Solo is an app designed to help gig workers in delivery and rideshare manage their businesses. They call themselves a “business in a box,” with various tools and features that can act as a business and earnings hub for gig workers.
Solo is best known for their Pay Guarantee feature, available in 19 markets as of this writing. The app evaluates conditions and pricing in a particular market and tells gig workers what they could earn hourly with different platforms at different times. In those 19 markets, Solo backs that up with a guarantee: If you earn less than the guaranteed amount, Solo pays the difference.
I can't thoroughly review the Pay Guarantee feature since that's unavailable in my market. Instead, my purpose is to share my thoughts on the business management tools offered by Solo. How well can you rely on Solo for tracking income, expenses, mileage, and tax information for your gig economy business? We'll discuss the following:
I am an affiliate of the Solo app, which means I may receive a commission if you get the app. As of this writing, Solo is offering a bonus of $10 if you download the app and link your driver accounts using my affiliate link.
I'm not here to sell anything. My purpose is to give my honest take on the app's good and bad and provide information to let you make your own decision.
An overview of the Solo App
The primary feature of the Solo app is its Smart Scheduling and Pay Guarantee. Solo uses trip information to determine how much a delivery or rideshare driver can expect to make per hour at certain times with each associated platform.
Drivers can look through the schedule, select the hours they want to commit to, and receive a guarantee that they'll make so much per hour. If you earn less than the guarantee, Solo makes up the difference. There are specific requirements, including staying logged in and available during the scheduled time and accepting the majority of trip offers.
As of November 2022, the Solo Pay Guarantee feature is available in 25 markets:
- San Antonio
- New Orleans
- Oklahoma City
- St. Louis
- Kansas City
Solo started in Seattle and, since March 2022, began expanding to other markets. The more drivers in a particular metro area that they can get to download the app and share trip data, the more likely that city becomes available.
However, the team at Solo wants to do more than just the Pay Guarantee program. Their goal is to be a “business in a box” that helps drivers manage their income, expenses, and tax information. They're constantly improving and updating the app.
What does Solo cost?
Solo has three subscription levels. They offer a 14-day risk-free trial, and then subscribers can choose from:
- Free account: Includes a personal income dashboard with your area's weekly income and market reports.
- Basic plan ($3.99/month): The free plan plus a leaderboard feature, income, expense, mileage tracking, and a tax estimator.
- Pro Plan: Available only in specific markets, the pro plan includes everything in the Basic plan and adds the Smart Scheduling and Guaranteed Pay features.
Solo works on a credit system. Each credit gives you one hour of guaranteed pay. The pro plan gives you ten monthly credits; additional credits are available for 25¢ each. According to their website, you can buy credits in bulk for a lower rate.
Grading the Solo App
This review is part of a series of reviews on income, expense, and mileage tracking apps. In order to compare apps reasonably, we'll use a similar format for each. We'll grade each app on the following:
The first four categories will receive a letter grade. If the app offers additional useful features, it may receive bonus points. The letter grade is based on the following:
- A = You can't get much better than this
- B = Above average but a little room for improvement
- C = Average or slightly below
- D = It does the bare minimum
- F = Falls short of the minimum
Using Solo for Mileage tracking
The Solo app features an automatic mileage tracking feature. That means Solo can sense when you're driving and automatically record the trip's details for tax purposes.
Because you link your driver account with Solo, the app knows when you're active on rides or deliveries. It thus can automatically detect whether your trip is for business or personal reasons. When it works well, it's much easier than manually going through and classifying trips from other mileage-tracking apps.
Solo lets you see a list of your trips on the app, showing both personal and business trips. You can edit the trip, changing between a business and personal designation. You can also adjust the number of miles and view a map showing where you've been. Solo does not provide a trip report, only allowing you to download a spreadsheet of all the individual trips.
Solo has the option to toggle between manual and automatic tracking. That feature works differently than on other mileage-tracking apps. On most apps, manual tracking means you manually start and stop recording trips. Solo doesn't have that capability. Manual tracking on Solo means you're manually telling the app whether a trip is for business or personal reasons.
