For many companies with fleets, using fuel cards is a no brainer. When you compare fuel prices with a commercial fuel card to pump prices, you’ll find that cards reduce overall petrol costs. But there are so many options, it can be hard to know where to start.
So how do you compare fuel cards and choose the best one for your needs? This article shows you how.
Avoid Hidden Costs With A TCO Calculator For Your Fleet
Why Fuel Cards?
Fuel cards provide a variety of benefits.
1. Traceable records of petrol purchases
Because many call for odometer readings with every fill up, you can better track consumption over time. You can be reassured that only authorised personnel are filling up because of required driver verification.
When you compare fuel cards with alternative payment methods, fuel cards better help you prevent fuel fraud
2. Charge petrol directly to the company with fuel cards
Because drivers pay for fuel directly with the card, you save time collecting receipts and processing reimbursements. Consolidating all petrol on one account can simplify tax returns and VAT recovery.
Fuel Cards & Fleet Software: The Perfect Combo
When you pair fuel cards with fleet tracking software, you have a comprehensive picture of your fleet’s consumption. Fleet trackers like Vimcar’s Fleet Geo let you see all routes, speeds, and stops your drivers make, so you can identify fuel-wasting behaviours.
Read more: What Is Fleet Tracking Software?
Comparing Fuel Cards: 6 Things to Look For
It pays to shop around and compare fuel prices, but it can be hard to narrow down the right one for you. What are the top 5 things to consider when comparing fuel cards?
1. Vehicle Type
The type of vehicles in your fleet is the first consideration, because it determines the petrol stations you patronize.
If your fleet is haulage-based, ensure you choose a card that caters to HGV sites. If your vehicles are mainly sedan cars, it’s more important that your card includes a wide variety of petrol stations so your drivers have the flexibility to fill up anywhere.
Read more: What Is This Definition Of A Fleet?
2. Coverage Area
Consider the area your fleet covers, and which petrol stations occupy this region.
Some fuel cards are only accepted at certain chains, regions, or vendor facilities.
If your vehicles frequent motorways, fuel cards with broad motorway coverage are likely better than local cards. The last thing you want is your drivers to waste business resources driving around searching for a petrol station.
3. Branded or Non-Branded?
A supermarket card may better suit your needs over a fuel brand card, if your vehicles stay mainly local.
4. Petrol Type
When you compare fuel prices that cards offer, don’t forget to factor in the petrol your vans take. Many cards specify diesel or mixed-use petrol. If your vehicles take unleaded-only petrol, ensure your fuel card includes that.
Comparing fuel prices isn’t as straightforward as choosing the cheapest one.
Fuel cards can be either fixed price or pump price. With fixed price cards, your petrol price changes weekly regardless of what the petrol station offers. Pump price means you pay what is offered by the petrol station. Often fixed prices are 2-3 pence cheaper per litre below national average.
Some fuel cards give you a discount for brand loyalty, volume purchases, or prompt payment. These discounts can override a higher up-front card price, so weigh the pros and cons and consider how you will be using your card.
5. Hidden Costs
Many fuel cards come with hidden charges, so ensure you watch out for these when you compare fuel prices.
Common charges include:
- Network service fee
- Failed payment fee
- Direct debit admin
- Replacement card
- Risk-based fee
- Convenience charge
- Change of details
- Annual card charge
- Invoice fee
6. Additional Card Benefits
Many cards are restricted to petrol stations, but some include extras like hotels, food, and breakdown cover. This can save time filling out expense sheets and processing receipts. Depending on the needs of your business, this could solve logistical issues and steer you towards cards that include this.
Saving on Fuel Costs
With fuel being the second highest fleet cost, it pays to compare fuel prices that cards offer. The cheapest card isn’t always the best one. The best fuel card for you depends on your vehicle type, coverage area, and petrol type.
If you’re looking to save on fuel- and let’s face it, who isn’t – don’t forget fleet telematics which save you an average of 15% on fleet costs. With the savings in fleet efficiency, trackers like Vimcar’s Fleet Geo pay for themselves.