With fuel being one of the largest operating expenses, fuel cards can help reduce your costs
But what should you look for when choosing the best fleet fuel cards?
Fuel is one of the largest single operating expenses for fleets, aside from drivers and vehicles.
Driven by economic, regulatory and political forces beyond your control, it’s also one of the most variable costs, capable of fluctuations that can quickly turn profits into losses.
So, how do you manage, and ultimately reduce these fuel costs?
The first stage is to assess the vehicles in your fleet and the fuels that they use. Take your time to monitor consumption and the vehicles that give the best fuel economy for the job that they do – fuel management software can be very useful when reviewing this.
Consider questions such as:
- Does gasoline or diesel make the most economic sense in my fleet?
- Are alternative fuels a viable alternative in terms of capability, cost and my company’s sustainability initiatives?
Consider your vehicle and engine options
Before you can determine the best types of fleet vehicles for your operation, you may need to answer a few other questions:
- Who will be driving the vehicle and will it need to carry any equipment, supplies or products?
- When will it be in use – every day, all day or infrequently?
- Where and how will it operate – over long distances or on shorter routes?
- Will it be making stop/ start journeys and if so, how many?
- Where is the fuel for vehicles located in terms of the nearest pumps?
- How do we monitor fuel usage and purchase to assess consumption and performance?
Once these questions have been answered, you will be in a stronger position to not only consider the right vehicles for your fleet by fuel choice but also, the best method of purchasing your fuel too.
How can fuel consumption be managed effectively?
Fuel cost and consumption management doesn’t need to be complex. If you haven’t already done so, consider commercial fleet fuel cards to help reduce the overall cost of your consumption. There are several other benefits to this option too.
Fuel cards can:
- Provide accurate, traceable records of purchases.
- Require odometer readings at every fill up to track consumption.
- Set to specific purchase locations and fuelling frequency limits.
- Require driver verification, ensuring only authorized, trustworthy company personnel are putting fuel in approved vehicles.
- Help prevent fuel fraud.
Managing fuel cards through fleet and fuel software will deliver a greater comprehension of managing fuel purchases and consumption. Management systems allow the automating of fuel purchase reporting and analysis to control costs eliminate fraud and reduce the need for time-consuming and error-prone administrative processes.
How do I choose the right fuel card?
There are many fuel cards to choose from with an equally large number of features. Before you make your choice, there are some options and factors to consider when selecting the best cards for your fleet.
As an example, some fuel cards can only be used at specific chains or vendor facilities in certain regions. Think about your operating territory and overlay a map of approved fuel pump locations for that fuel card to ensure you’re maximizing access for drivers. Unproductive time and miles spent searching for a specific pump could be costing your fleet and soon eat away at any cost savings you made. If available locations are a concern, it may be best to opt for a universally accepted card.
What are the benefits of fuel cards?
There are several benefits with fuel cards, the first being cost savings. With fuel cards, the retail price at the pump isn’t necessarily the price you pay. Some cards and vendors permit volume-based pricing, providing discounts in exchange for brand loyalty. Similarly, others may offer the ability to pay less per gallon for prompt payment. In both cases, even if these cards include fees, the savings will still probably outweigh the cost.
Evaluating all features of a card before making a choice is sensible. And once you have chosen a fuel card, be sure to integrate your fuel card provider’s system with your own fleet management system to monitor data on current and past fuel spending by asset, company facility, region, vendor – almost any parameter! This way, additional savings can be determined through such reporting structures.
What are my fuel card choices?
There are so many fuel cards available on the market that it would be impossible to list them all. Most major oil companies offer branded cards that incorporate some form of management reporting.
By no means an endorsement, here are some of the major providers of widely used fleet fuel cards with their key features and benefits:
Mobil Fuel Card
Mobil have teamed up with WEX to offer the Mobil Fuel Card. It’s accepted at over 90% of service stations in Australia through the WEX Motorpass network. Promotions and incentives with this card include 1¢ off a litre at 7-Eleven. Other benefits include 24/7 online account management, PIN enabled cards for additional security and 24-hour WEX roadside assistance.
Shell Fuel Card
The Shell Card is accepted at over 1,250 fuel stations across Australia. Users can keep track of all fuel purchases via an online management portal, earn rewards through Shell Coles Express sites and improve cash flow with flexible payment terms.
Caltex Fuel Card
This card can be used at over 1900 locations across Australia. Users can save up to 4¢ on Vortex Premium Fuels and 2¢ on regular petrol and diesel. The card costs $2.95 per month with extras available such as servicing and repairs, roadside assistance and tolls. Another perk to this card is the ability to collect Quantas frequent flyer points through the Quantas Business rewards program for free. Account information is available online.
BP Plus Fuel Card
The BP Plus Fuel Card includes an online fleet fuel reporting and management tool and is accepted at over 1,400 BP sites across Australia. Additional non-fuel options include the shop, carwash, diner and service and repairs. Vehicle specific cards are available to track vehicle rather than driver spend, additional security is available through purchasing limits and payment terms are 21 days after invoice generation at the end of each month.
7-Eleven Fuel Card
Through this card, users will receive no joining fees and a discount on every litre of fuel purchased of up to 3¢ depending on the volumes purchased per year. There’s a small transactional fee of 35¢ each time the card is used, and it can be used at over 520 locations
Several fuel cards are available – fuel only, fuel and vehicle expenses and driver only, vehicle only and a driver and vehicle card. The card allows up to 44 payment free days with the option to view ATO approved reports such as FBT statements.
Puma Fuel Card
This card benefits from a large network of over 400 locations in addition to over 90% of other fuel outlets (over 5,800 service stations). Options include a driver only card, vehicle only card and a driver and vehicle card. There’s a choice of purchasing options and all cards can be PIN enabled for additional security.
Fuel, servicing, maintenance and repairs, car parking, roadside response, car rental, taxi and accommodation expenses can be consolidated in one monthly statement with this card.
Take your time to research the various fuel cards options that are available to you and really scrutinize the pros and cons of each one. With so many options available on the market, the cheapest one may not always be the most cost effective for your fleet. And once you have selected a fuel card, be sure to continue to monitor your fuel spend. Keep a close check on the market place to ensure that you are still getting the best deal from your card too and if not, be prepared to shop around.