A fuel card is a beneficial tool when you’re looking to reduce the costs of operating a fleet, but there are many options on the market. WEX vs. Fuelman, Wawa vs. Shell, for example. So how can you determine which one is the best fit for your fleet?
We’ll explain the most essential criteria business owners and fleet managers need to consider when choosing a fuel card, and then take a look at the pros and cons of five popular options.
What Is A Fuel Card?
A fuel card, also sometimes called a fleet card, is a specialized type of company credit card that businesses issue to employees who drive company vehicles.
Employees can use their company-issued fuel card to pay for gas instead of paying out of their own pockets and then submitting receipts for reimbursement.
Unlike a normal company credit card that can be used for any type of purchase, a fuel card can only be used for fuel.
What Are The Different Types Of Fuel Cards?
Many fuel cards are offered as a product by large service station chains associated with major oil companies, such as Shell and Wawa. Other fuel card options are available from companies that specialize in providing fuel cards as their main line of business.
Although they’re often referred to as “fleet credit cards,” most fuel cards are charge cards, which means the balance must be paid off every month. And while other fuel cards allow businesses to carry a balance from month to month, these often have reduced rebates.
Some fuel cards can be used at virtually any gas station. These are called “open loop” cards. Others, called “closed loop” cards, can only be used or only offer rebates within a network of gas stations associated with a particular company.
Why Use A Fuel Card For Small Businesses?
If your business operates a company vehicle fleet, using a fuel card can save you significant amounts of money and time.
Fuel cards often give discounts or rebates on purchases made at participating gas stations. While this is usually only a few cents off per gallon of gas or a few cents back per dollar spent, these rewards can add up to significant savings.
Using fuel cards can also reduce the administrative work of operating a company fleet. Managers no longer have to collect and process receipts and cut reimbursement checks to drivers, and all of the fleet fuel and maintenance expenses can be tracked in one statement.
Compared to simply giving every driver a company credit card, fuel cards also offer much greater security since they can only be used at service stations, and many also allow managers to set spending controls.
Things To Consider When Choosing A Fuel Card
If you’ve done even cursory research on fuel cards, you’re probably already aware of several popular options. Trying to compare them head to head (for example, Fuelman vs. Wawa) can be frustrating as you evaluate each option’s individual features.
To make the best choice for your business, a better strategy is to take a step back and consider the factors that will make the most difference.
Open Loop Acceptance
One of the most important things to keep in mind when picking a fuel card for your business is that not all fuel cards can be used at all gas stations.
When you’re comparing two cards, such as Fuelman vs. Shell Fleet Plus, the answer may come down to what gas stations are common in the area where your company fleet operates.
Open loop fuel cards can be used at any gas station, so your employees can fuel up wherever it’s convenient without having to worry about wasting time (and gas) by going out of their way to find a station that accepts their card.
The best fuel cards will give business owners and fleet managers access to detailed data about when, where, and how much they’re being used, and provide the information in near-real time.
Usage reporting can give you better insight into your fleet operations so you can find ways to improve efficiency.
As with any other payment method your business uses, you want to have confidence that your company’s fuel card is secure.
If you do have a security issue, or if any other questions or concerns about your company’s fuel cards come up, you want to have the assurance that you’ll be able to get effective help.
Make sure the fuel card you select for your business offers personal, prompt support from a real human being.
Of course you’ve heard the adage that time is money. Using fuel cards can save your business money, but it can have an even better impact on your bottom line if your fuel cards integrate with other tools you’re using, like accounting software.
Although many fuel cards advertise discounts and rebates for businesses, it’s important to read the fine print and make sure you thoroughly understand the conditions and structure of any discounts, rebates, or other financial benefits that a fuel card offers.
Some fuel cards require your business to spend a minimum amount to qualify for rewards. Others cap rebates at a certain amount.
Analyze how much your business is likely to spend before selecting a fuel card to make sure that you get consistent rebates and don’t miss out if you spend too much or too little.
Top Fuel Cards
Below, you’ll find an overview of some common fuel card offerings, with information based on publicly available resources and materials. For the most up-to-date information, reach out to the fuel card provider.
Coast aims to be the most flexible fleet and fuel card option for businesses of any size, whether they operate fleets of five vehicles or 50.
