How To Choose The Best Fuel Card
Whether you are a single-truck owner-operator, or the owner of a multi-truck fleet, fuel accounts for up to a quarter of your expenses (ATRI, 2018), which is probably why you are looking for the best fuel card option. Any efficiencies, either time or cost, that you can introduce through your fuel purchases will drop profit directly to your bottom line. It makes sense, then, to find the program that best suits you. The following are some considerations:
This is the most obvious to consider. Why would you go for a $.25 savings per gallon of diesel if you have a card that can provide north of $.50? Additionally, as a “small guy”, you want to find a program that gives you the benefit of fleet pricing rather than looking at you as an individual. The larger fleets benefit from pricing based on the volume of fuel purchased – try to find a card program that will include you as part of a larger pool thereby increasing your savings.
It does you no good to receive a $1 per gallon discount at only one location! Be sure you take into consideration a.) where your lanes are located and b.) where the card is accepted. The best card will be accepted at hundreds if not into the thousands of locations – these will be called “in-network locations” and you’ll find the maximum fuel discount and lowest transaction fees there. You should also make sure you can easily find those locations! Make sure your card has a mobile app with access to your drivers’ locations. It will give your drivers directions to the closest, in-network location to maximize its benefit to you.
Do you want your drivers to only use the card at the pump or do you want to allow them to purchase food and other sundries at their stop? Do you want to set a spending limit per purchase, per day, per item bought? Do you want to make payroll advances on their card and allow them to get cash at an ATM? The fuel card is much, much more than your standard credit card. Make sure the program you choose has a customer-friendly portal that makes the use of control easy on you.
These days it’s all about the data and making it work for you. Your quarterly IFTA reporting can be a nightmare of receipt collections, mileage documentation, truck logs, etc. Make sure your fuel card program provides you with reporting from all transactions within their portal. This is another reason control is so important – seeing every transaction with full transparency from your fuel card provider ensures the controls you put in place are doing their job.
Make sure the card you choose gives you access to other discounts as well. Tires and maintenance make up nearly 13% of your average marginal costs per mile (ATRI, 2018). A fuel card that gives you discounts for these is important (you should only have to provide your DOT number to have the discount automatically applied). Roadside assistance is yet another way for a card provider to set itself apart.
Fuel Card Funding
Your program should be able to receive payments via ACH, wire, Western Union, and other 3rd party checks. Another popular source, and one many of our clients utilize, is having your factor send funds from your factored invoices directly to your card. This is oftentimes faster and cheaper than you receiving a wire or ACH.
You can take a lot of time comparing programs – time that will keep you off the road. We at Provident have done the research and have partnered with TransConnect Services (TCS). We fund your fuel card from factored proceeds the same day, free of charge if you chose to work with TCS. Here are some highlights provided by Sharon Sampson of TCS:
“The TransConnect Services (TCS) mission is simple: To help level the playing field between small to medium-sized trucking companies and the larger fleets. At TCS, the aim is for each client, no matter the size of their fleet, to not only enjoy the advantage of exceptional customer service but to also receive the best savings possible. The folks at TCS are committed to responsive, personal service that makes a difference.
The TCS team works hard to bring its TCS Fuel Card clients more savings and more flexibility. TCS clients can save an average of 69 cents* a gallon when they fuel up at more than 1,000 nationwide in-network locations, including TA®, Petro Stopping Centers®, TA Express®, AMBEST, Fuel City, Petroleum Wholesale L.P., Road Ranger, Roady’s, and Sapp Bros. Also, TCS clients pay $0 transaction fees on fuel purchases at all in-network locations.
Because TCS serves small to medium-sized trucking companies as well as larger fleets, the TCS Fuel Card can be customized to fit clients’ needs. TCS is constantly improving its fuel card technology and safety features to always provide the best service. TCS clients know that any questions they have can be answered 24/7 – literally – with round-the-clock customer service. That’s the TCS way.
*Average savings of 69 cents per gallon is based on actual in-network TCS client transactions 0f 2022.
For more information on either our factoring services or to get more information about TCS please click here to learn more.
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