Fleet fuel card management
25. Jul 2022 | By Malena Gärtner
Fleet operators prefer to use fuel cards to handle all aspects of refueling. The advantage is that drivers use the fuel card to make cashless payments. Instead of collecting fuel receipts and refunding the money to the driver, the card is used for automatic billing, and the fleet manager receives all the important information about fuel consumption and costs per vehicle clearly prepared by the fuel card company.
How a fuel card works
Especially if a fleet has many employees who can access vehicles, cards for refueling are a good solution to keep the administrative effort as low as possible. Furthermore, the card has advantages for both sides, the driver and the fleet manager. The drivers use the card like a debit card. The card is issued to the respective driver and provided with a personal PIN. By using the card, the fleet manager gets a detailed evaluation of the costs and the refueling behavior of the drivers. The time-consuming collection of fuel receipts is no longer necessary, since the statements for the individual refueling processes can be viewed online. In connection with a fleet management software, the fuel data can be transferred to the system and displayed in the reporting system for each individual vehicle and driver. Thus, cost drivers can be identified quickly and measures can be initiated. In addition, it can also be traced at any time, which car was fueled when.
In addition, fuel card holders can benefit from lower fuel prices, as the card providers offer discount promotions in cooperation with certain gas stations.
Advantages of fuel cards
The advantage of using a fuel card is the simple administration and full cost control. A budget can be set for the cards and compliance can be monitored for each cost center through regular statements. This enables evaluations such as amount of fuel per vehicle or per driver. In this way, cost drivers can be identified and measures can be taken. The statements can be accessed online and imported into the company's own accounting system and fleet management software.
With the fuel card it is not only possible to buy fuel, but also accessories for the vehicle, such as antifreeze or car washes. Many fuel card providers also have special discounts for their customers, which allows the company to save additional money.
Since the card for refueling works like an EC card, protection against misuse is also provided, since the use of the card can be individually traced back to the employee and the vehicle. Furthermore, it is possible to set a daily, weekly or monthly limit so that the damage can be limited if the card is stolen. If the card is used to purchase fuel for private journeys, this portion can be accounted for via the imputed income.
Disadvantages of fuel cards
The disadvantage of a fuel card is that it cannot be used at all gas stations, but only at those that have entered into a cooperation with the respective provider. Meanwhile, large well-known gas stations also support the largest fuel card providers.
Even if fuel card usage can be analyzed, misuse by the employee cannot be ruled out, e.g. if the card is used when refueling the private car. This only becomes apparent if, for example, fuel consumption increases disproportionately to the kilometers driven.
In addition, fuel card providers often require a minimum turnover to be generated with the card, so the option of using a fuel card from a particular provider may be ruled out for companies with a small fleet of vehicles.
What to consider when introducing a fuel card?
The introduction of a card for refueling must be well considered and the advantages and disadvantages weighed up accordingly. The first thing to analyze is how the vehicle fleet is set up and what is to be covered by the card. For example, it must be taken into account whether the vehicles are only used regionally, nationally or even abroad. Accordingly, it must be checked whether the respective providers also serve these regions and whether sufficient refueling stations are available in the network coverage of the fuel card provider. Furthermore, it must also be questioned which costs can be covered by the card. For trips abroad, for example, the toll charge can also be paid via some providers.
In addition, a card for refueling can be particularly attractive for companies if high quantities of fuel are bought with it, because the higher the turnover, the higher discounts can be negotiated with the respective fuel card provider. In this way, the company can not only save on administrative expenses by using the card, but also reduce its costs through more favorable fuel prices.
In order to obtain a favorable contract for the company cards , the person responsible for the fleet should negotiate conditions individually with the respective fuel card provider. The savings can amount to several percent from provider to provider. The more turnover can be expected due to the size of the fleet, consumption of fuel, car washes, etc., the more intensively the conditions can be negotiated. But beware, some service station operators generally offer their fuel at lower prices. Here it is important to check whether these are covered by the fuel card network or whether the card including the discounts granted is nevertheless more favorable.
However, price is not the only criterion for deciding on a fuel card provider. The quality of the fuel from the included service station operators should also be taken into account.
