How to Choose The Best Fuel Card for Your Fleet in 2023
Fuel card programs are helping trucking companies of all sizes streamline operations, manage expenses effectively, and maximize savings.
But as more fuel card providers enter the market, choosing the best fuel card program for your fleet can seem challenging. Too often, truckers can be tempted by too-good-to-be-true offers, only to find the fuel card isn’t widely accepted or customer service levels are lacking.
Knowing the most important service features and recognizing red flags that warn of potential service failures can save your trucking company time, aggravation, and money.
In this guide, we’ll explore the key factors that can help you make an informed decision and choose the best fuel card program for your fleet in 2023.
Choosing a fuel card: features to look for
The cost of diesel fuel is the largest operating expense on your trucking company’s accounting books. And, at the time of this publication, prices are rising yet again! Implementing a robust fuel card program with significant discounts on the cost of fuel and additional features to help improve efficiencies will enhance bottom-line results and increase your competitive edge.
When choosing the best fuel card program for your trucking company, look for the following features:
Cost savings and discounts: Savings are the top reason to get a fuel card. You can dramatically enhance your bottom line by choosing a fuel card with significant discounts and incentives. Leading fuel cards can save you up to $0.20/gallon off the cash price of diesel. Depending on the size of your trucking company, you can save $1,000s on the cost of fuel every month.
Look for a fuel card that offers competitive pricing, volume discounts, and rebates.
Extensive network of participating fueling stations: No matter the discounts, a fuel card is only helpful if accepted at the pumps. When evaluating fuel card options, consider the network’s number of participating fueling stations and truck stops. Look for a fuel card that offers nationwide coverage, ensuring that your drivers can easily access fuel at a vast network of fueling stations conveniently located along the lanes you run.
Fleet management tools: Besides fuel purchasing capabilities, fuel cards can be valuable fleet management tools. The best fuel card programs provide access to a robust online account management portal to help monitor driver purchases and gain valuable insights into your fleet’s fuel usage and expenses. Look for features such as real-time reporting, expense tracking, and customizable spending limits for individual cards.
These features can help improve fuel management by providing the information to analyze fuel consumption patterns, identify inefficiencies, and make data-driven decisions to optimize your fleet’s diesel usage. In addition, system integrations and simplified IFTA reporting capabilities streamline fuel tax compliance for faster, more accurate quarterly submissions.
Fuel up now, pay later: Industry-leading fuel discount programs provide credit terms on each fuel purchase. Delayed payment terms can help trucking companies better manage cash flow. When trucking companies combine the fast-funding benefits of freight factoring with a robust fuel card program, trucks can be fueled, perform their P&D service, invoice the job, and get paid well before making payment for the fuel purchase.
Cash advance options: Another feature separating the best fleet card programs from most other cards is the ability to withdraw cash advances. Armed with the right card, you and your drivers can easily access cash in hand from convenient locations across North America. As your drivers safely manage cash on the road, your company’s accounting department tracks, monitors, and controls each withdrawal.
Enhanced security features: Be sure to choose a fuel card with safety features. Protecting your fleet against fraudulent activity is essential, especially as fraud rates in the freight industry appear to be rising. When choosing a fuel card, prioritize providers that offer robust security features. Look for cards with PIN protection, transaction limits, and real-time monitoring to detect suspicious activity promptly.
Access to additional services: A fuel discount program can be combined with other powerful financing tools to help your fleet – if you choose the right partner. Alternative finance companies specializing in the freight industry can bundle fuel cards with services such as freight factoring or flexible lines of credit to maximize cash flow and access to working capital.
With this in mind, contacting alternative finance companies that specialize in the transportation industry is a great first step when searching for the best fuel card program to support your trucking company. With easy qualification requirements and additional financial services to maximize access to working capital, these lenders can unlock substantial amounts of cash to bridge cash flow gaps while delivering huge savings to improve profitability.
Choosing a fuel card: red flags to avoid
The global fuel card market size was valued at USD 723 billion in 2022 and is expected to grow substantially with a CAGR of 11.4% during the forecast period 2023–2031. Unfortunately, with this growth comes an influx of providers looking to take advantage of the opportunity. In such a large market, be cautious of providers offering attractive selling messages but lack the ability to deliver quality services. When connecting with potential candidates, watch for red flags that indicate the potential for substandard service.
When choosing a fuel card provider to partner with, look for the following red flags that warn of underperforming service:
Limited customer support: Be cautious of fuel card providers that don’t have a dedicated customer support team. Having availability to a responsive and knowledgeable customer support team can be invaluable if issues arise, an inquiry is needed, or cases of fraudulent purchases need to be dealt with. Choose a provider that offers prompt and actionable assistance in response to any concerns or questions.
Lack of industry experience: To succeed in freight transportation, company owners must be problem solvers to manage the constant barrage of logistic, personnel, and financial issues that arise daily. They depend on suppliers and providers to be equally proficient when dealing with unexpected issues. Fuel card providers lacking extensive experience in freight transportation are handicapped when anticipating and resolving issues that may impact your operations.
Look for fuel card providers that have extensive experience in the freight industry. They are most capable of providing the following advantages:
- Strong relationships with fuel stations and truck stop networks to negotiate better volume discounts for their customers.
- Significant investments in advanced technology for the trucking industry, such as robust online platforms, mobile apps, real-time reporting, and customizable controls.
- A large and easily accessible customer support team to keep funding reliable and consistent.
Take the time to research and compare different fuel card providers to find the one that offers the most comprehensive and tailored solutions for your trucking business. Although cost savings are the most important consideration, finding the right fuel card that can bring a host of additional benefits will make your research well worth the effort.
Ensure your fuel card partner provides more than just cents off each gallon: look for an extensive acceptance network, fleet management tools, security features, and access to additional services.
By selecting the right fuel card, you can drive your trucking company towards greater efficiency and savings to enhance your competitive advantage and profitability in 2023 and beyond.
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