The Pros and Cons of a Vanity Plate

With the rise in all things personalized, the private vehicle license plate, otherwise known as the vanity plate, has become all the rage. It is no longer something that is only for the rich. It is affordable and fun; here are some insights to help you decide if it’s something for you.

What is a vanity plate, and who uses them?

We’ve all seen them and perhaps wondered what our own would be when we earned enough to get one. These personalized license plates are now and have been for some time in the realm of all those who drive out there. No longer are they the privilege of the rich and famous to have their names on their plates or a tongue-in-cheek reference to something we all get and that brings a smile to the face of other drivers. The personalized or vanity license plate is now widely available, and the specific allocation and restrictions will be made per state but use your seven letters carefully.

It can be a fun thing to plan and make for a great conversation starter. Below are some of the main pros and cons of the vanity plate.

The pros of having a vanity plate

Advertise your business

Local businesses have begun to steadily use personalized or private license plates to get the word out about their products or services. It is not a conventional means of advertising but has been proven to work, particularly in the smaller towns and for community-based businesses.

The vanity plate creates a clear memory for those who recognize the plate and are able to read what it says, which all good marketing hopes for. The mobile work van can, thus, become a mobile marketing mechanism. Every time you choose a parking space should also be considered an advertising opportunity. Depending on the plate, it could also be an opportunity to interact with potential customers, who may want to ask about the plate or enquire if you really do what it says on the van. Just make sure that the plate reads exactly as you want it to; any confusion will be a disservice for the business.

Make a statement

The personalized license plate is the ultimate in personalization without having to go to west coast customs or redoing the exterior of the car. It adds a very personal touch and will set the car apart from all the others out there. Just as a business would use the license plate for advertising, the right vanity plate will serve as a personal brand statement for the owner or individual who drives the car.

It could be an investment

The private plate collector market has grown in recent times, with American dealers specializing in collecting old aluminum plates. So, think of your plate as an investment, and when you sell private reg for profit, you’ll be happy that you thought of those letters. There are some guidelines, though and, if it’s an investment, you can’t simply write your name on it.

Think carefully as to what you choose, and even buying already personalized plates can be a good way to make a profit. For some, the vanity plate is a work of art, and there are those who will collect them as such. So, it’s important to know what’s collectible and what’s trending before you delve in and spend any money on a vanity plate. The father and son who bought the ‘NEW YORK’ plate for their car are now looking at huge six-figure sums for this plate and will be able to sell the iconic image at will for what will be an unheard of profit.

The cons of a vanity plate

May be offensive to others

The word that you create and the letter combination that you use may be a personal joke and make perfect sense to you but be sure that it isn’t easily misconstrued and lead to offending others. The specific state DMV are responsible for approving plates, and they will not allow anything that they consider could offend others. Furthermore, if it does go through, the state will have the opportunity to change its mind and ban your personalized license plate every time you renew your registration.

Create unnecessary assumptions about the owner

It’s been called the vanity plate because the assumption is that the plate is an extension of the owner’s personality, and many may misread the intention. It could just be for a laugh and, yes, it is your personal preference, but like most choices, you will make, don’t expect everyone to like it. Before you use the plate, ask friends and family what they think and if the idea doesn’t go down well, perhaps think of a different plate.

Draw unwarranted fines

You must make sure that the vanity plate is not able to be cloned or copied in your state and elsewhere. There is a great story of a man with a NULL vanity plate that attracted thousands in fines every time a traffic officer entered that there was no/Null license plate on a vehicle that was being fined. The fines were then all sent to the man who had chosen NULL as his plate as a laugh; his wife’s vehicle was VOID. Although approved by the state, it was a computer glitch and the language used to complete the online fines that led to costly confusion.


The trend towards personalization and creating a personal brand is growing incredibly fast and has begun to affect and influence all walks of life. The automotive styling sector is one such sector, and for many, the cherry on top.