Credit Cards vs Fuel Cards: What Is the Difference?

Fuel Card Credit Card

The main difference between fuel cards and credit cards can be surmised almost entirely from the name. We all know what a credit card is and how they work – a fuel card is just the same principle, but purchases are only restricted to petrol stations.

Fuel cards are an incredibly useful resource for businesses that rely on vehicles to operate. Whether it's deliveries, transporting passengers, or long haul trucking, many businesses will contain an element of vehicle use, even if it's not a major aspect, and being able to save money on your fuel costs can be a huge help.

If you or your business could benefit from a fuel card, it's worth filling out our quote comparison tool. By filling in some basic information, you'll receive free, zero-commitment quotes that can help you make a decision on the best fuel card for your business.

What Is a Fuel Card?

For those not in the know, a fuel card is a physical card that allows businesses to fuel their vehicles and fleets at a discounted price. It can only be used at petrol stations, meaning that each employee can be given a card without concern that they have carte blanche access to your business's finances.

Not only that, but the best fuel cards can aid with fleet management, helping you plan the most efficient routes in order to save even more on petrol costs.

What Is the Difference Between a Credit Card and a Fuel Card?

So getting down to brass tacks, what are the exact differences between a credit card and a fuel card?

Well, a credit card is easy – you might even have one yourself. Credit cards allow you to make purchases and pay them off over time, rather than all at once. And the reliability of your payments allows you to build up a credit score, which can help you when taking out loans.

Fuel cards are the same in principle, just not in function. They're still little plastic rectangles that fit into a wallet that you can use to pay for goods and services. However, these goods and services are specifically limited to petrol stations across the country.

This can lead to a lot of peace of mind, as you'd have to put a lot of trust into each of your drivers for each of them to have a card with a direct line to your business's finances. However, if the card can only be used on business expenses, it's a lot easier to pass them around.

A benefit of fuel cards, however, is that they offer discounts on fuel if they're used at participating petrol stations. These discounts can range between 2p and 20p per gallon, which can really add up if your business relies on vehicles. They can also provide additional services, like route optimization and feedback reports on each driver/vehicle.

How Can I Choose the Right Fuel Card?

There are a fair few fuel card options on the market, so you'll want to know the right choice for your business. It's not as easy as comparing prices, unfortunately, as fuel card prices vary wildly based on all sorts of criteria (fleet size, electric/diesel vehicles, etc). So we've taken the criteria we can nail down and used it to come up with three of our favourite fuel card providers.

I Am an Independent Driver

Texaco Logo
Texaco Fastfuel
Pricing Annual fee of £18 per card
Quick overview

Texaco Fastfuel can be used at around 2,900 UK filling stations, including all Tesco, Morrisons, and Sainsbury's forecourts, the UK Fuels network and over 750 Texaco stations, as well as selected BP sites.  In particular, Texaco’s Fastfuel card is great if your business uses a lot of heavier vehicles – with over 400 HGV-friendly sites and truck stops to choose from. Plus, plenty of Texaco's stations are conveniently located on motorways.

Importantly, Texaco Fastfuel uses a commercial pricing system. This means that you'll benefit from wholesale-related deals for diesel and unleaded, with prices that Texaco fixes each week – making it easier for you to predict what your drivers will spend, budget accordingly, and even save money. Plus, you won't have to pay any card charges.

On the admin side of things, you'll get comprehensive fuel management reporting, plus e-billing and HMRC-approved invoices. It also enables you to set limits on what your drivers can buy, right down to the types of fuel.

Strengths

Can be used at over over 400 HGV-friendly sites and truck stops

Benefit from fixed wholesale pricing for petrol and diesel

No additional card charges

Weaknesses

Limited to UK fleets only

I Own a Small Fleet

Fuel Store Logo
The Fuel Store Card
Pricing Annual fee of £12 per card
Quick overview

The Fuel Store’s card aims to take the hassle out of topping up your vehicles. It can be set up in four simple steps, and costs that come with it are less daunting than those charged by some of the big names. With access to over 3,000 UK stations, the Fuel Store claims to have the largest multi-branded site network in the UK. Not bad for a card that’s only been around since 2016!

Continuing the simplicity long after the setup, with the Fuel Store Card you'll benefit from fixed weekly prices, helping you to budget and better manage cash flow. You'll also receive a single, HMRC-approved VAT invoice at regular intervals, and get 24/7 instant access to transaction and fuel reporting. You can also restrict what your drivers can and can't buy with these cards. And don't forget – these cards offer 14 days of free credit. Not a bad deal!

The Fuel Store charges an annual £12 for each card, which is slightly cheaper than cards from bigger brands like Texaco and BP. You'll also just pay for the fuel you use without additional transaction fees. However, if you’re drawing less than 300 litres of fuel a month, you’ll be slapped with a £10 minimum usage fee.

Strengths

Its annual card fee is cheap, plus there are no hidden fees

Benefit from fixed weekly fuel prices

14 days of free credit

Weaknesses

Its range of features is more limited compared to bigger brands

You'll need to buy more than 300 litres of fuel a month to avoid a fee

I Own a Large Fleet

BP Logo
BP Supercharge
Pricing Annual fee of £24 per card
Quick overview

The BP Supercharge fuel card can be used at over 7,600 filling stations (including, of course, over 1,200 BP stations, plus all major fuel brands, motorways, and supermarkets). That’s almost 90% of all forecourts in the UK.

The fact that BP Supercharge doesn't come with transaction fees may be the biggest boon to fleet managers, alongside the fact that its fees tend to drop as your fleet size grows. BP says this card is suitable for fleets of all sizes, but it's those with close to 200 vehicles or more that'll gain the most value from this fee structure.

As well as this, BP’s intelligent online tool enables you to set limits on how your drivers can use their cards, while direct-to-email e-billing takes care of the books. Plus, BPme Rewards points, earned for every BP transaction, will see frequent card users given rewards.

Strengths

Can be used at almost 90% of all UK fuel sites

Larger fleets get cheaper card fees

Doesn't charge any transaction fees

Earn rewards with every BP transaction

Weaknesses

Expensive annual card fees for businesses with smaller fleets

Next Steps

If you're interested in a fuel card, you're in the right spot! We know all there is to know about fuel cards, whether you're looking for the most affordable options, or the absolute best fuel cards on the market, we look at all the options worth considering.

If you're ready to invest in a fuel card but aren't sure on the specifics just yet, our fuel card comparison tool is a great place to start. By filling out some basic info pertaining to your business and its needs, you'll receive zero-commitment quotes for fuel cards that can help your business save on petrol.

Duncan Lambden
Duncan Lambden Senior Writer

Duncan (BA in English Textual Studies and Game Design) is an Australian-born writer for Expert Market. His articles focus on ecommerce platforms and business software that allows small businesses to improve their efficiency or reach, with an emphasis on invoice financing and customer relations. He has written for Website Builder Expert and Tech.co, and has been featured in Forbes. In his free time, Duncan loves to deconstruct video games, which means that his loved ones are keenly concerned about the amount of time he spends looking at screens.