Grading Solo on mileage tracking
For mileage tracking, we'll look at the following factors:
- Ease of use
- Trip details
- Manually adding or editing trips
Ease of Use: C (2 points)
The concept behind Solo's mileage tracking is extremely easy: Solo tracks all of your driving and then looks at your trip data on the driver apps to see if you are working. That allows Solo to not only track your miles but automatically classify whether they are for business or personal use.
It's a great concept. However, there are practical issues.
One issue I've encountered is that many trips aren't recorded. The Solo app says you need to have the app open and running in the background to record your trips. I've double-checked that it was open and still had it fail to record.
Part of the problem is that Solo doesn't have a way to start and stop recording trips manually. If it does, I haven't found it yet. The manual/automatic switching only tells the app that your driving is for business or personal reasons. None of that is really clear, and it gets confusing if you're accustomed to other apps.
Accuracy: F (0 Points)
The missed trips on Solo is a major (and expensive) problem. For delivery and rideshare drivers, the 62.5 cents per mile write-off (2nd half of 2022) is a big deal. If you're not tracking every mile you drive, you're paying way too much in taxes.
Solo only tracked seven of my last twelve delivery trips and only captured 51% of my total miles (compared to odometer readings). With the tens of thousands of miles that I drive, that can cost hundreds of dollars in additional taxes.
The trips that it did record captured 25%, 150%, 104%, 105%, 84%, 115%, and 115% of actual miles. The trips Solo designated as business included some personal driving as well.
There are two big problems with accuracy here. One is that Solo just isn't recording every trip. It may have been my fault for not ensuring the app was open for some trips. Other times I was sure I had the app open, and it still failed to record.
Trip Details: F (0 Points)
Solo does not provide an IRS-compliant mileage log. The IRS requires a written log, meaning computer or GPS logs must be printable. The log must contain the following elements:
- The date of the trip
- How many miles you drove
- Where you went
- The business purpose of the trip
There's no trip report function. All you can do is view the list of trips. You can download your trips, which is, in fact, just a spreadsheet list of all expense transactions, including ALL trips (whether business or personal).
The list does not designate whether a trip was for business or personal purposes. The only way you can tell if it was a business trip is if there's a dollar amount in the Amount column.
Solo does not provide any location information, nor does it state the business purpose of the trip. There's no option to edit trips to add a note that would show up in the list.
Manually adding or editing trips: F (0 Points)
It is possible to edit trips, but the only option when you do so is to toggle between business or personal and to change the mileage amount.
There is no option for manually adding a trip. If for some reason, Solo didn't record a trip (which happens frequently), there's nothing you can do to add something to the log.
Final Grade for Mileage Tracking: D- (0.5 points)
Between the accuracy issues and what Solo does with the information it does track, Solo doesn't stack up well for mileage tracking. They have an excellent concept, but the implementation needs some work. I do believe these are fixable issues, so there's hope for a much better grade in the future.
Expense Tracking with Solo
You can manually add other business expenses by tapping the “Plus” button on the home screen, then choosing “Add Expense.” From there, you can enter the name of the expense, the amount, and the date and choose a category.
Solo has the following list of categories:
- Legal and Professional Fees
- State taxes
- Continuing education and certification
- Car and Mileage
There's no function for saving pictures of the receipt. Solo does not have a report that breaks down expenses by category. You can only download a list of transactions into a spreadsheet, sort them by category, and add the totals.
Grading Solo on Expense Tracking
To be consistent with other reviews, I'll base the grade on two factors:
- Ease of Use
- Usefulness for tax purposes
Ease of Use: D
Solo's expense feature does the bare minimum. It's not hard to add an expense: Press the Plus button at the bottom of the screen, select “Add Expense,” and enter your information.
Beyond that, what you do with it isn't so easy. Solo used an odd list of categories, and some can create confusion. I understand their decision to use a limited number of expense categories, as too many choices can overwhelm many gig workers. You don't want to make keeping track of records too complicated.
