Most of us roll up to the fuel pump, swipe a card, put the nozzle in the car and start pumping. We don’t think about the process any further than remembering which side of the vehicle that fuel port is on. Hint: it’s indicated by the “gas pump” symbol on the fuel gauge.

Yet for business owners or those who pump fuel as a business expense, the process is a little more complicated. We have to track usage, make sure the charge for fuel is the only thing being claimed on receipts, and otherwise track and tally things.

There’s an easy way to simplify this, though: Fuel cards.

What Is a Fuel Card?

A fuel card is basically a credit card that can only be used for pumping fuel. Most modern fuel cards will work at gas or diesel pumps across the nation and some work with electric charging stations as well. Because fuel cards can only be used for fuel purchases, they are safer and easier to use for tracking and tax purposes than are standard credit cards.

Some fuel cards can be extended to include toll payments, vehicle maintenance items (car washes, motor oil, etc) and the like. If the profile of the charges matches your needs, it’s possible to get a fuel card for it. See iCompario for an example of a lot of options for fuel cards for various requirements.

Why Fuel Cards Are Beneficial

Using a fuel card has a lot of advantages. Taxes and accounting, as mentioned, are huge reasons to use fuel cards. Fuel cards can also have a daily spending cap, are easy to cancel and re-issue should one be lost or stolen, and greatly improve efficiency in both accounting and employee management.

For businesses managing a single car or a fleet, a fuel card can simplify a lot of things.

The costs associated with fuel cards are fairly low by comparison. Annual fees are a given with most fuel cards, but this fee is almost assuredly going to be lower than your costs (in time and money) for accounting for fuel purchases. Fuel cards also give you easier budgeting, as they can be paid off monthly or have a balance carried when costs go over budget.

Because fuel cards are tracked by driver and/or vehicle, it’s possible to track fuel usage and trends over time. This can indicate which vehicle might need maintenance sooner, which driver may not be being totally honest about fuel pumping, or which vehicle/driver is less than efficient in daily driving. Fuel cards also eliminate the need for drivers keeping and turning in receipts for fuel and maintenance and the tracking and accounting required for those receipts.

Conclusion

The use of fuel cards for a one-person or multi-employee company is clearly beneficial. With benefits like easier accounting, better tracking, and less chance of theft, fuel cards make sense. It’s worth looking into.

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An automotive enthusiast for most of his adult life, Aaron has worked in and around the industry in many ways. He is an accredited member of the Rocky Mountain Automotive Press (RMAP), the Midwest Automotive Media Association (MAMA), and freelances as a writer and journalist around the Web and in print. You can find his portfolio at AaronOnAutos.com.

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