The Best Free Route Planner with Unlimited Stops: Comparing 7 Route Planners
Inefficient route processes are expensive to manage and will cut into your profits whether you’re a professional courier or if you supervise a team of delivery drivers.
First, there’s the time it takes to plan routes in advance. Sometimes delivery teams try to use free tools like Google Maps. But Google Maps was built to provide driving directions, not to find the shortest route possible.
Then there’s the expense associated with actually driving the route (for example, the driver’s salary, plus the wear and tear on the vehicle, plus fuel costs).
A general good rule of thumb: The shorter the driving time, the more profitable your delivery business will be.
Finding the right route planning software can save you time and money, allowing you to plan the best routes in a matter of seconds to help your drivers complete their stops faster. But there are other things to consider before making a decision, such as:
- Will a free route planner work for me? There are lots of free route planners available, but they do come with limitations. A free route planner might work for people planning road trips or part-time couriers who handle less than 10 stops at a time. But professional couriers and small businesses offering delivery will need more robust mapping software.
- Is it possible to get a free route planner that offers unlimited stops? There isn’t a free route planner that offers free unlimited stops (that I know of). Most free route planners offer somewhere between 10 to 20 stops per route. But there are route planners, like the Circuit free route planner, that offer unlimited routes.
- Is a paid route planner worth the outlay? Paid route planners offer advanced features — such as unlimited stops per route. The better route planning tools also come with other route management features, such as proof of delivery and driver tracking.
In this article, I’m going to help you find what works best for you by looking at the best free route planners available — along with some paid-for options.
I’ll discuss how many stops each platform lets you make per route, whether or not they can divide routes amongst multiple drivers, and how their optimized routes work with apps like Google maps (which your drivers can still use to get their turn-by-turn directions).
If you manage a team of drivers and want a simple, cost-effective way to keep track of them (while making their routes more efficient), sign up for a free 7-day trial of Circuit for Teams.
7 of the Best Free Route Planners: A Quick Intro to Each
- Circuit for Teams: Ideal for either individual delivery drivers or small-to-midsize delivery teams. You can plan free routes for up to 10 stops. Paid plans start at $20 per month for up to 500 stops, and with Circuit for Teams you can plan routes for multiple drivers — plus you get real-time driver tracking, proof of delivery, and much more.
- Speedy Route: Available only as a web-based route planner (no mobile version). You can plan free routes on Speedy Route for up to 10 stops. For more stops, you need to pay either a daily, weekly, or monthly subscription.
- RouteXL: RouteXL has a free plan for up to 20 stops per route, but it’s a web-based route planner, which means you need to print out your routes and give them to your driver.
- MapQuest: MapQuest lets you plan up to 26 stops for free, but doesn’t offer any of the advanced features that you get in planners like Circuit for Teams.
- MyRouteOnline: MyRouteOnline doesn’t have a free plan. Instead you pay for credits. $29 gets you 100 credits, which equals 100 stops.
- Route4Me: Route4Me doesn’t have a free plan. But it does have a large marketplace where you can customize your route planning tool by adding on which features you need. That might be useful, or might be overkill, depending on your situation.
- TruckRouter: TruckRouter is a free route planner that’s aimed towards long-haul truckers. It’s not really suitable for smaller delivery teams.
1. The Circuit Route Planner (Plus Circuit for Teams)
Circuit Route Planner started out as route optimization software for individual drivers — a route planner for couriers and non-professionals who needed help with their trip planning. We soon noticed lots of our customers were professional drivers working for large delivery teams. Based on their feedback, we built a tool that offers the essential features you need to successfully (and affordably) manage a team of delivery drivers, which we go into below.
We still offer a free route planner app for drivers who need to create the fastest route possible and don’t require extra features like route monitoring and proof of delivery.
Our free route planner app works with both iPhone/iOS and Android devices.
You download it from the app store and it works with your preferred GPS navigation app, whether that’s Google Maps, Apple Maps, or Waze. With our free plan, our algorithm lets you optimize a route of up to 10 stops. There’s no limit to the number of routes you can make.