One example that concerns me is the inclusion of Meals. Most gig workers will take that to mean they can claim meals eaten while on deliveries, which they can not. While you can claim meals if you have a business meeting, that kind of thing is rare with gig work.
The lack of a report or category totals adds to a lot of extra work at tax time.
Usefulness for tax purposes: F
There's no profit and loss report. There is no category total that can be used for filing your taxes.
Solo does let you download a list of transactions. That list, as mentioned earlier, includes personal trips, business trips, and business expenses. There is no detail on the list about the transaction other than the date, amount, and expense category. Solo's lack of receipt tracking doesn't help much.
When you download that list, you'll have to sort it by category. Even then, nothing tells a gig worker how one of Solo's categories relates to the IRS's Schedule C expense categories.
Overall grade for Solo's Expense Tracking: D- (0.5 GPA)
As far as tracking expenses, Solo does the bare minimum. The most you get is a list of transactions. While that's better than searching through everything at tax time,
Income tracking for Solo
Solo does things for expense tracking that I wish other apps could. Because you link Solo to your driver accounts, Solo can automatically track how much you've earned. This can be very useful when apps like Doordash and Grubhub don't keep a running total through the year.
You can manually enter your pay on Solo if you've done any work outside the gig apps. For example, I occasionally deliver for apps like DeliverThat, Curri, and Veho. Solo lets you input the pay and the number of hours you worked (for calculating hourly averages).
The only drawback to manually entering payment information is you can't customize your income categories. However, contrary to the expense downloads, Solo does display the Payer's name.
Like with expense and mileage reports, you'll have to sort and run totals manually. You can view some total earnings reports on the app. One additional plus for Solo is that they let you know your hourly average and how that compares to others in your market.
Overall Grade for Solo's Income Tracking: A- (3.5 GPA)
Solo does a few things well. Their automatic income tracking is effortless. The only thing that keeps them from a straight A in this category is the inability to track unlinked platforms (like DeliverThat or Veho) separately and the lack of a downloadable totaled income report.
Tax features on the Solo App
Solo gives you a limited tax estimate to help you decide what to set aside for taxes.
I've noticed that the estimate is a flat rate based on profit (income minus expenses). In my report, Federal taxes are 15.3% of profits, and state taxes are 4.55, totaling 19.85%.
I'm assuming that Solo does calculate state taxes based on what state you're in. I say that because 4.55% used to be the rate in my state (though it's since changed).
The 15.3% rate is obviously based on the self-employment tax rate. However, Federal income taxes do not seem to enter into the equation. I added some large income transactions to see if income tax kicked in at higher income levels, and they didn't.
Solo does not take into account any variables in tax estimating. They don't adjust based on filing status or if you have other income, which could dramatically affect your tax liability.
Overall Grade for Solo's Tax Features: D (1.0 GPA)
Solo's inclusion of a tax feature puts them ahead of some apps. That part puts them a little above the “bare minimum” threshold. However, the calculator not taking Federal Income Tax into account could lead to many drivers drastically under-saving. Add to that the inaccuracy of the mileage tracking and extra work totaling miles and expenses at tax time, and I came up with a D.
The Solo app stands out from others in two ways:
- Smart Schedule and Guaranteed Earnings
- Driver insights and earnings dashboard.
These features set the Solo app apart from anything that I've seen. Solo uses data and average earnings to help delivery and rideshare contractors find the most profitable times to work in their markets.
We've discussed the pay guarantee. It can be incredibly useful for drivers who haven't yet figured out the best times to take trips.
Solo also gives you information about where you stand compared to the average driver. You know how your hourly average compares to other drivers in your market using the same platform. The insights tab tells you the average earnings for different gig platforms, giving you an idea of whether other gig companies are a better fit for your area.
Solo does these two things better than anyone (or no one does at all). I didn't grade this area separately because they go above and beyond the core tracking features for the purposes of this review. They are impressive and useful features, which leads two two bonus grade points.
The final report card grade for the Solo App
Here are our grades for the different categories:
- Mileage Tracking: D- (0.5 grade points)
- Expense Tracking: D (0.5 grade points)
- Income Tracking: A- (3.5 grade points)
- Tax Features: D (1.0 grade points)
- Additional Features: 2 grade points
- Overall Grade: C- (1.875 GPA).
