What Is a Fleet Card?
Fleet owner operators are just like any other workers or business owners—they strive to make higher profits by keeping their operating costs down. Some trucking companies utilize fleet cards to help reduce their fuel spending, track their purchases, and streamline employee payment or billing.
But what is a fleet card, and how does it work?
In this guide, we break down everything you need to know about fleet cards, including fleet card basics, where you can use them, eligible purchases, and the potential savings they offer motor carriers.
Fleet Card Basics
When a company fleet begins to use a certain fleet fuel card program, the fleet manager will issue the program's cards to all of the fleet's drivers. Fleet cards, also known as fuel cards, are essentially credit cards that perform a variety of functions:
- They provide a credit line specifically for fuel and vehicle-related purchases.
- They give drivers access to fuel discounts.
- They streamline the fuel purchase reporting process.
- They prevent fraud.
- They help owners manage employee payments and client invoicing in one platform.
There are many fleet card benefits, and the primary function of a fleet card—providing companies with a line of credit for vehicle expenses—can significantly impact a fleet’s cash flow. Instead of using cash to pay for fuel, companies can use fleet credit cards when they need the cash for something else, like:
- Business licensing expenses
- Insurance premiums
- Payroll and accounts payable
- Technological upgrades or other business investments
Let’s break down a scenario where an owner operator would benefit from using a fleet card:
- An owner is awaiting a $5,000 payment from a client, and they have to run payroll within the next 24 hours. They currently have just enough cash in their account to cover employee payments for that pay period.
- The driver has other deliveries to make, but they don’t have enough cash to cover payroll and the fuel they’ll need for the upcoming delivery.
- They decide to use their available cash to pay their employees and buy the gas they need with a fleet card. When the client pays the company a few days later, the owner operator pays off their fleet card bill and deposits the remaining funds into their checking account.
Using a fleet card is an excellent way to save money on fuel expenses, create a cash flow safety net, and enjoy other built-in conveniences provided by fleet fuel card companies.
Where to Use a Fleet Card
In general, there are two kinds of fleet cards:
- Cards you can use at select truck stops to receive discounted fuel
- Cards accepted everywhere by every fuel station brand—even mom and pop shops
While you should evaluate all of your chosen fleet fuel card provider’s benefits before signing on the dotted line, you should choose the card with the largest fuel station network whenever possible.
Cards accepted everywhere are ideal, especially because card companies with limited networks often charge per-gallon fees whenever drivers use their fleet card at an out-of-network truck stop.
In addition to truck stops and fuel stations, some cardholders can use their fleet cards for vehicle maintenance and other driving-related costs at auto parts stores and mechanic shops.
As we briefly touched upon above, some fleet cardholders are eligible for non-fuel spending, such as:
- Repairs and maintenance costs
- Auto parts
- Consumables, like:
- ~Wiper fluid
- ~Wiper blades
- ~Motor oil
- ~Fuel system cleaners
- Truck washes (in certain regions)
While drivers can’t use their fuel cards for lodging, food, or convenience store items, fuel cards free up cash that would have otherwise been spent on fuel, giving drivers more leeway to make incidental purchases when cash flow is sluggish.
One of the best perks of fleet cards is the potential cost savings drivers can achieve by using the card. Let’s explore some key savings opportunities:
- Discounted fuel – Fleet cards often give drivers access to cheaper fuel, offering upwards of five cents per gallon off of retail prices. As fuel prices increase, saving money on fuel is more important than ever to help truckers sustain their bottom line.
- Reduced administrative costs – In many cases, fleet card companies provide additional conveniences for fleets, helping them save money. With built-in report generation, integration with bookkeeping software, and one-click billing and payroll functions, owner operators can reduce their software costs and their time spent organizing and manually entering data—both of which can reduce overhead costs.
- Increased creditworthiness – Many fleet card companies regularly report drivers’ credit use and payment history to credit bureaus—entities that create credit scores. By spending and paying responsibly, drivers can increase their creditworthiness, which can lead to reduced interest rates for future financed purchases.
Take Control of Your Fuel Costs with AtoB
Fleet cards are an excellent resource for bolstering a fleet’s efforts to maintain healthy cash flow, pay employees on time, and save money on fuel.
While fleet cards aren’t new, the AtoB fuel card is revolutionizing traditional fleet card company practices. How are we different?
- We don’t charge fees for transactions, operations, over spending limits, or late payments.
- You can use our Visa-powered cards anywhere—even at local fuel stations.
- We use enhanced fraud protection measures to keep your capital safe.
- Our platform seamlessly integrates with Quickbooks.
Other cards embrace the predatory practices of traditional credit card companies, but AtoB is putting the power of cost control back into the hands of professional drivers.
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 Energy Information Administration. Gasoline and Diesel Fuel Update. https://www.eia.gov/petroleum/gasdiesel/