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Fleet And Fuel Cards

What Is A Fleet Credit Card? | A Guide For Fleet Owners

 What are fleet credit cards, and what advantages do they offer? Find out if your business could benefit from a fleet credit card and how to select one. 

fleet credit card

Efficiently managing and tracking fuel expenses is a vital consideration for any business that relies on a fleet of company vehicles. The solution might be to apply for a fleet credit card.

If you’ve heard of fleet credit cards, you might think that they’re primarily or exclusively used by companies in the transportation industry. In reality, these cards are worth consideration for any type of business that needs to optimize management of fuel costs.

In this article, we’ll start by explaining what fleet fuel cards are and how they work. We’ll then look at how they can help businesses cut costs and administrative headaches. Finally, we’ll go over some factors to consider in picking the right fleet card for your business.

Table Of Contents

What Are Fleet Credit Cards?

A fleet of electric yellow delivery vans are parking in front of green trees.

A fleet credit card is a specialized type of business credit card, meant specifically to be issued to employees who operate company vehicles. They’re usually issued by oil companies or by specialty credit firms catering specifically to the fleet card market.

Because paying for fuel is the main ongoing expense of operating a company vehicle fleet for most businesses, many sources simply refer to fleet credit cards as “fuel cards” or “gas cards.” However, some of these types of cards can be used for maintenance expenses as well.

How Fleet Credit Cards Work

Like other business credit cards, fleet cards typically include a card number, a company name, and an authorized user. They have a magnetic stripe so they can be swiped at point-of-sale terminals. Some newer fleet cards also have a chip allowing them to be inserted or tapped.

Ordinary company credit cards might be issued only to certain executives or sales representatives to use for various expenses, but fleet credit cards allow any employee who uses a company vehicle — such as a delivery van — to pay for fuel when necessary.

Benefits Of Fleet Credit Cards

Fleet credit cards can provide some important advantages for your business — not just in reducing the amount you spend on fueling your company fleet, but also in improved efficiency and productivity.

Better Cost Tracking And Control

By issuing fleet credit cards to all of your employees who operate company vehicles, you’ll have much more detailed and timely information on spending. With some fleet cards, you can track spending online day-by-day instead of waiting until receipts are collected at month’s end.

Using fleet credit cards can also give you much greater control over expenses. For example, you might want to set limits on spending per transaction or based on the day or week, or choose whether the cards can only be used for gas or other expenses such as car washes.

Potential Savings

Potential Savings at the pump with fleet credit card

With gas prices high and volatile, companies that rely on vehicle fleets need to save money at the pump any way they can. This is one of the key areas where fleet credit cards can help your business.

Many fleet cards can save your business money in the form of discounts or rebates on fuel purchases. Although the amount you get back may only be a few cents per gallon, this can add up quickly for businesses that are buying hundreds or thousands of gallons of gas each month.

Reduced Administrative Work

reduced administrative work with fleet credit cards

Managing a fleet of company vehicles can create a major administrative overhead. Using fleet credit cards can greatly cut down the amount of administrative work that comes with maintaining a company fleet.

As already mentioned, fleet credit cards allow fleet managers to track spending on fuel in real time. They can also make it easy to tally and analyze fuel costs to see ways your company could potentially increase efficiency.

If you require employees to pay for fuel for their company vehicles out of pocket, reviewing expense reports and receipts and providing reimbursement each month can be a significant administrative burden by itself. Fleet credit cards eliminate this problem.

Considerations In Picking A Fleet Credit Card

Although getting a fleet credit card can have big upsides, there’s more to the decision than simply deciding whether or not a fleet credit card is right for your company. Not all fleet credit cards are created equal.

Choosing the best fleet card option from the many available requires considering a number of factors.

Staying In The Loop: Merchant Networks

Perhaps the most important thing to understand when choosing a fleet credit card is that most cards are a “closed loop” system. This means that the card can only be used within a network of certain merchants — in many cases, gas stations associated with the issuing oil company.

With this in mind, you will need to make sure any fleet credit card you pick has many in-network fuel stations in the region where your company fleet will be operating, or better yet find an “open loop” fleet card that isn’t restricted to a merchant network.

If your employees have to waste time and gas hunting for a service station where they can use their card, it will defeat the purpose of giving them a fleet credit card in the first place.

Minimum Purchases And Maximum Rebates

Getting discounts or rebates on your fuel purchases might sound great — and it is — but those benefits can come with some strings attached. Understanding the terms and conditions for discounts and rewards is essential to getting the most out of a fleet credit card for your company.

Some fleet credit cards require a minimum number of gallons of fuel to be purchased each month to get rebates and rewards. There might also be a cap on the amount of money your company can get back in rebates each month.

Factors like this mean some fleet cards are better than others depending on the size of your fleet. If you aren’t buying enough fuel, you could miss out on discounts with some cards, while companies with larger fleets might quickly exceed the cap for others.


Fleet Credit card data security

Security is a vital concern for any type of company credit card. Since you might potentially be handing out fleet cards to dozens of employees, you’ll want peace of mind about how to handle one being lost or stolen.

When picking a fleet credit card, make sure you thoroughly research the security features available. Are there alerts for unusual transactions? What are the steps necessary to lock or deactivate a card?

Make sure to research these questions for all of the fleet card options you’re considering before you make a decision. You don’t want to find out that your card’s security features are lacking only after an employee tells you their card is missing.

Personal Guarantees

Getting a fleet credit card for your business isn’t quite as straightforward as simply deciding you want one and signing up. As with any credit card, fleet credit cards have an application process, and the requirements vary from card to card.

Many fleet credit cards require a personal guarantee. In essence, this means that they consider the personal credit history of the business owner in the application process and that the owner is personally responsible for the repayment of the business credit account.

Make sure you understand such requirements when applying so you can have confidence that your fleet credit card is a smart decision from both a business and personal standpoint.

Other Considerations

Although factors like security and merchant networks might be most important in narrowing down your fleet credit card options, there are many other considerations you may want to take into account when making your final decision.

Properly calculating the amount your business can save with a fleet credit card means understanding any fees you must pay.

For example, some cards charge per-transaction fees or fees for processing certain types of payment. You’ll want to find out about fees before you apply, not only when you get your first billing statement.

Another factor to think about is that while many people think of fleet credit cards as being only for fuel expenses, some (but not all) can also be used for other fleet-related expenses, such as car washes and parking. Consider whether this would be an advantage to your business.

Why Pick Coast For Your Fleet Card?

Man using a fleet credit card at the gas pump

The Coast fleet and fuel card offers features and flexibility. The Coast fleet card has no minimum purchase for rebates and no rebate caps, making it suitable for fleets of five vehicles or five hundred. It also doesn’t require a personal guarantee

Coast is an “open loop” system — the Coast card is accepted at any gas station that accepts Visa. Fleet managers can access real-time transaction reporting and set up controls by card, driver, or vehicle. Coast cards are microchipped for security and can be instantly locked or deactivated if lost.

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