Fuel Cards: How to Get the Best Deals and Benefits
A fuel card is a payment card that is used for fuel purchases and related expenses by businesses with a fleet of vehicles. The main advantages of using a fuel card include cost control for fuel expenses, improved tracking and reporting capabilities, and streamlined administrative processes related to managing a fleet’s expenses. Additionally, many fuel card providers offer additional features such as maintenance management and rebates at participating gas stations.
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Understanding Fuel Cards
Fuel is a significant expense for businesses with fleets or company vehicles. To manage the cost of fuel, many businesses turn to fuel cards as a way to control expenses and improve efficiency. But what exactly are fuel cards, and how do they work?
Think of a fuel card as a debit card for fuel purchases. The card is issued by a fuel card provider and linked to a specific account that is loaded with funds. When a driver uses the card to purchase fuel, the amount spent is deducted from the account balance. Unlike traditional credit cards, which may have high interest rates and fees, most fuel cards don’t charge interest or annual fees.
In addition to controlling costs, fuel cards offer several other benefits to businesses. One major benefit is improved record-keeping. Fuel cards automatically track each purchase made with the card, providing a detailed record of spending that can be used for accounting purposes. This eliminates the need for drivers to keep track of receipts and mileage logs manually.
Some people may be hesitant to use fuel cards due to concerns about fraud or misuse. However, most providers offer robust security features that help prevent unauthorized use of the card. For example, some cards can be set up to only work at certain gas stations or during specific times of day. Other cards require drivers to enter a PIN or provide other forms of identification before making a purchase.
Using a fuel card is like having an extra layer of protection for your business’s bottom line. Just as you might lock up valuables in a safe to prevent theft, using a fuel card helps ensure that your company’s funds are only used for legitimate expenses.
What is a Fuel Card?
A fuel card is a payment card that businesses use to purchase fuel for their vehicles. The cards are issued by fuel card providers, who partner with specific gas stations or offer universal acceptance at a network of stations. Different cards may have different features and benefits, so it’s important for businesses to understand their options when selecting a card.
Some fuel cards are brand-specific, meaning they can only be used at certain gas station chains. This can be beneficial for companies that primarily use one brand of fuel, as it may offer more significant discounts or rewards. Other cards are universal, meaning they can be used at any gas station that accepts credit cards. These cards may have fewer restrictions but also offer smaller discounts or cash-back rewards.
For businesses with a mixed fleet of vehicles that run on different types of fuel (such as diesel and gasoline), a universal fuel card may be the best option since it offers greater flexibility in where purchases can be made.
While fuel cards are often associated with cost savings, some people believe that they are not always worth the investment. However, for most businesses with fleets or company vehicles, using fuel cards can significantly reduce administrative costs by eliminating the need for manual record-keeping and reimbursement processes.
Using a fuel card is like having your own personal concierge service for managing your business’s fuel expenses. Rather than worrying about keeping track of receipts and documents to submit later, everything is taken care of automatically through the use of the card.
Types of Fuel Cards & Best Deals
Just like there are many different types of vehicles on the market, there is no one-size-fits-all fuel card. Whether you operate a small business or a large fleet, we’ve outlined the most popular options and features to help you choose the right solution.
For smaller businesses or owner-operators, brand-specific fuel cards can offer some great advantages. These cards typically work only at branded gas stations but often provide discounts or rebates at those stations. For example, BP offers a fuel card that gives cardholders cents-off-per-gallon savings when they fill up at any of their participating locations.
On the other hand, universal fuel cards are perfect for larger fleets that require more flexibility in their fueling options. These cards can be used at multiple gas stations and often provide discounts regardless of where you fill up. Keep in mind- not all universal cards offer the same level of control over spending as brand-specific ones do.
A third type of fuel card worth mentioning is the prepaid card. Prepaid fuel cards work much like gift cards- you add money to your account or cards and use it to pay for gas and related expenses. These types are useful when working with a specific budget because drivers cannot spend beyond what is available.
Overall, choosing the right type of fuel card depends on a variety of factors – including your fleet size, needs, and budget. It’s important to compare options thoroughly before making a decision.
Now that we know about the different types of fuel cards available and how they differ from each other, let’s talk about some tips on how to manage them efficiently.
Brand-Specific vs Universal Cards
When choosing a fuel card, one of the primary decisions you’ll need to make is whether to go with a brand-specific card or a universal card. Brand-specific cards are cards that are tied to particular fuel brands, such as Shell or BP. On the other hand, universal cards can be used at multiple fuel stations and are not tied to a single brand.