Coast is an open-loop card accepted at any station that accepts Visa. Fleet managers can get real-time reporting data and set spending controls for individual drivers, vehicles, and cards.
Coast offers a 2¢ per gallon rebate on all gas purchases with no minimum purchase requirements or rebate caps, and 1% cashbacks at other merchants.
With Coast, fleet managers can track spending by transactions, by driver, and by vehicle with line-item purchase detail. Coast also offers integration with popular telematics, fleet management, and accounting software to save managers time.
- “Open loop” acceptance
- Real-time reporting
- Robust spending controls
- Useful integrations
- Possibly not as well-suited to new businesses due to credit requirements
- Not available in North and South Dakota, Nevada, and Canada
WEX offers a large variety (50+) of card options for small business fleets, trucking companies, government fleets, and others.
WEX allows managers to track spending by driver and set spending controls based on criteria like driver, dollar amount, and time of day. Businesses can also save on things like fuel and tires with discounts from merchants in the WEX network.
GPS vehicle tracking is also available to WEX fuel card customers. This allows managers to know where vehicles are at any given time and analyze driver performance, idle time, and other metrics.
WEX also partners with several large gas station chains to administer their own branded fuel cards.
- Accepted at 95% of U.S. gas stations
- Advanced spending controls
- Detailed, custom reporting features
- A “closed loop” card
- No dedicated account manager for customer service
- Many types of fees
Fuelman offers several different plans for managing fuel and maintenance costs for business and government fleets. Fuelman also has specific options for businesses that only operate diesel vehicles and for EV and carbon-neutral fleets.
For fleet maintenance, Fuelman advertises plans with the ability to track, schedule, sign off on, and pay for maintenance work all from a single, centralized account.
Like other leading fleet cards, Fuelman allows fleet managers to track expenses by driver and vehicle and set up spending controls. To prevent misuse, managers can get real-time alerts for unusual transactions and can turn individual cards on and off.
- Rebates that may help your company’s bottom line
- Fraud protection features with driver PINs
- Managers can set spending rules based on time of purchase or
- purchase amount
- Limited acceptance
- May not be usable at your preferred stations
- “Extended network pricing” could result in fees at certain merchants even within Fuelman’s network
4) Wawa Fleet Card
The gas station chain Wawa offers its own fuel card, the Wawa Fleet card, co-branded with WEX.
Like other popular options, this fleet card offers spending controls with PINs to use at the pump and automatic expense reporting.
Customers can take advantage of the SmartHub app to monitor their Wawa fuel card, look up driver IDs, cancel lost or stolen cards, and make payments.
- A good choice if Wawa is your preferred gas station chain
- Ability to set controls by card or driver
- No setup, annual, or card fees
- Other fleet cards offer more rebates
- Limited acceptance outside Wawa stations
5) Shell Fleet Plus
Also offered in partnership with WEX, Shell Fleet Plus is one of several business fuel card options available from the Shell gas station chain. In addition to Shell stations, it offers discounts on maintenance at some Jiffy Lube locations.
Shell Fleet Plus offers tiered rebates based on how many gallons of fuel your business purchases in a month, with six cents per gallon at the highest tier.
Additionally, Shell Fleet Plus provides spending control and fraud protection features that fleet managers have come to expect, including various types of purchase limits, driver IDs, and the ability to quickly cancel lost or stolen cards.
- A good choice if there are many Shell stations where your business fleet operates
- Fraud protection with driver PINs
- Offers rebates
- Limited acceptance outside Shell stations
- No dedicated account manager
- Tiered rebate structure means the value your business gets from rebates may vary
Research, Compare, And Save With Coast
When you’re trying to pick the best fuel card for your business, assessing the advantages of one option compared to another — for example, the Shell Fleet Plus fuel card vs. Wawa Fleet — can be confusing.
To make the task easier, focus on the most important selection criteria: wide acceptance, detailed reporting, customer service you can be confident in, strong security features, time-saving integrations, and rebate features that will consistently save your business money.
When you compare features, Coast offers a flexible option to help businesses save money on gas no matter what size fleet they operate, with “open loop” Visa acceptance, real-time reporting, powerful spending controls, and integrations with tools like Intuit Quickbooks.
To find out more, visit CoastPay.com today.