When it comes to understanding how to keep track of mileage for taxes, one must realize that a piece of accounting software and the use of a simple mileage tracker can make every independent contractor’s life easier. Whether one is self-employed, running a personal business, or working for a company where the use of a vehicle is required during business hours, a mileage tracker app is the single most important time-saver and money maker money can buy. Having already explored the wealth of mileage tracking options available out there, today we’re going to focus on three of the best mileage tracking applications available, outlining their features and comparing them. Those providers will be MileIQ, MileageWise, and MileCatcher.
Table of Contents
The Features You Will Need
Before we get into the three providers we’ll be spotlighting today, let’s outline the features that are of the utmost importance.
Manual Trip Tracking and Editing
While one might imagine that this feature is elementary – sadly, there are many providers on the market who do not offer it, instead opting to entirely rely on auto-tracking. MileIQ – easily the most popular business mileage tracker – follows this pattern. Sure, popularity doesn’t necessarily equate to competence, as far as we are concerned.
So, this begs the question, why is manual trip tracking and editing so important? Well, because no provider offers auto-tracking that is 100% reliable. Auto-tracking is certainly another paramount feature, and in our expert opinion, it’s also something you shouldn’t go without.
That being said, if you do want to make sure that your mileage logs are absolutely perfect, you may need to add in or edit trips to create that result occasionally.
Numerous Auto-Tracking Options
Indeed, there are quite a few auto-tracking options to choose from, though most providers only offer one: vehicle movement monitoring. That’s mostly okay, since vehicle movement monitoring does tend to be fairly accurate and reliable, but it is worth noting that the following options are also available:
- Bluetooth Auto-Tracking: typically, with this type of tracking all you need to do is use your usual Bluetooth setup, interfacing it with your phone.
- Plug ‘N’ Go Auto-Tracking: As its name would suggest, all you need to do is plug your phone in through an existing USB port in your vehicle, and the app will begin tracking. Unplug your phone and it will stop. This type of tracking is also very reliable, though of the three providers we are focusing on today, only MileageWise offers it.
Retrospective Mileage Reconstruction
While certainly something scarcely available on the current market, retrospective mileage reconstruction is offered by both MileageWise and ExpressMileage. Outside of these providers, we are not aware of any other players on the market who offer it, and unfortunately, ExpressMileage only has software that can be used on your PC – they do not have an app.
So, how does retrospective mileage construction work, and why is it useful? Well, the reality is that many people who do work-related mileage haven’t recorded it for a long time, and the IRS is liable to ask you for up to 3 years worth of mileage logs if they decide to conduct an audit, and it pays to be prepared. As for how it works – with MileageWise, we simply needed to give our odometer readings for the years in question, our frequent clients during that period, and the software did the rest – compiling an accurate mileage log, which was also IRS-proof.
A Breakdown of Today’s Highlighted Mileage Tracker Apps
Moving forward, we’re now going to delve into the details of today’s highlighted applications, examining the advantages and disadvantages of each. Before we get started, there are a few things worth noting about the apps and software available across the industry in a general sense:
- Most providers offer some kind of free version, though there are usually a diminished amount of recordable trips available, along with fewer features.
- The apps themselves are useable on both Apple devices and Android devices.
- Generally, customers, small business owners, and anyone else who might be interested in tracking their business expenses are best served by acquiring the full version of the software in question.
- All apps are available through Google Play and the App Store.
- Many companies only offer plans that sign people up for six months or a full year – this can be problematic if you are looking to pay for your subscription month-by-month.
- Payments purchasing these programs can be made either by credit card or via your bank account.
- In the vast majority of cases, prices are per user and stipulate only vehicles in use. Make sure you do the research before you sign up with any software company.
MileIQ’s Tracker App and Software
As we mentioned earlier, MileIQ is indeed the most popular provider on the market – this is partly because their app and software used to be included as a part of Microsoft’s 365 business package. This is no longer the case, though many people are aware of the brand.
In terms of pricing, MileIQ keeps it simple – they offer a subscription and access to all their features for $59.99 a year, with $5.99 being the alternative for one who wants to pay monthly. They also provide teams-based options, which are significant for those who also need to track mileage for mileage reimbursement purposes.
Finally, they do offer “40 free drives”, which is likely not to be enough for most independent contractors trying to maximize their tax deductions; but it is something. Not everyone allows any kind of trial period or free version of their software.
In terms of disadvantages, the fact that they do not offer manual tracking could be considered significant, and, relatively speaking, they have a fairly limited number of actual features. MileIQ won’t be able to help you backtrack your mileage, and it doesn’t audit your logs to make sure that they are perfect before being presented to the IRS.
On the bright side, the software will generate a mileage log you can submit to the IRS or your account – it’s just not guaranteed to be perfect.
MileCatcher’s App and Software
MileCatcher is certainly a less known provider on the market, though we have had good experiences with their software, which offers seemingly more options than MileIQ. These features include:
- A customizable business mileage rate for mileage reimbursement.
- Custom reports and locations
- Web portal access (many providers call this the “web dashboard”, though MileCatcher prefers this name for the part of the software that you manage and operate from your PC).
Pricing-wise, MileCatcher is the cheapest of those that we are showcasing today, coming in at $3.99 per month if you subscribe for one year. Conversely, if you would like to subscribe for six months, the cost is $5.00, in other words, a little higher. The only issue with this is that the company doesn’t offer any options for shorter subscription periods, nor do they offer a free trial. So, if you’d like to try out their product before you buy it, you’re out of luck.
MileageWise’s App and Web Dashboard
An exciting newcomer to this market space, MileageWise’s software did not disappoint. They have all the features from the providers listed above and more – not to mention their unique features pack a little more punch than the other pieces of software. Let’s take a look at some of those unique features:
- Past Mileage Recovery: we covered this one earlier, but it’s worth reiterating – if you get audited you’re definitely going to need mileage logs for past years very quickly. With MileageWise, you’re absolutely able to do that.
- In-Built IRS Auditor: both MileIQ and MileCatcher offer some level of reporting, but our experience with MileageWise was significantly better. You can produce the same logs and reporting on their web dashboard, but before you print your mileage log the software uses its auditor to check for 70 logical contradictions that may exist in your log, thus making their logs IRS-proof.
- More Auto-Tracking Modes: as we broke them down earlier, the more auto-tracking modes the better. Variety is almost always a good thing, and the good thing is that this provider offers all the modes we mentioned above. All of them are intuitive to use too.
Seeking out potential disadvantages is tough since we were able to use all of their features in a way which proved them extremely useful. It should be said, however, that while MileageWise may be the best mileage tracker app we’ve reviewed here today, it certainly isn’t as popular market-wide. Things that are popular aren’t always necessarily the best things, however, we believe that this fresh app and its web dashboard edge out the competition.
Regarding pricing, MileageWise is quite diverse. Their ‘S-Monthly’ package is the same cost as MileIQ’s base price ($5.99 per month), though it does not include the ability to backtrack mileage as mentioned earlier. For access to that, users must pay an amount that works out at $9.99 per month – this is their gold package.
There are further packages available after this, not to mention a completely free 14-day trial with no credit card required.
What’s Best for Enterprise Companies and Small Businesses?
All three of the providers we’ve highlighted today offer some form of team’s dashboard for employees who need to log miles because of mileage reimbursement through their employers. We recommend checking reviews for those who are doing the same, though our best experience came with MileageWise’s effective workflows in their team’s dashboard.