What to consider when choosing a fuel card for your business

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Consider these when choosing a fuel card for your business

There’s a lot to think about when choosing a fuel card for your business. Whether you run a large fleet, or you have several field operatives out on the road, saving money on fuel costs is an important consideration. There are so many to choose from, so how do you decide on the best fuel card to meet your company’s needs?

To help you decide, we’ve prepared a list of key points to consider.

Administrative load:

Every accounts office knows the frustration of dealing with endless scrappy receipts, but a fuel card can make light work of business expense reporting, at least for this type of expense. Fuel cards deliver monthly or weekly invoices, which are all created in a format approved by HMRC — making it much easier when it’s time to fill out your return and claim back VAT.

It’s important to ensure that fuel cards are monitored regularly by admin teams as fuel card fraud is on the rise.

Fuel type

You’ll need to establish whether your company vehicles rely on unleaded petrol or diesel, before selecting your business fuel card. Some cards are exclusively for petrol or diesel, while other cards allow you to refuel with either type.

Type of fleet

The type of vehicles used in your business will determine your overall choice of card. If you only have a few cars out and about, your needs will be very different from a company with a large fleet of HGVs, for example. But remember to factor in the growth of your business. It may be appropriate to select a card with extra benefits that you don’t need now, but are likely to need in the near future.

Coverage

It is worth considering where your company vehicles are operating. If employees work locally, then a card that’s compatible with your local fuel stations will be the most appropriate choice. But if your business has cars, vans or lorries travelling further afield, then you’ll need to think about the service stations that will be most convenient for your employees to use.

Pump vs fixed price

Some fuel cards require you to fill up as per the price displayed on the pumps and forecourt. However, many fuel cards offer discounts on fuel, offering generous savings for firms using a great deal of fuel.

Non-branded or branded

Branded cards are affiliated with a particular fuel brand, which may be the best option if you operate throughout the length and breadth of the UK. Whereas non-branded cards, which allow you to fill up at supermarket fuel stations, for example, might be the better option, especially if your business operates locally.

Be sure to check which pumps are accessible to your fuel card across the network. Savings on fuel can quickly become redundant if your employees have to drive out of their way to fill up at a qualifying service station.

How much do fuel cards cost?

The cost of fuel cards is something that requires careful consideration before you reach a decision. Discounted fuel may represent savings, but there are associated costs with the majority of fuel cards, so you need to be very clear as to what they are.

For example, a fuel card may carry a condition for a minimum monthly spend. Most fuel cards require a minimum spend of £200 per month, so this needs to be factored in. There is also usually an initial administration charge for setting up your fuel card account, as well as annual fees for every card issued. Depending on your choice of fuel card, you may also be required to pay yearly or monthly administration fees.

A more in depth discussion on the cost of fuel cards can be found in our Complete Guide to Fuel Cards.

Does the fuel card need limits?

Although a fuel card operates in a very similar way to a credit card, the key difference is that the majority of fuel cards can only be used for filling up at the pumps. However, some cards allow you to make other purchases, such as hot drinks, magazines and snacks, so you’ll need to consider whether this is something that you’d like your employees to be able to do.

Fuel cards link to either a specific vehicle or driver or sometimes a combination of both. It’s often possible to place specific restrictions on cards, such as only authorising it for diesel or unleaded petrol.

There is a wide range of fuel cards, all offering their own benefits to employees and businesses. However, sometimes, a more all-in-one option such as the purchase of a prepaid debit card might be more suitable to meet company needs.

With Soldo prepaid cards, managers can load it with the required fuel money for staff, while still being able to keep tight control over company-wide spending. Soldo offers fully customisable physical and virtual prepaid business cards for your whole team that you can tailor to your exact needs, offering the same time saving and administrative benefits as a fuel card, however, over a far broader range of business expense types.

The Most Popular Fuel Cards for UK Businesses

If you’re looking for a fuel card for your business, you’ll soon discover that there are a wide variety of choices available. Whether you run a large organisation involving fleets of heavy-goods vehicles, or you only have one or two employees, you’ll find a suitable option.

