The Alternative To Fleet Fuel Cards
If your business currently isn't using fuel cards, then you are probably purchasing fuel with company credit cards, petty cash, or you driver pays for it and then claims for the cost on his expenses. Maybe you use all of these. The problem is these methods are administratively inefficient and there is a big potential for fraud.
Benefits Of Fuel Cards For Business And Fleets
A fuel card or petrol card is a payment card that can be used to purchase petrol, diesel and LPG. They work in a similar way to credit cards and are paid off at the end of the payment cycle. Some fuel and petrol card advantages include: significant savings on fuel costs, perhaps as much as 7p a litre; fraud protection; and reduced administrative overheads. Here we look at how your business and your drivers can benefit along with some suggestions on finding the best fuel card for you.
Accurate Purchase Records
When your driver purchases fuel or other items using a fuel card each transaction is recorded and you receive an accurate record for each individual driver or vehicle registration number. This reduces the possibility of fraud. You can also specify exactly what the cards can be used for, for instance tolls, food and other items.
Reduced fleet management overhead costs
Fuel cards provide an excellent way of reducing the cost of your fleet management overheads. Rather than having to deal with multiple claim forms and credit card bills, you will receive a single invoice, which could be weekly or over a longer charging period. The invoice is also likely to be provided in an HMRC approved format that will make your VAT easier to process while ensuring that you claim back all the VAT owing to you.
Reduced Fuel Costs
While reduced fuel costs might not be guaranteed on all fuel cards, many will allow you to buy fuel at a weekly fixed wholesale prices that could save you as much as 7p a litre. Big users can also purchase wholesale bulk fuel that they store on their own premises.
Fleet Efficiency Improvements
Many fuel cards also provide a set of tools which can help you improve fleet efficiency. When your driver refuels, he can provide his odometer reading which is recorded alongside the transaction details. This allows you to calculate fuel consumption, and can highlight drivers who drive less efficiently so that you can improve their driving style with some training.
Fuel cards make it much more difficult to commit fraud, and if it does happen then it is easy to identify. Each card is registered to a specific vehicle or driver, so any unauthorised purchases are easy to spot. With some cards each transaction is compared with a stored database, and any deviations from normal spending patterns are automatically flagged. Should any suspicious purchases be discovered, you can elect to be informed by email or SMS alerts.
Fuel Card Networks
While fuel cards are restricted to specific networks and/or they are subject to surcharge on out of network purchases, if you choose the best card for your particular business model this shouldn’t be a problem. If you want wide coverage, then simply choose a card that has a large network; some networks include 90 percent of all forecourts in the UK.
Benefits For The Individual Driver
So far we have confined the discussion to benefits for your business, but there are fuel card advantages for your individual driver too. No driver wants to carry large amount of cash, and although credit cards are a possible solution, they require far more paperwork than a simple fuel card; with most fuel cards there isn’t even the need to keep receipts. It is easy to pay tolls and ferry costs, and to include a food allowance. With some fuel cards drivers can also benefit directly from rewards schemes such as Tesco Clubcard Points and Nectar rewards; although these aren't available for your businesses, they are available your drivers.
Selecting The Best Fuel Card For Your Business
It is important so to select the fuel card that provides your specific business with the most benefits and this will vary with the type and size of your fleet:
- HGV Fleets – these normally stick to set routes and scheduled deliveries. They prefer filling stations with facilities appropriate to HGVs such as fast pumps and high canopies. Generally the preferred option is bunker cards with wholesale pricing.
- Van Fleets - these often service different locations rather than sticking to fixed routes. They need good coverage and prefer larger networks. Although they may need to pay pump prices, there should be enough flexibility to find lower priced forecourts.
- Car fleets – such as company cars or taxis - generally the first consideration is flexibility as they may go to different destinations each day so the largest possible networks could be the best solution.
- Mixed fleets (cars, vans and HGVs) – some fuel card suppliers will provide a range of alternative cards and bespoke solutions to match specific business requirements.
If your business involves significant amount of travel, or if you have a car, van or HGV fleet, you will certainly benefit from a fuel card. It will save you money, reduce your overheads, streamline your fleet administration, and protect you from fraud. But it isn't a case of one fuel cards suits all; finding the best solution for your particular business can be difficult. If you would like some help, then please compete our web form and you will be provided with several free quotations tailored to your specific business needs. It takes just moments and could save you hours of hunting around.