Freight transport and delivery businesses are booming but also being squeezed by the rising cost of fuel. Fuel costs aren’t just an overhead, they also affect the area to which you can market your goods or services, and whether you can attract a commuting workforce. You can take control of fuel costs by adopting fuel cards.
Fuel cards are in effect credit cards that can be used to buy fuel on a company tab. They can be used for company vehicles as well as private ones on company business (although the tax implications differ: see https://www.gov.uk/guidance/taxable-fuel-provided-for-company-cars-and-vans-480-chapter-13.
Cards offer significant discounts on pump prices but also a wide range of other benefits tailored for different businesses. For example, there are several BP fuel cards including the BP Bunker card that is geared toward HGV and commercial van fleets, and the BP Plus which focuses on high quality car fuels. Providers such as Fuel Card Services offer a wide choice of cards which you should compare carefully to get the one that is right for you.
Cost control and tax efficiency
It is sound practice to keep a close eye on fuel costs – in real time if possible. This is especially true when you are watching your business’ liquidity. Fuel cards make gathering that key information as simple as watching the entries on your fuel card account – which is a lot easier than trying to collect receipts from driver’s pockets and glove boxes. Your transaction reports can dovetail directly into company accounts and be forwarded to HMRC with your tax returns.
Some cards allow you to settle your fuel bill at a later date with the card issuing company. This is something you can often negotiate to suit your cash-flow situation.
Some cards can be tied closely to a particular driver, vehicle, route and fuel type. Tying them down not only prevents unauthorised use but also means you can use your account interface to check the vehicle’s location, and even whether its fuel economy looks healthy.
Some cards, such as the BP One, focus on outlets on major routes and urban centres while others (including Gulf, Pace, Emo and Keyfuels) offer better support in many rural areas. Reps travelling nationally will want a card that is widely accepted, whereas Fastfuel focuses on superstore gas stations including Morrisons, Sainsburys and Tesco – which is ideal for delivery vehicles.