Fuel Card vs. Credit Card: What's the Difference?
Managing a fleet means making quick decisions for the health of your drivers and your operations. One of the most impactful decisions you’ll make for your big or small business is whether you use a small business fuel card or a business credit card to keep your fleet running with full tanks.
Credit cards might be the traditional method for helping drivers cover road-related fuel expenses like gas and vehicle fleet maintenance. However, more and more fleet companies are putting credit cards in the rearview and switching to company fuel cards.
But what’s the difference between a fuel card and a credit card? And what benefits do they offer that have fleet companies shifting gears? Let’s dive in.
The Differences Between a Fuel Card vs. Credit Card
Fuel cards and credit cards are payment methods that work in similar ways. They’re both convenient, cash-free options for drivers to fuel up while they’re working and make other necessary purchases.
Yet despite their similarities, they’re also quite different.
- Credit cards – This is a card that’s issued by a bank or other financial institution 1. Cardholders can use the card to make purchases anywhere the card type is accepted. The cardholder then pays back the money either in full at the end of the statement period or incrementally over time. Cardholders also agree to pay interest on the money they borrow as well as any other fees.
- Fuel cards – These are issued by a third-party company (or sometimes a gas station). They enable cardholders to make specific transportation-related purchases 2. They cannot be used for pulling out cash and, depending on the fuel card provider, may only be used in select stores.
#1 Purchasing Power
The most notable difference between a fuel card vs credit card is what they can be used for. Generally speaking, credit card holders can use their cards to purchase almost anything. Fuel cards, on the other hand, are limited to very specific purchases.
With most fuel cards, drivers can pay for the following:
- Maintenance and repairs
Whether you only need to buy gas for your fleet or if you prefer to keep a gas purchase separate from any other expense or accounting cost, a prepaid fuel card is an incredible option that streamlines the financial side of your operations.
#2 Accepted Businesses
Just as credits can be used to purchase almost anything, they can be used anywhere that accepts the card type. This makes them useful when your drivers need to stay in hotels or pay for meals.
Fuel cards, on the other hand, can only be used at gas stations. And depending on the issuer of the business gas card, they may only be accepted at specific gas stations 3. This can be a limitation for some fleet companies.
Should you opt for a fuel card, ensure that it’s a universal fuel card with VISA capabilities.
#3 Management Oversight
When it comes to regular fleets or EV fleet management, the right fuel cards put business owners and fleet managers in control of their vehicles. Aside from placing restrictions on what can be purchased with fuel cards, managers can set limits on individual cards.
This is a useful tool that credit cards don’t offer. Fleet managers can restrict fuel cards according to gallon dollar amounts per transaction or amount per given time frame, like:
- Per day
- Per week
- Per month
The ability to set these restrictions enables business owners to keep driver expenses in line with company budgets. It also acts as a safeguard against fuel card fraud and misuse.
#4 Monitoring and Alerts
Another difference between a fuel card vs credit card is the features that are offered for monitoring card use.
Many credit card lenders offer fraud monitoring and other basic security features to protect cardholders. But they don’t come close to the in-depth, up-to-the-minute monitoring and alerts that the best fuel cards offer.
With fleet fuel cards, fleet managers can stay up to day on every member of their fleet and the purchases they’re making. You can schedule app or email alerts that are triggered when suspicious transactions are processed or you can opt to be updated anytime a purchase is made. Regardless, fuel cards are a great asset for tracking your fleet management costs.
Keep Your Fleet Fueled and On the Road With AtoB
When it comes to managing your fleet’s finances, the right fuel card can make all the difference. And when it comes to finding a fuel card that delivers for your business, the choice is clear: AtoB.
Our fleet fuel card combines the ease of a credit card with best-in-class security and monitoring features only a fuel card can offer—plus business-boosting perks you won’t find anywhere else. Enjoy exclusive fuel discounts and the benefit of having your fuel card accepted everywhere. Curious about how to get a prepaid gas card? We can help with that too.
Ready for a fuel card that offers power and convenience for you and your entire fleet? Get started with AtoB today.
Investopedia. Credit Card: What It Is, How It Works, and How to Get One. https://www.investopedia.com/terms/c/creditcard.asp
Investopedia. Fleet Cards Definition. https://www.investopedia.com/terms/f/fleet-cards.asp
1 Investopedia. Credit Card: What It Is, How It Works, and How to Get One. https://www.investopedia.com/terms/c/creditcard.asp
2 Investopedia. Fleet Cards Definition. https://www.investopedia.com/terms/f/fleet-cards.asp
3 Investopedia. Fleet Cards Definition. https://www.investopedia.com/terms/f/fleet-cards.asp