A private number plate is a popular way to add some personality to your vehicle, and for some savvy buyers, they’ve even become an investment piece, thanks to their often high value.
If you’re considering buying yourself some private number plates to put on your car, make sure you take the time to weigh up all the pros and cons first before making the purchase.
Pros and Cons of a Private Number Plate
Pro – It Can Be Great For Your Personal Branding
If your someone with a big personality that you like to show off, shouting about it with your car’s number plates is a great way to show off the kind of person you are. If you’re a business owner or offer specific services, it can also be a good way to advertise your company and what you do if you buy a plate in your business name. The right kind of personalized number plates on an already smart looking car can look pretty cool and often sophisticated.
Con – It Can Attract The Wrong Kind Of Attention
Not everybody can pull off clever personal number plates. Show your friends or family the number plate you’re thinking of buying and see what they think of it. If they seem confused by it or laugh at you, don’t do it. Make sure you run a search on anything you’re considering putting on a number plate to make sure that there is no second meaning that you’re unaware of that could attract negative attention. Check slang terms or the names of other businesses to avoid inappropriate associations, which could make your number plate draw attention that you would rather not get.
Try to avoid choosing anything that you intended to be funny, as the joke will soon wear thin after you’ve looked at it a few times. When the joke stops being funny, your plates will start to just look a bit tacky. Fit the wrong plates on a shabby looking car, and instead of seeming cool, you’ll look like you’re trying too hard to be wacky and different. Avoid looking foolish by choosing very carefully what you put on your personalized number plates, and think hard about how they will look on your car.
Pro – The Value Can Go Up
The uniqueness of a personal number plate can mean it will hold onto its value or it could even increase a little in value if you’re very lucky. Some collectors will buy private number plates instead of other kinds of stock options, in the hopes that the value will increase and they will be able to sell them on for a profit.
This does mean that if you want to buy a private plate for yourself to use, they are usually very expensive to purchase. However, if you want to get a plate with something more unusual on it, you should keep a close eye on the sites that sell cheap number plates, and you may just get lucky with a great deal, and save yourself quite a lot of money.
Con – They Are Usually Not Cheap
If you want something more common for your plates, for example, if you want your name but have a more common one, buying a private plate isn’t going to come cheap for you. If you do have to pay out a large amount of money for your new personalized number plate, you can hope that your number plate holds it’s valued later on so you can resell it and earn back some of the cash that you had to spend on it in the first place.
Pro – It Can Hide The Age of Your Car If You’re Selling It
It’s important to remember that it is illegal to deliberately make your car appear to be younger than it is with a new number plate. That said, you can make the age harder to tell by using private number plates. Standard number plates will give away the exact year the car was built, but personal number plates don’t have anything that refers to age.
If you’re selling the car later on, with its new plates, this could work in your favor if the car is in good condition for its age. Of course, if the buyer asks you will have to tell them the car’s actual age, but if they’re already interested in the car after seeing it, the age might put them off less and help them decide to make a purchase.
Con – There’s a Lot of Rules About Number Plates
As with any kind of car and traffic regulations, there are a lot of rules about what kind of number plates you can put on your car, and it is very important to follow them all to make sure your plates are legal. Most of the rules about number plates relate to making sure the plate is clear and easy to read by other vehicles while in traffic, and it’s also important that the plate isn’t misleading about the age of the car.
Check the rules where you live, but usually, private number plates must use a clear font in a standard size and be on the same color background as standard number plates. If you are allowed a different color, it must not make the plate difficult to read or obscure the numbers in any way. The background must be plain, as a patterned background can make the number plate harder to read. Your plates should be reflective so they can be read easily by other motorists in the dark or other low visibility conditions.
Check to see if your state requires a particular format, for example requiring the number plate to start with certain letters, or show the state the plate was issued in.
Due to these various rules and regulations, you may find you are pulled over more often by a traffic cop who wants to make sure your plates are legal, which can be a nuisance. Being pulled over more often could get annoying very quickly, especially if it starts to cause you delays on your journeys.
Michael launched Your Money Geek to make personal finance fun. He has worked in personal finance for over 20 years, helping families reduce taxes, increase their income, and save for retirement. Michael is passionate about personal finance, side hustles, and all things geeky.