How to Get Started with the Circuit Route Planner (for Individual Drivers)
Manually typing addresses into the Circuit Route Planner mobile app is quick and efficient because we use the same auto-complete technology that Google Maps uses. This means as you type in your destination, Circuit is using your current location so it can suggest the most likely destination.
Plus, you can set some advanced parameters, like time-constraints and priority stops.
Let’s say you’re a courier and one of your customers needs their package ASAP. On the Circuit Route Planner app, you can give that stop priority and Circuit Route Planner will optimize the fastest route with that stop first.
Once you’ve entered your 10 stops, click “Optimize” and Circuit will create the optimal route (factoring in any parameters you set). Once your route is ready to go (it takes just a few seconds), click “Start Route” and Circuit will automatically open your preferred navigation app.
You can then run through your stops, and make each one complete on your iPhone or Android phone app as you go through your day.
The Circuit Route Planner App for Professional Drivers
If you’re a professional courier who needs a multi-stop route planner that can handle more than 10 stops at a time, then you’ll benefit from our paid plan, which comes with a free trial.
On this plan, you can optimize unlimited stops per route. Even if you’re a courier for companies like Amazon and DHL, unlimited stops per route should be plenty to let you plan your stops each day.
Plus, if you’re using Circuit Route Planner on Android, you can export your addresses into Circuit Route Planner with an Excel spreadsheet (or .csv, .tsv, .xls, and .xlsx file types).
Finally, the Circuit Route Planner Premium subscription can be canceled at any time, which means it’s a great option for drivers who have more work during specific times of the year (like the holiday season).
Circuit for Teams: Route Planning for Multiple Drivers (and More)
If you’re managing a team of delivery drivers, there’s more that goes into making an efficient delivery process than just optimizing for the fastest route.
Based on feedback from professional delivery teams, here are the advanced features we offer to help make your delivery operations as efficient as possible:
Route Optimization for Multiple Drivers
With Circuit for Teams, you can optimize routes for multiple drivers. You can also swap routes between drivers, in case of a last minute change or if a driver prefers a specific route or area.
Let’s say the work day is about to start in 15 minutes. You’ve already imported your addresses into Circuit for Teams and created an efficient route. Then, at the last minute, one of your drivers says they have to leave early due to an unexpected appointment. What now?
With minimal hassle, you can set a time restraint for that driver, making sure they’re done with their stops by noon. Then you can re-optimize the remaining stops among your other drivers.
By using Circuit for Teams, what could have become an hour-long headache was fixed in a matter of minutes.
Route Monitoring (Also Known as Driver Tracking)
The Circuit for Teams route monitoring feature tells you where your drivers are within the context of their route. Dispatchers can use this feature to give customers a status update about their delivery and make changes to any routes in progress with the Circuit for Teams web app.
For example, let’s say a customer calls to ask when their package will arrive. Without route monitoring, you’d have to take down the customer’s information and then call the driver to get an update. This interrupts their route, distracts them, and adds to their overall travel time.
But with route monitoring, you can glance at your Circuit for Teams dashboard to get real-time ETAs on all routes in progress.
With our route monitoring feature, you can see which stop your driver just completed, and where they’re going next. And you can inform the customer there and then.
Order Tracking (and Customer Notifications)
You can also greatly reduce the amount of customer calls you’ll receive at HQ by sending your customers order tracking information automatically.
At the start of the route, Circuit for Teams sends your customers an email and/or SMS message with a link to a dashboard they can use to check the status of their delivery. Plus, as the driver gets closer to their address, the customer gets an updated and more accurate time window.
At this stage, the customer can also leave notes for the driver, such as a gate code or detailed information on how to find their specific building.
Proof of Delivery (POD)
Circuit for Teams offers two types of electronic proof of delivery:
- Signature: The driver can use their smartphone to collect a signature from the customer.
- Photo Capture: If a customer can’t receive their package, the driver can leave it in a secure place. Then the driver can take a photo of where they left it, and upload it into their Circuit for Teams app — where it’s stored in the cloud for future reference.
