5 steps you need to take before investing in registration plates

Customized plates are popular all over the world. In the US, we have vanity plates, but overseas in the UK, you can invest in registration plates.

For most motorists, registration plates are an afterthought, but for some, they’re big business. Indeed, some of the most sought-after plates sell for millions.

Regardless of what you think about the aesthetic qualities of number plates, for investors, they are undoubtedly attractive. However, making money from plates takes both time and knowledge, so before you decide an investment is right for you, there are five factors which you must bear in mind.

1. Shop Around

There are many private number plate combinations available, and although some numbers are exclusive to the mega-rich, others vary wildly in price, so you don’t want to pay over the odds for your plate.

Look at different sources, auctions, number plate dealers and online websites to make sure you don’t end up paying more than you ought to. Not only that, but shopping around will also allow you to see more combinations and therefore more easily decide the best one for you.

There are many sites where you can compare the price of plates and the variations of letters and numbers to find a plate that is both aesthetically pleasing and likely to be in demand. One website, Click4Reg, has over 45 million number plates to choose from, so buyers can find the plate that’s right for them.

2. Be prepared to wait

The plentitude of online customised number plate websites has made the process of purchasing plates quick and painless. However, selling a plate, or more precisely, waiting for a plate to appreciate in value, takes time.

So if you’re after a quick profit, you’d be best advised not to bother, unless you’re willing to stump up hundreds and thousands for the most immediately sought-after number plates, that is.

3. Think about what makes certain plates popular

Unlike many natural treasures that are valuable for their rarity, personalised number plates can be valuable for their commonality. Words and names that are more common — think 1AN or G30RGE – are possibly more likely to find prospective buyers than B34TR1X or H4D3N.

Alternatively, you could choose a word with a universal meaning. One online car dealer recommends choosing popular name phrases such as MAG1C or dateless number plates with few digits such as 2 EE.

4. Consider the motivation behind the biggest purchases

If you’re looking to invest in plates that will hopefully be bought by wealthy individuals, you must try and discern why exactly they will be attractive.

For some, plates are ego-boosting status symbols. The shorter the number on the plate, the more it’s worth. One of the most expensive plates ever sold was the number 1. It was bought by Saeed Abdul Ghaffar Khouri for Dh52.2 million (£7.2 million). Speaking about the purchase, Khouri said, “The price is fair. After all, who among us does not want to be number one?”

5. Pick a number plate you like!

If you take the steps above and buy number plates that are short, or hold common names, and research plates online, you have a good chance of finding a number plate that is both unique and sought-after. However, there’s one factor that trumps the rest, and that is whether you actually like it.

Chances are you may be the owner of said number plate for a number of years, while the worth increases. ABC Money gave the example of a number plate with the digits ELV1S purchased in 1990 for £75,000. In 2016, it was estimated to be worth £100,000. That’s a significant increase for the owner, who is hopefully an Elvis fan. But if they’re not, that’s a very long time to own a number plate you hate.