Fuel cards are a means of paying for business fuel. Your drivers fill up on short-term credit and you pay a single invoice afterwards. You can choose cards from the leading energy companies, or multi-brand cards that give you a wider choice including supermarkets and smaller fuel brands.
Save money on your fuel expenses with account management software
Your business can monitor every penny it spends on fuel, so you can quickly spot opportunities for savings.
Reduce your admin workload
Your company can automate its bookkeeping process for the diesel and petrol it buys, as your fuel transactions are recorded automatically.
Reclaim VAT on fuel easily
With downloadable spreadsheets it’s easy to reclaim VAT from HMRC.
This is the world’s largest fuel card comparison site, with data on 95% of all UK fuel cards.
After reviewing a few details about your business, we will find the most relevant fuel cards that suit your needs.
With help from iCompario you can start managing your fleet costs more efficiently.
Our purpose is to save you time and money. We are experts at scouring the market, sourcing the best deals and passing them on to you.
iCompario began as a comparison site providing evidence-based and independent information on UK fuel cards. We work with almost all the fuel card brands in the UK.
We have grown into a global free online marketplace for business products and services, where managers and owners can also research vehicle tracking systems, insurance, telecoms and other essentials and get quotes in minutes. We follow up each online query by telephone, to make sure every site visitor finds their ideal product at the best price possible.
A fuel card is used as a payment card for petrol, diesel, and other fuels at service stations.
Instead of using cash or a company credit card, fuel cards are a much safer, more convenient option for you and your staff to make payments. They give you greater control of your company expenses, make monitoring fuel expenditure easier and can save you money on your fuel.
There are different types of cards available, depending on your fleet size, area of operation and your average fuel spend.
Fuel cards work like company credit cards for your transport costs. They let your drivers pay for your diesel, petrol and other vehicle-related purchases on credit.
Unlike normal credit cards, many fuel card providers set weekly, fortnightly or longer payment periods. The time period is sometimes based on your company’s credit rating.
Buying your fuel now and paying for it at a later date can help with your cash flow management. Most card providers ask you to set up a direct debit so that you never forget to meet your payment date.
If you do not have a good credit rating, a few fuel card providers may offer a pre-payment agreement. Your company pays for week’s fuel ahead of time, and your drivers then draw from this pool of money each time they buy fuel.
Read our detailed guide on how fuel cards work for employees for more information.
You can use fuel cards at service stations, garages and supermarkets throughout the UK and across Europe.
They’re accepted at local chains of petrol stations, national chains on motorways and at many European tolls.
You can use your fuel card at the pumps of the most popular petrol station brands close to home, as well as many smaller stations on the continent — including countries like France, Belgium, Italy and Germany.
Picking the right fuel card is easy with the help of iCompario. It hinges on six questions.
1. How big is your fleet?
2. What types of vehicles do you have?
3. Where do they work – locally, or around the country?
4. Do you use fuel from any company, or only high tech diesel from one of the leading companies?
5. How much diesel or petrol do you usually buy each month?
6. Does your company have any specific extra needs from a fuel card?
iCompario makes this easy with our comparison tool. Enter your details and we interrogate our database, which holds the information on 95% of all the fuel cards in the UK. We use this to whittle down a shortlist of the most suitable fuel cards for you.
The result is that you don’t simply choose the right card from the available options. You choose the best one for your business, based on your unique needs.
Fuel cards have two main tariffs that cover how you pay for your diesel and petrol: pump prices and fixed prices.
Pump price is as simple as it sounds. You simply fill up your tank and pay with your fuel card the amount displayed on the pump, as you normally would.
Some cards offer a variation on this, by letting you nominate certain stations where you get a specific discount off the pump price. These discounts are usually pennies, but they add up over time.
Weekly price or Commercial price is a fixed nationwide price, which is set weekly, and is based on the wholesale fuel prices.
Each of these two options has its pros and cons.
The upside of paying at the pump is that prices can reduce day by day. The downside is prices can increase day by day.
The good thing about paying a fixed price is that you can plan your fuel costs in advance and manage your costs. This bad thing is that you might pay more than the market value at certain times of the month.
You can buy a range of travel-related items with a fuel card. As well as petrol and diesel, you can purchase AdBlue, oils and lubricants. This is great if the AdBlue or oil warning light flashes on when your drivers are away from the depot.
Depending on the purchase category of your card, you may also be able to add different sets of products, such as HGV truck wash, selected tolls and HGV parking.
Some cards are designed for European travel, and your drivers can use them to pay for the main toll roads across Europe including north European Eurovignettes and southern European motorways and toll tunnels. These cards sometimes come with an electronic transmitter which automate the payments as your vehicles pass the sensors.
For a subscription fee, some of these card providers also offer a European VAT reclaim service from all the countries your drivers travel in.
The amount you pay for your fuel cards depends on the specific cards you’ve chosen for your business, with each option charging slightly different sums for the fees that make up the total cost.
This means that you need to be aware of the fees you will have to pay as part of signing up for a fuel card. These are the main ones:
Because each of these fees will vary from provider to provider, it’s difficult to say what the total cost of a typical card will be.
However, the most important cost is the annual fuel card charge and this generally ranges from a maximum of £20 to a minimum of no fee at all.
