Claim your expenses for business travel in your car by recording the mileage for trips, expenses like parking and tolls. Record all car expenses and private usage with Android phone apps.
If you use a car for business trips, you need to record the miles travelled, fuel put in the car, parking costs and tolls paid. You might also need to record other travel or car related expenses like servicing and repairs. You might even want to record money earned during trips so you can see profits and losses on the go.
Even if you do not need to track business usage of your car, you might want to track car ownership costs for your own personal use. With rising costs, especially if you still burn fossil fuels, you might want to track how you use your car and how much you are actually spending on running it.
There are many apps for Android phones that can track your car trips and record mileage and costs like fuel, parking and so on. They work by monitoring the GPS location of your phone.
Automatic car tracking
Some apps automatically detect movement, such as above 5 mph, and assume you are driving your car and then they track your location, speed and time travelling. This is very useful because it requires you to do nothing. You just drive your car as normal and mileage is tracked and expenses are calculated. Watch out if you take a taxi or bus though. You may need to delete the trip!
Recording is triggered in some apps by automatically detecting your car’s Bluetooth wireless connection or an iBeacon when you get in and start it. This prevents the app from recording taxi and bus trips, but not all cars have Bluetooth. New ones do, old ones may not.
Beware of battery drain
It is useful to track car usage, but all mileage tracker apps increase battery drain on a phone to some degree because:
- You need GPS turned on all the time.
- Apps need to be running in the background.
- They constantly check your location and speed.
The benefits of a mileage track app arethat you can easily see all your trips and some apps can actually work out your expense claims because they know the tax laws of some countries. You can see at-a-glance all your expenses for a day, week, month or year. Apps let you store notes with trips and some enable you to scan and store receipts with them too.
Whether for business or personal use, here are four Android phone apps you should consider for tracking mileage and costs for car trips.
Mileage Tracker, Vehicle Log & Fuel Economy App
Motolog, which is the name on the icon when it is installed, is a very highly rated app that has a Google Play Store score of 4.6 and lots of good reviews.
The app has several ways of detecting when you are driving and it can be triggered by connecting to the car Bluetooth, when power is connected, such as your car charger, or automatically by detecting vehicle movement.
I used the auto movement detection and after tweaking the phone’s power saving settings to stop it putting the app to sleep, it worked fine. I could get in the car and just drive and the app would detect the movement and record the trip. Sometimes it did not stop the trip duration timer and I had to manually stop it, which was a slight irritation.
The home screen shows the history and it lists every trip in a tile that contains the distance, duration, start and end times, and tags, like Business or Private. Tapping a tile goes to a detail view that shows the journey on a map, maximum speed, even latitude and longitude. The address can be looked up and notes can be stored with the trip.
Trips can involve expenses and tapping the plus button on the home screen opens a panel at the bottom with options to add expenses like parking and tolls and fuel. All types of fuel can be entered, including electric. You can add money earned on a trip.
There are several reports and time periods, such as trips this week, this or last month and so on. You can see charts of distance, duration, speed and so on. Your fuel, expenses, and finances are all presented on the reports screen.
The app has too many features to list. You can track every cost involved in owning and running a car and Motolog is very comprehensive. It works in a limited way for free, but a Pro subscription is required to use it properly. However, I was offered £4.99 a year (under $1 a month), so the cost is trivial.
This is an excellent app for tracking car expenses, especially for business use and it simplifies your expense claims, showing amounts for trips. The only irritation is that the automatic movement detection uses a lot of phone battery power. Car Bluetooth detection probably uses less, but my car doesn’t have it.
TripLog: Automatic Mileage Tracker & Log
TripLog is one of the easiest apps to live with for several reasons. One is that it was very easy to install and set up. I needed to opt out of battery optimization, which prevents these apps from working, but it was easier with TripLog than other apps.
Another way in which this app stood out from the others is that it used very little battery power. In fact, it used around one tenth of the battery used by the Motolog app for example. Battery usage is so low you will not be troubled by it.
I used the automatic movement detection option to log driving and it worked very well. However, there multiple triggers, like car Bluetooth, iBeacon Device, Plug-N-Go and others. The Bluetooth detector is best if your car has it.
The home screen shows trips and trip logging is organized into days. Each day may contain multiple trips. A day can be expanded so you can view the details of each trip made or the days can be collapsed to fit more on the screen and give you a summary of each one. The collapsed view is very useful and it shows trip dates, millage, claimable expenses, and time driving.
