• Safety Lane

HOW DO FUEL CARDS WORK AND QUESTIONS TO ASK WHEN CHOOSING A FUEL CARD

Let’s start with the question “What is a fuel card?” This is a payment card, most commonly used to purchase gasoline and diesel at gas stations / truck stops. Fuel cards can also be used to pay for vehicle maintenance, repairs, tires etc. A lot of today’s fuel cards also come with Checks that you would use to pay for lumpers or other services. 

Fleet Cards are unique due to the convenient and comprehensive reporting they provide and save time while providing convenience for accounting and quarterly and annual reporting. 

How to determine if a fuel card is right for you? 

At the end of the day, most people use fuel cards to save money. With all fuel cards currently on the market, it might take some unraveling of the discount structure before you can fully determine which one, you’re actually going to save the most with. Consider the following questions when shopping around for a fuel card:

Is the discount offered off the cash price or the credit price?

Is it retail-minus, cost plus or both?

Are discounts given at the pump or as a rebate check?

Are there any fees for using the card?

How extensive is the network of stations where discounts are offered?

Are there additional benefits offered by the fuel card program?

Savings off the credit price may not be as great a deal as you think, especially when compared to getting discounts off the cash price. The reason travel centers charge the credit price is, so they offset the processing fees they’re being charged by credit card companies. Getting discounts off the cash price means you’re getting additional money off the cheapest listed price. 

What’s the difference between retail minus or cost-plus discounts? 

Retail-minus pricing is always fixed, and you receive a rebate through your fuel card provider that never changes. With cost-plus, you don’t pay a fixed retails price. Rather, the driver pays a rack price based on the OPIS Nationwide Index, which varies, plus state and federal taxes. Added to this is a fixed fee set independently of the station’s pump price. 

Some fuel cards provide point-of-sale discounts, meaning the cost of fuel is reduced at the point of settlement (right at the pump). Other fuel card programs offer a rebate model, where you receive a check at the end of the month for the total amount of money discounted.

Some fuel cards charge a small fixed transaction fee each time you use the card to purchase fuel, there also might be one-time setup fees, monthly fees, annual membership fees, etc. Research well before signing up for a fuel cad and pay attention to the amount of fees they charge. 

Another important factor when choosing a fuel card is the network they provide discounts at. Make sure that the travel centers you’ll get discounts at are on your route and also that there is enough stations nationwide so you don’t have to go out of network. At the end of the day you are using fuel card in order to save money and if there’s not enough stations to do that in, there’s no point of using the card at all. 


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