eat the mileage?

been doing a small job for some young entreprenuers. doing all over the net, now they want to meet face to face to discuss refinements additions. they are like 1.5hrs away so, like 90miles there, 90miles back. is it petty to charge them for mileage? I think irs rate is like 58 cents / mile. So a charge of like $100. I mean I have this in my contract. Is this common to have the client pay for travel costs like this that come up.

1.5 hour travel isn’t that much. I know people who go that far everyday to work and back. Charging for that does seem petty. I wouldn’t suggest it, if it’s just a one off or infrequent thing. If you are going there and back once a week, then I would make some sort of arrangement. Maybe something to bring up if you get the feeling more face to face meetings may be coming.


If it is in the contract, then it should be no surprise. However, if you are happy with them and feel like they may have a lot of work for you in the future, you may occasionally have to throw in a favor every now and then. I’d rather deal with the gas money then having to re-spec something on a favor. You always run the risk of them trying to make this the norm though. I would rather give them a ‘freebie’ on something that is rare than on design work that you know you will encounter again at some point. You may want to be sure to point this out in your contract though.

quick responses thank you. then there is time i spend during the meeting which i should charge for my time. to travel 180 miles is 3.0 hours my time, the attend the meeting say 2-3 hours. thats 6 hours.

I guess i have to think of a policy for this stuff. maybe bill only mileage going to, and just the hours spent in their office, then absorb the mileage coming back to base and the hours spent in the car. it would just be easier to bill everything especially since i give good prices on services but i see you points about nikle and dime and favors

I would think your fee for services would also include time to discuss the options and review, no? Normally you may do this by Skype or phone or email, so the time is no difference. Start charging for time in a meeting, unless it is a about something totally different, and I think it would look really bad.

I pretty much guarantee that if you told them you are charging for your drive and the meeting time, you would get no more work from them in the future.

Unless I’m on an hourly retainer type contract, meetings are just part of the process and something I build into my quote. Likewise short travel. If I’m flying out for a special meeting, the client will pickup the tab, but I don’t pile on time additionally unless it’s part of the contract to start with or I’m working on an hourly basis.


If you’re in the US you should be able to write this off as mileage on your taxes.

You should do one or both of the following:

  1. Bill a lower rate for travel. If your normal rate is $100, charge $60 or so/hr* to travel. Like it or not, this is still time you must invest that prevents you from doing other billable work or searching for other clients, and as such the time has value, even if it is just travel time. Plumbers charge for travel, lawyers charge for travel, etc. That said, consider whether skype or other alternatives are useful. If this is a sales call don’t bill.

  2. If charging for mileage is in your contract, charge it. Don’t create an ambiguous “will they or won’t they” situation for your client re your billing. Keep it simple and do what you say you’ll do.

That said, when you are working with a remote client, you will need to travel. Establish travel expectations (distance, frequency, purpose) in advance so you can build your program fees appropriately. Don’t bill retroactively.

*the thought being that if you are freelancing, your hours target is probably something like 1200/yr, or about 60% of 2000 hours. 60% of your rate (@ $100 above) is $60 - what you’d need to make if you were 100% billable and could afford to work at a discount.