Take a look at the list below of popular fuel cards widely regarded as being among the best available for UK businesses.

The List

Shell: A long-established name, with over 50,000 dedicated forecourts and partner sites to choose from. The company has offered its fuel cards for more than half a century, with a choice of plans according to the amount a business spends annually on fuel costs. The wide range of services makes the Shell fuel card an excellent option for larger businesses. Shell fuel cards can be used for bridge and tunnel tolls and ferry crossings, in addition to giving access to breakdown services.

Esso: Another global giant, Esso boasts more than 3,000 dedicated filling stations and its fuel card delivers some of the best regional prices for fuel. Choose from fixed-price payments or pump-price payments according to your preference. Esso fuel cards can be used at Shell and BP forecourts too, accumulating Tesco Clubcard points with every purchase. Card blocking options and spending caps allow you to tailor each card according to your needs.

Texaco: A popular option for businesses that operate in more rural areas of the UK, Texaco fuel cards are accepted in well over 2,300 petrol stations across the country, including Jet, Murco and Morrisons. There are weekly wholesale prices applied to diesel and petrol costs, making Texaco one of the most competitive card issuers when it comes to pricing.

BP: More than 90% of UK citizens live within a five-mile radius of a BP petrol station. With over 8,000 filling stations to choose from, the BP fuel card is perfect for businesses with a fleet of vehicles to manage. The company provides fuel card users with an app which enables them to locate their nearest forecourt. The app also logs the mileage of vehicles.

Allstar: Allstar offers four separate fuel cards, making it easy to find the one that best suits your specific business needs. The cards can be used to fill up at 90% of UK service stations, including Shell, BP and Esso garages, together with major supermarket chains. In addition to offering impressive discounts against vehicle repair and servicing costs, the Allstar fuel cards also provide comprehensive reporting tools.

UK Fuels: Supplying both its own dedicated fuel cards, as well as tailored options from all of the major suppliers, UK Fuels is one of the best-known brands within the industry. Whether you run a fleet of HGVs or just a few vans or cars, UK Fuels will create a package that is specific to your company needs. The fleet management tool allows you to track vehicles and even optimise routes, helping to save both money and time.

The Fuel Store: It may be one of the more recent entries into the fuel card market, but The Fuel Store has quickly become one of the leading operators in the UK. Fixed weekly pricing makes it easy to assess ongoing fuel costs, while the management tools allow you to keep track of every transaction. However, you’ll need to use at least 300 litres of fuel every month to avoid paying the minimum usage fee.

FuelGenie: The fuelGenie fuel card gives you access to over 1,300 filling stations at Sainsbury’s, Morrisons and Tesco forecourts. Dedicated software lets you access your company data at any time of the day or night, and the system provides reports in a format that is acceptable to HMRC.

EDC: If your business involves European travel, an EDC fuel card might be your best option. Offering over 6,500 refuelling stations across Europe, EDC is a diesel fuel card that offers up to 50% discounts against European tunnel and road tolls.

Keyfuels: Also aimed at heavy-goods fleets, Keyfuels has its roots within the haulage industry. Its network of almost 3,000 UK sites, includes Morrisons and Tesco forecourts, with many of the locations specifically tailored for the needs of heavy goods vehicles.

The Best Fuel Card Is A Fuel Card That Offers More

Looking at the above list of popular cards, there are plenty of options when it comes to choosing a fuel card for your business.

However, you may wish to simplify things further by using a prepaid business card. You can use it to load fuel money for your staff, so they never have to worry about paying for their fuel using their personal finances when they’re out and about on business.

Soldo offers one of the best prepaid cards for business, with fully customisable rules so that you can control your employee spending seamlessly and minimise the associated reporting and administrative overhead. Soldo provides similar benefits to those of fuel cards but across a far broader spectrum of expense types. Find out more here.