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A fleet card is used as a payment card most commonly for gasoline, diesel and other fuels at gas stations. Fleet cards can also be used to pay for vehicle maintenance and expenses at the discretion of the fleet owner or manager. The use of a fleet card also eliminates the need for cash carrying, thus increasing the level of security felt by fleet drivers. The elimination of cash also makes it easier to prevent fraudulent transactions from occurring at a fleet owner or manager’s expense.

Fleet cards are unique due to the convenient and comprehensive reporting that accompanies their use. Fleet cards enable fleet owners/ managers to receive real time reports and set purchase controls with their cards helping them to stay informed of all business related expenses.

Contents

Origin and evolution

The advent of fleet cards can be traced back to the 1960’s and 70’s when key stops and stand alone card locks were used by independent marketers and gas bar owners. The first commercial fuel cards resembled a credit card with a name and a company logo on them. When a customer entered a fueling station, the cashier would take down the customer’s name and company information to authenticate ownership of the card. This process was time consuming and was vulnerable to fraudulent transactions. With the advent of computers and computer software in the 1980’s, the development of the fleet card industry quickly expanded. The invention of the magnetic stripe and magnetic card reader allowed petroleum marketers to control fuel pump transactions, leading to today’s wide range of fleet card security features and state of the art reporting systems to track all of your fleet expenses. These “intelligent” systems make fleet management convenient and secure, as fleet card owners are able to track fleet fuel use with increased accuracy, receiving reports in real time on the fueling habits of your fleet. Business owners are able to limit employee fueling by time-of-day and day-of-week, as well as the restricting payment options to pay at the pump or inside fuel locations, to reduce fraudulent fuel spend and other non-business related transactions.

How fleet cards work

Commercial fleet cards have developed into a convenient and cost effective way to operate a fleet business. Fleet cards operate by allowing fleet owners and operators the ability to control their company’s fuel and maintenance expenses by assigning purchase controls to cards designated to the specifications given by individual companies.

Fleet cards allow fleet owners and operators the ability to limit fuel purchases to time of day, day of week, number of transactions per day, and the number of gallons per transactions.[1] This saves fleets money by reducing unauthorized transactions and limits purchasing ability to a specified network of filling stations.

Fleet cards, which resemble a standard credit card, are offered to any business that operates a fleet across all industries. Each card comes available with the pre-set purchase controls, which may be adjusted by the fleet owners. These purchasing controls block unauthorized transactions for items other than fuel, and can even lock purchasers out if fraud is suspected.

Real-time reports on transactions can be sent via e-mail or mobile device to fleet management and paper reports are available monthly advising fleet owners of any suspicious activity, the level of fuel efficiency, expense management, account administration, processing, reporting and bills. All of these reports allow fleet owners to better manage their expenses and ensure the fleet is operating at optimal efficiency.

Security and convenience

The use of fleet cards has become wide spread among members of the transportation community in the US, due to the level of security and convenience fleet cards offer to private and government fleets. The enhanced security associated with commercial fuel cards is derived from the fleet manager’s ability to set purchasing controls based on the needs of their business, limiting fuel filling to time of day and day of week, transactions per day, gallons per day and tracking of fuel economy.

Fleet owners are also offered real-time alerts for suspicious fraudulent activity. By eliminating fraudulent activity and thus “unnecessary expense and wasted man hours” [2] fleet cards offer a high level of control and involvement to fleet managers where their business expenses are concerned.

Using fleet cards also lowers the risk of drivers being robbed of large sums of money needed to get from A to B. Commercial fleet cards offer fleets a network of fueling stations with the ability to make payments at the pump for convenience and time savings or signature authentication within the fueling location on each card.

Pros and Cons of Fleet Card Use

Positive

• Reduction in overall fuel management costs by 10% or more

• Convenient locations for better route planning and fuel prices

• Universal acceptance

• Superior controls by gallon limits, # of transactions per day/week and email alerts

• Easy to read fleet fuel management reports for both fuel and maintenance transaction information

• Eliminates the need for a cash reimbursement system which can be costly and difficult to control

• Offers complete reporting which can help monitor fleet card and vehicle usage, and help track company’s monthly fuel expenditures

Negative

• Cancellation periods on cards are usually longer

• Card fees, depending upon the product

• A certain amount of reliance on drivers for accurate odometer readings

• Often shorter payment cycles

• More liability placed on the user/owner of the card

Cost savings

The cost savings associated with the use of commercial fleet cards will vary depending on a number of business factors. Fuel cards appeal most to transport, haulage and courier services because of their dependence on motor vehicle transport for business. Fleet Central writer Gene Allen reported that “Fleets that move from no fuel management program to a managed fuel program realize savings of 15% on their overall fuel management costs.” The savings fleet cards provide can be primarily attributed to the drastic reduction of fraudulent transactions.

Footnotes

( – Scholar search) “Get control of your business needs and the peace of mind you want,”, http://www.fuelman.com//ui/fleetmanagers/fleetmanagers.aspx, retrieved 2007-10-05  

Allen, Gene ( – Scholar search), “Fleets of Any Size Can Benefit From Managed Fuel Programs”, http://www.fleet-central.com/af/t_pop_pdf.cfm?action=fuel_manage&link=http://www.fleet-central.com/fuelcalculator/article_c.pdf&ad_q=no, retrieved 2007-01-08  

Allen, Gene ( – Scholar search), “Fleets of Any Size Can Benefit From Managed Fuel Programs”, http://www.fleet-central.com/af/t_pop_pdf.cfm?action=fuel_manage&link=http://www.fleet-central.com/fuelcalculator/article_c.pdf&ad_q=no, retrieved 2007-01-08  

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