How to Make Passive Income with Vending Machines

Vending machines are more than a stop to get an easy snack. These metal cases filled with the most scrumptious junk food fill our lounges, cafes and waiting areas. Then there are lucrative items like headphones and tech gadgets at shiny vending machines at airports.

For some reason, anything inside a vending machine looks desirable to those on the other side. What you didn’t know is that these machines can help you get a passive income, if you know where to start.

Compared to other businesses, vending business earns a passive income. It is mostly passive because once set up, the machine runs on its own and keeps giving you profit. People restock when it is time, and restock the item of their choice.

Here are some things you must do to enter the vending business:

Try to keep it interesting

The most attractive items like chips and carbonated drinks sell like hot cakes in a vending machine. Kids and adults both love these items, so in vending business it is a good idea to keep the most interesting things in the machine.

Back in the days there only used to be snack machines. Today, there are movies, headphones, watches and iPads being dispatched out of vending machines. This means that the technology is growing and as a business owner you need to put your finger on the deal that suits you the most.

The concept is very simple, you sell something interesting and people happily buy it. It is a smart passive income idea because there is not much thought into it. So, let’s talk about the cost.

Budget considerations

The first thing that scares people is the cost of a vending machine, and cost of stocking the machine. Don’t let these thoughts back you down. Ask yourself these questions.

  • Does the stocking, restocking drill suit you?
  • Is the machine close to your work or home location to easily maintain it?
  • Do you have enough funds to buy a machine and get the documentation sorted?
  • Can you keep up with the maintenance and occasional fixes if they arise?

If you can manage these conditions, you can start with a machine. Most people who start off are able to generate a good amount to cover their costs in under a year. You have to make the decision, whether it would be an iPad dispenser, a candy machine or the good old snacks machine.

Here are some additional tips to start the vending business:

  • Do thorough market research
  • Make a website or social media page for your business
  • Make an LLC or S-corp
  • Learn about the most popular items around
  • Talk to existing owners about securing locations, running the machine, etc
  • Create a channel for customer service
  • Be prepared to manage risks 

Ideal locations for vending machines

If you have the budget sorted, you should look out for places where vending machines can be a hit. We have listed some ideal spots, but the catch still varies according to your city/country/area

Petrol stations / car wash 

In locations like a petrol station or car wash, you can easily settle a vending machine. You can set up items like car air fresheners, cloths, cleaners and decorations. Snack items are also a hit for people who have been on the road for days or want to stop by for a quick refill and snack.

Banks and mortgage offices 

We are talking big money here. Places like banks, insurance offices and mortgage offices are a great vending machine spot. There are always new people coming in, and if nothing else they would definitely need a bottle of water!

Vending machines providing sandwiches, drinks and stationery are a good fit for such locations because of the hustle and bustle.

Schools and colleges 

We agree that the kids operate under tight budgets and pocket money, but you can give them good worth of their money. Line up snack and gadget machines in school to provide easy items to a student on the run.

College vending machines can carry lots of coffee, chips and cold drinks to help a student cope with study schedules.

Waiting areas 

Hospitals, airports and railway lounges are perfect for vending machines. A new person walks in every five minutes, presenting you with the ideal opportunity to make a profit. The idea is to have whatever a visitor might need to pass time.

How Much Can I Expect to Earn?

Although a lot of people thinking that stocking a vending machine with expensive items is a great way to earn a profit, this isn’t necessarily true. Stocking items like escargot and cigar is costly for the business owner and have a short lifespan. For turning a profit, the best way is to put the machine in a place where it attracts regular consumers of everyday items. If the machine isn’t strategically placed near its target audience, it’s unlikely to return a profit.

For instance, a gumball vending machine placed at a train station could return a bigger profit than a caviar machine because of its increased accessibility to people.

For determining the money-making potential of a vending machine, you must deduct your costs from the gross profit (this isn’t the same as net profit). The sum that’s left after this dedication will be your profit. For instance, a vending machine might offer a can of Coca-Cola for $3 a piece. At the average of 10 sales each day, the gross revenue will be $30. But because the cans cost $2.5 a piece, the profit is going to be 50 cents per bottle, or $5 a day.

The income may go down even further if factors like the commute involved in restocking the vending machine are taken into consideration. And all this is before the taxes that’ll be applicable on your business, such as the self-employed and sales tax.


With all the information provided above, there is a disclaimer: vending machines can’t make you rich in a month. They can’t make you earn money at all if you don’t invest time and energy into the business. Take out time each week to work on your vending business, and make it a pro side hustle. There are taxes to pay, fixes to do and upgrades to install.

Just like any other business, vending machines will require the right amount of attention to flourish into a great source of passive income for you. So many people have benefited from this idea, now it is your turn.