Fuel cards (also known as fleet cards) are unique payment instruments designed to help truckingÂ companies save money on the cost of fuel and maintenance as well as monitor their workforce’s spending. These cards are accepted by fuel vendors that comprise the network of locations that accept the card in question. Generally, these networks will cover over 10,000 gas stations nationwide, though a few such networks feature hundreds of thousands of individual gas stations.
Let’s take a closer look at the fuel cards that best fit your trucking business.
|Best for||Fuel card|
|No monthly charges||ExxonMobil Business Fleet Card|
|Small & mid-size companies||WEX FlexCard|
|National coverage||Shell Fleet Navigator Card|
|Rewards||Fuelman Advantage Platinum Mastercard|
Best For No Monthly Charges
ExxonMobil Business Fleet Card
N/A (charge card)
TheÂ ExxonMobil Business Fleet card offers a rebate of up to 6 cents per gallon on your fleet’s fuel purchases depending on the total gallons purchased per billing period. Additionally, there are no monthly charges associated with the card and no setup fees.
The ExxonMobil Business Fleet card’s rebate structure is as follows:
- Less than 500 gallons purchased during billingÂ period =Â Â 1Â¢ per gallon
- 500 to 3,999 gallons purchased =Â 3Â¢ per gallon
- 4,000 to 6,999 gallons purchased =Â 4Â¢ per gallon
- 7,000 to 9,999 gallons purchased =Â 5Â¢ per gallon
- 10,000+ gallons purchased =Â 6Â¢ per gallon
The ExxonMobil Business Fleet Card is a charge card. As such, the card doesn’t carry an APR since you can’t carry a balance from month-to-month.
With the ExxonMobil Business Fleet card, you’ll be able to view all of the following from your online account:
- Card and driver detail
- Payment history
- Available credit
- Manage invoices and payments
- Set restrictions on purchase types
- Set limits for transactions, gallons, and dollar amounts
- Set specific limits for time-of-day and day-of-week
- Receive notifications when expenses fall outside your company policies
One word of caution: This card is only good at the 10,000 Exxon and Mobil stations in the US. These stations are most prevalent in the eastern US.
Best For Small & Mid-Size Companies
$24 per card
For a fuel card that will both help you save on fuel and cover fuel purchases nearly everywhere your fleet goes, check out the WEX FlexCard.
Like theÂ ExxonMobil Business Fleet Card, the WEX FlexCard is a charge card — but unlike the ExxonMobil card, the WEX FlexCard allows you to carry a balance for up to 26 days. And while the FlexCard’s 3Â¢ rebate on every gallon of fuel purchased falls short of the maximum rate of the ExxonMobil card, it equals or exceeds said rate if you purchase less than 4,000 gallons of fuel per billing period. As such, it’s a great fuel card for small and mid-sized fleets.
The WEX FlexCard is accepted at over 90% of fuel stations nationwide. This comes out toÂ over 160,000 US refueling locations and 45,000 US service locations.
The Wex FlexCard does carry a monthly fee of $2 per card, though this shouldn’t put that big of a dent in your profits.
In addition to the above features, WEX’s fleet management and fuel management services can, when used in tandem, help you save even more on fuel — up to 15% by the company’s estimation.
Best For National Coverage
Shell Fleet Navigator Card
Unspecified “limited fees”
If you’re looking for the fuel card with the maximum possible coverage, you’d do well to investigate the Shell Fleet Navigator Card.
This fuel card is accepted at fully 95% of gas stations across the US, including allÂ 14,000+ Shell and Jiffy Lube locations. You’re exceedingly unlikely to be left high and dry by the Shell Fleet Navigator Card.
The card comes with spending controls and expense management systems on par with every other fuel card out there. What’s more, the Shell Fleet Navigator card is not a charge card. Instead, the card is akin to a traditional credit card in that you can carry a balance from month-to-month.
The Shell Fleet Navigator Card also offers a rebate ofÂ up to 5 cents per gallon of fuel purchased each billing cycle depending on the amount spent. Unfortunately, Shell doesn’t disclose the amount of fuel per month you need to purchase before the 5 cent rate takes effect. Likewise, while the card doesn’t officially carry an annual fee, Shell states that the card may carry “limited fees” — though these fees are not detailed by the company.