Pros and Cons of the Solo App
Overall, I think the Solo app has the potential to become a great “business in a box” for gig workers. The concepts behind what they are doing are good. Some of the execution needs work.
My Favorite Solo App Pros
The thing I like the most about Solo is the company itself. I believe that they're passionate and committed to providing tools for delivery and rideshare contractors. I also know they're open to ideas and suggestions, so I anticipate future revisions as they improve.
The Smart Schedule feature with guaranteed earnings in specific markets can be a game changer for many drivers, especially newcomers. It takes time to get to know your market, understand the best delivery or rideshare times, and understand which apps are most profitable. Solo is a cheat code for figuring out where you can make the most if you're in one of the markets with this feature.
When the mileage tracking works well, Solo has perhaps the most innovative concept I've seen behind how they classify when trips are for business and when they aren't.
As a driver in a market that doesn't have Smart Scheduling available yet, I like that they can update income automatically. In fact, in articles about how to figure out your earnings on certain platforms, I recommend the Solo app for just that purpose.
The Solo App Cons (where I see room for improvement)
The most significant area of improvement for Solo is mileage tracking. It would be a serious competitor with other apps if they could fix this. However, the accuracy issues and non-compliant reporting make it far from reliable for mileage tracking purposes.
Solo needs to adjust something about how and when it starts tracking. From my experience with different apps, automatic mileage tracking is a feature that, on its own, is worth a subscription price.
However, that feature needs to work. With apps like Hurdlr, Everlance, and Triplog, I do not need to ensure the app is open for it to track. On top of that, I've confirmed that the app was open at times, and it still failed to record my trips. That's a non-starter, in my opinion.
I would like to see web access to information. That might just be me being old school, but sometimes if I'm adding or updating transactions, I prefer to do it on my laptop instead of my phone.
Solo also needs to come up with an IRS-compliant mileage log. Tracking miles won't do much good if an auditor doesn't accept the report. They have the data to do so. It just needs to show up on the log.
I'd like to see improvements in the expense categories. I know it's tricky to find the balance between providing the correct information without overwhelming the user.
Finally, Solo could take a big step by adding reporting functionality. If they could provide a profit and loss report that shows income by gig company and expense totals for each category, that could save a lot of trouble at tax time.
How Solo compares to other business tracking programs for gig workers
Solo differs from apps like Hurdlr and Everlance in that it's made specifically for rideshare and delivery. Their lead features relate to helping contractors find the most profitable times and platforms for earning money. No one else touches that.
Unfortunately, I can't recommend the Solo app if you're looking primarily for a mileage and expense tracking app. Solo just hasn't caught up to other apps in those areas yet.
Solo is built on some great ideas. Their concept of using driver app data to classify trips automatically is brilliant. The only app that is anywhere close to them in that regard is Triplog, which automatically tracks based on whether any of your gig apps are open.
The only other app I know of that does all the tracking work and can pull your earnings from the gig apps is Gridwise. They use the same Argyle interface. I feel like Solo's presentation of that information is better.
The individual market data and pay guarantee features stand out for Solo. No one else does anything like this that I'm aware of. For many drivers, those features may be reason enough to use the app.
Reviews and report cards for other apps are in progress. As it stands right now, here are the grades for the apps that I've reviewed:
- Solo: Grade C (2.06)
- Stride Tax: Grade D+ (1.33)
My thoughts on if Solo is worth it
I think I'll always have the free version of Solo. I like the earnings statistics they provide, and that they can use everyone's experience to help the entire group. The more people who use Solo in my market, the sooner they can bring their full capabilities to this area.
However, at this point, I personally would not subscribe to the Basic Plan. The main benefit of that plan is the mileage, income, and expense tracking. If I'm going to pay for automatic mileage tracking, I need to be comfortable with the accuracy. The free version of the Hurdlr app has far more powerful expense-tracking features.