Can individuals use fuel cards as well?
Offers for individuals have not been widespread to date. Currently, a fuel card for individuals is offered by the service station operators Shell and Total. At Shell, membership of Shell ClubSmart is also a prerequisite. In return, the customer also receives other benefits such as a price guarantee and a bonus points program. Customers can use the Shell card to collect points at Shell service stations as well as from cooperation partners. Well-known partners include Booking.com, a provider of hotels, vacation homes, etc., or SIXT, a provider for booking rental cars. When using the services of these partners, the cardholder receives bonus points. These bonus points can be exchanged for rewards, for example in the Shell Shop.
The Total card, on the other hand, is more suitable for the self-employed, freelancers or small businesses whose monthly fuel consumption is less than 1,500 liters. The Total card has network coverage throughout Europe. In addition, fixed discounts for refueling and variable discounts for car washes are granted at all Total stations nationwide.
For private individuals, there is the option of using a credit card in addition to the pure refueling function. Some credit card providers grant discounts if the credit card is used to purchase fuel, including renowned providers such as Volkswagen, ADAC or Santander Bank.
When choosing a credit card provider, it is important to pay attention to how high the credit card fee is. Furthermore, especially the discounts for the purchase of fuel are limited on a monthly or annual basis. Therefore, the credit card variant is only worthwhile for individuals who also use the credit card for other purposes than just for refueling. Furthermore, it is important to check which additional services are included in the credit card. For example, the ADAC Geldkarte includes additional services such as travel cancellation insurance or legal protection and liability insurance for rental cars. The Santander 1 Plus Visa Card offers an extra such as the possibility to withdraw and pay money worldwide without fees.
In addition to using credit cards as fuel cards, individuals also have the option of using point cards and exchanging the points collected for cash credits or rewards in kind. One well-known provider is Payback, for example, in cooperation with Aral. When using the Payback card, customers receive one point for every 2 liters of fuel.
Fleet fuel card
Operators of a large fleet of vehicles cannot do without a fleet fuel card. The administrative effort would no longer be manageable with the fuel receipt method. The principle of cashless payment also makes it easier for drivers to handle the refueling process. With the card for refueling, they can pay by PIN just like with an EC card and do not need to worry about anything else. Collecting the fuel receipts is no longer necessary. Furthermore, most fuel cards include the fact that toll charges and roadside assistance can also be paid with them.
The disadvantage of a card for the vehicle fleet is that the card cannot be used at every gas station. The fuel card provider only has a cooperation with certain contract gas stations where payment by fuel card is possible. This can become a problem especially when employees make trips abroad. Therefore, when choosing a fuel card provider, pay attention to such special features.
Best overview thanks to fleet fuel card
The larger the number of vehicles in a fleet, the more difficult it becomes to keep track of them. With a fuel card, at least accounting can be simplified and paperwork minimized. The accounting department can view and manage the billed fuel receipts directly online, eliminating the time-consuming process of drivers first having to lay out the money for fuel and then being reimbursed by their employer.
The other advantage of online invoicing is that the data can be transferred directly to the accounting program. Furthermore, the fuel data can also be easily evaluated because all important parameters such as license plate number, price, fuel consumption, mileage, etc. are recorded.
In addition, the budget for drivers can be controlled more easily via a card. For example, it is possible to store a limit in the cards for the number of liters to be filled and the costs. This prevents misuse of the fuel card.
Which fuel card is the best?
There is no general answer to the question of which card is best for a particular fleet. For example, there is the option of providers offering their cards free of charge for refueling, but the network coverage for the card's use is limited. In other cases, payment of a fee for the card is a prerequisite, but these cards also include discounts, so that the costs may be amortized.
To find the right refueling card for your fleet, you should first analyze which services are to be covered by the card. For example, you should ask at which service stations the card is to be used, whether discounts are included when using the card, or which additional services can be paid for with the card.
Furthermore, the billing of the card is also an essential point. For example, is the online fuel card billing compatible with the accounting program, so that data can be easily transferred. In addition, there is also fleet management software, in which the data of the fuel bills are imported and assigned to each vehicle, so that a full cost control per vehicle is possible.
