Fuel Cards

Updated 9 September 2021

Designed for business use, fuel cards allow users to pay at the pumps when travelling for work, instead of paying with cash or a business card. Business owners can decide which employees receive a card, with options to set spending limits, or limit spending within certain categories, for example, fuel only, fuel and maintenance, or fuel and service station goods.

As you can see from the list of fuel cards at the bottom of this page, there are quite a few fuel cards to choose from here in Australia. Some fuel cards are service station specific, providing users access to fuel and discounts only within that range of servos. Others provide much wider coverage, allowing users to pay for fuel at servos across the country, while also providing access to maintenance and repairs through a partner program. Whether you have one fuel card as a sole trader or dozens of cards to cover an entire fleet of vehicles, having a fuel card account can offer any number of benefits. Perhaps most importantly, it allows for easy tracking of fuel costs, while providing hassle free expense reporting come tax time. Other benefits can include discounts on fuel and rewards points earning. Time to take a quick look at each of the major fuel card options here in Australia, to see how they operate and what they’ve got to offer.
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Fuel Cards in Australia

With a fuel card account, your business could benefit from easier spend tracking on fuel and servicing costs, while enjoying benefits such as discounts at the pumps and exclusive offers from program partners.

Whether you run a business or you’re a sole trader, it can be hard to keep track of fuel costs if you’re on the road a lot. Providing an alternative to cash and credit cards, fuel cards can help businesses manage fuel costs, while also making it easier for business owners to track and report fuel and service spending.

But that’s not all. Fuel cards can also offer a range of additional benefits, such as discounts on fuel and exclusive offers from program partners. Some fuel cards even earn rewards points, which can be stacked up and redeemed within well-known programs such as Qantas Frequent Flyer.

Fuel Card Benefits

What are the benefits of getting a fuel card? Let’s take a closer look.

      ☛      Track Fuel Spending

Instead of relying on your employees to pay for fuel with cash and then provide you with a receipt, you can easily keep track of all fuel spending, with each purchase logged on your fuel card account.

This not only makes the task of tracking fuel spending easier, you can also monitor how much employees are spending and where, allowing you to follow up on discrepancies more efficiently.

      ☛      Reduce Expenses

With all the information you need compiled within one report, you will no longer need to go through piles of receipts at the end of each month to work how much each employee will need in recompense. This should save you on administrative expenses.

      ☛      Save on Fuel

Fuel cards not only allow businesses to save on administrative costs – they can also provide direct savings at the pumps. Depending on the fuel card you choose, you could enjoy a discount each time one of your employees fills up, to perhaps enjoy volume based pricing after a certain period of time.

      ☛      Save on Servicing

Some fuel cards allow users to pay for servicing, maintenance and repairs through partner networks. Doing this can again make tracking vehicle related spending easier for the business, while also providing discounted pricing and offers from partners within the program.

      ☛      Earn Rewards

Some fuel cards provide users the opportunity to earn rewards. As an example, the BP Plus fuel card allows users to earn Qantas Points on fuel and service station spending.

      ☛      Less Hassle

For employees out on the road, all they need to do is swipe their fuel card to pay when they fill up at the pumps. For business owners, there is no need to collect receipts or reimburse employees to cover out-of-pocket costs.

      ☛      Less Opportunity for Fraud

While fuel card reporting can make it easier for business owners to track fuel costs and root out fraudulent spending among employees, fuel cards can provide a safer way to pay in other ways too. For example, fuel cards can be set with a PIN, which only the cardholder knows. Some cards may also require number plate and odometer readings when filling up.

      ☛      Less Stress at Tax Time

Paying by cash and keeping receipts for fuel spending can be a nightmare to deal with come tax time. Even with a business credit card, it can take time to separate out the different types of spending on the card to accurately complete your return. With a fuel card, however, fuel and service spending is kept completely separate, simplifying tax reporting.

      ☛      Detailed Reports

Using the information provided within your detailed report, you can to dig deeper into the details, looking at everything from the cost per kilometre for each employee, to their fuel economy. This should allow you to analyse your fleet more efficiently, to then make more educated decisions regarding travel and transport within your business.

Fuel Card or Credit Card?

Weighing up your options? If you’re wondering whether you really need a fuel card, or whether a business credit card would do the job just as well, check out these important points.

