Choosing the right fuel card solution

Fuel cards are the cornerstone of effective fleet management, as they allow drivers to charge fuel directly to your business with no need for petty cash and easier invoicing. Although fuel cards offer many benefits, it is important to be careful of possible fees, charges and inconvenience that can quickly wipe away any benefits. Shopping around to choose the best fuel card system for you can save you a lot of time and money in the long run compared to the wrong solution.

Varieties of fuel cards

  • Credit card style fuel cards - Credit card style fuel cards are a one card system, with a single fuel card that can be used at multiple service stations (i.e. Shell, Caltex and BP).
  • Fuel cards direct from oil companies - Another option for fuel cards is to source them directly from one of the major oil companies such as BP, Caltex or Shell. These can be used at any service station associated with that card (i.e. A Shell card can be used at any Shell service station).
  • Fleet managed fuel card systems - Fleet managed systems offer multiple fuel cards direct from the oil companies, all fully managed and under one account. Fuel card products from fleet management companies are often consolidated with other services including maintenance and roadside assistance to increase savings across your fleet.

Things to consider

  • Surcharges – Some fuel cards may be subject to surcharges at particular service stations. The surcharge amount may vary, and these aren’t always made clear at the point of purchase. While surcharges may seem small, they can quickly add up across multiple transactions so it is important to look into surcharges when deciding on the right fuel cards for your business.
  • Card acceptance – Another important factor to look into when choosing fuel cards is where they will be accepted. Some fuel cards are only accepted at selected service stations, limiting where your drivers can fill up. This can be especially problematic for drivers who work outside of metropolitan areas where access to particular service stations may be limited.
  • Fees and charges – Some fuel card suppliers may charge multiple fees in addition to managing your account. These can include joining fees, lost card or cancellation fees, reconciliation fees, paper statement fees and card delivery fees. To save money on fees look for fuel cards that have a flat and transparent fee structure. 

Fuel card benefits

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  • Discounted fuel – Any manager would jump at the chance to save on fuel, being one of the biggest expenses when operating a fleet. Some fuel card systems offer direct discounts on fuel depending on your usage; however fuel cards also offer indirect savings through efficient invoicing and reporting.
  • Consolidated invoicing - All fuel transactions for each vehicle are consolidated into one monthly itemised invoice. On top of making budgeting a breeze, having just one invoice increases the transparency across your fleet and reduces admin costs.
  • Reporting & added benefits – A major benefit of fuel cards is the ability to generate reports for tracking and accountability of your fleet. It is also possible with fleet managed fuel cards to add additional services to your fuel cards, such as insurance and accident management, to consolidate all of your fleet services and ultimately saving you more. 

Final thoughts 

Choosing to utilise a fuel card system is one of the simplest ways to cut down administration costs and hassle while increasing transparency across your fleet. When choosing the right fuel card product for your business it is important to look out for any hidden costs to ensure that the benefits outweigh any charges. Another option to consider is fleet management, which includes fuel cards but also vehicle maintenance and many other services to streamline the operation of your fleet. Selecting the right fuel card product for your fleet can provide you with the flexibility, convenience and cost savings to form the foundation of successful fleet management.

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