LAST UPDATED: May 9, 2019
Best License Plate Frames: Get a Clean, Sleek Look
The best license plate frames to easily and inexpensively upgrade your vehicle's look
The Review Team
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PUBLISHED ON May 9, 2019
License plates are a boring necessity. Fortunately, there are ways to jazz up that area on your vehicle. There are practical as well as luxury license plate frames featuring a variety of styles and designs. They not only make your car look good, but they can also protect it. If you're looking for the best license plate frame for your needs, check out our picks below.
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All of our reviews are based on market research, expert input, or practical experience with most products we include. This way, we offer genuine, accurate guides to help you find the best picks.
Benefits of License Plate Frames
- Avoid free advertising. If you bought your car from a dealership, there's a good chance the license plate frame touts that company’s information. If you don't want to freely promote its products, consider replacing the frame with one you like better.
- Freshen up your vehicle's look. If you have an old license plate frame, it may be faded, chipped, cracked, or dented. There are many popular license plate frames that can make your car look more appealing.
- Make a statement. The best looking license plate frames will show the world a little bit about yourself. There are many styles that you can choose from, including a carbon fiber license plate frame or rhinestone license plate frame, that will display a little bit of your personality.
- They're easy to install. Even the most mechanically-challenged individual can change a license plate frame with just a little hardware and tools. It's a simple yet pleasing upgrade and takes just a few minutes to install.
- They're cheap. You may not have enough money for a new paint job, but you can add a nice touch to your vehicle without spending a lot of money by purchasing the coolest license plate frame you can find.
Types of License Plate Frames
As the name suggests, this type of license plate frame features a very thin trim. It allows your plate and registration tags to be visible to authorities and others who need access to them. Because they are so thin, they are compliant with DMVs in all 50 states.
A semi-wide bottom plate has an eight-inch wide bottom and open corners, allowing you to display your registration tags. This type of frame is compliant in most states that require upper and lower corner registration tags but allow the center message to be covered up. Be sure to check with your state's DMV to see if this type of frame complies with the law.
This type of frame features a wide bottom that runs 12 inches across the base of the plate. This style covers lower registration tags and lower license plate messages, making it illegal in some states.
Roy Richter started Bell Automotive in his garage in Bell, Calif., in the late '40s. He transformed his love of racing into automotive products such as the Bell racing helmet. Bell also makes seat covers, tire inflators, and steering wheel covers. Bell's motto is "to live, ride, drive and thrive." One popular product is the Bell Automotive Universal Black Paw Print Design License Plate Frame.
GoPlates has been producing personalized license plate frames for cars and trucks since 2001. It produces premium stainless steel license plate frames in many colors and also includes laser engraving. One recommended product is the GoPlates Customized Heavy Duty License Plate Frame.
Ohuhu was founded in 2013 and is named after Oahu, a sunny island in Hawaii. Based in California, the company produces a variety of tools for the garden, office, and garage. One top product is the Ohuhu Matte Aluminum License Plate Frame.
License Plate Frame Pricing
- Under $10: License plate frames can be very inexpensive, but you get what you pay for. Items in this price range may be made of cheap plastic or materials that are prone to chipping or rusting.
- $10-$20: You can purchase a decent-quality license plate frame for under $20. They vary in size, style, materials, and durability.
- Over $20: License plate frames in this price range are generally the most durable, best made, and may include special features, such as the ability to light up in neon colors. These frames can be costly, depending on what options they include.
When you're shopping for the best license plate holder, the most important feature you need to consider is the size. First, find out the frame's exact measurements, such as height and width, to determine if it will properly fit your specific state’s plate. The thickness of your license plate is also something you need to factor in for a proper fit.
High-quality license plate frames typically come with either two or four screw holes. In general, two screws can hold a frame in place, but four screws will provide additional support. Plus, you have to ensure that the frame doesn't rattle, and four screws may do a better job of keeping the license flush against your vehicle.
- State Laws: Some states have laws regarding car license plate frames. They usually involve the size of the frames. Be sure to check with your state's Department of Motor Vehicles to ensure that you follow the law. For example, you don't want to purchase a frame and later realize it covers up important information on your plate that authorities need to see clearly.
- Durability: This is one of the most important factors in choosing the best license plate cover. Cheaper, lower-quality frames may corrode, fade, or chip. Some products feature UV protection that ensures they will last longer. Others have a coating on the metal to protect them from the elements.
- Materials: The best license plate frame material is typically metal; however, there are many options, including aluminum, zinc, and carbon fiber. The type of metal affects the frame's weight. Steel frames are sturdy, while alloy is more lightweight. While you may prefer an aluminum license plate frame, your friend may like chrome. It's a personal preference.
- Installation Kit: Many high-end license plate frames will come with a package that includes screws, caps, washers and a screwdriver. Other products do not provide these items, and it may be difficult to find screw caps that match the frame. As a result, the screws may visually stick out.
