TripLog is a mileage-tracking app specifically created to help freelancers, self-employed and regular employees track the miles they drive for business.
The app is one of several in the mileage-tracking space that was created to make life easier on workers who, in the past, had to write down their mileage on forms and spreadsheets.
The company started back in 2013 and is now based in Seattle. The company’s founder, Ted He, is the current CEO. Before starting TripLog, he was an enterprise architect at GEICO and a consultant at Marriott.
Because these types of apps are created specifically for tax purposes, they present a lot of value to anyone who drives for business and doesn’t get compensated by their company for those miles.
The trick isn’t so much getting a mileage app as it is finding the right one. This review of TripLog will help you know if the app is the right choice for you by reviewing how to use the app, how its prices and features compare to the competition and what other users are saying about their TripLog experience.
We’ll finish this article with a quick list of the pros and cons of this app. By the end of our review, you’ll have the information you need to know why you should or shouldn’t use TripLog.
Editor’s Note: For Android, TripLog has an original version and TripLog 2.0. We’ve chosen to review TripLog 2.0 because it’s the most recent version of the app and it’s the version we demoed. There is only one version of the app in the iTunes store.
How TripLog Works
To understand how the app works, we downloaded it and elected to try a 30-day free trial.
Signing up for this app literally takes seconds. You provide them with your email address, password, name and where you are located.
That information is sent to TripLog’s cloud and, once they receive it, you’ll be asked how you want to track your miles. You have five different options:
- Magic Trip: Tracker automatically starts and stops
- Bluetooth: Uses your car’s Bluetooth to know when you’re driving
- iBeacon: Tracking device you plug into a USB outlet in your car
- Plug-N-Go: Plugs into USB; tracks when car is going faster than 5 mph
- Manual: You tell the app when to start tracking
Of these five ways of tracking, TripLog says iBeacon is the best. You’ll have to buy a beacon to use this feature, though. The app recommends a beacon that costs $29 on Amazon.
We chose MagicTrip because it automatically starts and doesn’t require any extra equipment or connections.
After you choose your tracking method, you’ll be asked to enter the car you’ll be driving and the odometer reading.
Once your account is set up, your trips will be logged. Within the app, you have the ability to view all kinds of data about your driving and your expenses. You also have the option of tracking your fuel consumption by adding how much gas you buy.
The app’s menu even has a page where you can see the reimbursement/deduction rates for business, moving and medical trips. At the time of publishing, the mileage reimbursement/deduction rate for business trips was $0.545 per mile.
Pro tip: TripLog is available for mileage tracking in at least 32 countries.
Taking a Drive With TripLog
I took a few test drives to get a sense of how the app works.
First, it really is automatic. Once you start driving, you get a notification that the app is tracking your trip. Unless you’ve chosen to manually enter your trips, TripLog calculates your mileage, taking into account any stops you make.
For my test drive, I drove my daughter to school then drove around a neighborhood near my home, making a stop at a gas station in between.
I checked the screen that lists trips to verify everything worked like it should. TripLog correctly recognized the stops at the school and gas station. It logged the addresses of where I started and stopped, as well as the odometer reading.
On this screen, you have the option of merging trips or creating return trips, all of which could be handy if your phone died during one of your stops and the app wasn’t able to track your trip home.
The second thing I noticed is that the app lets you make changes to your trip on the fly by tapping the "Edit" option you get when you expand the notification that tells you tracking has started.
The edits available are: choosing the purpose of the trip (business, charity, medical, etc.), the vehicle you’re using, the beginning odometer reading and adding tags and/or notes to further classify the trip.
Based on our experience, we believe that TripLog offers all the necessary edits and customizations you’d need to be as precise as possible about trip data, including mileage.
TripLog’s Fees and Features
What we described in the previous section gives you an overview of how the app’s mileage tracking works. However, TripLog is more than just a mileage tracker. It provides a variety of reports and has multiple functions that go beyond just tracking where you drive.
The number of features you get, though, depends on which monthly-payment package you want. All the tiers below are good for one device and up to five vehicles.
