Best Fuel Card for Small Business Owners

Learn about fuel cards and the best options for small businesses.

Updated: May 18, 2024
Matt Crabtree

Written By

Matt Crabtree

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Naturally, whenever you're involved in a driving-orientated job, fuel costs are going to add up pretty quickly — whether you're running a delivery service, managing a fleet, or even just commuting to client meetings.

However, there are still a few tools available towards business owners that can be a massive help in mitigating some of these necessary costs, namely, the focus of this article: fuel cards.

So, throughout this article, we'll be taking a closer look at what exactly a fuel card is and the role that it plays for small business owners throughout Europe.

Aside from this, though, we'll also be covering what our top picks are for anyone out there looking to get their hands on one of these cards.

ProviderScoreDetails
1. The Fuel Store★★★★★Click Here
2. FuelGenie★★★★Click Here
3. Esso Card★★★★Click Here

What Are Fuel Cards?

These cards are most commonly referred to as fuel cards, but people call them fleet cards from time to time, too — even gasoline cards, if you're American.

Put simply, these are basically a specialised kind of payment card that is designed for the sole purpose of purchasing fuel (or charging your electric vehicle, depending on which fuel card you have).

As the name implies, these actually function quite a lot like your average credit card, but they're obviously tailored more specifically towards any of your fuel-related expenses rather than random miscellaneous spending.

Ultimately, though, these kinds of cards are absolutely crucial for any small business owners who either drive themselves or work with a team of drivers, offering a convenient way for you to manage your fuel costs while also gaining access to a range of additional benefits.

How Does a Fuel Card Work?

Still, although we've hinted at how these cards are fairly similar to credit cards, let's go a bit deeper and talk about how a fuel actually works in practice:

Streamlined Fuel Purchases

Typically, fuel cards are directly linked to a specific fuelling station or network, essentially meaning that you're only able to use them at particular locations.

In essence, whenever you or your employees need to refuel, all you need to do is show the fuel card at the station's point-of-sale system or just the pump, and the transaction gets processed — nice and simple.

Fuel Efficiency Insights

Aside from just the fuel discounts, though, many of these cards offer various tools and reports that can help you optimise fuel efficiency, too — mainly by providing insights into your fuel consumption patterns, which allows you to make informed decisions about vehicle maintenance, routes, and even fuel-efficient driving practices.

Predictable Fuel Costs

As touched on, fuel cards often come with additional features that allow you to lock in fuel prices or even receive discounts on bulk fuel purchases.

Obviously, having this kind of predictability when it comes to your fuel costs can be an absolute lifesaver if your business's cash flow can be impacted by fluctuations in pump price, given it offers some form of stability.

Pros and Cons of Small Company Fuel Cards

So, now that you've got a firm understanding of what these cards are and how they operate let's dive into a couple of pros and cons:

Pros

Cost Control ✔️

Ultimately, fuel cards give you so much more control over your fuel expenses thanks to things like transaction records and reporting tools.

Now that you have this kind of information, you're easily able to track how much you're spending on fuel, which generally helps you identify any opportunities for cost-saving measures.

Fuel Discounts and Rewards ✔️

Outside of fuel discounts, many fuel card providers offer you some rewards or cashback incentives for using their cards at specific fuelling stations, which can naturally add up pretty quickly and give your business some valuable cost savings.

Cons

Limited Acceptance ❌️

One potential drawback of small company fuel cards is that they're often a bit limited regarding the specific fuel stations or networks you can use them at. This can be pretty inconvenient if your business frequently travels to areas where your card is not accepted.

Dependency on Fuel Prices ❌️

While fuel cards can provide predictability in fuel costs through discounts or fixed pricing, they are still subject to fluctuations in fuel prices (depending on which card you have).

If fuel prices increase significantly, the savings generated by your fuel card may not be as substantial as expected. As such, you've got to be prepared for any of these fluctuations so you can adapt your strategies accordingly.

Best Small Business Fuel Cards — Reviews

Let's walk through our top three choices for the best business fuel cards:

1. The Fuel Store Card

Kicking things off, let's take a look at The Fuel Store Card. Pricing wise, this is definitely one of the most affordable options out there for any small business owners, coming in at a fixed fee of £15 per year.

