When you’re responsible for managing an entire fleet, you know how important it is to save wherever possible. And fuel is one of the most significant costs associated with fleet management—it can make up well over 25% of your operating expenses!
Outside of fuel-efficient trucks and eco-friendly driving habits, there’s not much you can do to control how much fuel your fleet’s vehicles use. So how else can you save on fuel?
Say hello to the fuel management fleet card.
Introduction to Fleet Management Fuel Cards
These days, it seems like every big box retailer has their own credit card that comes with unique perks and rewards for shopping at their location. Fleet management fuel cards are essentially the same, but they’re catered to the needs of fleets and fleet managers.
With these cards, you can:
- Save big on gas with discounts and benefits
- Consolidate other fleet expenses, like truck repairs
- Provide fuel and tax reporting
- Integrate with GPS software
- Receive additional benefits
There are oodles of fuel cards out there, and each one has its own mix of features and benefits. Some strictly focus on fuel benefits, while others include everything on that bullet list and more. Some will be better suited for large, cross-country fleets, while others would be a better fit for small and local fleets. When it comes to fleet cards, the world is truly your oyster.
These cards aren’t “too good to be true” by any means, but there is a slight catch. Since there are so many different fuel cards on the market today, picking just one can be difficult. Here are some of the factors to keep in mind while shopping around.
Cost Savings and Efficiency with Fuel Cards
So, with a name like “fleet management fuel cards,” any guesses on the main benefit of these cards?
That’s right: fuel.
One of the main reasons fleet managers use fuel cards is the loyalty bonuses and fuel discounts they offer. With that in mind, be sure to pick a card that delivers competitive discounts and rebates, along with extra perks like info on local fuel prices for your drivers.
That said, some of these discounts are only available to clients who reach a predetermined usage threshold. If you run a smaller fleet, ensure your drivers can realistically hit these thresholds before signing up for one of these cards.
If the card limits which pumps you can visit, account for that, too. Does your card of choice reflect your service area and fuel needs, like whether accepted pumps are along your route, or whether your fleet runs on diesel or unleaded gas?
Pump-price vs Fixed-price Cards
While you’re browsing your fuel card options, you’ll also find both pump-price or fixed-price cards available.
With the former option, you’ll pay whatever price your gas station of choice is advertising (which means you’ll buy fuel the same way you usually would).
On the other hand, fixed-price cards will allow you to pay for gas at a predetermined rate. Better yet, these rates can be two or three cents cheaper per gallon than the national average. And if gas prices skyrocket, it goes without saying that fixed-price cards are something you should seriously consider.
Other Cost Savings
The primary benefit of using a fuel card is obvious—it can help you save cash on gas for your fleet. But the financial perks of having a fuel card don’t need to stop there.
Some cards offer even more savings and convenience with with perks like:
- Roadside assistance. No matter how careful you are about keeping your fleet in great shape, there’s no shortage of things that can go wrong on the road. Some fuel card providers connect you with their partners to provide towing and other roadside services.
- Non-fuel discounts. Fuel is one of the largest expenses for any commercial fleet, but it certainly isn’t the only cost you’ll need to think about. If you pick the right fuel card, you could get opportunities to save on tires, retreads, and more.
- Easy repayment. As a fleet manager, you don’t need someone else to tell you how confusing financial management can sometimes get. A good fuel card can make things a bit simpler by allowing you to settle your balance with a credit card.
- Location guidance. No matter what fuel card you pick, your drivers will need to know where they can use it on the road. Many fuel card companies offer systems for drivers to find the closest station that accepts their cards.
Streamlining Business Operations with Fleet Management Fuel Cards
Beyond rewards and discounts, fleet managers use fuel cards to help with everyday fleet management and business operations, too.
Consolidate and Track Fleet Expenses
Between all your fleet’s trucks and drivers, finances can get messy—fast. If some drivers pay for fuel with cash, some pay with company cards, and some pay with personal cards to be reimbursed, getting those financials into order is a nightmare for your poor bookkeeper.
(And that’s just fuel—we haven’t even mentioned fleet repairs or maintenance costs yet)
From a fleet management perspective, fuel cards keep things nice and tidy. All those purchases go to the same place, so it only takes a minute for a fleet manager to pull up the numbers and see expenses at a glance.
Tracking and Monitoring
With the right data at your fingertips, there’s a lot you can do. If you choose the right fuel card, it will actively help you see the big picture and create a fleet management plan by offering features like:
- Fuel and tax reporting – See your expenses at a glance, or track how fuel prices fluctuate over time to better estimate and budget for future changes.
- Driver reporting – Do some drivers get better mileage per gallon than others? There might be an opportunity to train certain drivers on eco-friendly driving habits and improve fuel efficiency across your fleet.
