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Small businesses with a fleet of vehicles can benefit from the savings and expense management tools built into fleet fuel cards. You can earn a base rate of anywhere from 2 to 8 cents back on every gallon of fuel, depending on the card, with the potential for larger rebates through partner networks.
Unlike other business credit cards that earn rewards on all your spending, most fleet cards only earn rebates on fuel. And some only offer discounts at specific gas stations. But that is often the draw for business owners: You can restrict these cards to fuel-only purchases, track spending in real time and set limits on individual cards to best manage your fleet.
Best fleet fuel cards
The best fleet fuel cards combine flexibility, control and savings. These cards aren’t restricted to a specific brand so you get fuel rebates at almost any gas station — and you can tap into extra savings on gas and other purchases through their large partner networks. Plus, you can track spending, manage receipts and control purchases down to when, where and on what for each individual card.
AtoB is a technology company that combines fuel cards with an expense management platform and a dedicated mobile app to help manage your fleet and find savings on the go.
You can pick from two fuel cards — AtoB Unlimited and AtoB Flex — which earn a rebate of 2 to 3 cents per gallon for your first three months. After that, you’ll need to rely on AtoB’s app to find discounts at participating stations in its partner network.
These cards can be used anywhere Visa is accepted so you’re not locked into a specific brand.
Fuel rebate: 2 to 3 cents per gallon for first three months; then up to 12 cents per gallon at participating gas stations using the AtoB app.
Other rewards: Cash back on select services when you use the AtoB app.
Monthly fee: $3 per month, per active card.
Other fees: $25 setup fee for AtoB Unlimited.
Coast fuel and fleet cards earn 2 cents off on gas and 1% back on nonfuel purchases, like on maintenance and equipment or at restaurants and hotels. Coast cards can be used anywhere Visa is accepted (at gas stations, they can only be used to purchase fuel).
Business owners and fleet managers can use Coast’s expense management platform to track spending on all active cards and set parameters on each individual fuel card, including restricting certain purchase categories.
Fuel rebate: 2 cents per gallon.
Other rewards: 1% back on nonfuel purchases. Additional discounts through Coast partners.
Monthly fee: $2 per active card, per month.
Other fees: $35 for returned or late payments.
WEX offers dozens of fleet cards, including branded cards from some of the largest fuel chains in the world. But the WEX Fleet FlexCard is our favorite for small businesses.
This card has no setup cost or monthly per-card fees. Plus, you can carry a balance (interest charges apply), an option not available with Coast and AtoB. You'll get a promotional rebate of 3 cents per gallon for the first 180 days.
Unlike Coast and AtoB, the WEX FlexCard can only be used at gas stations in the WEX network. But that network encompasses more than 45,000 gas stations, including BP, Exxon and Shell, as well as smaller chains like Casey’s, Pilot, Flying J and Wawa. And WEX fuel cards come with the spend management tools you’d expect from a fleet card.
Fuel rebate: 3 cents per gallon for the first 180 days.
Other rewards: None.
Monthly fee: None.
Other fees: $50 returned payment fee; $75 or 6.99% of the account balance, whichever is greater, for late payments.
Other fuel cards to consider
Fuelman offers a range of fleet cards, including options for diesel-only, and it has a network of more than 50,000 stations.
If you’re looking for the biggest discount possible, the Fuelman Mixed Fleet card bests most other fuel cards with a base rebate of 8 cents per gallon for the first year. But that comes with a few tradeoffs. This card has a monthly fee of $25 to $99, depending on your plan, and a $3 fee anytime you fuel up at a station outside of the discounted network. Businesses could also be subject to a 30 cent per gallon fee if they miss a payment or their business credit score falls below a certain threshold.
Most large fuel providers also offer fleet cards, including BP, Exxon, Shell and Conoco. These fleet fuel cards are typically closed-loop cards, meaning they can only be used for fuel purchases with that specific brand. A branded card can be a great option if your fleet runs predictable routes and you can ensure access to eligible stations.
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What are fleet cards?
Fleet cards, often referred to as fuel cards, are an alternative to business gas credit cards for companies with multiple business vehicles. These cards offer rebates on fuel and robust expense management platforms that allow you to easily track and manage spending across all active cards.
