Fuel Management for Small Business: Choosing a Fleet Card

Fleet cards offer small business owners a powerful tool for managing fuel expenses. More businesses than ever see fleet cards as a valuable alternative to traditional fuel payment options. 

In this article, we look at the advantages leading many small businesses to pick this alternative over credit cards and manual expense tracking. Next, we provide some tips for choosing a fleet card with the greatest possible business impact. 

The Fuel Management Headache for Small Business

Small businesses in many different industries rely on vehicles to get critical work done. All of these businesses need a way for drivers to buy fuel and a system for recording fuel purchases. 

Many small businesses use a process like this:

  1. Drivers pay for fuel using cash or a credit card. 
  2. Drivers save receipts to track their fuel spending. 
  3. Small business owners collect these receipts and record fuel purchases in a spreadsheet. 
  4. Small business owners use this spreadsheet data to build reports, gather tax information, and monitor spending. 

This sort of process offers a practical solution for tracking fuel expenses. This manual approach can introduce some potential headaches for small businesses, however. Without the right tools, fuel management chores can take up hours of precious time. Manual expense reporting also means a lag between purchase and data entry. Even with all this work, small businesses still don’t get the benefit of real-time fuel expense monitoring. Cash or corporate cards also represent a potential risk for theft or misuse. Finally, tracking spending without mileage data limits a business owner’s ability to monitor driver efficiency and vehicle performance. 

Fleet cards are designed to help businesses relieve these headaches while providing more timely and detailed fuel expense tracking.

The Fleet Card Solution for Small Businesses

For years, huge corporate fleets have been using fleet cards to manage fuel expenses as efficiently as possible. Today, small businesses are learning that fleet cards offer valuable benefits for them, too.

A fleet card provider manages a private payment network that covers different fueling stations. This payment network automatically collects fuel expense data. By having drivers enter simple data like an odometer reading and personalized PIN number, fleet cards offer key advantages for security and data collection.

Once fuel expense data is automatically recorded, it is uploaded to the web. Small business owners can easily access the data through a simple web app at any time. They can also use this app to manage cards and set spending controls.

If you’re considering a fleet card for your business, it’s important to understand that its features will determine how much value it can offer. While the basics are similar, not all fleet cards are created equal.

Choosing the Right Fleet Card for Your Small Business

Your fleet card should help save time and skip the headaches of receipt collection and manual data entry. To maximize its value, pick a card that can also offer these three key benefits. These advantages will make sure your card does as much as possible to optimize and secure your fuel spending. 

  1. Fuel Spending Visibility: with mileage data and driver-specific PINs, the best fleet cards help small business owners gain true visibility over how their drivers buy fuel. With no lag for receipt collection and data entry, businesses get real-time fuel expense transparency.
  1. Improved Security: personalized driver PINs offer one layer of security for fleet cards, but that’s just the beginning. The best fleet cards can automatically alert business owners of potential spending issues. You should have the ability to set custom limits to help prevent misuse or fraud. Helpful controls include time-of-day, total spending limits, and limiting purchases to relevant geography. 
  1. Automatic Accounting: a fleet card can dramatically cut down on fuel expense paperwork. The most impactful fleet cards will offer the ability to automatically generate tax and reporting documents using your fuel expense data.