Uber, Lyft, and other ridesharing companies have shown how important apps are to the transportation industry. Today, we’re looking at a few other apps to help you take your rideshare business to the next level. Here’s the video version (which we also posted to our Youtube channel) but read on if you’d like to learn more.
1. Navigation Apps
Arguably the most important app for uber drivers and lyft drivers is navigation. The two main contenders here are Google Maps and Waze. They both do pretty much the same thing, but each one has loyal fans all the same. Here are a few differences:
A fan favorite, Google Maps offers a clean and easy-to-use interface without too much distracting info. It shows you real-time traffic and alternate routes, complete with ETAs. My favorite feature is that you can type a place name into the search bar (for example, “airport”) and Google will suggest addresses for you. This is a real time-saver when your passengers are too distracted to give you a full address.
Waze offers similar functionality, but with a few extra features. Waze users update your map with details about police activity, construction, and other traffic considerations in real time. You can even add your own observations to the map to help out other drivers. All this info is great, but it can be distracting when you’re trying to drive and chat up your riders at the same time. I like to use Waze when I’m doing personal driving or making deliveries, but when I’ve got passengers in the car, I find the extra features are a bit too much.
Mileage tracking is the second most-important app for Uber drivers and lyft drivers to have on-hand. Sure, you could tally your miles manually in a notebook after every shift – but this is time-consuming and personally, I often forget to do it. A mileage tracking app saves time – and serious money at tax time. You can deduct $0.54 from your taxable income for every mile you drive, which could add up to $100 or more in deductions for a single days’ work. Mileage logs also help you keep tabs on your profit margins and expenses, a critical component of any business.
Some drivers like Sherpashare, but there are a whole host of other options these days.
The past few months have seen a host of new mileage tracking apps. Stride Drive (iOS and Android) is a cool (and free!) new option. It offers an automatic system that detects when you’re driving, so you can be sure to log every mile.
Hurdlr is another currently free mileage tracking option. It allows for more control over tracking, so it won’t use up so much battery when you’re not driving.
In our recent survey, we also found that drivers liked MileIQ and Triplog. These are paid apps, but they come with some helpful extras like homescreen widgets – and because you’re paying the developer, you don’t have to worry so much about what they might be doing with all your GPS data. 😉
3. QuickBooks Self-Employed
QuickBooks Self-Employed is one of the best apps for uber drivers and lyft drivers. It syncs with your bank account so you can easily categorize your rideshare expenses. It even allows you to create rules that automate a lot of your expense tracking. You can log your mileage, take pictures of receipts, and make notes so you are ready come tax time. Not only will you have your mileage deduction ready to go, you’ll also be able to see whether deducting actual vehicle expenses like gas, maintenance and car washes will get you a bigger tax benefit versus taking the standard mileage deduction. (Check out this earlier post for more info on how deductions work.)
You can also categorize transactions online, or right from the app! It even splits your deductions into quarterly or annual reports depending on your filing needs. QuickBooks Self-Employed does have a subscription fee, but you can try it free for 30 days – plus, you can get it bundled with TurboTax to make filing a snap. If you’re serious about making the most out of your tax deductions, this is one app you should definitely check out.
4. Music App
For tunes, it’s tough to beat Spotify. Music is an essential best app for Uber and Lyft drivers, for those awkward rides where you or your passenger would rather not talk to each other… or just to provide something a little extra to make sure your passengers have a 5-star experience. For $10 a month, Spotify gives you access to more music than you can handle – over 10 million songs. Plus, you can download custom playlists ahead of time over wifi, so you won’t be sucking up data on the road.
If you’ve already got a music collection on your computer, consider getting a microSD card for your phone instead. Mine supports microSD cards up to 64 GB, so I can take a good chunk of my collection with me for free. You may not be able to take song requests from passengers – but you’ll definitely save some dough.
5. Gas App
Gas is a driver’s biggest expense. I drive a lot, and sometimes I have to fill up multiple times per day! Because this is an ongoing expense, saving a few cents per gallon really adds up over time.
In order to stretch your gas money further, check Gas Buddy for the latest prices in your area. You can compare results by location and even filter them by fuel type. Just be sure to check the cash vs credit price – that can get ya!