One benefit of brand-specific cards is that they often offer more rewards and discounts when used at their affiliated gas stations. For example, Shell’s Fuel Rewards program allows members to save five cents per gallon on fuel purchases and earn points towards rewards like free gas or discounts on car washes. However, the downside is that you may be limited in where you can fill up if you only have a brand-specific card, especially if you travel frequently or your preferred stations aren’t affiliated with that particular brand.
On the other hand, universal fuel cards offer more flexibility since they can be used at any station that accepts credit or debit cards. This means that you will have access to many more locations for filling up. Additionally, since there isn’t an affiliation with specific brands, there may be fewer restrictions on which types of fuel you can purchase with these cards. However, universal cards may not offer the same level of rewards or discounts as brand-specific cards.
Ultimately, the decision between a brand-specific or universal fuel card will depend upon your specific needs. If you frequently visit the same gas station chain and can take advantage of their loyalty program benefits, then a brand-specific card may work well for you. But if you value flexibility and want the ability to fill up wherever is most convenient for you, then a universal card may be the better choice.
For instance, my friend who owns a small trucking business prefers using a universal fuel card because his drivers operate in different states and access varies from location to location. He said a brand-specific fuel card doesn’t do much for him because he can’t guarantee that his drivers will always be close to a gas station affiliated with the fuel card.
Furthermore, universal cards such as Fleet One EDGE Card, EFS Fleet Card, and CrossRoads Freight Card offer varying cents-per-gallon discounts depending on monthly gallons purchased at specific brands. This means you can still enjoy discounts even when you fill up at other gas stations.
However, some businesses point out that loyalty rewards and discounts from brand-specific fuel cards are often more generous compared to universal cards. For example, if your business operates locally within one or two states only and you frequent gas stations affiliated with specific fuel cards, then the benefits of loyalty rewards may outweigh the need for flexibility.
Fuel Card Management & Features
Fuel cards provide extensive reporting and expense control tools primarily designed to help businesses track their vehicle expenses accurately while reducing fraud and unauthorized spending. Fuel card management features such as tracking purchases by the driver, dividing expenses by type (fuel or maintenance), and set spending limits based on drivers’ needs can all lead to valuable savings.
One notable feature in fuel card management is real-time reporting that tells business owners how often trucks are refueling per day, week, or month – which helps maintain vehicle uptime and reduce inefficiencies. Real-time reporting leads to better decision-making because it provides insight into driver behavior and identifies areas where costs can be reduced.
Another fuel card management feature is transaction alerts that notify account holders via email or text message whenever something unusual happens such as unauthorized purchases or spending over limits. These alerts make it easier to recognize potential fraudulent activity early on and prevent further incidents from occurring in the future.
In addition to transaction monitoring, fuel card management can perform preventative measures to protect customers from potential fraud. This includes setting up customized controls on different cards, such as establishing spending limits and restricting purchases for specific products, services, or locations.
For example, Fuelman offers a maintenance manager feature to track, schedule, approve, and pay for maintenance costs. This helps businesses stay on top of their vehicle maintenance needs and reduce downtime for repairs.
Moreover, fuel cards like the Fleet One EDGE Card provide advanced reporting and enhanced security controls that allow users to manage accounts easily. Accounting help is also available through the fuel card customer service number.
However, some businesses are wary of fuel card management because they are concerned about employee privacy and the ability to track driver behavior on the road. It’s essential to communicate with your employees upfront about what information will be tracked and make sure they understand the policies governing card usage.
Using fuel cards can provide extensive benefits for businesses, including accurate tracking and expense control of vehicle-related expenses, as well as real-time reporting and transaction alerts that help identify potentially fraudulent activity. Fuel card management can also offer preventative measures to reduce the risk of fraud and even features such as maintenance management to optimize vehicle uptime. However, it is important to communicate with employees about policies and privacy concerns when implementing fuel card management systems.
Tracking, Reporting, and Security
When it comes to managing a fleet of vehicles, tracking and reporting expenses can become daunting. Fuel cards offer a solution by providing detailed transaction data in real-time. This information can be invaluable for business owners who need to track employee spending habits and ensure company resources are being used wisely and efficiently.
One way that fuel card companies provide these services is through online account management portals. Drivers can input data even while they’re at the pump, which makes recording purchases simple. These portals often allow drivers to categorize transactions based on vehicle number, driver name, date of purchase, location or any other criteria deemed relevant by the business owner.
For larger fleets, tracking expenses can be especially complex. That’s why many fuel card providers offer customized reporting dashboards that allow for easy identification of high-spending drivers or excessive fuel consumption among individual vehicles. With these tools in place, it becomes easier to identify areas where costs can be cut.