The free version is different than the free-trial version, which is an important distinction.
When you sign-up for the app, you’ll be asked if you want to try the free trial. When you say yes, like we did, you’re given access to 30 free days of a Basic membership that would normally cost $2 a month or $20 a year.
The free version gives you unlimited trips but you can only use manual tracking and the tax documents the app prepares aren’t as extensive as the other tiers. Another important omission – the app won’t automatically back up your trips to the cloud.
Basic: $2/month or $20 per year
With Basic, you can choose from the five different tracking methods whereas Free only gives you manual tracking.
You also get the following significant upgrades over the free version:
- Automatic daily backup to the cloud
- Take photos of business-related receipts and store them in the cloud
- Bug fixes and improvements
Based on our research of the app, we believe the Basic version is worth the $2 a month you’d pay. In our opinion, the automatic tracking, automatic backup and access to bug fixes and improvements are essential to a painless, fluid experience.
We see freelancers who want an efficient mileage tracking app enjoying this tier of membership.
Professional: $3/month or $30/year
The third tier, Professional, is $3 a month or $30 a year. You get all the features of Basic plus a series of tools that would be a great fit for business owners who want regular reports and data about their trips and mileage.
For example, Pro members get weekly and monthly emails that summarize their driving activity for the week. You also have the ability to customize the reports that TripLog prepares for you as well as a special dashboard setup that shows you your mileage and fuel trends.
We see this level of membership being well-suited for an Uber or Lyft driver who is intent on tracking their miles per gallon and wants to see recent stats on their miles and fuel usage.
Pro tip: TripLog offers even more functionality at the Enterprise level. This tier is designed for big business with fleets of cars. Prices were not listed on the site and are most likely influenced by company size, number of cars and other factors.
TripLog vs. Other Mileage Tracking Apps
Earlier we mentioned that TripLog is one of many mileage tracking apps. We’re going to compare its basic pricing and features to three other competitors:
|# of rides with free version||Unlimited||40||30||No free version|
|Monthly/yearly cost of paid version||$2/$20 or $3/$30||$5.99/$59.99||$8/$60||$5.99/ $59.99; Premium is $10/month|
|iTunes average rating||4.8||4.5||4.9||4.3|
|Google Play average rating||4.6||4.5||4.8||4.5|
Based on our research of pricing and features, we believe that TripLog offers the best value for its users.
At $20 a year or $2 per month, we think the Basic tier’s features are robust enough to meet the needs of an employee – freelance or otherwise – who wants basic mileage tracking, IRS-compliant mileage reports, multiple options for automatic tracking and the ability to manually track your trips.
» For Further Reading: The Best Mileage Tracking Apps of 2018
Public Opinion About TripLog
TripLog 2.0 gets an average rating of 4.6 stars from more than 1,300 reviews available at the time of publishing. The previous version of the app had an average rating of 4.3 stars from more than 5,500 reviews. Based on these two metrics, it seems that users are happier with the newer version.
In the iTunes store, the app fares just as well with customers, earning 4.8 stars from more than 3,800 reviews.
Final Thoughts About TripLog: Pros and Cons
Everything that we’ve researched about TripLog points to one great advantage: price. The app’s low fees make it half as expensive as competitors MileIQ, Everlance and SherpaShare.
The app provides a robust set of features at the Basic level and, for those who want to use the added business tools in the Professional tier are worth $3 a month or $30 a year, in our opinion.
As far as downsides go, we’d say that there are few, if. In terms of functionality, the app is on par with the competition. Aside from price, our opinion is that user experience is what will push one app ahead of another one.
So, here’s our suggestion. Download all four apps and do a test drive with each one. Look at the way the data is presented, the menus and the intuitiveness of the various editing features.
From there, decide which app makes more sense to you than the others. If TripLog is your choice, then we believe you’ll enjoy your experience not only from a usability standpoint but a price standpoint as well.
» SEE ALSO: 12 Best Tax Tips for Freelancers