Best For Rewards
Fuelman Advantage Platinum Mastercard
The Fuelman Advantage Platinum Mastercard is another card with near total US coverage — you can use this card at any location that accepts Mastercard. But that’s just the beginning of the benefits you’ll get from using this card. (I like to think these cards are named for someone who just happens to be named Fuelman)
With this Fuelman card, you’ll get up to 3Â¢ per gallon in rebates on your fuel purchases depending on the volume of fuel you purchase each month (sadly the exact volume/rate data is not provided by the company) and an additional 2-3Â¢ per gallon when you use gas stations that are a part of theÂ Fuelman Discount Network.
This discount network will also get you a 3 5% rebate on purchases at Firestone and Tires Plus Retail Locations.
This card is a charge card and it carries no annual fee.
Best Prepaid Fuel Cards
Let’s change gears here (get it?) and discuss prepaid fuel cards. Now, a prepaid fuel card is not the same thing as an actual fuel card. Essentially, a prepaid fuel card is just a gift card that can be used at a gas station, and as such shares little in common with either fuel cards or credit cards. Nonetheless, prepaid fuel cards can be quite useful for the company whose operations involve a degree of road travel, and, as such, I thought I should mention them here. These cards aren’t for mid-size to large trucking companies.
Shell Refillable Card
The Shell Refillable Card can be used at all Shell locations.Â Up to $300 can be loaded onto the card at one time. You can track the balance and your spending online.
If your company’s driving needs are limited and you want to make sure only fuel is purchased on the company dime, consider using the Shell Refillable Card.
ARCO Prepaid Fuel Card
The ARCO Prepaid Fuel Card is nearly identical to the Shell Refillable Card, except you use it at ARCO stations. It is a good prepaid gas card to use on the west coast where most ARCO stations are located.
If you’re a west coast company with limited driving needs, you might want to give ARCO Prepaid Fuel cards a look.
Are Fuel Cards Worth It?
Let’s move on to the larger question of whether or not fuel cards are worth getting in the first place.
If your business uses two or more company vehicles for travel and your company purchases over 1,000 gallons of fuel each month, it may be worth it to get a fuel card. This is true for the following reasons:
- Fuel cards come with in-depth purchasing controls to ensure your employees are using the company card for driving-related expenses only
- Advanced analytics can improve your drivers’ efficiency
- Monthly/annual fees tend to be small or nonexistent
- Save money, both on gas purchases and on repair/maintenance costs
- Advanced GPS apps that point the way toward in-network gas stations and service centers
Of course, the fact that fuel cards can only be used to purchase fuel and repair/maintenance services means that fuel cards are much less flexible than credit cards. Additionally, rewards programs associated with fuel cards tend to be more limited than those of credit cards, as only certain gas stations participate in said rewards programs.
Also, consider the fact that most fuel cards are charge cards. This means you won’t be able to carry a balance from month-to-month, giving you less leeway when paying your bills. Also, the fuel cards that do allow you to carry a balance never come with an introductory 0% APR offer. In fact, fuel cards just about never offer any signup bonuses.
What To Look For In A Fuel Card
Here’s what you need to keep in mind when looking for a fuel card:
- Get a card that fits your location — Many fuel cards can only be used at certain gas station chains or within networks that cover certain regions of the country and not others. Look into exactly where a fuel card can be used before deciding on one.
- Get a card that fits the amount of fuel you purchase each month — Many fuel cards offer rebates on fuel purchases, but these rebates are often tied to how much fuel your company buys each month. Try to determine how much fuel per month your company will be using before getting a fuel card. This way, you can find the card with a rebate program that best caters to your fuel “sweet spot.”
- Understand how the fuel pricing works when considering a fuel card — Some fuel cards allow you to batch your fuel purchases after a certain length of time. This means you may be able to pay less than the price listed at the pump, but this pricing scheme can also come with its own fees and requirements. Be sure to understand how pricing works before obtaining your fuel card.
Trucking companies have their own particular financing needs, just like any specialty industry. The fuel card is one of the tools by which your business can save on the cost of fuel and keep employee spending under control.
To learn more about how to set up your trucking business for growth, let Merchant Maverick lend you a hand.
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