Fuel cards comparison
The range of fuel cards for companies is now very large. The most common providers and their services are presented below:
The largest provider of cards for refueling is DKV. More than 100,000 service stations in 42 countries accept the DKV card as a means of payment. Furthermore, cashless payments can be made with the DKV card at more than 6,500 service stations with low prices. In addition to fuel, the card also serves as a means of payment for parking, tolls and car washes. However, only company car drivers can use the card and not private individuals.
Conveniently, a wide range of services is included for company car users: the DKV card includes a 24-hour breakdown service and assistance in the event of an accident.
DKV has also already expanded its service station network to include charging stations for electric cars. At more than 27,000 stations, it is possible to fill up with electricity using the DKV CARD + CHARGE and pay via the card.
The UTA card is accepted at more than 50,000 service stations in 37 countries. The service station operators belong to a wide variety of companies. The UTA card does not require a minimum turnover, so it can be used for freelancers or small business owners with few vehicles. In addition, additional services such as roadside assistance, tire service or the toll fee can be paid for with the UTA card. The billing data can be transferred directly to fleet software. In addition, however, the online customer account also offers numerous options for exporting the fueling data or displaying various evaluations directly.
The Total card is accepted as a means of payment at 15,000 service stations throughout Europe. There are two types of card. The first is the card for small to medium-sized companies whose fuel requirements are less than 1,500 liters per month.
On the other hand, there is another card for medium-sized to large companies whose fuel requirements exceed 1,500 liters per month. In addition, customers can decide whether the card should only be used nationally in Germany or throughout Europe. As with the UTA card, other fees can be paid with the card, such as tolls or tunnel fees.
For the fleet manager, the fuel card statements are available online via the Total Account and can be imported from there into the accounting program. In addition, the fueling transactions can be monitored in real time so that control is available at all times.
Aral's card offers its customers a discount service. savings of up to two cents per liter can be made at selected preferred service stations, as well as up to one cent at any Aral service station. the card is accepted as a means of payment at over 2,500 service stations in Germany. in addition to fuel, lubricants, automotive services or goods from the store can also be paid for with the Aral card.
The Shell fuel card is accepted at more than 25,000 service stations in 31 European countries. In Germany, the card can be used at 5,000 service stations alone. The card can be used at all Shell service stations as well as at partners such as AVIA, Eni/Agip, Esso, OMV and Westfalen.
Extensive service functions are also integrated into the Shell card, making fuel billing simple and transparent. Data can be viewed in the account and exported for further processing. All issued cards can be managed with the one account, making it possible to create reports and evaluations at the touch of a button.
In addition, the Shell card offers its customers another advantage. Diesel is offered at a fixed regional price within Germany for all card users, so it does not matter what time the customer fills up at the Shell station. Furthermore, the Shell card can also be used for Shell Shop products and services.
The OMV card is particularly advantageous for companies operating internationally. The card is accepted as a means of payment at more than 20,000 service stations in 32 countries. In addition, toll charges can also be paid cashlessly with the card internationally. Which transactions are possible for which driver can be defined individually for each card. The fleet manager has full cost control at all times via the OMV Fleet Service.
The ADAC card is only available to members of the automobile club, and the annual fee is currently €99. The card is particularly suitable for private individuals, as the discounted purchase of fuel is only granted for a maximum of 1,500 liters per year.
The Agip card can be used at over 18,000 service stations in 29 countries. In addition to paying for fuel, the service includes a recovery and towing service, a breakdown service, and an accident and glass breakage service. Furthermore, tolls, tunnel and bridge fees can also be paid cashlessly with the Agip card.
The Avia card can be used to make cashless payments at more than 2,400 service stations in Germany. A tier system can be used to specify all the services that can be purchased with the card, e.g. only fuel or also goods from the store range. In addition, discounts are available if the Avia Express vending station is used. An analysis of consumption and services is also possible for fleet management.
The Raiffeisen card can only be used at regional Raiffeisen service stations and can also be used as a customer card for the Raiffeisen markets in Lower Saxony. In addition, the Raiffeisen Fuel-Card 24 can be used at Raiffeisen service stations in Thuringia and Hesse. With this card, the fuel costs are only debited once a month.