Now, while this may still seem slightly high, given the fact that a lot of these other fuel cards don't actually have an annual fee, what makes this card special is the fact that you're able to use it without having a perfect credit score.

In fact, you don't even need any particular credit rating for this fuel card provider — all thanks to their prepaid cards for small businesses, essentially meaning that you can preload the card with however much money you want and enjoy the benefits all the same.

Generally speaking, quite a wide range of fuel cards work on a credit basis instead, meaning you'd need a solid credit history to actually be eligible for it, so this is definitely one of the pull factors for this card.

Still, you'd only really find this card useful if you're operating with a fuel or diesel fleet, given that they don't provide any form of support for hybrid or electric vehicle fleets like some of the other options on this list.

Given that there's a growing concern regarding carbon emissions within the UK, this could be slightly problematic for many business owners, but that's exactly why this card (fairly uniquely) also allows you to monitor your emissions with one of these cards — along with other insights from your miles per gallon of fuel and what your fuel expenses are.

Aside from this, though, you'll also be able to access The Fuel Store's own form of safety protection so that you're able to stay clear of any kind of unauthorised spending or otherwise unusual activity.

This comes at an additional monthly fee of £1.50, though, so along with the £15 yearly fee of this card, you'd be paying £33 a year all in all — something you might want to consider if you're only a small business with relatively low resources to spend on things like this.

2. FuelGenie Fuel Card

Next on our list, we have FuelGenie, which, like some of the other fuel cards on this list, has multiple different cards you can choose from. Either one you choose, though, you'll always be able to purchase fuel with relative ease, especially if you're running a local taxi driving firm, for instance, and your drivers buy a lot of fuel from petrol stations at supermarkets.

Still, if you need something with a little bit more coverage, you've got the option of upgrading, for a monthly fee, to their FuelGenie+ Fuel Card — essentially giving you the ability to buy petrol and fuel at over 2,200 different locations because of their Shell partnership.

By upgrading, you're actually able to get a nice discount when it comes to petrol — approximately 3p off for every litre you purchase. What's more, though, you can actually use these cards to earn reward points with Shell every time you fill your vehicle up — not to mention the additional discounts you can get with supermarkets, too.

Having said all this, just like the previous option, you won't be able to take advantage of these fuel card providers if you're primarily driving electric vehicles, given that the card only offers discounts on fuel prices, not EV charging stations.

3. Esso National Fuel Card

Last on our list, we have a card from Esso, specifically the Esso National Fuel Card (although similar to FuelGenie, there are also a few other fuel cards for small businesses that you can apply for).

As we're mostly looking to compare fuel cards for smaller-sized businesses in this article, we'll be focusing more on this national card, allowing you to refill your vehicles at approximately 3,600 different locations within the country — whether you're purchasing from a Shell, Esso, or BP station.

Still, if you're looking for something with a bit more European coverage, they have a card that focuses on this, too — allowing you to purchase fuel at a whopping 11,000 different locations throughout the continent.

Aside from the coverage, though, you're actually able to receive discounts whenever you purchase fuel that's Synergy-branded, along with discounts on various other non-fuel/vehicle-related expenses — car washes, for instance.

This card functions a bit like your average debit or credit card, too, even being complete with your own personal PIN. Having said that, it is specifically linked to just one of your drivers and their vehicle, so you'd have to get separate cards if you've got a range of drivers to supply cards for.

Lastly, on the administrative front, there are also a few tools that are available to you that let you monitor and manage a bunch of different expenses across your business — whether that's to aid with your HMRC VAT returns or by providing itemised receipts for any accounting purposes.

Final Thoughts

Ultimately, if you're going to be running a small business that primarily focuses on driving — be it taxi driving or truck driving — you're generally going to be spending a lot more when you purchase fuel and diesel (even electric charging) if you don't have a small business fuel card.

Remember, though, if you're still on the fence about having to pay things like an annual fee or additional costs for fraud protection, you're never only getting access to cheaper fuel — these kinds of cards almost always come with additional benefits like discounts and supermarket reward points, so there's plenty of ways you can save money, all things considered.

Related Guides:

FAQs

Are Fuel Cards Only for Businesses With Large Vehicle Fleets?

Can I Use My Fuel Card for Personal Fuel Purchases?

Are There Any Hidden Fees Associated With Fuel Cards?

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