Most fleet cards are business charge cards, so you need to pay your balance in full each month. There are a handful of fuel cards that let you carry a balance; the tradeoff is usually a lower fuel rebate. And many do not require a personal guarantee, so they can be easier to get than a traditional business credit card since there is no personal credit check.
How do fleet cards work?
Fleet cards offer per-gallon rebates on fuel purchases — a base rate of anywhere from 2 to 8 cents per gallon, depending on the card — and they can typically only be used at gas stations.
How your fleet card works will depend on its issuer and partner network.
Branded fuel cards: These fuel cards have above-average rebates. For example, Shell and Exxon offer up to 6 cents per gallon — but only at that brand’s gas stations. Plus, your actual rebate depends on how much fuel you purchase; you typically need to hit 10,000 gallons per month to net the full rebate. Most of the major branded fuel cards are issued by WEX Bank, and while some are accepted within the larger WEX network, rebates remain tied to a specific chain.
WEX and Fuelman fleet cards: These fleet cards negotiate discounted pricing with gas stations, then they pass that savings onto cardholders through rebates. WEX and Fuelman have large networks — 45,000 and 50,000 stations, respectively — but their cards are rarely accepted outside of gas stations and maintenance-specific retailers, like tire shops. These cards may offer a set rebate of anywhere from 3 cents to 8 cents per gallon for the first year. After that, rebates are based on monthly fuel purchases.
Fleet cards that run on a major credit card issuers network: These cards can be used anywhere their partner network is accepted. Coast and AtoB run on Visa’s network, for instance. You earn a base rebate of 2 to 3 cents per gallon, depending on the card, with the potential to earn larger rebates through partner networks. This can require some maneuvering, though, as you need to track down offers through the card’s app or online platform.
Fleet expense management tools
Fleet cards typically also offer robust expense tracking and management that allows business owners and fleet managers to see real-time spending, set limits by individual card and generate accounting and expense reports. Some fleet fuel cards also offer telemetrics tools that let you see the location, and even the fuel level, of each vehicle in your fleet in real time.
Fleet fuel cards: benefits and drawbacks
The main draw of fuel cards is the control over spending — especially for business owners with large fleets. You can get gas savings with a cash-back business card, often exceeding what is offered by fleet cards. But traditional business cards rarely provide the level of tracking and controls offered by fuel cards.
Other benefits and drawbacks to consider include:
Discounted fuel pricing.
Expense tracking and management tools.
Easily issue, deactivate or reassign employee cards.
Many are available with no personal guarantee or credit check.
Discounts are typically limited to certain chains and even certain states or regions.
Charge cards require payment in full each billing period.
Purchases and discounts are typically limited to fuel purchases.
Often are not available to sole proprietors or other unincorporated businesses.
Fuel card vs. business gas credit card
Fuel cards are a great option for business owners managing a fleet of five or more cards, especially if your priority is managing expenses rather than getting the largest possible savings.
Fleet cards are usually charge cards, so they must be paid in full monthly (or sometimes weekly), and many fleet cards are only available to incorporated businesses. You may be able to apply with just your employer identification number, and there is often no personal guarantee.
Business gas credit cards can offer a higher reward rate — up to 3% back on your total purchase — but they lack the ability to track and control spending across multiple employee cards. They may place a spending cap on that rewards rate, too.
Most business credit cards let you carry a balance from month to month (with interest) and are available to sole proprietors and unincorporated businesses — something that can’t be said of most fleet cards. But they do require a personal credit check and guarantee.
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Does your business need a fleet fuel card?
If your business operates five or more vehicles: A fleet card can be a great tool to save money and manage expenses. While branded fuel cards boast a high per-gallon rebate, they also tend to have other fees, restrictions or requirements. If you know your spending won’t be limited to a single chain, an open-network card like Coast and AtoB can offer a great balance of savings and flexibility.
If your business operates just one or two vehicles: You may be able to net larger rewards from a business gas credit card. Our top picks offer up to 3% back on gas, plus up to 5% back on other purchases. But even a general cash-back business card like The American Express Blue Business Cash™ Card, which earns 2% back on the first $50,000 spent each year, would yield double the savings of many fleet cards. Terms apply.