Man on laptop holding a credit card

3 months ago

How SMEs Can Drive Savings With Fuel Cards

Updated February 2024

In a fast-paced business world, efficiently managing your expenses can be challenging. Fuel costs are an expense that SMEs often grapple with, more so in some sectors than others.

Whether your business relies on a single vehicle or maintains an entire fleet, fuel expenses can quickly add up and affect your bottom line. That's where Fuel Cards come into play, offering a convenient and cost-effective solution for SMEs across the UK.

What are Fuel Cards?

Fuel Cards, sometimes called ‘fleet cards’, are specialised payment cards designed exclusively for purchasing fuel for business travel. They operate much like standard credit or debit cards but come with a range of features tailored to the needs of businesses that rely on vehicles.

What are the Benefits of Fuel Cards?

Robert Smalldridge of Silvey Fleet, Partner of BusinessComparison, said: “Fuel cards can really help improve the efficiency of your fleet. It’s a misconception that only large businesses can use fuel cards as whatever the size of your fleet, there are distinct benefits, from savings on fuel costs to supporting your financial administration. All the invoices will be stored in one place, making it much simpler to maintain up to date records that are VAT compliant. 

“While they’re known as fuel cards, they aren’t limited to petrol and diesel, and can be used to charge electric vehicles too. It’s great to see more options like this available, as we’re seeing increasing numbers of businesses using EV fleets.”

Cost Savings

The most obvious advantage of Fuel Cards for SMEs is the potential for cost savings. Fuel Card providers often negotiate discounts and special rates with fuel stations, allowing businesses to enjoy cheaper petrol or diesel.

Even small discounts can make a substantial difference over time, helping businesses rein in their expenses and bolster profit margins.

Easier Management

Manually managing fuel expenses is a time-consuming process which is prone to mistakes. Fuel Cards simplify this process by providing detailed reports that break down fuel expenditure, making tracking and analysing costs straightforward.

British motorwayThis data can be invaluable for budgeting, which helps SMEs make informed decisions about their fleet operations.

Better Control

Fuel Cards offer businesses greater control over how their employees use company vehicles. Many providers allow you to set spending caps, restrict purchases to fuel and essential vehicle expenses and even track individual card usage in real time.

This level of control reduces the risk of misuse of expenses and even fraud from within the company.

More Convenience

Fuel Cards eliminate the need for employees to carry cash or personal credit cards for filling up, streamlining the payment process and reducing the admin of handling receipts and reimbursements.

Most Fuel Card transactions are also tax-deductible, simplifying your VAT reporting.

Wider Acceptance

Fuel station chains across the UK widely accept Fuel Cards, meaning your employees can refuel at major petrol stations without worrying about tracking down specific locations.

This convenience is especially beneficial for businesses with employees who travel extensively across the country.

Additional Services

You might be surprised to learn that many Fuel Card providers offer more than just fuel purchasing. They may include additional services such as vehicle maintenance and repair, toll payments and even discounts on other business expenses.

These extra perks can add to the cost savings and operational efficiency.

Stronger Security

Fuel Cards include security features like PIN codes that we expect from debit cards, reducing the risk of theft.

If theft or loss does happen, you can quickly deactivate a card to prevent any fraudulent transactions from being made.

Choosing the Right Fuel Card

Selecting the right Fuel Card for your business is crucial. Different providers offer various features, rates, and benefits, so it's essential to research and compare options to find the one that best suits your needs.

When selecting a card, it's essential to consider the size of your vehicle fleet, the specific fuel needs of your vehicles and the usual refuelling locations.

It's also advisable to verify whether the Fuel Card providers you're considering offer additional services like online account management and reporting tools that integrate with your accounting software.

Finding a Better Deal

Many Fuel Card providers offer a variety of packages, so it's not always beneficial to go for the first deal you come across. Either shop around or use a comparison site to ensure you maximise your savings while getting what your business needs.

Discounts for Volume

If your fleet consumes a considerable amount of fuel, you could get a better Fuel Card package tailored for high-volume fuel users.

Many Fuel Card providers are willing to offer volume-based discounts to provide savings for businesses with large fleets.

Fee Structures

Ensure you understand the fee structures associated with different Fuel Cards. You want to ensure that everything from the individual transaction fees to the annual fees and any other charges align with your budget.

Some providers may be flexible on fees for businesses making a long-term commitment, so it's worth checking the package's details before signing up.

Tailored Packages

Some Fule Card providers offer tailored packages. Work with providers to customise packages to suit your specific business needs. Tailored solutions can include perks like additional reporting features, extended credit terms or unique loyalty programs.

Compliance Considerations

You should pay attention to the regulations surrounding business Fuel Cards. Compliance will ensure smooth operations and prevent potential legal issues. Here are the key considerations to make regarding regulatory compliance:

Tax Implications

Understand the tax implications associated with Fuel Card use in the UK. Your SME could benefit from tax breaks or be subject to specific reporting requirements. Consult a tax professional to ensure your business maximises available incentives and remains firmly on the right side of tax regulations.

Required Reporting

Keep accurate records of all Fuel Card transactions and associated documentation. These records include receipts, invoices and any additional paperwork required for taxes or audits. Sensibly organised documents facilitate compliance and streamline financial reporting.

Data Protection

Understand post-Brexit data protection laws, especially those applicable to Fuel Card transactions. Ensure your chosen Fuel Card provider complies with GDPR and prioritises protecting sensitive information. This is crucial to safeguard your business, your employees and your customers.

Fuelling the Future

The Fuel Card is evolving, driven by technological advancements and changing business priorities. Here are a few emerging trends that businesses should keep an eye on:

Mobile Payments

With the increasing prevalence of digital payment methods like Apple Pay and Google Pay, Fuel Card providers are exploring integration with mobile wallets and apps. These payment methods allow for quick, contactless transactions that enhance convenience for users.

Diversification

Fuel Card providers are increasingly looking to expand beyond traditional fuel services. Look out for providers offering additional services like vehicle maintenance and repair, toll road payments and private parking. This diversification can contribute to overall cost savings and efficiency for businesses.

EV Evolution

As the shift towards electric vehicles accelerates, Fuel Card providers will likely extend their services to cover EV charging expenses. This evolution aligns with the growing emphasis on sustainability, allowing businesses to manage traditional fuel and electric charging with a single system.

By staying informed about these future trends, you can position your business to adapt to fast-moving market dynamics and leverage Fuel Cards as a cost-saving tool.

Let us Help Your Business

We help you compare essential business products and services, ensuring you get the best deal and helping you with your bottom line. Save time and money with us by comparing today.

Business Loans icon

Business Bank Accounts icon

Invoice Finance icon

Business Energy icon

Business Broadband icon

Card Machines icon

Business Credit Cards icon

Business Insurance icon

Leased Lines icon

https://images.businesscomparison.com/img/themes/flounder/logo-weeman.svg

Sam White