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Finding a unique number plate for the right price: our top tips

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Private number plates are becoming increasingly popular in the UK, with many drivers considering them to be one of the best ways to personalise their cars – not to mention making it much easier to find them in a car park! The rules around private number plates can feel a little complicated at first, so it’s a good idea to head over to the DVLA or Government websites to ensure you fully understand the requirements for a legal personal number plate.

The next hurdle when investing in a private plate is coming up with a truly unique and interesting number. This can be very tricky, as you’re limited to seven characters total, with two of them being numbers. Eagle-eyed drivers will notice that many private number plates seen out and about will make strategic use of numbers to stand in for letters, with varying degrees of success. It is also crucial to be aware that the cost of a private plate can range from a modest couple of hundred quid all the way into the tens of thousands. In this article, we’re going to explore the best ways you can find yourself a cost-effective and unique registration plate to help your car shine.

Work out your budget 

The cost of a private number plate can vary significantly, depending on how sought after it is. Dateless plates, from 1963 and earlier, are often the most expensive, with unique plates like 1A going for hundreds of thousands of pounds. Popular names like 51 NGH (Singh) can also fetch significant money. Not many of us have a cool half a million lying around for investing in a number plate, so it is important to know what you can do to bring the overall cost down. Initials are often a popular choice, as they can appear to anyone not in the know to be randomly generated. Most buyers of private plates will be looking at a cost of a few hundred pounds.

Use a three-letter word or name 

Three-letter words are the easiest to fit onto a standard registration number, as they can make up the last three characters in current number styles. Popular and common names like Ben, Sam, Liz and Tim will be the most expensive to buy, though you may be able to shave some money off the price by using random characters for the first four letters. Acronyms are another popular option that, again, can get costly but are a fun and unique way to personalise your vehicle: FYI, LOL, BFF and THX are all popular choices.

Find a plate with your initials 

If you’re not too fussed about what the rest of the plate says, you could look for a number with your initials at the beginning or end. So if your name is Jane Rachel Smith, your 2008 vehicle could have a plate that reads XX08 JRS or JS09 XXX. This will often be cheaper than plates with easily recognisable phrases or names, which are typically in much higher demand. Prices for plates that make recognisable names can often run into the thousands of pounds.

Look for close matches 

If you know what you want but the cost of the exact match is too high, you could look for close matches. Reputable directories will have a search function that allows you to see both exact and close matches, so you can find an option that has the letters and numbers you want for a good price. Close but not exact matches are the best options for finding cost-effective number plates within your budget while still enjoying a unique and personal plate.

Search listings from a quality specialist 

There’s no better way to find inspiration than by looking at what other people have used for their own private plates. Thankfully, the internet is awash with number plate inspiration – everywhere from Facebook Marketplace to online registration plate directories. For the best inspiration, look at online specialists, where you can find quality, unique plates that fully adhere to the UK laws. Regtransfers is an excellent place to start, with thousands of numbers available and a great search function that matches your requirements to exact and partial matches in their directory.

Ensure the plate is suitable for your car 

Not all registration plates can go on every car. It is illegal to display plates that are tagged from a year more recent than your car’s make and model.

Classic cars made before 1980 are allowed to have plates in different colours to the standard white and yellow backgrounds with black lettering. They can have silver, white or grey letters on a black background. This only applies to classic cars, however, and should not be used on newer vehicles.

Keep your eyes peeled when out and about 

Another great source of inspiration is looking at private plates that you see while out and about. Unlike plates that you can find online, seeing plates in person can really give you an idea of how they will look on your own car. While you might not be able to find your car’s exact make and model with a private plate, it can still be a good way to get an idea of how your personal plate will look when you have it. Keeping an eye out for personal plates on the road can also give you some inspiration beyond what you might already be looking for – a great way to broaden your search and ideas.

Consider a lucky number 

If you have a lucky number, this can be a great way to personalise your number plate and can often be very cost-effective. You’ll have to be careful that the number you choose isn’t newer than your vehicle, which, as mentioned above, is against the law. There are many popular numbers you could get for your car, and as long as you’re happy with the rest of the numbers being randomised, this can be an excellent cost-effective option. Popular choices include lucky numbers like 07 and 13 or memorable numbers like birthdays and anniversaries.

Invest in the most durable materials 

A faded or damaged number plate is hardly the look you’re going for with your car and – more importantly – can easily land you on the wrong side of the law. Number plates should always be made in highly durable materials, so they will withstand the wear and tear of being out on the road and exposed to the elements. If you’re having a number plate made, you should ensure that you use a maker with a good reputation for providing quality number plates that will stand the test of time.

Final thoughts 

The possibilities are endless when finding a quality private number plate for your vehicle. How unique your plate ends up will depend on the amount you’re willing to spend and what you want the number to be. Since every plate has to be unique, the most popular options can be snapped up in record time, meaning you have to be a little more creative if you’re going to find something that stands out. Choosing a licence plate that will stand out can take time, so it is vital not to rush the process – ensure you make the right choice and find a number that you will enjoy for years to come.

Photo by Pablo Martinez on Unsplash

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