- Number of Frames: If you are looking for a license frame for both the front and back of your vehicle, buy a set that comes in a bundle. Some manufacturers only ship one per package. Pay special attention to the description to make sure you're buying the exact number that you require.
Best License Plate Frame Reviews & Recommendations 2020
This anodized aluminum, heavy-duty frame comes in six colors: black, blue, red, purple, orange, and green. You can customize the frame with laser engraving, using one of 11 different fonts. The frame is wash-, weather-, and UV-resistant, and the company also includes a one-year colorfast guarantee.
The frame's metal is strong and sturdy, and it includes screw covers for a nice finish. The printed letters are clear and well-sized to fit the available area. The frame holds up well over time and doesn't oxidize or peel, even in harsh winter weather. Also, the color options are good and evenly match many different models of vehicles. Even though the aluminum is thin, it can cover a very thick license plate.
One problem is the screw covers may fall off over time. Also, the frame lettering is light gray, not bright white, which means the text on these customized license plate holders can be difficult to read from a distance. The color red may also look pink, and some states may have license plates that are a bit smaller than this frame, requiring you to modify it for the perfect fit.
This slim style, stainless steel frame does not block state registration tags. It features a chrome finish with material that repels rust and corrosion. It comes with four screw caps, four self-tapping screws, four machine screws, four washers, and one screwdriver. Its dimensions are 6-5/16 by 12-1/4 inches.
The frame is sleek and polished to shiny chrome. While the caps that cover the screws are plastic, they perfectly match the frame. On the back of the frame, the metal extends up a bit so that the bottom of the license plate can fit snugly inside it. The product also frames the license plate perfectly. It's well-made for a reasonable price, and installation is easy.
One problem is that the screws that come with the kit may not be not long enough to fasten the frame to your vehicle. Also, the screw caps may fall off after a short period of use. In addition, the metal is very thin, the edges can be sharp, and some rust issues have been known to creep up despite the frame being made of stainless steel.
This strong, rustproof, two-hole black license plate frame is made of aluminum and is coated with a black matte finish that doesn't peel. It's designed not to block registration tags in all four corners.
This frame is simple, functional, sturdy, and attractive with a nice satin finish. It provides a clean and minimalist look, and the wide bottom covers the bottom screw holes. The black screw caps look great, and the frame is easy to install. It's nice and light yet solid enough to protect your registration tags in a powerful car wash. It also features little tabs to hold the plate in place.
One problem is that the screw caps may be difficult to remove, and you may need a drill or other tools to get them off. Also, the thick border at the bottom may cover your state’s motto, specialized text, or tags. You may hear the plate rattle a bit when you close the trunk.
- One of the worst things to occur when installing a new license plate frame is a rattling noise. If the screws are as tight as they can be and you still hear a noise, you may want to use adhesive to keep the plate more firmly in place.
- The best license plate protector will usually feature built-in spacers. This will put a space between the vehicle and license plate, which prevents vibration and protects your car's finish. Spacers also keep debris from amassing behind the frame, which can damage your paint.
- A plastic license plate frame is not as long-lasting or reliable as a frame made of aluminum or carbon fiber. Consider stainless steel over plastic or chrome. It is very durable and won't chip or rust. Carbon fiber is also a good choice.
- Consider using stainless steel hardware because it will not rust, corrode, or damage the underside of the license plate frame. Several universal stainless steel hardware kits include popular screw styles.
- Screw caps can hide unsightly screws or provide a more luxe look. Some types snap closed, but there are also security caps that screw on and help prevent license plate theft.
- Before you purchase a license plate frame, make sure that the design compliments your vehicle. Otherwise, it may stick out and may not look very good on your car or truck.
- Road debris, salt, and weather conditions may eventually dull the finish of your license plate frame. One way to prolong its life is by washing and waxing it as you do with your vehicle.
Q: How can I prevent a license plate frame from scratching my vehicle?
A: Many frames don't include foam or other protectors to prevent scratching. One solution is adding electrical tape, small rubber washers, or cabinet door bumpers to the small tabs that wrap around the license plate.
Q: Can I include a logo on a license plate frame?
A: Many companies allow you to customize their license plate frames. This may include a favorite NFL team or special phrase or logo. There may be some restrictions on the size and length of your request, depending on the manufacturer.
Q: Can I put reflective lettering on license plate frames?
A: It depends on the product. Some frames may include stickers that are reflective, while others use laser engraving, which will not produce the same effect as reflective lettering.
Our pick for the best license plate frame is the GoPlates Customized Heavy Duty License Plate Frame. It’s strong, sturdy, and doesn't oxidize or peel. You can also customize it with one of six colors and personalize it with your favorite phrase.
For a less expensive option, consider the SunplusTrade License Plate Frame.