Basic Considerations when Sourcing Fuel Cards
On average, a business with 5 vehicles can purchase around 15,000 litres of fuel a year. This expense, directly for petrol as well as indirectly for tracking the transactions behind the purchase, is often immense. Fuel cards can help reduce it by being used as a payment method at petrol stations. Similar to credit cards, they are a cashless payment method that is not debited immediately, but after a certain period. After filling up a vehicle, your drivers will simply present the fuel card to the cashier. Every week, your fuel card company will send you an invoice listing all purchases made by your drivers. The amount due is automatically transferred in a single transaction using direct debit.
A fuel card looks like and works similarly to a credit card but there are a few nuances and different options:
You technically don’t pay at the point of sale, the amount is kept on an account for later payment and the terms are defined with your provider. The payment terminal used at points of sale are also different. It depends on your agreement with your provider but most of the time you remain liable for fraudulent use of a fuel card. However this risk is limited as you control what types of products can be bought with this card; in this case only fuel related products as diesel, petrol, gas oil but you can also allow lubricants and Adblue.
It allows you to set up transaction limits to not exceed your budget. This can be in the form of limiting volume of fuel per transaction, per day or week, numbers of transactions per day or week, times of the day and days of the week when the fuel card can be used. It also protects you card with a PIN number and you have the ability to determine the number of wrong PIN entries allowed and the lock out period of the card if this limit is reached.
You can be provided with a real time overview of the transactions made by your drivers and also regular reports on transaction amounts per card, per day or week. The aim is to help you take informed business decisions to optimize the cost effectiveness of your fleet.
Choose the right fuel card
There are two main categories of card, corresponding to two pricing methods:
You pay a fixed price per litre of fuel each week. It means that you don’t have to pay attention to the pump prices, you will all pay at the same predetermined price per litre. It allows you to not worry about variations on fuel prices which can be very volatile. This type of card is often limited to one network but there will be few consequences if the coverage of this network is good, and the price usually lies about 2-3 pence below the average pump price.
You pay the price indicated on pumps. You don’t save money on price per litre but you are not constrained to a unique network, plus you can still save money thanks to the additional services provided by the card.
Choose the right provider
You can provide you with competitive quotes from some of our trusted partners but here are some aspects you should discuss with providers to find the best solution for your business.
Depending on our area of activity you need to check the coverage of your provider. Several big brands offer a large coverage on the national scale but if you are operating on an international scale you might want to deal with a provider covering multiple countries or having advantageous partnerships in the countries you make business in. On the contrary if you are operating on a very local area you are likely to find local arrangements.
Basically you will have to choose between a branded card corresponding to the network of the branded supplier, or you can to deal with a multi-network provider.
The maturity of the market in the UK has lead its actors to offer more and more services to better their relationships to their customers such as dedicated account management by a specific person or team, loyalty programs and additional discounts. You can also be provided with online services like a pump locator app for your drivers and diverse reportings to help you manage your fleet.
You should pay attention to the cost structure. Are there additional fees? Some companies may charge you some fees for each transaction, or if you don’t use your fuel cards to a minimum amount.
Payments with fuel cards are limited to fuel related products, you can’t pay for anything else with them. Cashless transactions and chip and PIN protection minimize the risk of theft and fraud. You can manage your accounts online 24/ 7 to block a card if it is lost or stolen and you have reportings of unusual transactions at you disposal.
Unique, comprehensive invoice
Get a unique invoice – generally per week – for all your fleet with detailed information about each card.
This unique invoice allows you to claim VAT back without handling every transaction individually. Automated and digitized processes handled by the fuelcard company save you time spent on administrative paperwork.
With most providers you’ll have access to fuel at wholesale price that means discounted prices compared to standard retail. With real time control of your drivers’ transactions you can prevent abuse, and detailed reporting allow you to manage your fleet in order to optimize travels and fuel consumption for each of your vehicles. If you choose the fixed prices options, you are protected against a rise in petrol prices.
Reduce your impact on the environment
Fuel cards will help you to reduce your carbon footprint. When you use less fuel you will lower your carbon emissions and fewer miles will reduce vehicle wear and tear such as the replacement of tyres.