Managing fuel expenses is critical for businesses that rely on a fleet of vehicles. Especially when you consider that many fleet-dependent companies spend more money on fuel than any other budgetary expense. This means a well-managed fuel budget can result in increased savings and more cash flow.

The ability to customize how much a driver can spend on what and where is a game changer with policy enforcement.

Establishing a clear fuel spending policy is one of the most important elements of effectively managing your fuel budget. Your drivers need to know how much, what, where and when of fuel spending. Once your expectations around fuel purchases are clearly stated in writing, you need to enforce the policy. This can be much more challenging than simply creating your spending guidelines.

Fortunately, there are some simple things you can do as a fleet manager that make policy enforcement much easier — and they all depend on fleet cards and purchase controls.

What is a Fleet Card?

A fleet card is a payment method similar to a credit card. The difference is these fuel cards are designed for fleet-related purchases only, include fuel rebates or discounts, and track purchase data in real time. These three tools make a fleet fuel card superior to a credit card or cash. One feature really sets fleet cards apart: purchase controls.

When used appropriately, purchase controls can help fleet managers and business owners overcome many of the challenges of fuel policy enforcement.

Challenges in Fuel Policy Enforcement

Enforcing fuel policies manually or relying solely on employee compliance poses several challenges:

Lack of Visibility and Compliance Issues

Traditional methods of tracking compliance lack real-time visibility into fuel purchases, making it difficult to track expenditures accurately. It’s challenging to address purchases violating a policy as they happen if you have to wait until you receive a credit card statement.

Administrative Burden

Manual oversight of fuel transactions consumes valuable time and resources. Automating policy enforcement can free up time to focus on operational tasks and grow your business.

Inefficient Reporting

Generating comprehensive reports on fuel usage and expenses can be cumbersome and time-consuming without automated systems. Manually tracking compliance leaves room for human error.

The Role of Fleet Cards and Purchase Controls

Fleet cards are equipped with purchase controls. The ability to customize how much a driver can spend on what and where is a game changer with policy enforcement. These purchase controls work with other features, such as real-time data tracking, alerts, and reporting. Together, they make fleet cards a robust solution to address the challenges associated with fuel policy enforcement.

Customizable Parameters

With purchase controls, fleet managers can program a card with spending limits that align with their fuel policy. If you have a daily limit, weekly limit or certain days a card should be used – no problem. Purchase controls can do it all. With your fleet card, you can:

  • Set daily limits for fuel volume or purchase amount.
  • Choose which day of the week a card is active for use.
  • Set a cap on the number of transactions allowed in a specific time frame.
  • Approve purchases for fuel type or grade (gas or diesel, regular or premium).

A fleet manager can even program a card to be active during specific hours of the day.

Real-time Monitoring

Fleet fuel cards provide real-time visibility into the details of fuel transactions. With real-time data monitoring, managers can track purchases as they occur.

Common data points include:

  • Date
  • Time
  • Location
  • Fuel volume
  • Mileage
  • Purchase amount
  • Items purchased

Because transaction data is captured and logged in real time, all your fuel expense tracking is done automatically. This means there is no waiting on fuel expense reports and no risk of human error. You can see what is being spent as transactions happen.

Transaction Alerts and Notifications

Many fleet cards can be programmed for automated alerts. This is helpful for notifying managers of any unauthorized or suspicious transactions. Setting up real-time alerts for transactions that violate preset controls can help fleet managers respond quickly to potential issues. Notifications can be set for events like purchases over a certain amount, transactions outside of authorized areas, or uses during off hours.

Data Analytics and Reporting

Fleet cards offer advanced reporting and analytics capabilities. Using the reporting feature, managers can generate comprehensive insights into fuel usage patterns, trends and expenditure breakdowns. These insights can help determine if a fuel policy is still relevant based on business needs.

Benefits of Implementing Fleet Card Purchase Controls

Using purchase controls results in several benefits for fleet-dependent businesses.

Using spending limits to enforce fuel policies helps eliminate unauthorized purchases and reins in excessive spending, which could lead to more cash flow.

Cost Savings

Using spending limits to enforce fuel policies helps eliminate unauthorized purchases and reins in excessive spending, which could lead to more cash flow.

Enhanced Compliance

Purchase controls minimize the risk of policy breaches and ensure consistent adherence to fuel guidelines as long as the purchase parameters are aligned with the fuel policy.

Using purchase controls also clearly communicates the expectations of drivers.

Improved Efficiency

Spending limits contribute to a streamlined fuel management process. This helps reduce administrative burdens and frees up fleet managers to focus on other tasks.

Increased Transparency

Transparent monitoring and reporting can foster trust and accountability among employees, leading to a culture of responsibility and integrity.

Reduced Fraud

Limiting card use to authorized fuel stations, approved transaction amounts and particular services can help prevent fraud or misuse.

Empowering Fleet Managers with Enhanced Control

Implementing fleet card purchase controls is an effective strategy for simplifying fuel policy enforcement. Leveraging these tools can lead to better control over fuel costs, reduced financial waste and fraud, and improved operations.

Using a fleet card with purchase controls can transform the way your business functions and help increase cash flow — a primary objective for every company.