Why Your Vehicle Fleet Needs Fuel Cards
Any organization involved in fleet leasing or outright ownership of a fleet of vehicles should be interested in saving money wherever possible. The cost of operating an entire fleet of vehicles can get to be enormous over the course of even a single month, and in order to stay profitable, it is always best to look for savings on the overall expense. One of the biggest expenses associated with operating a fleet of vehicles is the fuel needed to keep them on the road. That’s why finding savings on fuel costs can be one of the most important tasks undertaken by a fleet manager.
There are quite a few options available currently in this regard, and one of the best options are fuel cards. Fleet cards also usually include some back-end reporting which saves you the additional cost of having to generate these kinds of reports yourself. Many fleet card providers make these reports available to you on a cycle that is favorable to your business operation, e.g. daily, weekly, or monthly. Having these reports at your fingertips can be crucial to the success of your overall business operation, and it can save a great deal of time and money to have them prepared by a business partner who offers fleet cards.
What exactly are fleet cards?
Fleet cards are also known as fuel cards, and they are plastic cards that can be used at fueling stations along the routes taken by your vehicles and drivers. In some cases, these same cards can be used to pay for vehicle maintenance or repairs as well, although this will vary from one card provider to the next. These cards are not the same things as some of the gas cards offered by various providers, since the service provided goes well beyond gas fill-ups. In many cases, these fuel cards are tied to back-end reports that can simplify your fleet management tasks, because you won’t have to generate these reports from scratch on your own. For the most part, these cards are made available to fleet organizations by major oil companies like Shell or Sunoco. There are also some providers in the marketplace that simply specialize in issuing these cards as a standalone service, such as WEX.
How are fleet cards beneficial?
The single biggest benefit of using fleet cards for all the vehicles in your fleet is that you’ll realize substantial savings at the gas pump. In many cases, the price you pay for fuel is the wholesale price, rather than the retail price offered to all other drivers. The second important advantage gained by using fleet cards is the built-in reporting system that is attached to them. Having real-time reporting of fuel consumption by your fleet vehicles can be enormous savings since these are reports you would otherwise have to generate yourself. The last major benefit of using fuel cards is that a fleet manager can exercise some degree of control over how much fuel is used by operators. Limits can be set on card usage so that a specific threshold amount is not exceeded within a set period of time, and this can help foster fuel conservation by all drivers within your fleet.
Best providers of fleet cards
Below are listed some of the most popular providers of fleet cards. These providers are in some cases, major oil companies themselves, or they may simply be organizations seeking to become profitable in the business of selling large quantities of fuel to companies in need.
– this company offers two different fuel cards to accommodate your fleet needs, one of which is intended for smaller-sized fleets and the other for even very large fleets. Owners of either of these fleet cards can save up to $.07 per gallon on fuel purchases.
– you can save as much as $.06 per gallon at any Shell service station in the country, so even coast-to-coast trips can be covered by this fuel card. The card offers some controls as well and charges no periodic fees for usage.
– this card is accepted at all Sunoco stations around the country and offers a $.06 savings per gallon on fuel purchases. For the first six months of usage, fleet vehicles can save $.15 per gallon on all purchases of fuel.
– there are 15,000 stations around the country that accept the Comdata fuel card, and you can save between $.08 and $.25 per gallon on purchases. Card usage also comes with a useful analytical tool to help identify and categorize fuel usage.
– when using this card, you can save $.06 per gallon on fuel costs, and it comes with automatic alerts when spending thresholds are exceeded.
– there are more than 45,000 stations around the country that accept the WEX card for fuel purchases, and the company offers more than 70 different types of fuel cards to cover your fleet needs.
– accepted at more than 50,000 nationwide stations, the Fuelman card is one of the most universal in the business. Some types of fuel cards allow you to save $.10 per gallon purchases, but all cards used must be purchased for a small fee.
For organizations whose fleet vehicles routinely make coast-to-coast trips, it probably makes more sense to use the universal cards offered by some providers. For most other organizations, the emphasis should be on the region where your fleet vehicles are operating most of the time. When you’re primarily operating within a specific region, station-specific fleet cards will provide better value. You should resist the temptation to jump at the fuel card offering the biggest discount, because in the long run, you may not be saving the money you thought you would. Keep in mind that the most important factors in choosing the right fuel card for your fleet vehicles should be tied to the fee structure, any discounts offered, controls you get, the region itself, and the level of back-end reporting that comes with the card offer. Fleet management becomes much easier when you can take advantage of the best possible fuel cards for your fleet of vehicles.