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One of the most significant expenses for businesses that operate with a fleet is fuel.
Fuel price is driven by factors beyond anyone's control. That's why it can also turn profits into losses quickly.
Imagine how stressful that can be, especially for small business owners. The good news is that there's a way for business owners to manage and ultimately reduce their fuel expenses. They can do it by using a business fuel card.
What is a business fuel card?
Business fuel cards, also known as fleet cards, allow a business to buy fuel within a network of authorised merchants.
Fleet cards offer discounts, rewards, and rebates to users, so it's one of the best ways for fleet managers to save money on fuel costs. (1)
Moreover, most business fuel cards connect to fleet management software. They allow managers and business owners to automate tasks like fuel cost calculations. They also help users track purchases and usage closely. Plus, modern cards offer customised controls for preventing fraud and improving security. (2)
You must take note that businesses with always-on-the-road employees have another option for reducing fuel bills besides fuel cards.
Yes, they can also use prepaid cards for business fuel expenses. But this post will focus on fuel cards solely, so feel free to search for articles that discuss fuel cards vs prepaid cards if you want to know which option will meet your needs best.
How to apply for a business fuel card?
Many business owners think that getting fuel cards for their drivers to use is a complicated process. The truth is - it isn't. You can even do it online nowadays!
Knowing and understanding the process before applying can really help. Here's a summary of what to do when getting a fuel card for your business:
Shortlist potential fuel card providers
There are so many business fuel card providers out there - so much so, some fleet managers or business owners will find choosing the best company for their fuel card needs overwhelming.
It's especially true for those taking advantage of fleet cards for the first time.
That's why the first step in getting a fuel card is shortlisting up to five service providers.
But how can fleet managers or business owners make the right choices? Comparing your prospects manually or using an online comparison tool can help. When comparing, here are the most important features to consider:
- High potential savings: The service provider you'll work with should be the one offering the most significant potential fuel expense savings. That's why you have to check out their rebates or discounts program. Specifically, look for companies that give out unlimited rebates per gallon. Also, when it comes to discounts, make sure that there are no added requirements or hidden fees.
- Acceptability: Card acceptance is another essential factor to consider. You'd not want to choose a service provider whose issued cards only work at a limited number of stations. The same is true for companies with fuel cards that your employees can only use in a specific geographic area. (2)
- Security: The last thing business owners want is for unauthorized users to gain access to their fuel fleet cards. That's why it's always best to work with service providers that have a verification procedure in place for card users. For instance, a driver must enter his unique ID before each transaction can be completed. (2)
Some fuel card companies also let their clients set purchase limits. They'll then alert you when someone is attempting to go beyond the allowable purchase. (3)
- Detailed fuel data: The best gas cards also provide fuel data. Captured data give business owners more opportunities to analyse fuel consumption. If you want to optimise your fuel spend, pick a service provider that offers detailed reports regarding your purchases.
Of course, you'll need to take your time to get quotes from your shortlisted service providers before settling on and paying for a specific fleet card program. Factors to consider when collating quotes are as follows:
- The amount you'll have to pay for integrating the fleet card into your business
- Pricing model (monthly fees, annual fees, upfront admin fees, etc.)
- The service provider's preferred payment method
Based on the above mentioned factors, choose a fuel card program that will be most beneficial for your company.
Submit required documents
At this point, you should've already picked your top choice from your shortlisted service providers. It's now time to apply for your chosen fuel card program. Depending on the fleet card company, the application process can be done over the phone or online. Submit the following documents to prove your eligibility:
- Personal identification
- Business bank account
- Company telephone number
Hopefully, you now have some grasp of the benefits of business fuel cards and the process of obtaining the right cards for your company - just follow the steps outlined in this article.
After you apply, the fuel card company will perform information verification. You'll then receive the cards, including your personalised PINs, in a few weeks if your application has been accepted.