Best Fuel Cards Guide
While many of the expenses involved in trucking can be predicted or anticipated to some degree, fuel costs are by far the most variable costs associated with operating a vehicle. The good news is that fuel cards can help drivers, owner-operators, and fleets effectively manage fuel and maintenance costs for their trucks.
Fuel cards are payment cards that can be used to purchase fuel and (depending on the specifics of the program and the controls set by the fleet owner) additional goods and services. In this way, fuel cards save you money at the pump, earn you rewards and benefits, and help keep your finances more secure.
Here’s everything you need to know about fuel cards and the options available through the DAT fuel card referral program.
The Benefits of the Best Fleet Fuel Cards
Signing up with a fuel card program can provide you or your fleet with a number of competitive business advantages. The following are some of the most significant:
- Convenient cashless payments. When you sign up for a fuel card, you or your drivers no longer need to have cash on hand to pay for gas, which benefits both the drivers and the company in a few ways. For one, this improves drivers’ safety and security while on the road, as they don’t need to carry large sums of cash in their vehicles. On the administrative side, companies no longer have to ensure that each driver has enough cash to cover their expenses over their route — instead, all fuel expenses can be consolidated and managed through a single account.
- More consistent fuel pricing. Fuel cards provide at-the-pump savings, letting you purchase fuel at discounted or wholesale prices, which are more stable across geographic regions. This often proves invaluable for drivers and carriers — especially if you’re just starting out — and can dramatically reduce your fuel expenses.
- Rewards points and bonuses. The vast majority of fuel cards come with a reward program of some kind, with many offering additional benefits like free showers and discounts on other purchases. The points you accrue can typically be redeemed for items like fuel, supplies, meal purchases, or — if you save up enough with some programs — even gear for your vehicle. Different card programs and stations will offer different perks and prices at the pump, so make sure to research the options when determining the best fuel rewards card for your business. For instance, when comparing the features and advantages of Comdata and WEX, you’ll see that Comdata offers 65 percent off of tires and 20 percent off of select hotels, while WEX has no monthly fees.
- Increased driver safety. For several reasons, fuel cards are much safer for drivers to carry. First, since the driver is not carrying cash, they’re less likely to be accused of wrongdoing or held up at the pump. Second, the fuel card can only be used to purchase fuel, which eliminates the need for drivers to hold on to their receipts.
- Reduced paperwork and admin tasks. Carrier operations of every size can cut back on the amount of paperwork they have to process by making the switch to fuel cards. With only one account to manage, you’ll also only be receiving a single detailed invoice, saving you the hassle of keeping track of or tracking down paper receipts. This increases visibility into your operations, as you’ll have a record of each time the vehicle was filled up, including the type of fuel, location, and total costs.
- Greater spending control and reduced fraud. Most fuel card programs provide access to real-time online services that allow you to easily add or remove drivers and vehicles, specify purchase controls for your cards, pay your bills, and more. Some programs are only accepted at certain stations, which helps keep fuel fraud from eating into your profit margins.
- Secure payments. Fuel cards function much like credit and debit cards in that they require a PIN or some other form of secondary authentication in order to process transactions. This helps keep both the driver and the company more secure, as only an authorized user will be able to make fuel payments with the card.
- Monthly reports. Every month, you’ll receive a detailed report for each card on your account. These reports include information for each transaction like time of purchase, location, fuel station, and operator, which allows you to monitor and manage company finances seamlessly. Transaction-level reporting can be useful for identifying potential fraud or suspected wrongdoing, as well.
- Many options to choose from. You might be wondering, “What is the best fuel card?” But that isn’t the most straightforward question to answer, as different fuel card programs are designed to benefit different kinds of fleets. Whether you’re operating a car, van, HGV fleet, or a combination of the three, you may want to consider one fuel card over another based on the particular benefits and discounts it offers.
