A business’s success depends on efficiently managing its resources. For companies that rely on fleets, this means managing drivers, vehicles and fuel budgets. A fleet manager has their work cut out for them. Fortunately, there are tools that can help with many aspects of fleet management. One such tool is a fleet card or fleet fuel card.

When you can spend less on every purchase at the pump, the savings can add up.

While many companies use them, fleet cards are often underutilized. When used appropriately, fuel cards offer a range of benefits that can simplify many aspects of fleet management.

Companies that get the most from their fleet cards can:

  • reduce spending
  • access powerful reporting tools
  • streamline their expense reporting
  • improve maintenance management
  • increase security
  • better enforce policies

Before we take a look at these advantages of fleet cards, let’s explore how they work and what to look for in the ideal fleet fuel card.

Understanding Fleet Cards

A fleet card, also known as a fuel card or a fleet fuel card, is a form of payment similar to a credit card. However, fleet cards are specifically designed for businesses with fleets of vehicles and are used to pay for fuel, maintenance and other vehicle-related expenses.

Key Features of Fleet Cards

While certain aspects of a fleet card will vary between providers, there are some basic features included with most fleet fuel cards.

Spending Controls

Fleet cards can be set up with purchase limits and restrictions to prevent unauthorized spending. These are customizable and can be based on a driver or a vehicle.

Real-time Data and Reporting

When a transaction is made, the details are recorded and housed in a fleet card dashboard. This gives you access to all your data that can be viewed by the driver or vehicle.

Fuel Savings and Discount Programs

One of the most common reasons a business uses a fleet card is because of fuel discounts or rebates. When you can spend less on every purchase at the pump, the savings can add up. Many cards include access to discount networks or exclusive savings on fleet expenses like tires, hotels, parts, services, maintenance, etc.

Choosing the Right Fleet Card for your Business

Not all fleet cards are created equal, and selecting the right one for your business is crucial to maximizing your benefits. When choosing a fleet card, consider factors such as:

Accepted Locations

When choosing a fleet card, make sure it has acceptance at a wide network of gas stations, especially if your vehicles operate across different regions or states. Also look for one branded by a fuel brand you frequent. Doing so will likely give you access to more benefits by using a branded card of a fuel station you prefer.

Reporting Capabilities

Most fleet cards offer robust reporting features. Make sure the card you choose includes detailed transaction data, spending summaries and customizable reports. Using these insights, fleet managers can better understand fleet expenses and identify areas for cost savings.

Spending Controls

Opt for a fleet card that allows you to set spending limits and purchase restrictions. While finding a card that does not offer this feature is rare, always double-check. Also, explore what types of spending controls are available and make sure you can customize them to align with your spending policy.

Integration with Accounting Software

Most fleet cards seamlessly communicate with most bookkeeping and accounting software. Choose a fleet card that works with your existing systems. This can streamline administrative tasks and provide a more comprehensive view of your fleet operations.

Strategies for Maximizing Fleet Card Benefits

Once you’ve chosen a fleet card for your business, implementing strategies to maximize those benefits is key. Here are some effective tactics to consider:

Use Fleet Cards to Reduce Spending

Business fuel cards or fleet cards offer fleet managers several ways to control spending and reduce fuel costs. Here are the three most common:

Take Advantage of Discounts and Fuel Rebates

As mentioned, most fleet cards offer discounts or rebates on fuel. These are usually specific to certain fuel providers. Some rebates are fixed, while others are tiered and increase the more you fuel. Regardless, fuel discounts are a great way to reduce fuel spending for your fleet.

It’s not uncommon for a fleet card provider to offer discounts or a rewards program for fleet-related expenses. These programs are often tied to discount networks and give fleets access to exclusive pricing on things like hotels, parts, services, maintenance and tires.

Combining fuel discounts with fuel savings is an easy way to increase cash flow for your business.

Practice Strategic Fuel Purchasing

A simple way to get more from your fleet card is to focus your fuel spending at stations where your discounts are available. Plan employee routes to include these stations and make use of apps or tools that locate the best-priced fuel along their routes.

Use Spending Controls

One of the easiest ways to rein in fuel spending is using your fleet card’s purchase or spending controls. By programming cards with restrictions, you can limit unnecessary spending. Most cards allow fleet managers or business owners to configure controls such as:

  • Daily or weekly spending limits.
  • Daily or weekly fuel volume limits.
  • Number of transactions in a given timeframe.
  • Specified fuel product (gas or diesel) or type (regular or premium).

Utilize Fleet Card Reporting Tools

Take full advantage of the reporting tools provided with your fleet card. Generating reports with analytics can provide insights into fueling trends, shifts in fuel consumption and expenses by driver or vehicle.

Monitor and Analyze Spending Patterns

Regularly reviewing transaction data can help identify spending patterns and potential areas for optimization. Simply put, tracking fuel spend can save you money. Look for trends such as excessive fuel consumption, irregular purchases or discrepancies in spending across different vehicles or drivers. Analyzing this data can help you pinpoint inefficiencies and take corrective actions.

Promote Driver Accountability and Responsibility

Using reports to educate drivers on their vehicle and fuel usage can be an effective way to reduce fuel consumption. Data transparency can encourage adherence to company policies and best practices for fuel efficiency. By promoting driver accountability, you can minimize wasteful spending and prolong the lifespan of your vehicles.

Streamline Fuel Expense Reporting

Using fleet cards can reduce the administrative burden of managing fleet expenses. All the details on a receipt are captured and sent to a fleet card dashboard. This same information can be sent to most bookkeeping and accounting software programs. With real-time transaction data, you can say goodbye to collecting receipts and submitting fuel expense reports. Plus, your accounting department can spend more time keeping you under budget, forecasting and moving your business forward.

Vehicle Efficiency and Maintenance

Fleet card data can give you up-to-date info on vehicle usage. This information can be used to help stay on top of vehicle maintenance, and by monitoring mileage trends, fleet managers can be alerted when changes in vehicle performance occur.

Security and Fraud Prevention

The security features of a fleet card can help keep your assets secure. Because PINs and driver ID numbers are required, it is very difficult to use a fleet card without authorization. You can also set alerts for any suspicious activity, and since data is collected in real time, fleet managers can respond to misuse or fraud.

Make Sure You are Getting What You Need out of your Fleet Card

Fleet cards are powerful tools for managing and optimizing fleet operations. Choosing the right card helps managers monitor spending patterns, enforce spending limits and policies as well as streamline expense reporting.

Fleet cards are powerful tools for managing and optimizing fleet operations. Choosing the right card helps managers monitor spending patterns, enforce spending limits and policies as well as streamline expense reporting. All the advantages of a fleet card can lead to greater efficiency and promote cost savings.