Credit Cards

  • With a business credit card, you can provide each of your employees with access to credit, as needed.
  • Primary accountholders can track spending for each cardholder, setting limits on or prohibiting certain types of spending. Individual credit limits can also be applied.
  • A business credit card can be used in person and online, within Australia and overseas, anywhere Visa, Mastercard or American Express is accepted.
  • Employees only need to carry one card, which can be used to cover all business expenses.
  • Annual fees and other business credit card costs may be tax deductible.
  • Business credit cards can earn rewards, which can be redeemed by the accountholder or as incentives for employees.
  • Business credit cards can also offer additional features, such as travel insurance and airport lounge access.
  • Depending on the type of card, a business card may act as a charge card or credit card. Charge cards and credit cards typically offer an interest free period that can assist with business cash flow.
  • Most business cards offer expense reporting and easy data exporting to accounting software.

 

Fuel Cards

  • Fuel cards can only be used to cover spending as specified by the type of card and the account. This may include fuel spending, service station spending, or servicing costs, within a limited range of service stations, service providers and retailers.
  • Depending on the type of card, fuel card users may benefit from discounts at the pumps.
  • Fuel cards may offer better spending controls than business cards.
  • Reporting data allows for easy spend tracking on each employee, while also providing detailed data that could be used to make better business decisions.
  • Keeping fuel and other vehicle costs separate, fuel cards can make expense reporting easier.
  • Some fuel cards provide the opportunity to earn rewards.

 

How to Compare Fuel Cards

Think your business could benefit from a fuel card? Here are some factors to think about as you compare your options.

      💡      Service Station Coverage

Think about how you and your employees will use the card. If you tend to only fill up at a specific service station chain, you could opt for a single-branded fuel card for that chain. If your travel requirements are much broader and more random, a multi-branded fuel card may be a better option.

      💡      Discounts

While some fuel cards provide a specific discount on fuel costs, other cards vary the discount according to the business in question. The more fuel you buy, the more attractive your business is to the fuel card provider, which should translate to bigger discounts at the pumps. You may find that negotiating can get you a better rate, especially if you think your fuel purchasing volumes will grow.

      💡      Control

Find out what limits you can place on individual cardholder spending, with regards to both spending amounts and types of spending. A card that allows for customisation in this way could help you save money, by deterring employees who would otherwise abuse their fuel expense accounts.

      💡      Security

Check what security features each fuel card offers. Look for a card that allows cardholders to set a PIN. Other security features to look out for include rego plate and odometer reading when filling up.

      💡      Fees

Fuel cards may charge an ongoing monthly fee for use. This may be a set fee that is charged per card, or it may be determined by the type of account and volume of fuel purchased. Obviously, you want to make sure the fees you pay to use the fuel card are outweighed by the discounts and other benefits you get in return.

      💡      Volume of your Fleet

Some fuel cards are better suited to sole traders and small to medium sized businesses, while others are designed to suit larger companies with much larger fleets. When taking this into account, look at the cost per card, which can add up on larger fleets and businesses that employ a high number of part-time workers.

      💡      Interest Free Periods

With a fuel card, you will often benefit from an interest free period on your transactions – much like a credit card – which can allow you to manage your cash flow more efficiently. These interest free periods can range from 14 to 51 days, so it’s worth checking what each card offers before you apply.

      💡      Rewards

If you want to earn rewards on your fuel card spending, check out fuel cards earning rewards. Take into account earn rate, points caps, and other important info, just as you would when comparing rewards credit cards.

      💡      Intro Offers

Some fuel cards provide intro offers to entice new cardholders to sign up. Depending on the offer, this may allow the cardholder to enjoy a bigger discount on fuel costs over an introductory period, or take home a chunk of bonus rewards points. Bear in mind, terms may apply, such as a minimum fuel volume requirement.

Unlike credit cards, fuel cards are limited to certain types of spending. You will only be able to use your fuel card at participating service station locations and program partners. Depending on how the card is set up, you may be able to use the card for fuel only, or for servicing and service station spending.
Fuel cards are typically only provided to business owners, which means you will usually have to provide your ABN when you apply. If you want a fuel card for personal use, you could use a gift card, but this will obviously not come with the same perks.
Depending on the fuel card you choose, you may have a number of ways to pay your account. You may be able to pay with credit card, but bear in mind transaction fees may apply, which would likely outweigh any discounts or perks you received from the fuel card in the first place.

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