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 petrol 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:
Allstar One Fuel Cards
There are several fuel cards available to meet your fleet needs – Allstar One Fuel Card (all businesses), Allstar Supermarket Fuel Card (small/ local businesses), Allstar Monitor Card (public sector) and Allstar plus Visa Card which is ideal if you also need a card to manage travel expenses.
Depending on your card choice, benefits include access to 95% of service stations, up to 30% discount on service and repair at over 9,000 garages, HMRC approved invoicing, pay-as-you-go breakdown cover and 24/7 online account management.
BP Fuel Cards
Several options available including BP Supercharge, BP Plus, BP+ ARAL, BPme mobile app
Depending on which card you opt for, benefits include use at over 8000 stations (1,220 BP stations), a clear pricing structure, no transaction fees, advanced security, HMRC-complaint weekly invoices and transaction transparency, CCTV on most sites and dedicated customer service.
Texaco Fuel Cards
Two card options are available – Texaco the Business Card and Fastfuel Card to suit fleet sizes. Depending on your card choice, they can be used at over 2,000 service stations across the UK. Fuel receipts are not provided but VAT approved invoicing and comprehensive online fuel management reporting are included.
Esso Commercial Fuel Card / Wex Fuel Card
Access to over 3,382 fuel stations including 2,011 24 hour and 1,129 truck sites. Invoices are HMRC compliant. Other benefits include access to car washes, breakdown support, a free fuel station finder tool and online management.
Shell Fuel Card
There are several fuel cars options through Shell including Shell Fleet, Shell Commercial and Shell. Each provides fixed prices for fuel, with no transaction fees and vat approved invoices. There are no minimum or maximum usage requirements and some cards even allow cash withdrawals to be made.
UK Fuels Fleetone Fuel Card
Marketed as one of the UK’s fastest growing independent fleet fuel cards, it provides national coverage at convenient locations with the choice of commercial and retail pricing options.
The expanding network incorporates over 2900 sites nationwide, with real-time fuel management online, free e-billing, HMRC approved invoices, no surcharges and the choice of additional fleet products. This card is accepted at UK Fuels, Texaco, Tesco and Morrisons.
Fuelogic Fuel Card
This fuel claims to reduce your bill by 20%, has no transaction fees, provides online fuel management and interest-free credit on purchases on a fully VAT approved invoice. Flexible payments are offered too. Nationwide coverage is provided through a network of partnered fuel networks including Shell, Esso, Texaco, and FuelGenie.
FuelGenie Fuel Card
This is a free business card that saves up to 3p per litre at over 1,370 Tesco, Morrisons and Sainsbury’s fuel stations nationwide. Accounts can be managed 24/7 and there is access to HMRC approved reporting with an additional benefit of up to 45-day credit facility. Loyalty points can be collected through Tesco Clubcard, Morrisons More and nectar.
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.