Fuel cards can only be used for transport expenses, while credit cards can be used to pay for pretty much anything.
If an employee has a company credit card, they can purchase anything. This can result in many hours being spent reviewing credit card bills to spot fuel transactions.
Fuel cards, on the other hand, are restricted to purchasing only fuel and transport products and cannot be used to purchase sundries from the service station. The fuel card providers give you a finely itemised list of each time the card was used, exactly when, where and what was paid for.
The result is that fuel cards cut down on administration, as well as reducing the risk of unauthorised spending on fuel for personal vehicles, as well as non-fuel items.
Sole traders, small to medium-sized enterprises, and multinational companies are all able to get approved for a fuel card, so long as they meet the criteria required for acceptance.
You need to be a registered company or sole trader, and you should have a VAT number, although this is not be compulsory for all fuel cards.
You also need to pass a credit check to be able to get a fuel card. While the conditions are less stringent than other financial applications (such as loans) you will still need to prove that you are able to pay your debts.
If you do not have a good enough credit rating, there are some fuel card providers which may still be able to give your company fuel cards with a pre-payment agreement. The way this works is that your company pays for week’s fuel ahead of time, and your drivers then draw from this pool of money each time they buy fuel.
Fuel cards are a good idea if you are a business owner looking for ways of managing your fleet costs more efficiently.
They offer five key benefits.
1. Cut down on admin time
You don’t need to log fuel purchases or handle driver expense sheets because fuel cards give you an online log in real time of your drivers’ fuel purchases, detailing the time, location and amount of each purchase and separating out the VAT.
2. Reclaim VAT on business fuel easily
Fuel card customer apps and websites produce HMRC-compliant invoices, making it easier to submit accurate expenses and reclaim the VAT from your business fuel purchases.
3. Get fuel discounts
Many fuel cards allow you to buy diesel and petrol with discounts off the pump price or other pricing structures that help you save money.
4. Pay toll fees easily
Some international fuel cards can be used along with electronic devices to pay toll charges in the UK and Europe, making it easy to handle expenses when your business transports goods abroad.
5. Reduce the risk of fraud
Fuel cards transactions are a secure payment method that’s PIN protected, helping to reduce the chances of card fraud or losing money if your drivers are the victims of theft.
One of the best things about fuel cards is that they simplify the process of reclaiming the VAT on your petrol, diesel and other transport expenses.
Every transaction you make with your fuel card is recorded electronically. This information is used to create HMRC-approved invoices with all the information you need to reclaim the VAT on the business fuel purchases you’ve made.
An important thing to note is that you can reclaim the VAT on business fuel for up to three years after they happened. To do this you’ll need to have the receipts as proof.
You can find out more about reclaiming the VAT on your petrol and diesel by visiting the UK government’s motoring expenses web page.
Fuel card providers give you a login to account management software that you can use as an app or in your browser.
This online service sends your invoices electronically. You can view transactions by card, vehicle or driver, and order additional cards or cancel lost cards quickly and easily.
You can set up alerts to boost security so that you find out immediately if an unusually large purchase is made on a fuel card, for example, or if one card is used multiple times in a short space of time.
You can see reports on card usage, miles per gallon and other data, which can help you analyse and better control your fuel expenditure.
You can also download your past invoices.
There is a huge number of fuel card options available to fleet business owners.
These include cards offered by the biggest petroleum brands, which let you use their national network to buy high-quality fuel. There are also companies that specialise in giving you access to fuel sold by the UK’s supermarkets. Some cards offer a combined network of both of the above, plus some smaller local chains as well. Finally, there are niche cards that cater for bulk diesel purchases, or for fleets that work abroad.
It can be tricky knowing which card to select, as many of them offer very similar features and benefits (particularly those from the same brand).
It's important to find a fuel card that has the specific features your business needs, from the fuel types offered to the coverage available.
You can find out what fuel card options are available to your business by using iCompario’s comparison tool. Simply enter your requirements and it’ll show you all the available cards that meet your needs.
Using a fuel card is as simple as using a credit card. All you have to do is fill up your vehicle at the pump, choose any additional travel items you need (such as oil, AbBlue or a car wash) then present it to the cashier. They’ll run it through their till and the purchase is recorded.
As with a credit card, the money you’ve spent isn’t immediately debited from your company bank account. Instead, you’re sent a single invoice that covers all the purchases made during a specific period (either a week or a month). Your company then settles this bill with the fuel card provider.
For most companies, your bill will need to be settled weekly. Providers sometimes offer you a payment schedule based on your company credit score. To make the payment, most companies set up a direct debit. To check your invoice, or track the amount as it builds up during the week, many card providers offer an online account management system.
With the growth in EV fleets, electric vehicle charging cards are becoming more widely used. There are charge point cards for private individuals and separate ones for businesses. Most cards can only be used on a specific charge point operator’s network while some can be used at multiple brands. There are also some electric vehicle charge cards that can be used to purchase petrol and diesel, which is great for drivers of plugin hybrid vehicles or for fleets with a mix of electric and non-electric vehicles.
iCompario has just added its first electric vehicle charging ‘fuel’ card. Click here for more information.