TOP ITEMS TO CONSIDER WHEN CHOOSING A MILEAGE TRACKER
Physical mileage tracking devices have the intrinsic benefit that they were designed to track miles - and nothing else. They live in your car, minimizing the possibility of missing trips, and they don’t require any gimmicks used by apps to turn on and start tracking.
These devices come in two types:
We’ll talk about the real-time models first because it’s important to understand why they are used by big businesses, although they are most likely not what you need. However, they do have one feature in particular that allows them to be completely forgotten about. This is a huge benefit, and there is only one affordable mileage tracker that can offer anything similar to this benefit.
These used to be the only trackers on the market. They are pretty amazing, offering real-time tracking, letting the central office of a big corporation locate and reroute vehicles on-the-fly. Think of how FedEx can send the nearest vehicle to pickup a package - they can’t do that without real-time tracking. These are designed for much more than just tax reporting, offering Insights to big businesses for analyzing driving patterns so they can find a more efficient way to drive and save money.
And they cost a fortune.
Most units cost upwards of $300. To enable real-time tracking, each unit must have a cellular plan, which can set you back $50 PER MONTH. While their back-end software is robust, it is mostly focused on tracking vehicles, not differentiating tax-deductible trips from non-deductible (the idea being these are business-only vehicles, so why bother with the additional features). So if you need to re-route cars on the fly, you’ve gotta have a real-time tracker. If tax reporting and accountability is all you need (which is 99.9% of the population), they are over-kill.
Remember the equation back in Part 1?
The true cost of a mileage tracker = Price Over Time + Missed Deduction + Labor
A fee of only $30 per month will become $360/year - every year - for every device. Add that up over time and you are easily looking at thousands of dollars.
But what’s really great about real-time trackers is that, because they automatically upload data over a cell network,
In other words, the drivers can literally forget about them for months and every trip is uploaded.
There is only one consumer mileage tracker that works in a similar way, but at the very affordable consumer pricing. We’ll get to that now…
* Business Trip Button
* Visible Status Lights
* Runs Off Car Power
* Uploads over WiFi
* Totally Online
* Fast Customer Service
Buying a dedicated mileage tracker can feel a bit daunting, especially if you aren’t versed in technology. This is partly why people buy apps - they seem easy to use. But don’t fall for the app trap, it’ll cost you, and you don’t need to know the technology anyway! The best way to shop for a mileage tracking device is actually to think less technically. The reason being is you want something that’s automated. If you have to know and use the technology all the time, it’s going to be more work.
While all of these mileage trackers use GPS, they are not all the same. In fact, not by a long shot. And the brands you might be used to trusting with GPS (like Garmin) offer some of the most dysfunctional, unusable, and untrustworthy mileage tracking devices around.
Please read the sections below carefully because there are a number of mileage trackers that were thrown together without any real thought. It’s like companies just said “let’s throw a generic GPS in a black box and sell it as a mileage tracker.” This is not cool. Your deduction is serious business and if you are going to invest in a mileage tracker, you should buy one that was designed with your needs in mind.
Here’s how this ideally should work: you press a button and every trip while the button is on is logged as business. You press it again when you are done with business. This way you can't accidentally miss a business trip.
**Avoid the devices where you have to push this button every trip. You’ll forget, and have to search through your log to find those trips (can cause missed business trips).
This may sound trivial, but with many mileage trackers you have no way of knowing if it’s on. We can’t tell you how many people drive for a month or more before finding out their unit wasn’t recording any of their trips. Status and information lights are a critical feature that provide a super easy way to know everything is being tracked all the time.
You should never have a device die on you when you need it. You want something that is tied to the car’s power, so it’s always on when your car is on.
There is only one affordable mileage tracker that does this (it connects to your home or office network when you park your car). It’s an amazing and hugely beneficial feature. The main reason you want this is: If you have to take the mileage tracker out of your car to upload it, you’ll probably forget to do it. Eventually the tracker’s memory will fill up, and you’ll start losing trips. It’s super easy to do, and it happens all the time. The tracker that uploads over wifi will never fill up because it’s automatically uploading and deleting the trips off of itself.
Why? Because online software has to be maintained and updated by the service provider, ensuring constant customer service. It also provides extra protection that your GPS files are backed-up to an outside server. If your computer crashes, you can be confident your log is still safe. The more robust the software, the less user interaction is required. This truly makes your logging process as easy as it can be.
Send the company a quick email with a question. If you never hear back, or it takes a week or more for them to respond, move on. Your mileage log is serious business, and the company should believe that too.
If it’s a ‘Navigation / Mileage Tracker’ it’s probably 95% Navigation, with 5% Mileage Log (ie: the Mileage Log was thrown in as an afterthought).
If the software looks like an excel spreadsheet, beware. Ideally, you want the software to be entirely online. Good software can actually automate your log, streamlining the reporting process and making it super quick to update your log and access anything you want. Bad software can be an absolute nightmare, making the logging process take as much time as manually logging your miles. If you can test out the software before buying, do it!!
You need to know your device is on and working. Without any lights to provide that information, you can drive for days, weeks, or even months without realizing the tracker wasn’t on.
If the business sells 5 different GPS devices, or just a whole bunch of different products, the mileage tracker isn’t that important to them. Most likely you’ll find these products will fail all the above requirements you should look for and avoid.
In our opinion, there is only one device that truly has the “Best of Both Worlds.” It was designed by people who used all the other devices and who figured out what a mileage tracker truly should have. It requires little-to-no interaction and has all the features you need to be IRS compliant while offering a wide range of tools to help automate the logging process. Best of all, you can get it at a price that won’t brake the bank.
It passes all the requirements you should be looking for in a mileage tracker, and contains none of the things you want to avoid. With specially designed hardware, this unit ensures every mile is logged from the moment you start your car, maximizing your deduction. Unlike with apps, you can literally forget about tracking your miles. Imagine driving with the peace-of-mind that your log is being auto-generated and your deduction safeguarded from an audit. Win, win.
* Dedicated device
* Fulfills all requirements listed above
* Tamper-proof logs the IRS can trust
* Only device with WiFi uploading
* Extremly simple online software
* Extremely affordable over time
* Excellent customer service
For this reason we strongly believe The Mileage Ace is the best mileage tracker on the market. It is the ONLY mileage tracker that uses WiFi without requiring users to have a cellular plan. After the initial setup, it automatically searches for linked WiFi networks after every trip, ensuring your daily log is uploaded directly from your car after you return to your home or office. It works just like the high end real-time trackers, but carries none of the high costs. It has proprietary online tools that learn your driving habits, and over time, will auto-fill your log. It can even surmise your business purpose. With minimal effort, you will have IRS compliant reports with a click of a button.
The true secret to maximizing your mileage deduction is pretty simple. Get a mileage tracker that never misses a thing, and provides the tools to access it with total ease. These devices really do exist. In our opinion, The Mileage Ace is the best mileage tracker around, and one of the very few that actually log every foot you drive.
Thanks for reading! Now go out and make sure the Tax Man doesn’t take one cent more than absolutely necessary.