Fuel costs can quickly accumulate across the vast distances that fleet drivers travel to get from loading to delivery points along the nation’s freeways. For managers of fleets, one of the chief operating concerns is to lower costs as much as possible, including in the area of fuel spending. One of the best ways for fleets to save money on fuel is with fuel cards.
Here’s how your fleet can use a fuel card to reduce your fuel costs.
What Is a Fuel Card and Why Should You Get One?
Fuel cards are cards that trucking companies can use to save money on fuel. Providers of fuel cards partner with fuel stations, which offer per-gallon discounts to drivers who have the card. Fuel stations do this because participating in fuel card programs encourages truckers to fuel up at their facilities.
Each station or fuel provider has its own agreement under any fuel card program they participate in, so the discount you get may vary from station to station. Even if the discount is relatively small, the savings add up over time. Because truckers drive so many miles, fuel card discounts can make a considerable difference to a company’s bottom line. The more participating fuel stations there are along your routes and the more often your drivers fill up at these stations, the more savings your company accrues.
There are many kinds of fuel cards available, but you can divide them into two basic categories — retail-minus and cost-plus.
- Retail-minus: These cards offer the simplest kinds of programs. They provide you with a discount in cents on the retail cost of the fuel you purchase, which makes it easy to calculate your savings at each fill-up.
- Cost-plus: These kinds of cards use an industry base fuel cost and add other fees to calculate a reduced fuel cost. This setup is complicated, and it’s harder to determine how much you’re saving, but these cards can increase your savings in states with high taxes on fuel.
Depending on the setup of your fuel card program, you’ll either see savings right away at the pump or in a rebate check at the end of each month. Make sure you understand the details of a fuel card program before you sign up for it, as each program is slightly different.
Benefits of a Fuel Card
Fuel cards offer a range of benefits for fleet drivers and managers alike, including discounts on fuel and various other advantages. Fleet fuel cards with discounts allow drivers to fuel up at stations throughout the U.S. and save money while doing so for the fleet companies who use these services. Fuel-card accounts also make it easy for fleet managers to track spending and costs from various money-saving metrics. Is a fuel card worth it? Take a look at the following benefits and decide for yourself.
1. Discounts on Fuel
The primary benefit of a fuel card is the money your fleet can save on fuel. The discounts you get vary from station to station, but even small discounts add up over time and can eventually result in significant savings. Fuel is a considerable cost for trucking companies, so finding ways to save on it can be a significant boost to the bottom line. These discounts can be especially useful when waiting for payments for deliveries.
One of the biggest advantages of a fuel card is that it will generally be accepted at a variety of fuel stations. This stands in marked contrast to gas station rewards cards, which only work at locations of the issuing supplier. Therefore, fuel cards give drivers the option to stop at different fuel stops along lengthy delivery routes and fuel up as needed. Without a fuel card, drivers would have to skimp by until they approach the vicinity of a rewards-card issuer or pay the full price for a tank of fuel.
3. Cost-Efficient Mapping
For fleet managers, fuel cards also make it easier to map out the most low-cost possible routes for each of the deliveries handled by the drivers in each fleet. With a national map on your office computer, you can pinpoint all the locations of fuel sources that accept a particular fuel card and arrange the routes of your fleet drivers accordingly.
4. Lines of Credit
Some of the best fuel cards offer each driver in a fleet a line of credit that auto-renews each week. This allows drivers to fuel up from anywhere without fear of exhausting a preexisting credit supply within the span of a given route. With a line of credit, drivers can get to the locations they need when traveling from one point to another during a shipping assignment.
5. Purchase Controls
When you assign all your drivers a fuel card, you can track each driver’s spending at all the stops along a given route. This way, you can ensure that they follow the assigned delivery routes and keep spending down to the essentials budgeted for a given trip. Typically, each time a transaction occurs, the driver is required to enter a personal identification number (PIN) that allows you to track the location and amount of the purchase in question. You can even use these controls to set parameters on the number of purchases each driver can make during a day or week along particular routes.
6. Alerts and E-Receipts
Depending on the routes and lengths of a given delivery task, you might find conventional purchase controls too restrictive for the drivers in your fleet. As an alternative, you can set the fuel card accounts to an alert system that will keep you informed of any questionable activity that occurs on a given card. For example, if a driver makes a purchase at a location outside the delivery route in question, you will instantly be alerted of the time and place of this transaction. Likewise, if a driver fills a tank with unleaded fuel instead of diesel, you will instantly be informed of the truck and driver involved in this rogue transaction.
