Commercial fuel cards are essential tools for businesses that rely on vehicles to operate. These cards streamline fuel expenses, increase control over fuel purchases, and provide cost savings. Despite the numerous benefits of commercial fuel cards, selecting the right one can be challenging. Read on to learn more about the most important factors to consider when choosing the best commercial fuel card for your business.
The Benefits of Commercial Fuel Cards
The main benefit of commercial fuel cards has been to control the use of the card for fuel only — but modern fuel cards offer a range of benefits to help you save time, money, and provide control over your fuel expenses. Commercial fuel card software can provide reporting on fuel usage and costs on a regular basis. If you’re using telematics or fleet management software to manage your vehicles, a commercial fuel card like Coast can even integrate with those systems to help you get complete visibility into your fleet operations and spending.
Factors to Consider When Choosing a Commercial Fuel Card
When choosing a commercial fuel card, some factors to consider include the fuel stations and networks that accept the card, fuel types, limitations, cost structure and fees, reporting, and monitoring tools, additional benefits, and rewards.
Accepted Fuel Stations and Networks
One critical factor to consider when choosing a commercial fuel card is its network of fuel stations that accept the card. Depending on your business and where your fleet operates, you may not want to be locked into a specific fuel brand’s card, since that card would not be accepted at other gas stations. If that’s the case, you’ll want to choose a fuel card with an extensive network that covers many areas, and maximize your fuel availability options. Coast’s commercial fuel card ensures wide acceptance — you can use the card anywhere Visa is accepted.
Fuel Types and Compatibility
Some fuel cards are specific to certain types of fuel, such as gasoline, diesel, or alternative fuels like compressed natural gas (CNG) or liquefied petroleum gas (LPG). This means that if your card is designed for gasoline, you won’t be able to use it to purchase diesel or other types of fuel. Even within a specific type of fuel, there might be different grades available, such as regular, mid-grade, and premium gasoline. Some fuel cards might restrict you to purchasing a particular grade.
With Coast, you can specify fuel grade settings, and get notified if a team member purchases the wrong grade of fuel.
Cost Structure and Fees
Be careful when shopping for commercial fuel cards to avoid those with extra or hidden fees. Many of the most common fuel cards hide these fees in the fine print so that you only discover them after you get your first statement. Extra and unexpected charges can seriously affect your fleet operations and your business’s bottom line.
Hidden fees to avoid include:
- Transaction fees
- Credit-risk fees
- Out-of-network fees
- Per-gallon service charges
Choose a card that makes your monthly statement easy to understand and never charges extra fees for activities your drivers need to do every day.
In addition to no hidden fees, look for commercial fuel cards that offer low administration fees. At the very least, look for complete transparency in the user agreement so you understand what charges you may incur.
- Examples of administration fees you might encounter include:
- Electronic payment processing charge
- Check processing charge
- Phone-payment charge
- Higher late charges for balances above a certain level
- High credit risk charge
- High subscription and use charges
- Extended network pricing
- Setup charges
- Program maintenance charges
- Research charges
Limit administration charges by choosing a commercial fuel card with a fair, transparent, and easy-to-understand fee structure.
Reporting and Monitoring Tools
Another essential feature to look for in commercial fuel cards is the reporting tools that come with them. With the right reporting options, a fuel card can reduce paperwork. This, in turn, helps save fleet managers time, improves record keeping, and cuts down on the effort it takes to keep your fleet running smoothly.
With legacy commercial fuel cards, you may have to track vehicle expenses with paper receipts and a monthly statement. Modern commercial fuel cards, on the other hand, make it possible to do away with paper receipts completely and track charges online. Digital records and reporting give you the power to control spending, reduce waste, minimize needed storage space, and maximize fuel management throughout your fleet.
If you’re currently telematics or fleet management solution, make sure you’re getting the most out of these tools by choosing a fuel card that integrates seamlessly with your current fleet vendors.
When connected to telematics software (e.g. Samsara or Geotab), or fleet management software (e.g. Fleetio), fuel card data can unlock detailed insights like miles per gallon, overall cost per mile for vehicles, or even alert you to when a vehicle’s fuel tank capacity has been exceeded during fill up.
Another important integration to keep in mind is with your accounting system. If you’re using your fuel card to track fuel, or additional purchases like parking and maintenance, you’ll want to choose a fuel card that can easily sync and categorize purchases with your accounting system.
Overall, the integration of these tools provides you with valuable insights into your fleet’s operations, improves fuel efficiency, and enables you to make data-driven decisions to optimize your fleet management.
How to Apply for a Commercial Fuel Card
Applying for a commercial fuel card is relatively straightforward. However, applicants need to prepare documentation such as business registration documents, identification documents, and bank account details. Once applicants fulfill the documentation requirements, they can submit their application.
Unlike many commercial fuel cards, Coast will never ask for a personal guarantee during the application process. To find out more about the Coast difference, read our Frequently Asked Questions.
Choosing the right commercial fuel card can be challenging. It’s essential to evaluate different factors such as fuel types, fuel networks, usage restrictions, cost structure, reporting, and monitoring tools, among others. By following the guidelines above, you’re on your way to making an informed decision that benefits your business’s bottom line.
Regardless of the type of vehicles you operate or how many you have on the road, Coast can get your fleet running.
With the Coast commercial fuel card and online platform you’ll get:
- Easy manager access
- Advanced spending controls
- Visa acceptance
- Security alerts
- Data tracking and reporting
To learn more about Coast, visit CoastPay.com today.