Whether it’s a signature or a photo capture, a copy of proof of delivery is sent to the customer.
Plus, it’s available for reference within the Circuit for Teams web app. This way, if a customer calls dispatch and asks about where their package was left, the dispatcher can reference the photo the delivery driver submitted and help the customer find their package.
Next, we’re going to look at other free route planners, highlighting their features and whether they offer any more advanced plans for delivery teams.
If you manage a team of delivery drivers and want a simple, cost-effective way to keep track of them (while making their routes more efficient), sign up for a free trial of Circuit for Teams.
2. Speedy Route
Speedy Route is a web-based route planner, with the free version allowing you to calculate the route for a maximum of 10 stops. The benefit of Speedy Route is that you can add multiple vehicles to the list, and the algorithm will calculate how best to distribute routes between them.
For routes of more than 10 stops, you need to buy a subscription. The options are fairly flexible: daily access for $10, weekly for $20, or monthly for $50. If you have a lot of stops to enter, the tool allows you to bulk upload addresses or import a list of locations from a .txt file.
The downside of Speedy Route is that it’s not available as an app, because the Android product was discontinued in Google Play in 2015. This makes it harder to hand optimized routes over to drivers.
However, if you just want to make sure that planning a few stops for multiple vehicles is done properly, Speedy Route is a useful tool. The setup makes it suited for delivery drivers and traveling salespeople who make a limited number of stops over a large distance.
RouteXL is a web-based route planner. It’s free if you’re planning delivery routes with 20 stops or fewer. If you need more than 20 stops per route, then RouteXL charges around $40. If you need more than 100 stops per route, RouteXL charges around $80.
At the time of writing, it doesn’t look like RouteXL offers any route planning features for drivers or delivery teams who need more than 200 stops optimized.
The easiest way to use RouteXL is to create the route on your desktop (after making an account). After you finish your route, you can go to routexl.com on your mobile phone, log into the same account, and start the route.
Unfortunately, RouteXL doesn’t let you select a specific stop as having a high priority or time constraint. Also, it’s worth noting that with RouteXL, you’re not using an actual app, but instead relying on the mobile version of a website. This can be more draining on your phone battery, and certainly isn’t as easy to use as an app.
Note: For professional delivery teams, RouteXL is partnered with Webfleet Solutions which lets them offer an integration with TomTom devices.
RouteXL: Paid vs. Free
The biggest difference between getting a paid subscription with RouteXL and using it for free is the number of stops you can plan in a single route. But there’s one other significant difference: the quality of geocoding.
Geocoding helps you find addresses on the map when you’re typing in your destinations or importing addresses. We talked about this above in our section on Circuit, when we explained how we use the same type of geocoding Google Maps uses.
RouteXL’s free plan uses free geocoding services, which sometimes have a usage limit — and/or are generally not as reliable. This means you could be picking the wrong address on the map when creating your route. When you start paying for RouteXL, you’re upgraded to premium geocoding services which usually perform better.
MapQuest is similar to RouteXL, as it works mostly as a web-based route planner. But instead of 20 free stops, you get 26. Six more stops isn’t a major differentiator between MapQuest and other route planners, but MapQuest does also offer some advanced route planning features.
With MapQuest, you can pick whether you want your route to be mapped for the shortest time or the shortest distance. You can also ask MapQuest to avoid tolls, highways, ferries, seasonal roads, and country borders.
Plus, you can also import a spreadsheet of your destinations into MapQuest, which is going to be faster than manually typing in each address.
In short, MapQuest is a viable option for individuals planning route trips or vacations. But it doesn’t offer any advanced route management features or the ability to add more stops, which means it’s likely too limited to be used consistently by professional drivers.
Technically MyRouteOnline doesn’t offer a free plan at the moment, but it does, like the other apps on our list, have a free trial.
