Buying an interesting car registration number is a great way to make your vehicle stand out – and can also be a fantastic gift for special birthdays or other important occasions. However, as number plates are a luxury item, many worry that they won’t be able to afford – or justify – the cost.

In reality, a personal number plate doesn’t have to break the bank. There are registration numbers available at a range of different price points, and there’s nothing wrong with allocating some of your monthly budget to luxury items purchases that make you feel good. In order to score a bargain, you just need to be realistic about what you’re looking for, and follow our money saving tips below.

Consider different combinations

At the lower end of the spectrum, decent car registration numbers can be picked up for just a couple of hundred pounds. On the other hand, particularly rare and desirable options can cost tens of thousands. It’s worth spending some time browsing the different options that are available, as this will give you a sense of the different price points. The format of the number will be important too, with shorter plates tending to cost a lot more.

If you’re too beholden to one particular phrase, you’re likely to spend more. That’s why we recommend thinking creatively about what you want your number plate to say. Going for initials, or a more obscure reference, is likely to be a lot cheaper than trying to spell out a popular first name.

Set a clear budget before you start

Knowing exactly how much you’re willing to spend – or what your upper limit is – is a good way to avoid overspending. It’s easy to get carried away if you’re not sure about your budget to begin with. Again, if you take the time to research typical prices before you start, you can set some realistic spending expectations.

When setting your budget, remember that car registration numbers can also be a good investment for the future. If you’re able to spend slightly more on getting a more desirable licence number, you may find that the value goes up significantly in the years to come.

In general, anything under £1000 is considered to be at the cheaper end of the price range. So called ‘cheap’ number plates can still be very desirable, and there are plenty of options to choose from.

Factor in any additional costs

When considering how much you’re willing to pay, remember to consider any costs. For instance, there is a small fee for transferring your new registration onto your vehicle. There will also be a cost for actually having the plates manufactured. If you buy through a dealer, you should be able to get them to complete the transfer process for you, for only a small additional cost.

Ensuring that you’re clear on these additional costs before you start the buying process will mean that you avoid any nasty surprises further down the line. If you buy from a reputable dealer, they will be clear about theses costs at the start of the process, and help you understand exactly how much your new plates will cost.

Go through a dedicated dealer

Using a dealer with a good reputation is a great way to ensure that you get good value for money. We recommend going with a trusted company such as CarReg. CarReg offer number plates for every type of buyer, including plenty of options to fit into a smaller budget.

Searching their database makes it incredibly easy to find number plates to match your criteria – and to get an understanding of what’s available within your budget. For instance, if you simply tap your initials into the searchbox, the whole range of plates with that combination will appear.

If you have more particular requirements, but still want to avoid overspending, then a dealer will also be able to help you by offering advice. They will have a team of experts on hand, who can help you get the best value for your money.