Do Fuel Cards Save You Money?
What is a fleet card? Fleet cards—also called fuel cards—are a type of credit card that can be useful tools for fleet owners trying to streamline their administrative, reporting, billing, and payment processes. It's different from a traditional credit card in that it's specifically for vehicle and fuel expenses.
But do fuel cards save you money?
The short answer is that the right fleet fuel card can save you money. Let’s dig deeper into the potential cost savings owner operators can reap if they add fuel cards and their built-in tools to their financial plans.
5 Ways Fleet Cards Can Save You Money
How do fuel cards work to save you money? There are five major ways that a fleet card can save you and your trucking company money. But, not all fuel cards are created equal—to find the best fuel card, look for the gas card with the most cost-saving potential before signing on the dotted line.
#1 Discounted Fuel
The primary fleet card benefit—arguably—is to provide professional fleet companies with discounted fuel rates. Fuel card providers typically offer a fuel discount upwards of five cents per gallon off of retail fuel prices.
However, it’s important to beware of misleading discount offers, which are easily offset by some fleet cards’ additional fees and fine print, like:
- Operational fees – Administrative charges like monthly fees, ACH fees, per-transaction fees, replacement gas card fees, and charges to add new cards and users.
- Penalties – Charges for late payments, exceeding credit limits, and purchasing fuel at an out-of-network truck stop.
- Limits on discounted gallons – The maximum number of discounted gallons fleet fuel card users can purchase per statement period—after which they must pay full retail fuel prices.
While cards with no fees—like the AtoB fuel card—may seem to offer lower fuel discounts than their competitors, they can save you more money in the long run by avoiding superfluous charges, penalties, and limits.
#2 Decreased Risk of Overdraft Fees
If you’re struggling with sub-optimal cash flow, you know that running out of cash can be an expensive proposition.
A secondary function of fleet cards is providing drivers with a line of credit for fuel and other vehicle-related purchases, freeing up drivers’ cash for expenses that can’t wait, like:
- Loan payments
- Insurance premiums
- Regulatory costs, like licensing fees and tax payments
Using a fleet card can decrease your likelihood of incurring fees as a consequence of low cash flow, like bank overdraft fees, late payment charges, and penalties for bounced checks. When you have a safety net for fuel purchases, you can continue making deliveries and paying your bills on time while you await incoming client payments.
#3 Spending Limits
Fuel cards can help you streamline, monitor, and control your spending. Cardholders can place spending limits on their own cards and any cards issued to employees or subcontractors.
And this isn’t just useful for fuel cost control. Cardholders eligible for non-fuel purchases, like maintenance, parts, and consumable products (e.g., wiper fluid and motor oil), can also set limits on these costs. This can help them (and any additional cardholders on their account) stay on budget.
Fleet owners can also use spending limits to allocate their available credit per statement period. For instance, if a driver has a $5,000 limit per week, they can limit weekly fuel spending to $4,500 and weekly non-fuel transactions to $500, keeping them from overspending.
#4 Fraud Protection
Fraud risks are an unavoidable part of any digital payment solution, but the fraud protection offered by traditional credit and debit cards don’t always address risks specifically related to professional driving.
Fraud can lead to a variety of financial impacts, like:
- Increased insurance premiums
- Lost cash
- Increased debt or financial obligations
- Payroll, bill pay, and accounts receivable disruptions that can occur during resolution
By using increased prevention measures like PIN numbers, photo ID verification, and vehicle authentication offered by fleet card companies, drivers can reduce the risk of fraud incidents and their associated costs.
#5 Decreased Administrative Costs
Fuel card providers often provide auxiliary services that can help owners keep administrative costs down. Let’s explore a few examples:
- Data entry – Instead of collecting paper receipts, jotting down your odometer every time you fill up, and manually calculating your MPG, fleet card companies use your statement charges to automatically populate spending data.
- Report generation – Purchase data can be used to generate reports that owners would otherwise have to compile manually. For owners in International Fuel Tax Agreement (IFTA) jurisdictions, this function significantly reduces the time investment in quarterly IFTA reporting.
- Billing and payroll – With the help of fleet card tools, owner operators no longer have to use separate (and expensive) software to handle client billing and employee payroll. They can complete these functions in just a few easy steps with the help of the fuel card software they’re already using.
Fleet Owners Save Big with AtoB
So, do fleet fuel cards save you money? If you choose the right card, they certainly can.
In your search for the perfect fleet card solution, look for companies that charge low (or no) fees, provide numerous auxiliary tools, and use advanced fraud protection measures to protect your hard-earned cash.
AtoB meets all of these criteria and then some. We don’t charge fees (even for late payments or exceeding your limit), we offer state-of-the-art administrative tools, and you can use our Visa-powered fleet fuel cards anywhere—even at your favorite mom and pop truck stops and fuel stations.
Owner operators looking for optimal savings with a fuel card program can rest easy by choosing AtoB.
US General Services Administration. GSA Fleet Cards. https://www.gsa.gov/buying-selling/products-services/transportation-logistics-services/fleet-management/vehicle-leasing/gsa-fleet-card
AtoB. Frequently Asked Questions – What discounts do I get with the AtoB card?. https://www.atob.com/faq
US Department of Justice. Financial Fraud Crimes. https://www.justice.gov/usao-ak/financial-fraud-crimes
Florida Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles. International Fuel Tax Agreement.https://www.flhsmv.gov/driver-licenses-id-cards/commercial-motor-vehicle-drivers/international-fuel-tax-agreement/