With MyRouteOnline, you can add addresses into its platform with an Excel or CSV file. You can have 350 addresses per route. When building a route with MyRouteOnline, you can set it up to:
- Minimize the distance
- Minimize the time
- Balance distance and time
But after your routes are optimized, you have to export them as an Excel file. So you can print them out and give them to your drivers or email them to your drivers. You can also export them to TomTom or Garmin devices — if your drivers are using those tools.
The problem here is that it can be challenging to handle changes to the route as they’re in progress unless your drivers are using TomTom or Garmin devices.
Like MyRouteOnline, Route4Me doesn’t offer a free plan, but you do get a 7-day free trial. It’s one of the more complex planning tools on our list. This is because it’s a route planning app that lets you customize which features you get, and it has a long list of possible add-ons.
Here’s how Route4Me works:
First you select one of its core pricing plans.
- Route Management, which starts $149 a month
- Route optimization, which starts at $199 a month
- And Route Optimization Plus, which is $299 a month
Then you can pick add-on services. It’s these add-on services that make Route4Me unique.
For example, if you’re a commercial vehicle delivery service that deals with long-haul trucks, then you’ll like their add-on for commercial truck routing. There are plenty more add-ons available, including curbside delivery, predictive weather, and left or right turn avoidance.
TruckRouter is a free routing software that was built for long-haul truck drivers. That makes it different from the other free routing apps on our list, because it offers features such as finding truck specific routes, entering waypoints, and making sure your truck won’t have any trouble with low clearance bridges or highways.
Because TruckRouter is specific to trucks, it’s not focused on offering a high number of stops. Most long-haul trucks aren’t in fact making many stops. Instead they’re traveling far distances — sometimes crossing multiple state lines — to make one or two deliveries or pick up goods.
TruckRouter can help you figure out the cost efficiency of your trip.
Let’s say you’re managing a fleet of large trucks and a client wants to pay you to deliver a load from South Florida to North Florida. You can factor in the route, the average time spent at each stop, and the cost of fuel. Then you can factor in how much you need to pay your driver to make sure you make a profit.
Quick Recap: 7 Different Route Planners Compared at a Glance
|Free Plan||Free Trial||Mobile App|
|Circuit for Teams||❌||✅||✅|
Are You Ready to Plan Routes Better and Make Faster Deliveries?
As you know, there is more to route planning than just getting your driver from point A to point B as quickly as possible. When you’re looking for the right route planner, we recommend you look at your entire delivery process, from route planning, to route management, to what happens once your driver arrives at their destination.
Most delivery teams and professional couriers benefit from more advanced features such as proof of delivery and order tracking. By relying on free route planners, they may be saving money upfront just to lose it through inefficiency elsewhere in their operations.
If you’re only looking for route optimization, we recommend you look at which route planner works with your mobile device and offers the features you need to plan an efficient route.
If you manage a team of delivery drivers and want a simple, cost-effective way to keep track of them (while making their routes more efficient), sign up for a free trial of Circuit for Teams.
Looking for more info on improving your delivery process? You may also like:
- How a Professional Courier Doubled His Number of Daily Deliveries
- How a Bicycle Courier Company Handles 400+ Deliveries a Day
Frequently Asked Questions
Can You Get Good Free Route Planning Software?
There are free route planning software available but all of them come with significant limitations, especially if you’re managing a professional route.
For example, free route planning software greatly limits how many stops you can have per route. But for $20 per month, you can use the Circuit Route Planner and can add unlimited stops to a single route.
Plus, if you’re handling more than one driver, you may want delivery management capabilities like route monitoring, order tracking, and proof of delivery. You get these with Circuit for Teams.
Can You Plan Routes with Google Maps?
Google Maps — like most navigation apps — has a lot going for it. It’s user-friendly, it lets you plan ETAs based on different modes of travel, and it has a street view so you can see where you’re going. But it’s not ideal for planning routes.
Why? Because navigational apps like Google Maps don’t use route optimization software. That is, they don’t have an algorithm in their code that lets them build the fastest route for you based on speed, distance, traffic patterns, and other key variables.
We go over this detail in our post on how to plan multi-stop routes with Google Maps.