6. Weather App
When the weather is bad, no one wants to drive. And when no one’s driving, that means surge pricing. Keep an eye on the weather with a weather app. Then when the precipitation starts, head to your favorite hotspots to cash in. Personally, I use AccuWeather – it’s got relatively few ads, and it doesn’t ask for a ton of permissions before installing. It will also give you notifications if road conditions are especially bad. Just make sure your car is snow/bad weather equipped if you’re going to brave the storm. Safety should always be a priority.
7. Roadside Assistance
Maybe you didn’t catch the previous warning, and got your car stuck in a flooded road – or maybe you just locked your keys in your car while making a delivery. Whatever your roadside emergency, a free app called Honk can help. Honk offers on-demand roadside assistance anywhere in the USA starting at $50. They’ll come rescue you if you have a flat tire, run out of gas, and so forth – it’s kind of like Uber for roadside assistance. If you don’t have AAA or some other roadside assistance plan already, this service could be a lifesaver. Best of all, you don’t even have to get the app – you can request Honk roadside assistance from their mobile-friendly website, too.
8. Airport Schedules
Airport runs are often the most lucrative trips around, so it pays to be up-to-speed on the latest developments at your local runways. Flightstats is a free, lightweight app that will allow you to see when flights are arriving and departing, so you’ll know the best times to post up and wait for a ride. If a lot of flights are delayed, people may be stuck waiting at the airport rather than travelling – so you can save time and avoid these periods when demand may not be as high.
9. The Uber Passenger App
If you work in a market where you have to compete for rides with lots of other drivers, the Uber passenger app is essential. Simply opening up the passenger app will show you up to eight drivers near your location. Since Uber hands out ride requests based on location, you likely won’t get any pings if you’re surrounded by other drivers.
I try to move to one side of any heavily saturated areas: That way, I can snag any requests that come from that direction. You can also drag the pin around to scout out less-saturated locations to post up and wait. When you’re away from the pack, get ready to watch the pings roll in.
10. Rideshare Timer
Don’t you hate when people request a ride and then never show up? Me too. Depending on your market, Uber says to wait 5 minutes (or two minutes for Uber Pool rides) before you’re allowed to cancel. In some markets you’ll also earn a cancellation fee. Rideshare Timer simplifies this process by overlaying a basic timer on-screen so you know when time’s up. It even includes a “quick text” feature which is super useful and can save you a ton of typing. Just set up customizable “arrival” and “departure” messages, and you’ll never have to peck out a “hey, your Uber is here” text again.
Rideshare Timer is Android-only for now, so if you’re on iOS, I’d recommend a simple stopwatch app instead so you can start grabbing those cancellation fees!
Related Podcast: Check out our interview with Michael Tee, creator of Rideshare Timer
ActiveHours is sort of like Lyft’s “Express Pay” feature, but for Uber (and a variety of other employers). You enter your bank account info, and they’ll advance you up to $100 out of your next paycheck ASAP. Then when payday comes, the company will automatically deduct the amount they sent you. The service is free for now, but you can add a tip if you’re so inclined.
DailyPay is another popular service that works pretty much the same way – there’s no app yet though, so you’ll need a computer if you go with this option.
12. Rideshare Advertising And Tips
Ever wished you could sell ad space in your car? A company called Vugo wants to help you do just that. They’re still in the startup phase right now, but in the future they hope to offer a revenue-sharing plan where drivers get paid up to $3 per hour (up to $500 a month if you’re driving full-time) in exchange for showing ads to your passengers. Here’s how it works: you provide a tablet running the Vugo app in the backseat. The app tethers to your phone, and uses your passengers’ destination to figure out the most relevant ads to show them. Your passengers can interact with the ads too. Most importantly, the Vugo app also gives passengers the ability to tip with a credit card – a feature many drivers have been asking for since the beginning! For more information about Vugo, check out our earlier article here.
Square lets you accept credit card payments from anyone right on your phone. Some drivers may have products for purchase in their vehicle, or they may use Square to accept tips from riders that don’t have cash. Whatever you use Square for, it’s a handy tool to have and it doesn’t cost anything – there’s no monthly fee. Instead, Square keeps 3% of whatever charges you collect as a transaction fee. Sign up using our link, and you’ll receive some fee-free processing – plus a free card reader that plugs right into your phone. What you do with it is up to you!
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Drivers: Any apps we missed? Which apps do you use? Let us know in the comments! –Jon @RSG
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