International Fuel Cards: Keeping Fuel Costs Down Abroad

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Using fuel cards to save money and generally make company management easier should be a high priority for businesses with numerous company vehicles (particularly those specialising in the transport of goods). If you operate exclusively within the UK, then you have various fuel card options to choose from, each with strengths and weaknesses.

But what if you also operate outside of the UK? With many fuel cards limited to use inside the country, you might wonder about the best way to proceed. In this article, we’re going to cover international fuel cards (fuel cards that can be used in multiple counties). We’ll detail why they’re so useful, what options are available to you, and how you can take advantage.

Why international fuel cards are worth having

Particularly in certain parts of Europe, one long road trip can pass through various countries, each with distinct laws and pricing structures for motorists. This can cause confusion when you’re trying to keep everything carefully budgeted. There’s also the difficulty of dealing with distinct currencies: the UK still uses the British Pound, but other countries in Europe use the Euro, and the complexity ramps up if you factor in the rest of the world.

Furthermore, efficient fleet management is a key part of operating at a profit, and that process becomes much harder when you’re accumulating fuel and receipts from different regions that may well be in different time zones. The default approach of costing things and compensating purchases later is prohibitively expensive and laborious.

By using a multinational fuel card, you can reduce the complexity of operating across national borders, make life easier for your drivers, and save money in the process. It’s valuable enough for a small business, and the value only goes up with company size.

Choosing an international fuel card

Let’s take a look at the international fuel cards currently available on the market, briefly reviewing their main features and benefits:

EDC Fuel Card

The EDC is the European Diesel Card, and the name is fairly clear about what it offers. If your fleet runs on diesel, you can use this card to get great fuel prices at 9,729 sites (including supermarket and Texaco pumps among others) throughout Europe. Expanded to international use, the Velocity management system makes it easy to keep everything in check.

Esso Europe Fuel Card

The Esso Europe Fuel Card grants you access to Esso pumps throughout the continent, which ultimately encompasses 11,822 sites throughout Europe. You can also use the card to pay for major road tolls and Eurovignettes (road user charges for HGVs weighing over 12 tons), and — once again — use the Velocity management system.

Shell International Fuel Card

If you’re looking for maximum coverage, the Shell International Fuel Card is one of the top options, letting you use over 22000 sites in 37 European countries (all Shell service stops and pumps are supported, obviously), with over 2,500 of those sites catering to HGVs. Offering the standard invoicing, reporting and Velocity management, it’s on a par with the others.

BP + Aral Fuel Card

The result of BP collaborating with Germany’s leading fuel supplier Aral, the BP + Aral Fuel Card works on the ROUTEX network which includes pumps from BP, ARAL, Circle K Europe, eni, and OMV (this amounts to over 20,000 locations in 32 European countries). It offers food deals with some supermarkets and stations, provides 24/7 SMS alerts, and has solid online services.

So, which of these should you pick? It’s difficult to say, because it depends on which stations you tend to prefer. If you run on diesel and you’re looking for the best rates, go for the EDC. Otherwise, research the supported locations and make an informed decision.

How to get (and use) an international fuel card

Once you’ve been through all the terms and conditions and made a decision about what will work best for your business, you’ll need to register your details to submit an application: you can get to the application forms for two of our listed cards by following the links above. The specifics will depend on factors including the size of your business and the size of your fleet.

When you get your fuel cards, you’ll want to make the most of them by ensuring that they go out to all the drivers you have working throughout Europe. Train the drivers on how to use them, particularly if there are perks (such as food) that can go to waste if they’re not used. It shouldn’t take too long to get everyone up to speed, and it will pay dividends in the long run.