The Jet fuel card is suitable for fleets with a small number of vehicles, as it does not require a minimum purchase of fuel. The disadvantage is that there are also no discounts on fuel. The Jet card can be used for cashless payments at 624 service stations in Germany. A tier system can be used to determine which services can be paid for with the card, e.g. only diesel fuel or all products.
The EDC card is suitable for truck fleets. cashless payments can be made at over 9,000 truck refueling stations throughout europe. The EDC network of available refueling stations is well developed, especially at border crossings and in ports. The EDC card does not require a minimum purchase. likewise, the contract does not have a minimum term, so the card can be used flexibly by companies. Another advantage is that the provider sets a fixed, weekly pricing system for diesel fuel.
The Routex card is accepted at the service stations of numerous cooperation partners, including Aral, BP, Circle K Europe, Eni and OMV. The network comprises around 20,000 service stations in more than 20 countries. The card can also be used at many toll stations and electronic toll systems. Routex-for-Trucks has been designed for truck drivers. Truck drivers can refuel their vehicles at more than 7,000 service stations with modern high-performance pumps and take advantage of many other services.
The Euroshell card is accepted as a means of payment at more than 25,000 service stations throughout Europe, 3,800 of which are in Germany alone. The card allows a discount of up to three cents per liter of fuel to be granted. For the fleet manager, there is a detailed reporting system on the individual purchase transactions made with the Euroshell card.
The HEM card can be used at all Tamoil stations. Drivers can be assigned authorizations in a three-level system. Level 1 is the lowest level, which only entitles drivers to cashless refueling and the purchase of lubricants. Level 2 also allows car washing and vehicle-related services. Level 3 also entitles drivers to purchase goods in the store with the fuel card.
The advantage of the HEM card is that no minimum purchases are required, so it is also of interest to small fleets. In addition, there is also a fuel card for private individuals and for novice drivers (Cool-Driver-Card). With the Cool-Driver-Card, first-time drivers even get a 2 cent discount per liter.
The card is valid at more than 1,049 Hoyer service stations throughout Europe. It is free of charge and also includes free parking, showers and towel service at Hoyer service stations. There is a fixed-price contract for fuel. Furthermore, the Hoyer card can be used for cashless payment of tolls or breakdown service.
The card of Logpay can be used Germany far at 6,000 Aral and BP gas stations as well as European-wide at over 12,000 gas stations among other things in Poland, Austria, Luxembourg, the Netherlands or Portugal. The enterprise Logpay transport service GmbH belongs majority to the Volkswagen group.
The Westfalen Card can be used as a means of payment throughout Germany at all stations belonging to the Westfalen Group, Markant, Avia, Aral, Agip as well as OMW and Total. With this card, too, it is possible to select different authorization levels for drivers. In addition, there is the Compact Card 44 for drivers, with which they can be allocated a monthly payment in kind, which they can use, for example, for offers from the store.
With more than 30 partners, the Novofleet card can be used at over 5,000 gas stations in Germany, Austria and Luxembourg. Jet, Star, Oil!, Q1, HEM, Hoyer, ED, BayWa, Bft, GO and the Benzinkontor, among others, accept the means of payment. The advantage is that these gas stations generally offer discounted fuel. There are also over 300 gas stations in the vicinity with discounted fuel prices on the highways.
The card from SVG can be used to make cashless payments at over 60,000 service stations throughout Europe. In addition, the card includes services such as billing for roadside assistance or tolls, as well as other services. The SVG card is available in several variants, e.g. SVG-Esso, SVG-Euroshell, SVG-DKV-Card or SVG-Total Card. The disadvantage is that for each service station, only the associated card can be used to take advantage of the discount.
This card can be used at all Star service stations and 70 BayWa fuel terminals. The prerequisite for using the card is a minimum monthly purchase of 500 liters, in return for which the user receives a discount of 4 cents per liter.
The choice of fuel card providers is huge, and it is possible to use the card for other services in addition to purchasing fuel. For fleets, the card is a great way to simplify and better control fuel billing through cashless payment. Integrating billing data into the accounting system or fleet management system makes it all the easier to manage fuel costs and keep an eye on the budget.