However, I believe that things can change. I know the team at Solo is constantly rolling out improvements. There are some unique ways that Solo does things, and everything they do is geared towards gig workers. Once they get some things working better, I believe they could become a must-have app for a lot of delivery and rideshare contractors.
When should you get the Solo app?
Two things set the Solo app apart:
- The income Dashboard and statistics
- The Pay Guarantee and Smart Scheduling features
If you're in one of the markets with the Pay Guarantee feature, you should definitely try it. See if it starts earning more money for you.
If you're not in an area that has that feature, but it intrigues you, you should download the app and link it to your account. Solo only introduces that feature in markets where they have enough data from enough drivers to project earnings rates and offer guarantees adequately.
Solo has a 14-day risk-free trial. That allows you to try the subscription plans and see how Solo works for you.
As of this writing, Solo offers a $10 sign-on bonus if you use my referral link, download the app and link your active gig worker accounts. You must have one previous job on one of the gig apps, and you'll need to link your Solo account to your Venmo or Paypal (for them to pay you). This is the bonus as of this writing; bonus amounts are subject to change.
You can also download Solo directly from the App Store (iPhone) or at Google Play Those links are direct links and I do not receive the affiliate or referral bonuses. To my knowledge, they do not offer the $10 bonus.
When would you NOT install the Solo app?
Two issues might discourage drivers from using Solo.
- Connecting Solo to your driver accounts could create issues
- Privacy concerns about sharing your trip data
I know many who are concerned about giving a company they don't k access to their driver accounts. One, is their information safe? And two, Can gig companies deactivate you for linking your account with someone else?
I'm not personally concerned with the first issue. Solo uses a third-party company to link to your account for a reason. The Argyle interface allows you to connect Solo to your accounts, but Solo doesn't get your login credentials or access to personal information.
The second issue is a bit more grey. Gig companies all have language in their contractor agreements that prohibit you from sharing your login with others. Yet there are a lot of companies that use Argyle and have working arrangements with those gig companies. I have yet to see anyone deactivated for using an Argyle interface. If they did so, would they then have to deactivate tens of thousands of drivers who are linked through companies like Solo, Buckle, Gridwise, and others?
The privacy concern is an issue you have to determine for yourself. For many, there's incredible value in knowing the best times to deliver or drive and which platforms pay the best in their area. However, you can't do that without sharing trip information.
I'm not worried about sharing my trip data. I don't believe Solo will do anything with it other than combine it with everyone else's data to determine the best times and platforms for gig workers. That's the value of the app: using data shared by thousands of drivers to help drivers become the most profitable.
In the end, if either of these are concerns, that's understandable. You should pay attention to things like that. While I might be comfortable with Solo in these things, I can certainly understand if you aren't. It's ultimately your decision to make.
Some quick thoughts on the Pay Guarantee
I wish Solo had the Pay Guarantee feature in my market. I'd love to test it out.
I'm not sure I'd use it in my day-to-day deliveries. Solo requires drivers to work on a single platform and accept most offers on that platform to qualify. I'm convinced I can out-earn any guarantees by being more selective and working on multiple platforms.
However, I'd love the opportunity to try it out.
Having said all that, there's a difference between an experienced driver who multi-apps and typically accepts a small percentage of offers and someone who's just starting out and learning the ropes around figuring out the best times to deliver Doordash, most profitable times for Uber Eats, or when it's best to do Uber and Lyft.
Some drivers are committed to things like Top Dasher status on Doordash, which requires a 70% acceptance rate. They want the simplicity of working on a single platform and don't want to sit too long rejecting orders. The pay guarantee feature can be ideal for them.
Even though I wouldn't personally use the Pay Guarantee, I can see the value of seeing the additional data that comes with the Solo Pro subscription. While I may not go after their guarantee, it's helpful to see the statistics that identify when and on what platforms drivers make the most money.
Overall, I love Solo for the simple fact that they've got an innovative product that is designed to help gig workers make more money. You can't have a better start than that. I do believe they've got some kinks to work out, but I wouldn't be surprised to see this app evolve into something special.
Could this help someone else? Please share it.