Maximizing your deductions at tax time will save you a ton of money, but in order to do that, you’ll need a good mileage tracking system. So we tried all of the top mileage tracking apps, and here are our favorites!
The IRS Standard Mileage Deduction for business use in 2018 is 54.5 cents per mile. And since rideshare drivers are independent contractors and most will take the Standard Mileage Deduction each year, it’s important to track these miles in a way that is IRS compliant.
Rideshare drivers often put as much as 1000 business miles a week on their vehicle so keeping accurate track of these miles is extremely important.
If you drive for Uber or Lyft full time and put 50,000 miles a year on your vehicle, that would translate to a $27,250 deduction on their Schedule C; vastly lowering their tax liability for Federal, State, and SECA taxes.
Translation: you’ll pay a lot less in taxes if you do a great job tracking ALL your miles!
The Best Mileage Tracking Apps of 2018
All of the mileage tracking apps listed below are available for Android and iOS. And the apps below were chosen for their features, accuracy, mobile data usage, user interface, and cost. The RSG team also tested most of them against each other in April of 2018 while driving for Uber.
Some of the links listed below are affiliate links, so if you use our link and download the app or sign up for mileage tracking, we may receive a commission. This is a great way to support the site as some of the apps like Stride Tax are free to you and we receive a small commission if you use our link, so win-win!
QuickBooks Self-Employed may be known as a bookkeeping app but what is less known is that it also has a built-in automatic mileage tracker that is very good. In my test, the entire app used only 2.73 MB of mobile data while only eating through an average of 0.04% of my phones battery per hour. It also beat every app on accuracy and mobile data usage.
You can set QuickBooks Self-Employed to automatically track your mileage and then categorize each trip as business or personal. You can also increase its accuracy in the settings tab but it will suck up more battery. If you mix a lot of personal and business trips, the categorization feature will make tracking your business miles a lot easier.
At the end of the tax year, QuickBooks Self-Employed will also automatically compare your business miles with all of your actual expenses and recommend whichever deduction is greater between mileage and actual expenses. So for those in a nicer car with higher maintenance costs, this is a great way to compare the two without any additional effort.
QuickBooks Self-Employed Does Pretty Much Everything
One of the reasons that QuickBooks Self-Employed is at the top of this list is that it’s just so comprehensive. It does the best job of syncing with banks, monitoring expenses, and automating my bookkeeping as a driver.
I’ve personally automated most of my recurring expenses by now and the result is that at the end of the week I spend maybe 15 minutes categorizing my business miles and transactions.
QuickBooks Self-Employed costs $10/month but you can try it free for 30 days. If you’re serious about really maximizing your rideshare profits, this is one app you should definitely check out.
Stride Tax is a FREE mileage and expense tracking app that will allow you to record your mileage by running it in the background as you drive. You can start and stop recording your mileage for each trip by tapping the start button when you leave home – or in some versions of the app, you can set it up to record automatically. You can also use Stride Tax to log your receipts and expense records, so you’ll have all your business deductions in one place at tax time. The app even includes pre-loaded categories and explanations specifically geared towards rideshare drivers, so you’ll know exactly which expenses to log (and what percentage of them you can deduct).
I also really like that it shows me a map of everywhere I drove while recording my miles:
Lightweight + Accurate
You don’t want a bloated app sucking up all your processing power while you’re swapping back and forth between Uber, Lyft, (or using Mystro to do it for you!) and navigation apps. Fortunately, Stride is easy on your phone. The latest Android rendition of the app is incredibly lightweight and easy to use. It won’t slow your phone down much, even if you’re juggling multiple rideshare apps – a really important feature, especially if you’ve got an older phone. One other benefit: The Android app only requires one permission to install, so you can rest assured that Stride won’t be collecting data on you – other than your location, of course.
Stride has its roots specializing in providing health care and other benefits to on-demand workers by acting as a platform that allows independent contractors to find the best health plans. Stride Tax continues their mission of providing services for on-demand workers.
Hurdlr is a solid mileage tracking app. Especially since it is one of the few truly free mileage and expense tracking apps. Hurdlr’s mileage tracking app was the most accurate of the free mileage tracking apps and offered fully “automatic” mileage tracking.
However, it did not make my top pick because its user interface was a bit laggy and the app is kind of packed with buttons and messages to upgrade to their premium product. It also used the 2nd most data in my test (14.12 MB).
TripLog’s basic features are free. Advanced features, such as Bluetooth “autostart” and automatic daily cloud backup, come at a nominal price. You can also use TripLog 2.0 to estimate your gas mileage and find the best gas prices. Of all the mileage tracking apps available, TripLog is the best mileage tracking app for those who want to control WHEN it will start tracking your trips.
The app is a big upgrade from the previous version and it looks a lot better. They used the 2nd least amount of mobile data in my test and had minimal impact on my battery since I set it to only track my miles when my phone was plugged in AND I was moving more than 5mph.
MileIQ allows you to track up to 40 trips for free per month. Most rideshare drivers will go through those 40 trips very quickly but if you drive for other reasons (perhaps as a Realtor) than you’ll probably be able to get away with the free version.
MileIQ was the least accurate (103.6 miles of 129 odometer miles travelled) while also using the most cell phone data in my test. It also used a lot of battery.
I found this irritating because MileIQ literally had one job to do!
One nice feature that I enjoyed with MileIQ was that it allowed me to “link” separate trips together while driving for business. This is nice because I often stop to take a break and the automatic mileage tracking function ends up making it two trips.
