the earliest ride-share models involved letting someone else pay to rent your car. Companies including RelayRides and Getaround offer owners the ability to rent cars right out of their own driveways.
Most cars are idle most of the time, so this does make sense in theory. The downside to this peer-to-peer auto sharing model is that having a lot of people go through your car can be a maintenance hassle, even if they do have to refuel your vehicle before giving it back. However, of these four options it's the one in which the car owner doesn't have to do any physical labor beyond, with RelayRides, being there to hand over the keys and get them back, or, with Getaround, have an automated unlocking device installed .
Make the most of asset-sharing. The keys to making it all pay off for you are in your hands.
Motley Fool contributor Rick Munarriz has no position in any stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool recommends and owns shares of Amazon.com. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. Check out our free report on one great stock to buy for 2015 and beyond.