A fuel card enables cashless payment of fuel and is mainly used by companies in their fleets to simplify invoicing and accounting. However, the use of a fuel card can also make sense in smaller fleets or even for individual vehicles, especially if a lot of kilometers are driven and customer visits to distant locations are planned. What are the advantages and disadvantages of using such a card? And how does refueling work with it? We answer the most important questions.
What is a fuel card?
A fuel card is a cashless payment method for refueling vehicles. It is mainly used by companies to simplify the refueling process and keep costs transparent. Their use is particularly useful for frequent drivers who have to record and prove their fuel costs. Employers often provide fuel cards if employees are dependent on a car for business and cover the company costs.
How does refueling with a fuel card work?
Instead of cash, EC or credit cards, only the fuel card is used for payment. The petrol station then settles the amount directly to the account stored on the card.
What can be paid for with a fuel card?
A fuel card can be used to pay for vehicle-related products as well as fuel for combustion engines and electricity for electric cars. These include engine oil, antifreeze and windshield wiper blades. In some cases, it can also be used to pay for vehicle-related services such as car washes, inspections, maintenance or repairs. The exact acceptance points and benefits may vary depending on the provider, so it is advisable to check the specific terms and conditions of each fuel card to know exactly what you can use it for.
Where can I fill up with it and who offers fuel cards?
Fuel cards are offered by well-known petrol station companies such as Aral, Shell, Total and Esso. Energy suppliers and filling station operators such as Avia, Westfalen and Tamoil/HEM also offer them. In addition, there are service providers such as DKV or UTA that accept fuel cards for gasoline, electricity and other driver-related products or services. Many fuel card providers have corresponding apps that show all nearby petrol stations where you can pay with your fuel card. Suppliers who do not operate their own filling stations work together with various filling station networks. This also enables them to offer their own fuel cards. Such cooperations also exist with large mineral oil companies. For example, Aral and Total accept each other’s fuel cards.
How expensive is a fuel card?
The costs vary greatly and depend on the provider. There are providers who do not charge for the fuel card itself. This means that there is neither a set-up fee nor a monthly basic fee. There is also no minimum purchase quantity for the fuels. This means that no costs are incurred if the fuel card and the company car are not used. These fuel cards are particularly practical for irregular journeys with a company car.
Larger fleets may incur a monthly usage fee for each fuel card due to the higher administrative costs for the provider. However, considerable savings can be made through discounts on fuel or electricity.
Does this make refueling cheaper?
By using fuel cards, users can save money in various places. Depending on the provider, you can benefit from volume discounts on the purchase of gasoline and electricity, and there are also discounts on motor oil or car washes. Additional discounts can be negotiated, especially for large fleets that consume a considerable amount of gasoline, electricity, engine oil and car washes. However, costs can be saved not only here, but also on the administrative side, as this is reduced by the simplified processing and thus also the working time of employees, both on the driver side and on the vehicle management side.
Advantages and disadvantages of a fuel card
Companies should consider using fuel cards, as their use is often worthwhile. The use of fuel cards can reduce the administrative workload in the fleet. The fuel card also enables cashless payment of fuel bills and subsequent electronic processing. However, there can also be risks associated with its use.
Advantages of a fuel card
- Individual adaptation to the drivers
- Privately driven shares can be deducted from the non-cash benefit
- Cost control in terms of fuel type, budget limit, type of goods and services, etc.
- Security through PIN and limitation (per day, week or month)
- Graduated discounts possible depending on consumption
- Convenient further processing of data for accounting and the HR department
Disadvantages of a fuel card
- Fuel cards can often only be used at certain filling stations
- There is a risk of misuse of the card
- The obligation to make a minimum purchase (with some fuel card providers)
Everything in view with the fuel card
A fuel card offers a clear advantage in terms of accounting: employees no longer have to laboriously submit receipts and advance costs. Instead, they can conveniently view which transactions they have made online via the corresponding portal. Depending on the provider, this information is presented in different ways. These data and statements generally enable an evaluation of the total fuel consumption and kilometers driven, which can then be forwarded to the tax office for the tax return. This makes accounting tasks even easier.
Keep an overview of fuel card consumption
By using a company fuel card, it is possible to impose certain restrictions and authorizations on employees. Special care must be taken when paying for additional services via the fuel card: It may not be necessary to grant all drivers access to all additional services. In addition to time and regional restrictions, it often makes sense to set a fuel limit, either in liters or in cost.
Commercial fuel cards are also worthwhile
Small businesses also benefit from a fuel card for companies. The use of a commercial fuel card can be worthwhile for just one vehicle. As a rule, there are no fees or minimum purchase quantities for companies. Instead, customers receive discounts from the very first liter of fuel with the commercial fuel card.
Fuel card as an advantage for larger companies
Larger companies also benefit from the use of fuel cards. Reasons for this include the fact that the purchase of fuels and lubricants can be processed completely cashless using company fuel cards, which simplifies payment processing and eliminates the risk of cash losses. In addition, company fuel cards allow individual agreements to be made on the scope of services, so that companies can receive customized solutions. In addition, the use of company fuel cards opens up the possibility of cashless purchases of goods or vehicle accessories, which simplifies the procurement process and offers additional convenience.
Furthermore, tunnel and bridge tolls can be conveniently billed with the commercial fuel card, which offers companies a further administrative simplification. Ferry charges can also be billed via the fuel card, which is particularly relevant for companies that regularly use ferry connections. In addition to these services, a fuel card offers special roadside assistance to provide fast and efficient support in the event of vehicle breakdowns.
It is possible to bill highway tolls via the fuel card, which saves a lot of time and effort in manual billing. Company fuel cards also make it easy to settle toll charges, which is particularly advantageous when driving through toll road sections or countries.
Another advantage of the fuel card is the simple calculation of VAT refunds by the tax office, as the clear statements on the fuel station card enable precise documentation of transactions. The fuel card is also characterized by its flexible and secure use, as there is no risk of losing cash, for example, and the card can be used for various business purposes.
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