Key takeaways

  • Fleet fuel cards are made for commercial use only and can benefit shipping and transportation businesses in a variety of ways.
  • Some cards are branded in partnership with certain gas companies and earn more perks when employees fill up at those stations, while other cards are based on the use of specific fleet networks or fuel types.
  • Using fleet fuel cards can be a good choice for your business if you want to be able to track employee expenses in a more comprehensive way and generate reports for long-term use.

Businesses in the shipping and transportation industries can spend a lot of money on gas each year, but they’re not the only ones. Any company with delivery drivers would also wind up doing this, as well as businesses that work in certain sectors of tourism. Limo services and companies that provide airport transfers are also excellent examples.

Fleet fuel cards, also sometimes just called fuel cards, offer a solution for businesses that spend a significant amount on gas each year. These cards not only make it convenient for employees to pay for gas purchases, but also to track expenses and generate spending reports.

If your business spends a lot on gas and you want to make it easier to track and budget for those expenses, signing up for a fleet card could be the right move for you.

What are fleet cards?

Fleet fuel cards are commercial products — often branded by gas corporations — that act as business credit cards or charge cards. Companies can use them to purchase fuel and maintenance for their fleet of vehicles by giving the cards to their drivers, who in turn use them for all fleet-related purchases. Once a company signs up for fleet cards, its employees can utilize the card’s network of gas stations and merchants in order to fuel up and take care of their vehicles on the road.

As employees use their credit cards to pay for gas and other authorized purchases, the employer can also monitor and oversee all these purchases in real-time.

How do fleet credit cards work?

Fleet fuel cards typically work like any other business credit card. Once you’ve been approved for the card you want, you give one to each of your employees so that they’re all connected to the same company account. Then, your employees make fleet-related purchases with the card as they work. As the main account holder, you’re typically responsible for paying off the card at the end of each billing cycle, just like a regular credit card. If your fuel card is more like a charge card, then you won’t have the option to carry a balance — you’ll have to pay in full every month.

As a business owner, you’d likely sign up for fleet fuel cards if you want to get more organized with your expenses while saving money on gas and maintenance. Applying for fleet fuel cards can help you avoid having to manually keep track of gas and maintenance purchases by various employees.

Fleet fuel cards come with expense tracking and reporting perks, so you’ll be able to see all the purchases your workers make on the road. Fleet fuel cards also let employers set up alerts that might let them know about fraud or misuse right away. Many of these cards also come with additional incentives that can help you save money, such as fuel discounts or rewards.

Who can get a fleet fuel card?

Fleet fuel cards are for businesses only, meaning that individual consumers cannot sign up for these products. Individuals probably wouldn’t want to anyway, given that these cards are geared to companies who need to oversee and manage gas purchases and vehicle maintenance across an entire fleet. An individual who works as a freelancer within the shipping or transportation industry wouldn’t necessarily need complex tools to keep track of their own spending and maintenance of a single rig.

With that being said, there are plenty of credit cards that let consumers earn rewards on gas. Many of the best gas credit cards for individuals and businesses also come with no annual fee.

Fleet fuel card benefits

A fleet fuel card can benefit your business in a variety of ways. Depending on what you sign up for, you can take advantage of multiple perks, including:

  • Rewards programs. Most cards offer discounts or rewards points for hitting certain gas usage thresholds or using in-network gas stations and maintenance companies.
  • Purchase authorization power. Business owners who sign up for fleet fuel cards have the option to determine which purchases to authorize. Some fleet fuel cards are only for gas and maintenance, while others let employee cardholders pay for purchases in gas station convenience stores. This can be a nice feature if you want to cover drinks or snacks for your employees on the road.
  • Month-to-month expense tracking tools. Fleet fuel cards help business owners track and minimize their transportation-related expenses month-to-month. It’s easy to imagine how signing up for a traditional business credit card without robust purchase tracking features could create a headache for whoever had to reconcile all purchases made by every employee.
  • Employee organization tools. Because fleet fuel cards are typically tied to each individual employee or vehicle, who often then have to enter an identification number at the pump, you’ll know exactly who is making purchases, as well as when and where they’re happening.
  • Purchase alerts. If one of your employees is consistently filling up with more gas than normal, the reporting feature of these cards can alert you to this behavior.
  • Long-term reporting tools. Not only do these cards help with short-term budgeting, but most fleet fuel cards come with tools that business owners can use to monitor expenses for the long haul. This reporting can be used to make important business-related decisions, as well as save you time and energy when it comes time to file your taxes each year.

Best fleet fuel cards

The best fleet fuel cards let you gain valuable benefits when your employees fuel up. If you’re hoping to streamline gas purchases and tracking for your business, the following card options are worth considering for your fleet:

Axle Fuel Card

WEX fleet cards

ExxonMobil BusinessPro

The BP Business Solutions Program

Shell Fleet Plus Card

The bottom line

Most fleet cards operate within a specific network of gas stations and maintenance shops. Other fleet fuel cards are usable within a specific network of truck stops nationwide or for a specific brand of fuel.

Fleet fuel cards also offer numerous benefits that can make them more valuable for any business, although the perks vary widely from card to card. However, if fuel and vehicle expenses are only a small part of your business and you have no need for the extra tracking tools, you might want to consider a more traditional business credit card with gas perks instead.

As you decide whether to use fleet fuel cards for your business, additional benefits you can look for include fraud loss coverage, business identity protection and roadside assistance.

Information about the BP Business Solutions Mastercard, BP Business Solutions Fuel Plus, Axle Fuel Card™, ExxonMobil™ BusinessPro™ and Shell Fleet Plus® Card has been collected independently by Bankrate. Card details have not been reviewed or approved by the card issuer.