The size of the global fuel cards market is expected to grow to over $84 trillion by 2023. Over the years, the fuel card industry has witnessed an impressive growth rate, thanks to several factors.
One of the top reasons fleet managers prefer fleet fuel cards is that they’re highly convenient. These cards work on the same principle as regular debit or credit cards. Instead of using cash, one simply needs to swipe their fuel card at the service station to pay.
With more companies offering a variety of fuel cards to choose from, determining the best fleet fuel card can seem challenging. That, however, does not have to be the case. In this comprehensive guide, we tell you all you need to know about fleet fueling cards, how they work, and how to select the ideal one for your fleet.
Read on to learn more.
What Is a Fleet Fuel Card?
A fleet fuel card refers to a payment card that lets a company manage expenses that are associated with their vehicles. These cards act like charge cards and are typically provided by oil and specialized credit companies. Usually, fleet fuel cards are provided to transportation personnel for fuel, as well as vehicle repair and maintenance.
How Do Fleet Fuel Cards Work?
Fueling cards have been widely used in the United States for almost four decades. As we mentioned earlier, a company issues fuel cards to employees who operate corporate vehicles. These cards are most popular in companies working in the transport industry.
In most instances, fuel cards are accepted only at locations that the issuer owns, operates, or franchises. The typical fleet fuel card is laser-printed or embossed with such details as the company name, the card number, and the expiry date. The latest cards have a microchip and a magnetic strip that enables the holder to use them at point-of-sale terminals.
An organization gives fuel cards to their personnel so they can use them instead of using their personal cards. The issuer can thus bill the organization directly instead of billing the employee. This way, the employee doesn’t have to file an expense report for reimbursement by the company.
Fleet fueling cards are usually interest-free. By the due date, the issuer expects the company to pay the card balance in full.
What Are the Benefits of Using Fleet Fuel Cards?
Using fuel cards has lots of benefits, hence their ever-growing popularity. Some of these benefits include:
Fuel Cards Enable Cashless Payments
Perhaps the top reason fleet companies opt for fuel cards is that they remove the need for cash entirely. Your personnel never need to carry cash around to pay for fuel. Traveling thus becomes more secure and safer for your drivers.
The added benefit of paying through a cashless system is that you don’t have to go through the hassle of looking for large sums of fuel money for all of your drivers before they travel. All fuel costs are instead paid to one account.
You Get to Cut Down Admin Work
If you own a considerable number of vehicles, using fuel cards can help you avoid the paperwork and administration involved in tracking down and managing fuel expenses. Everything goes to one account, so you get a single invoice instead of countless paper receipts.
Fueling Cards Allow You to Have Greater Control
With fleet fuel cards, you can specify what your personnel can pay for with them. You can decide which locations you want your drivers to fuel from. That reduces fuel fraud.
You Enjoy Consistent Fuel Pricing
Most fuel cards allow the company to buy fuel at wholesale prices, which is often consistent across the country. Fleet fuel cards with discounts allow you to enjoy lower prices than the national average. Besides giving you significant savings on fuel, fuel cards can thus help you budget your duel costs more effectively.
You Have Many Options to Choose From
Companies that opt for fleet fuel cards are spoilt for choice. There are lots of different cards that cater to the needs of different fleets. Therefore, whether you own car fleets, truck fleets, or van fleets, you can always find the ideal fuel card for your needs.
Choosing the Best Fleet Fuel Card for Your Company
Now that you know how fuel fleet cards can benefit your business, it’s time to learn how to select a fuel card that best suits your needs. Below are eight things to look for:
Volume Discounts and Savings
Given that fuel is among the top expenses when you run a fleet company, the best fuel card is one that can help you save on fuel. There are many fuel cards that offer rebates on fuel. When it comes to the best discounts on fuel, we recommend this fleet fuel card.
Don’t forget to inquire whether there are any added fees or requirements tied to rebates.
Reporting and Consolidated Invoices
The major difference between a fleet fuel card and an ordinary consumer credit card is reporting. When choosing a fuel card, you want one that offers comprehensive reporting tools so you can cut administrative costs and time.
The best fuel cards give you detailed tracking of mileage and expenses for each vehicle in a single online portal.
Acceptability of a fleet fuel card is a crucial factor. Many fuel cards are only usable in specific stations and geographic locations. If your drivers often operate outside of these areas, then avoid fuel cards that don’t cover their routes.
The Price of Fuel and How It’s Calculated at Core Gas Stations
The price of fuel indicated at a gas station may vary widely with how much you pay for gas using a fleet fuel card. Generally, you’re going to pay a lower price than what’s indicated. However, this might come with additional fees or requirements.
That’s why it’s important to know how a card provider structures their fuel prices. Only go for fuel cards that allow you to know what you’re going to pay in advance, and that has no hidden fees.
Let the issuer also state what card options they provide and their benefits.
The Kind of Customer Support You Can Expect
Insufficient customer support can be a deal-breaker. You want a card issuer who is available any time you need them. They should be able to have your back day and night and answer any questions you may have.
You also want customer support that explains things in a way you and your drivers can understand. That means no complicated jargon. If a driver calls support with an issue at the gas station, they should be able to receive a response they can work with.
Top card companies usually have a customer’s website in multiple languages.
Whether Invoices Are Clear, Detailed, and Easy to Read
Earlier, we mentioned that fuel cards can help minimize your admin work. To do that, the credit card issuer needs to provide as much transparency on your fuel expenditure as possible.
Go for a provider who allows you 24-hour access to your account. You need to be able to check your fuel transactions and download detailed invoices whenever you want to. Accounting work and tax reporting thus become much easier.
Whether the Credit Limit and Payment Terms Favor Your Business
Your credit limit is granted individually. The issuer looks at your financial performance and how much collateral you can put forward. The higher the fuel card risk is willing to take the lesser the credit limit you’re going to get.
Always consider the invoicing cycle and the payment terms before jumping at an attractive credit limit. Don’t forget that stable cash flow is the lifeline of every fleet company.
Whether Security Is Guaranteed
Thanks to technology, fleet fuel cards have much higher security standards compared to other methods of payment, such as cash. That said, some fuel cards still guarantee better security than others, and it’s important to know whether you can count on your card provider to do just that.
You want detailed information on transactions to have as much control as possible and reduce employee fraud. The more information you have, the more you can reduce potential illegitimate use of your vehicles.
What Additional Services to Expect
Some of the top fleet fuel card providers offer additional services such as tax refunds, fleet management, and toll. Some even integrate with GPRS tracking software. While interviewing your prospective card issuer, tell them about all your needs so they can provide you with a fuel card that best caters to them.
Of course, you want to inquire whether additional services attract extra fees, so both of you are on the same page from the outset.
The Right Fleet Fuel Card Can Help Push Your Business Ahead
Since their invention, fuel cards have done a lot to help companies control their expenditure on fuel. The best fleet fuel card can provide you with the transaction data you need to solve such business challenges as reducing administrative costs and preventing fraud.
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