No matter how long you have been in business or how large your company is, you may be able to benefit from the use of a fuel card.
If you don’t have a lot of previous experience using fuel cards, however, you may not know where to begin when searching for the right card for your business.
Ultimately, the card that you choose needs to be a good fit for your company. When evaluating card providers, you need to carefully consider all of your options so that you can choose a card that will more than meet your needs. Don’t get too hung up on branding during this process. Instead, keep an open mind when researching cards, focusing on how they can benefit your business.
Important Factors to Consider
Is A Fuel Card Necessary For Your Business?
According to Money Expert, before you jump in and start searching for a fuel card, you need to ask yourself whether or not using the card would actually benefit your business.
For instance, if you have a small business that operates in a limited area and only has one vehicle, using a fuel card won’t necessarily provide you with any additional benefits above and beyond what you would get if you just paid for your fuel when you bought it. On the other hand, if you have a larger fleet or if you drive long distances, there are distinct advantages to using fuel cards. In that case, you should begin comparing your options to find the right one for your business.
There are a lot of companies that provide these cards. Some are well-known providers who have been in the game for a lot of years. Others are a little bit newer to the industry and may not have the name recognition of some of the bigger companies. Regardless of whether you go with a well-established company or a new provider, it is important to make sure that the card you choose suits your business.
A Closer Look at the Different Types of Fuel Cards
Before you choose a fuel card, you need to learn more about the different types of cards that are out there.
Fixed-Price Cards versus Pump-Price Cards
There are generally two different pricing options available with fuel cards: fixed-price cards and pump-price cards. As you might guess, fixed-price cards charge drivers a predetermined price for fuel, helping to keep costs in check. Pump-price cards, on the other hand, use the price that is posted at the pump. Although these cards are convenient since drivers can use them at more locations, they also can lead to higher costs if the price of fuel rises.
Branded Cards versus Non-Branded Cards
Some cards are issued by specific businesses as a way to get you to use their gas stations when you are filling up. For instance, many supermarkets have cards that can be used at their branded gas stations at a discounted rate. These branded cards can be a good choice if you have convenient access to gas stations from that particular brand.
You will need to check the geographical area where the card can be used. Some are designed to be used locally whereas others can be used throughout the country. Be sure to choose a card that is appropriate for the type of traveling that you do for your business.
Sometimes, local fuel providers will issue cards of their own that are designed to be used locally. Typically, these cards can only be used at select gas stations. You may want to look for a card that provides more options so that you aren’t limited to only getting gas in your local area.
These cards are designed to be used at branded gas stations throughout your local region. Typically, they are issued by mid-level fuel suppliers who have a number of different gas stations scattered throughout a particular part of the country. Make sure that there are plenty of gas stations along your route that qualify for the card before committing to one of these deals.
These cards are usually issued by large national fuel providers. Typically, there are a lot of gas stations throughout the country where they will work, making them a good choice if you do a lot of traveling or if you don’t want to have to go too far off the beaten path to find a fueling station that accepts your card.
Regardless of the size of your fleet, you need to think about the types of vehicles that you own. Whether you have a single vehicle that you use for work on a regular basis or a larger fleet of vehicles driven by your employees, you need to think about the fueling needs of these vehicles when choosing a card.
The Type of Fuel
Some vehicles run on regular gasoline whereas others run on diesel. Fuel cards sometimes designate the type of fuel that they are good for. You will need to choose a card that works for whatever type of fuel is used by your vehicles. If you use both gas and diesel, you can also get cards that can be used for more than one type of fuel.
The Ability to Control Charges
The fuel card that you choose for your business should provide you with a lot of control over the charges. For instance, you should be able to set a monthly limit for how much fuel can be charged to the card. Depending on how the account is set up, you may also be able to allow additional travel-related expenses such as food and lodging to be charged to the card, helping to simplify the process of tracking these expenses for your business.
Oftentimes, card providers offer additional benefits to people when they sign up. Look closely at these benefits to see if they are something that your business will actually use.
Watch For Hidden Fees
Read the fine print before signing up for a fuel card. A lot of times, card providers charge additional fees for services that you may not need. You also may have to pay an annual fee in order to keep your account open. Be sure to thoroughly research these fees before deciding whether or not a card is right for your business.
Keeping track of your business expenses can be overwhelming. When you use a fuel card, the process is much simpler since all of your fuel purchases show up in the same place. This can make things a lot easier at tax time.
Deciding On a Fuel Card
Now that you have a solid understanding of the options that are available, you are ready to choose a card. After you get approved for your new card, it is important to keep an eye on it to make sure that it continues to be a good choice for your business. Over time, as your business changes and evolves, you may need to reevaluate your choice and opt for a different card instead.
Although keeping track of how your fuel card is performing may seem like a hassle, it can wind up saving you a lot of money in the long run – especially when you consider that it doesn’t take long to see if there are any cards that would be a better fit for your business.