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Understanding Fuel Cards for Truckers 

Kim Diggs

December 26, 2023

As a trucking business owner, you feel every dollar you spend, especially when it comes to fueling up. Diesel fuel is one of a trucker’s biggest expenses each month, but there are loads of discount fuel cards for truckers to help take away the  pain at the pump.  Before picking the right diesel fuel card for you, learn more about how they work and the benefits to your business that go beyond savings.

How Trucking Fuel Cards Work

Fuel cards for truckers, also known as discount fuel cards and fleet fuel cards, are forms of payment that are acceptable at thousands of national regional diesel providers.  They are either prepaid/cash secured, or they are tied to a credit line established by your financial partner or fuel card provider.
Typically, fuel cards include the following features:

  • Expense Tracking: Fuel card transactions are documented and immediately accessible. For tax and financial reporting purposes, this information is helpful to understand your fuel spending and plan future trips.
  • Fuel Discounts: Many fuel card programs help trucking companies lower their operating expenses by providing discounts at participating diesel truck stops.  
  • Control and Security: Fuel cards include strong security measures and controls. Fleet owners can control where the card can be used, establish spending limits and even track driver transactions in real-time. Many cards also offer increased defence against fuel fraud.
  • Integration: Some fuel card programs connect with fleet management software to provide smooth data sharing and improved operational insights.
  • Maintenance and Tire Discounts: Many fuel programs include built-in savings on additional services for your trucks. In some cases, you can use the card to pay for those repairs or upgrades or use your fuel card number to access savings at the time of purchase.
  • Optimize Routes to Maximize Savings: There are now many apps that help truckers better plan their routes to find truck stops where they can save the most money. In many cases, the app will show real-time costs and the savings at a particular location.
  • Service and Support: Fuel card companies typically have round-the-clock support to help truckers after normal business hours.  

How Trucking Companies Use Fuel Cards

Trucking companies use fuel cards to improve operations and save on expenses. Here’s how: 

Improving business operations

The amount of fuel consumed can tell you a lot about daily operations. Keeping an eye on your fuel card statements, specifically the number of times you and your team fill up, can give you some clues on areas for improvement. Here are few areas to take a closer look when examining your daily operations for maximum fuel efficiency:

  • Understanding your costs and profit: Fuel takes a big a chunk out of your trucking company’s bottom line. Understanding costs allows you to price your services better with brokers and shippers. Having a discount fuel card can make a load more profitable when factoring in the savings.  
  • Know your fuel program: Your fuel card may be accepted at thousands of truck stops, but you may not receive discounts at all of those. Understanding where you can save most will help you see bigger savings over the course of a month. (It’s also why using your provider’s app is a good idea).
  • Review your statements: Make sure that you are getting the discounts you expect from your fuel program. Also, take the time to review that you are fueling within your network. Are you seeing the expected savings? If not, map out your trip to make sure you come across your program’s truck stops. Sometimes, a difference of a couple miles can make a bigger difference in what you spend.  
  • Planning for maintenance: When looking at your transactions, monitor your maintenance costs and spot patterns in repairs. Proactive maintenance planning minimizes unplanned issues and downtime. Use your fuel program’s repair and maintenance program to save even more when it is time for repairs or upgrades.
  • Performance of the driver: If you have a small fleet, you know that a lead foot equals more diesel consumption. A great way to evaluate drivers’ performance in terms of fuel efficiency is to keep an eye on their transactions with their fuel cards. To keep safe driving top of mind, provide incentives for following the rules of the road for an extended period.
  • Combine your freight factoring with your fuel card: Access to your cash is top priority for a trucking company. If you’re working with a freight factoring company, you can immediately take the money from your factored invoices and load it to your card — in most cases, your factor will do this for free. Some factoring companies may even issue credit on your fuel card. A factoring relationship makes it easy to get money, and then move it around to meet your business needs.

For the savvy owner operator or fleet owner, trucking fuel cards are essential. Optimizing your use of them can be a game changer for your savings goals and monthly operations.

Discover your fuel program options with Triumph today.    ­­­­­­­­­­­­­­