The Ultimate Guide to Fleet Fuel Cards: Maximizing Savings and Efficiency
In the world of small businesses, those with a fleet of vehicles can substantially benefit from the cost-saving and expense management tools inherent in fleet fuel cards. These invaluable cards enable you to earn substantial rebates, ranging from 2 to 8 cents per gallon of fuel, depending on the card you choose, and offer the potential for even more significant savings through affiliated partner networks.
However, it’s essential to understand that unlike conventional business credit cards that grant rewards for all types of expenditures, most fleet cards specialize in providing rebates for fuel expenses exclusively. Some even limit these benefits to specific gas stations. But this targeted approach is often what makes them so appealing to business owners. You can confine these cards to fuel-only purchases, track expenses in real-time, and establish limits on individual cards, thus achieving optimal control over your fleet’s financial management.
Exploring the Top Fleet Fuel Cards
To help you navigate the world of fleet fuel cards, we’ve compiled a list of some of the best options available, combining flexibility, control, and savings:
1. AtoB: Your Comprehensive Solution
AtoB, a pioneering technology company, offers a unique blend of fuel cards, an integrated expense management platform, and a dedicated mobile app designed to streamline fleet management while maximizing savings.
- Fuel Rebate: 2 to 3 cents per gallon for the first three months; up to 12 cents per gallon at participating gas stations using the AtoB app.
- Other Rewards: Cashback on select services when using the AtoB app.
- Monthly Fee: $3 per month, per active card.
- Other Fees: $25 setup fee for AtoB Unlimited.
2. Coast: More Than Just Fuel Savings
Coast’s fuel and fleet cards provide a 2-cent discount on gas purchases and an attractive 1% cashback on non-fuel expenses, such as maintenance, equipment, dining, and accommodation. Coast cards are accepted at any location that honors Visa cards, except for non-fuel purchases at gas stations.
- Fuel Rebate: 2 cents per gallon.
- Other Rewards: 1% cashback on non-fuel purchases, coupled with additional discounts through Coast partners.
- Monthly Fee: $2 per active card, per month.
- Other Fees: $35 for returned or late payments.
3. WEX: Versatility and Savings
WEX boasts a wide range of fleet cards, including branded options from some of the world’s largest fuel chains. The WEX Fleet FlexCard, in particular, stands out as an ideal choice for small businesses:
- Fuel Rebate: 3 cents per gallon for the first 180 days.
- Other Rewards: None.
- Monthly Fee: None.
- Other Fees: $50 returned payment fee; $75 or 6.99% of the account balance, whichever is greater, for late payments.
4. Fuelman: A Rewarding Choice
Fuelman offers a diverse selection of fleet cards, including options tailored for diesel fuel, all supported by a network spanning more than 50,000 stations.
- Fuel Rebate: Base rebate of 8 cents per gallon for the first year.
- Monthly Fee: $25 to $99, depending on your plan.
- Other Fees: $3 fee for refueling outside of the discounted network, potential 30-cent per gallon fee for payment defaults or if your business credit score falls below a specific threshold.
5. Branded Fleet Cards: Specialized Savings
Many major fuel providers, such as BP, Exxon, Shell, and Conoco, also offer fleet cards designed for use exclusively at their own brand’s fuel stations. These cards can be a viable choice if your fleet operates predictable routes and can consistently access eligible stations.
What Are Fleet Fuel Cards?
Fleet fuel cards, also known as fuel cards, represent an alternative to conventional business gas credit cards, designed to cater to companies with multiple business vehicles. These cards offer lucrative rebates on fuel and feature robust expense management platforms that empower you to seamlessly monitor and manage spending across all active cards.
Most fleet cards function as business charge cards, requiring you to pay your balance in full each month. Some, however, allow you to carry a balance, albeit at the cost of a reduced fuel rebate. Many fleet cards also do not necessitate a personal guarantee, making them more accessible than traditional business credit cards, which typically require a personal credit check.
How Do Fleet Fuel Cards Operate?
Fleet cards deliver per-gallon rebates on fuel purchases, with the base rate varying from 2 to 8 cents per gallon, depending on the specific card. However, they are usually only usable at gas stations, and the precise functioning of your fleet card will be influenced by its issuer and partner network.
- Branded Fuel Cards: Branded cards, such as those from Shell and Exxon, offer above-average rebates but restrict these benefits to their own gas stations. Your actual rebate can depend on the volume of fuel you purchase, often requiring a minimum threshold to unlock the full rebate.
- WEX and Fuelman Fleet Cards: WEX and Fuelman negotiate discounts with gas stations and then pass those savings onto cardholders through rebates. These cards have expansive networks, with rebates typically ranging from 3 to 8 cents per gallon for the first year, and are based on monthly fuel purchases.
- Fleet Cards on Major Credit Card Networks: Cards like Coast and AtoB operate on major credit card networks, such as Visa. They offer a base rebate of 2 to 3 cents per gallon, with the potential for larger rebates through partner networks. However, obtaining these benefits may require some effort, as you’ll need to track offers through the card’s app or online platform.
Leveraging Fleet Expense Management Tools
Fleet cards go beyond fuel rebates and also provide robust expense tracking and management capabilities. Business owners and fleet managers can monitor real-time spending, set limits on individual cards, and generate comprehensive accounting and expense reports. Some fleet fuel cards even offer telematics tools that enable you to track the location and fuel levels of each vehicle in your fleet in real time.
Fleet Fuel Cards: Pros and Cons
The primary advantage of fuel cards is the level of control they offer over spending, especially for businesses with extensive fleets. While cash-back business cards may provide competitive gas savings, fuel cards excel in delivering advanced tracking and control features.
Here are some of the benefits and drawbacks to consider:
- Discounted fuel pricing.
- Comprehensive expense tracking and management tools.
- Easy issuance, deactivation, or reassignment of employee cards.
- Many are available without a personal guarantee or credit check.
- Discounts are often limited to specific chains, states, or regions.
- Charge cards necessitate full payment each billing period.
- Purchases and discounts are typically confined to fuel expenditures.
- Often not available to sole proprietors or other unincorporated businesses.
Fuel Cards vs. Business Gas Credit Cards
Fuel cards prove to be an excellent choice for business owners overseeing a fleet of five or more vehicles, particularly when cost management takes precedence over maximum savings. Fleet cards are typically charge cards, requiring full monthly payments (or sometimes weekly), and are usually exclusive to incorporated businesses. They often only require an employer identification number, without the need for a personal guarantee.
On the other hand, business gas credit cards can offer a higher reward rate, with potential cashback rates of up to 3% on your total purchases. However, they lack the comprehensive spending tracking and control features found in fuel cards. Moreover, they may impose spending limits on rewards rates.
Most business credit cards permit carrying a balance from month to month, albeit with interest charges, and are available to sole proprietors and unincorporated businesses. However, they do require a personal credit check and guarantee.
Does Your Business Require a Fleet Fuel Card?
For businesses operating five or more vehicles, a fleet card can be an invaluable tool for saving money and managing expenses. While branded fuel cards boast high per-gallon rebates, they may also come with additional fees, restrictions, or prerequisites. If your spending won’t be confined to a single chain, open-network cards like Coast and AtoB provide an ideal balance of savings and flexibility.
For businesses with only one or two vehicles, a business gas credit card may offer more substantial rewards. Top picks can provide up to 3% cashback on gas, in addition to up to 5% cashback on other purchases. Even a general cash-back business card like The American Express Blue Business Cash™ Card, offering 2% cashback on the first $50,000 spent annually, can yield double the savings compared to many fleet cards. Terms and conditions apply.