7. Centralized Billing
Fleet-wide fuel-card spending can be tracked at the macro- and micro-levels. If you operate a fleet from one location, you can observe the collective fueling costs of your fleet according to weekly, monthly, quarterly and annual statements. Alternately, if you operate fleets from several different locations, you can examine the cost calculations from each individual lot as well as collectively across all locations.
9. Online Account Management
With a company fuel-card account, your office will have access to an online tracking system that will make it easy to manage issues pertaining to the fuel cards issued to the drivers in your fleet. If you need to update the information on a given card, it can all be done on the fuel-card issuer’s encrypted online server. Likewise, if you need to cancel a card or replace a set of cards, that too can be done from your company’s user account on the issuer’s website.
9. Electronic Data Files
Fuel-card accounts make it easy to organize accounting data into conveniently arrange files and spreadsheets. Depending on your preferred system for arranging data, you could opt to have the figures converted to Excel pivot tables for reporting purposes. This can be done to track fuel expenses by state, driver and truck.
10. Fuel Tax Exemptions
If your fleet qualifies for tax exemptions, you can apply these to your fuel costs at the time of each purchase. The option can be used to excise taxes at the state and federal levels.
EFS Fuel Cards From FactorLoads
FactorLoads offers Electronic Funds Source (EFS) fuel cards that can help your fleet get significant savings on fuel. If you are a FactorLoads customer, you can order as many cards as you want for free. We’ll provide you with an EFS account that you set up according to your needs. We’ll also transfer your payments to your cards for you.
Every fleet is different, so we believe their fuel programs should be unique too. We’ll create a customized plan so that your program fits your business goals and needs perfectly. Our contracts are also straightforward, and you’ll never run into hidden fees or arbitrary minimums.
With the FactorLoads EFS card, you get discounts at most major fuel stations. These discounts are comparable to those that the largest fleets in the U.S. get, enabling small and medium owner-operator fleets to compete with the big names. We also make sure it’s easy for you to track fuel spending across your fleet, saving you time and increasing your visibility into your operations. In addition to fuel discounts and tracking, you also get the following benefits with FactorLoads EFS fuel cards:
- EFS Debit Cards: With FactorLoads, your EFS card also works as a debit card so your drivers can access funds at ATMs and storefront locations.
- EFS Checks: You can also issue EFS checks using the funds on your EFS card, allowing you to use your funds even when paying with a card isn’t an option.
- Two Way Transfers: With EFS cards from FactorLoads, you have plenty of options for how to manage your funds. You can transfer funds from a personal or business checking account to your EFS account and transfer funds from your EFS account to a checking account.
- EFS Credit: In addition, you can use your EFS account to apply for an EFS credit line.
FactorLoads Can Help Offset Costs
For fleets of all sizes, fuel costs are one of the biggest expenses that can cut into a company’s bottom line. Therefore, it is crucial to have an account with a fuel-card service that makes it possible to get rebates on fuel at as many stations as possible nationwide. Another way for a fleet company to lower its operating costs is through freight factoring, which turns unpaid invoices into immediate cash for the drivers who carry out deliveries.
At FactorLoads, we work with small and medium-sized trucking companies to ensure that your drivers get the money they need within 24 hours of completing an order.
Factoring for Small and Medium Fleets
At FactorLoads, we develop a freight factoring program customized to suit the needs of each trucking business. We understand how schedules can vary and that certain smaller trucking fleets run deliveries on a less predictable timetable than some of the larger, national trucking chains. As such, we tailor our factoring services to meet the demands of smaller companies that operate fleetingly and sporadically.
Optimal for Upstart Freight Brokers
If your fleet is relatively new, and you are working on expanding business on a regional or larger scale, some of the overhead logistics you deal with can make it challenging to grow at the desired rate. This is particularly true when working with shippers that delay payments by four to six weeks from the time of delivery.
At FactorLoads, we commit to providing an accessible flow of cash that you can use to cover business expenses as they arise, as long as you fulfill the loads. This cashflow frees you from the complications that can arise when shippers prevent you from earning money in real-time.
Multiple Payment Options
Depending on the size or location of your fleet, you might favor one type of payment method over another. At FactorLoads, we offer several different payment options for the fleets we serve. We also make our services transparent with no hidden fees or confusing, easy-to-miss contract stipulations. This way, you can enjoy smooth operations with money available when your drivers need it to cover the various costs associated with routes and deliveries.
With FactorLoads, EFS and Comdata fuel cards are available to customers for service accessibility at fuel stations and on the road. Contact us today to learn more about our freight factoring program.