Aside from that though, it doesn’t really offer any features that none of the other apps have and it wouldn’t show me the “lines” of where I drove like Stride Tax or Everlance would. As a standalone mileage tracking app MileIQ should be able to display this! Maybe my phone just didn’t like this app but I shouldn’t have to spend 30 minutes setting up a mileage tracking app that i pay for. Especially if I can just get a free app that does it without any headache.
Everlance will allow you to track 30 trips a month for free. Afterwards it’s $5/month or $59.99 annually. It has excellent UI and allows you to track all your other expenses as well.
You will want to remember to turn off Everlance when you are done driving though because I found that it tends to track almost any movement. Often when I opened the app on Android, it was already recording my movement even if I was sitting at home on my couch.
The app also consistently drained my battery more than any other mileage tracking app. So much so, that I revoked a lot of its permissions and put it into “power saver” mode on my phone. The result was that the app did not track my miles during my test (and was thus excluded). That being said, after I reinstalled their app it tracked a few other trips very accurately but still continued to eat a lot of battery.
Rydar is primarily a driver tool to help Uber drivers monitor surge pricing, receive surge alerts, provide details on upcoming events, and help drivers find rides. They are the ONLY app that syncs with Uber’s API and your Uber Driver profile to gain extra data on miles driven.
Related Post: Rydar is the Swiss Army Knife of Driver Tools
All of this is really cool to me because it offers a lot of granularity. However, it accidentally recorded too many miles because it counted the distance from multiple UberPOOL passengers from a single ride separately. This resulted in 10 extra miles being “deducted” (which the IRS may not like). Aside from that, it recorded all of my trips in tiny increments and I found it difficult to see a summary of miles driven for the whole day.
I see a lot of promise in this app and I really enjoyed their surge notification feature. You can get their mileage tracking for $4.99/month with a Rydar Premium subscription.
SherpaShare is built specifically for rideshare drivers. It costs $5.99/month to unlock features like their mileage tracking, heatmaps, or driver chat. I wasn’t able to include it in my test because my 14 day free-trial expired a long time ago.
That being said, it performed accurately in a seperate test on my girlfriend’s phone by recording 28 of 29 miles on her trip to Livermore.
SherpaShare is unique in that it offers a chat where drivers can connect + some pretty interesting reports on your driving data, efficiency, etc.
Mileage Tracking App Mobile Data Test
One important metric to measure mileage tracking apps is by the amount of data they use over time. This is especially important for those who may have a cap on their mobile data plan.
Below is a graph that shows how much data was used over a 4 day period between MileIQ, QuickBooks Self-Employed, Stride Drive, Hurdlr, Rydar, and TripLog 2.0. It included about 10 hours of active driving and 72 hours of running in the background (lower is better).
Network Data Usage of Mileage Tracking Apps (MB)
Mile IQ: 17.54 MB
Hurdlr: 13.12 MB
Rydar: 11.35 MB
Stride: 10.87 MB
TripLog: 3.01 MB
QuickBooks Self-Employed: 2.73 MB
I found out that a big part of the data usage seems to come from the apps that focus on “automatic” mileage tracking. This seems to be because there is a lot of data work involved in trying to figure out when your phone is moving in a car or not.
I recommend that you connect your phone to Wifi at home if you have a mileage tracking app because this seems to help with the background usage. If you have a data cap you’re probably already doing that.
Mileage Tracking App Accuracy Test
I tested each app below over the course of a day of driving in the Bay Area for Uber. The tests were compared to the beginning and end odometer readings of the vehicle I drove (2016 Toyota Corolla). According to the odometer, I drove exactly 129 miles.
Mileage Tracking App Accuracy Test
Odometer: 129 mi
MileIQ: 103.6 mi
Hurdlr: 129 mi
Rydar: 139 mi
Stride: 132.51 mi
TripLog 2.0: 131.6 mi
QuickBooks Self-Employed: 129.8 mi
The two big standouts for inaccuracy are MileIQ which was short by around 30 miles and Rydar, which recording 10 miles too many. Other slight overestimates seem to fall in line with being fairly accurate.
Mileage Tracking App Compared
Year-end Mileage Reports From Uber or Lyft
Uber and Lyft send annual mileage summaries to drivers around tax time. The IRS will accept these reports as proof for a mileage deduction. However, most rideshare drivers shouldn’t rely on these reports because they are very thin and only account for a fraction of the miles that most rideshare drivers will drive for business purposes.
Lyft and Uber provide reports of all the miles driven while your car was in driver mode. However, miles driven with the app off are still deductible if they were for business use. Common examples include “dead” miles returning from a long trip or miles used to reposition to a busy area while logged out of the app.
We recommend that rideshare drivers keep their own records and use Uber and Lyft reports as a last resort backup plan.
Old School Mileage Tracking Log Books
Before apps interfaced with GPS, Bluetooth or OBD II ports, business people either recorded their odometer readings at the beginning and end of each trip, or they used their trip odometers track their miles. Either method is acceptable to the IRS, assuming you document each trip (rough estimates could get you in trouble during an audit). You can either purchase a trip diary that you store in your car, or you can record the vital information in an Excel spreadsheet.
In my experience though, doing this can be tedious since the last thing I want to do after driving for 6-12 hours is even more work. Also, If you forget to reset your odometer before a shift you’ll end up a little bit confused. Even worse, you don’t want to lose around $25,000 in deduction records if your car gets broken into or your dog eats your notebook!
I recommend that if you do choose to use manual recording in a notebook, that you have a free mileage tracking app running in the background as a backup plan. This can serve as a backup in case you forget to log your odometer reading at the end of a business trip.
Drivers, what’s your favorite mileage tracking app and why?
-Harry Campbell and Christian Perea contributed to this article.
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