- Data on mileage/miles per gallon – Better estimate fuel consumption and budget appropriately. Plus, sudden changes in MPG could help identify issues with the truck.
- GPS software integration – Telematics like GPS can help you track driver progress along their route or keep an eye on fuel consumption in real time. In the case of a breakdown or delay, you’ll know where they are and how to best offer support.
Of course, not every fuel card comes with all these benefits. If these are high priorities for you, double-check that they’re included with any fuel card you’re seriously considering.
Fuel Card Controls and Security
Fraud and theft aren’t fun topics to discuss, and it’s easy to assume these things will happen to “the other guy.” But your fleet is just as susceptible to fuel card fraud as any other, so don’t forget security when weighing your card options.
Fleet management fuel cards can come with some powerful configuration options, like setting limits on where, how much, and how often drivers can fuel up.
This can ensure cards are used within company guidelines, plus protect against fraud. If a truck driver’s card gets lost or stolen, there’s no need to worry about bad actors charging up the card and leaving your business to deal with cleaning up the mess.
Generally speaking, it’s also wise to look for fuel cards tied to reputable banks or large brands. After all, these entities have reputations to uphold. Your card should offer some level of fraud monitoring and business identity protection, too. On top of all that, your fuel card provider needs to make it easy to deactivate lost or stolen cards.
Choosing the Right Fuel Card Provider
Okay, take a breather. We’ve covered a lot so far, and choosing the right fleet management fuel card might sound even more daunting now. With so many options to consider, how can you narrow down your options?
Start with the basics. Namely, make sure you can actually use the fuel card.
- Where is the card accepted?
- Are there plenty of accepted locations along your fleet routes?
- Are there purchase thresholds to be eligible for fuel discounts?
- Can your fleet easily meet those thresholds?
From there, start weighing the discounts and financial potential of your options. Some options may offer incredible fuel discounts—but the cards themselves have a fee. Take some time to estimate how much you would actually save based on your current fuel consumption.
- Is it a fixed-price or pump-price card?
- How much is the discount?
- How does the loyalty program work?
- How much do I estimate saving each month? Each year?
- Are there any fees?
At this point, you should be down to a few hopeful prospects. Is there anything you highly value, like the ability to pay for heavy-duty truck repairs with a fuel card (provided that your repair shop of choice offers embedded fleet payments)?
Now’s the time to see if any fleet cards can offer most—or all—of the items on your wish list. Additional factors to consider when selecting a fuel card provider include:
- What benefits are included?
- What tracking capabilities does it offer?
- Does it integrate with tools I already use?
- How secure is the card?
- Is it easy to manage?
- How helpful is customer service?
Best Practices for Effective Fuel Card Usage in Fleet Management
Congratulations! You’ve found the fleet management fuel card of your dreams. Discounts, perks, transparency—it has it all.
But as much as we’d like to wish you a happily ever after, it’s not over yet. There a few things left on your to-do list:
Set Fuel Card Usage Policies And Guidelines
If your card offers controls, take some time to decide on and configure all necessary settings. This can include where the fuel card can be used, fuel grade restrictions, which types of purchases are allowed, and so on. You’ll also want to decide on where to keep the cards, how to report fraud or misuse, and the consequences for policy violations.
Educate Drivers On Responsible Fuel Card Usage
Once you have guidelines in place, set clear expectations with your drivers. Communicate the benefits to them, too—like how they won’t have to document fuel usage and expenses manually anymore. Employee buy-in is a crucial part of every company initiative, and fuel cards are no exception.
Regularly Monitor and Analyze Fuel Card Data
If you picked a fleet management fuel card that offers advanced tracking and monitoring, use it! While it can feel like an overwhelming amount of data at first, there’d plenty of good nuggets of information if you know where to look.
For example, start by looking at a vehicle’s baseline fuel economy compared to its actual consumption, according to the fuel card data. Is there anything drastically off? Are certain vehicles or drivers more off than others? This may indicate a problem with the vehicle, an inefficient route, or a driver than could benefit from additional training.
If your fuel card integrates with tools you already have, like telematics or a fleet management solution, you may be able to cross-reference the fuel card’s data for even more insight.
Enjoy Simplified Fleet Management the Fullbay Way
Ready for our pitch about the official Fullbay fuel card for your fleet? While that’d be really cool, we don’t actually have an official fuel card. You’ll need to follow the advice above and do some research of your own to pick the fleet management fuel card that best suits your needs.
Still, Fullbay can make your job easier in other ways. When you use Fullbay’s fleet maintenance and management software, you’ll benefit from:
- Automatic mileage/engine hour fleet tracking
- Service order workflow guidance
- Simplified fleet maintenance reporting
This is just scratching the surface of what Fullbay can do for you. Schedule a demo today to learn more about all the power and efficiency we bring to your fleet!