The Best Fuel Cards for Owner-Operators
The DAT Fuel Card referral program is designed to help truckers save on fuel prices. How? We have integrated discounts from our fuel card partners right into the DAT One mobile app, which you can use to search for more affordable fuel along your route.
Here are two fuel card programs that DAT’s experts recommend, based on their convenience, reliability, and variety of services:
Whether you’re managing a fleet of three trucks or three hundred, WEX fuel cards can help reduce your fuel spending. WEX fleet cards are accepted at more than 95 percent of U.S. gas stations — meaning you can always find the cheapest fuel, no matter where you’re traveling.
WEX gives you spending controls over product type, daily dollar limits, and even time and location that the card can be used. Security features match the card number with the odometer and other metrics to ensure that purchase amounts are legitimate. If WEX detects an unauthorized use of a fuel card, they’ll automatically block the transaction and notify you right away.
Designed to support your growing small business, WEX’s model waives monthly fees, has very low transaction charges, and allows you to check your spending power and track fuel purchases in real-time online or through a convenient mobile app. WEX fuel cards let you earn discounts that can be applied toward fuel, hotels, new tires, wireless services, maintenance, equipment, and breakdown costs, as part of the WEX Edge savings network. They also handle all the accounting, so all you have to do to get an up-to-date expense report is click “download” — no more chasing down gas receipts!
WEX offers three different fuel card options for truckers:
- Wex Fleet Card. The best fit for growing small businesses, this card starts saving you money at the pump and earning you rewards right away. Drivers can stay on track and avoid time-consuming detours in search of the right fuel station with the WEX Fleet card. Accepted at all major fuel chains and at more than 45,000 service locations across the country, this card allows you to gas up just about anywhere. The WEX Connect app also makes it simple to search for accessible discounted fuel along your route.
- Wex FlexCard. This card saves you $0.03/gallon on fuel wherever you go and waives setup and card fees. The other primary difference between the Fleet card and FlexCard is that the latter allows you to carry a monthly balance.
- Retail fuel cards. WEX can also help you choose a fuel card from popular retail fuel brands. This can be useful if you already have a preferred place to refuel or if you’re looking for specific rebates to benefit your business.
Comdata offers a robust fuel card program that consolidates your fuel and fleet management services into a single, easy-to-use app. Comdata’s fuel program includes a setup charge and a $5/month service fee per card, but does not charge transaction fees. Comdata makes it simple both to send one-time deposits to drivers, vendors, and other recipients and to set up recurring payments to drivers’ accounts for any sudden expenses or cash-on-hand needs. The program can also help automate your drivers’ paycheck deposits, saving you time and further simplifying your finance management.
Comdata offers a range of valuable benefits and perks. The National Tire Discount Program can save you up to 65 percent on the retail price of tires and retreads. They also have a network of hotel partners that can guarantee you 20 percent off the published price of rooms. Data and analytic services offer visibility into the performance and spend of your fleet, while the Comdata Cat Scale app can save you up to 30 minutes at weigh stations.
Comdata offers a few fuel card options for truckers, carriers, and owner-operators:
- Comdata Fleet Card. This single-source fuel payment solution, designed for fleets of up to 50 trucks, allows you to monitor fuel expenditures, manage your account online, and simplify your fuel expenses. Accepted at more than 8,000 locations, this card will get you cash prices at the pump at Pilot Flying J stations with additional cents off the gallon.
- Comdata OnRoad Card. The OnRoad Card provides an all-in-one management program that allows you to easily manage spending and driver funding, and is designed for fleets of 51 or more. It includes spending controls and paperless transactions for increased efficiency.
- Comdata Mastercard Corporate Fleet Card. One of the best credit cards for fuel, the Comdata Mastercard can be used at more than 400,000 fuel and service locations, making it a perfect fit for tracking your expenses.
Discover the Best Fuel Card for You
Interested in learning more about which fuel card program makes the most sense for your business? Save money on fuel and more with DAT’s fuel card partners, learn more today.