The expanded view shows each day and the trips you made. You can add expenses like filling with fuel or electric charging, expenses like parking and tolls, and whether each trip was business or personal. Rules can be created so that specific trips are always classed as personal or business. You can see trips on a map and scan and add receipts.
The Reports screen enables you to see some useful information like the percentage of business vs personal mileage. A lot of optional vehicle information, costs and expenses can be entered into the app and it has many more features than I can list here.
This is an excellent app and it knows the tax laws of some countries so it can work out what you can claim in expenses. The free Lite version is limited and you need the Premium edition to use all of the features. It costs £3.74 a month, which isn’t much for tracking business expenses.
Mileage Tracker by Driversnote
Driversnote has a very good rating in the Google Play Store and 4.6 is excellent. The app looks great and it has a very nice design. The other apps look dull and unexciting compared to it.
The app tracks your business or personal car trips and it can automatically detect when you are driving and begin logging. It automatically stops when you stop. However, I had to disable every battery saving and optimization on the phone to enable this to work, which means increased battery drain. Battery usage was moderate and it wasn’t as efficient as TripLog. However, trip recording can be triggered by Bluetooth, which may use less battery.
Trips are initially added to a list awaiting your approval and you can choose between business or personal use, notes can be added, and you can approve it or delete it.
The trip is shown on a map and the expense you can claim is displayed based on your mileage allowance. If there is a way to add other expenses, like parking and tolls, it is well hidden. You could store extra costs in a note attached to the trip though.
The trip history shows nicely designed trip summaries on cards that shows the trip type, start and end, mileage and expense. The home screen shows a chart showing expense or mileage totals for a day, week, month or year. It’s a nice and easy to read display.
Driversnote is a much simpler app than Motolog or TripLog and it records only your mileage and associated expense. It does not record other costs like fuel, parking, tolls, servicing, repairs and so on. If you want a simple app to track your trips, this is perfect, but if you want to record every little detail about owning and running a car and your trips, look elsewhere.
Free mode is one of the best here and it is capable of recording up to 20 trips a month manually. If you are serious about tracking your mileage then a Basic account adds Bluetooth activation and unlimited trips for $9.50 a month. That is expensive compared to Motolog.
Vehicle Trip Logbook Tracker
Trip Logbook is another highly rated app in the Google Play Store with a score of 4.6. It looks good and is easy to use. It is cheap too and most features are free. Only trying to output a report triggers a payment popup and this works out at £3.09 every six months or around £0.51 a month. It is a trivial amount.
My biggest issue with the app, and this will not affect everyone, is that trip recording is via Bluetooth detection. Get in your car, start it and it is ready to record your trip. Leave the car and it stops.
That is fine if you have Bluetooth in your car, but my car does not have it. Most, possibly all new cars these days have Bluetooth, but old cars may not. If not, then you must manually start and stop recording. I forgot to start it on several occasions and had to manually enter the trip later that day, which was irritating.
The strange thing is that it does have movement detection, but that is only available after the car Bluetooth has been detected.
The home screen shows the total mileage for the month and the amount of business and private travel. A chart shows the milage day by day. Manual start and stop trip recording buttons are at the bottom.
The logbook screen lists the trips, giving brief details like the start and end address, mileage and start and end time. Tapping a trip enables it to be edited and a reason for the trip can be given, such as private or business visit to a client or customer. The start and end locations can be selected on a map.
Fuel costs can be recorded in the app and tracked every time you fill up. I could not see an obvious way to record extra trip expenses like parking and tolls. They could be put in a trip’s notes though.
There is no way to record other costs involved with owning and running a car like servicing, repairs and so on. It does not calculate expenses and it just records mileage. There are better alternatives.
I only looked at four apps to track mileage and trips here and there are many more. However, the ones chosen are among the most popular and highest rated. They are in order of how I would personally rate them and the most comprehensive is Motolog. It enables you to record everything you can think of regarding owning and running a one or more cars and working out business expenses.
I like TripLog a lot because it is so light on the phone battery. It is another comprehensive app that covers nearly everything you would ever want for tracking car usage and costs, especially business costs.
Driversnote is in third place because it is not quite so comprehensive and the subscription is expensive. However, it has the best free mode and it is the best looking app. If you want a free app, try it.
In last place is Trip Logbook. It may be too basic for some people and it may not work for others because it only auto-tracks trips if the car has Bluetooth.