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How to manage a fleet with fuel cards

Are you a fleet manager looking to simplify fuel management across your company? Consider assigning fuel cards. Fuel cards allow you to oversee your fleet and track driver purchases in real time. 

They also help you control costs and reduce fraud, but only if used correctly. Keep reading to learn how you can manage a transportation fleet with fuel cards in ten simple steps. 

What is a fuel card? 

Fuel cards, commonly referred to as fleet or gas cards, serve as a highly specialized payment method tailored for the acquisition of gasoline or diesel fuel. These cards are typically distributed to authorized employees within transportation companies, facilitating the elimination of out-of-pocket expenses for fuel and streamlining expense tracking processes. By offering this convenient financial tool, transportation businesses not only enhance their financial management capabilities but also gain better insights into their operational efficiency and expenditure patterns, ultimately contributing to cost savings and improved overall performance.

How does managing a fleet with a fuel card work? 

Using fuel cards can help simplify the decisions that fleet managers face on a daily basis. Instead of relying on driver expense reports to manage fuel purchases, fuel cards can streamline the process for more efficient management and bookkeeping. 

10 steps for better managing a fleet with fuel cards

As a fleet manager, you can better manage your fleet fuel cards when you follow these ten easy steps. 

Step 1: Correctly assign fuel cards

Fuel cards allow precise spending monitoring, but disorganized card assignments complicate tracking and raise fraud risks. Properly assigning cards to drivers is essential to maximize the accountability and oversight benefits fuel card programs offer over reimbursements.

  • Single cards assigned under driver names: Each driver has their own fuel card associated with them and their vehicle. This option is best for fleets with a low turnover rate.
  • Single cards assigned under vehicle descriptions: Rather than being assigned to a person, this type of fuel card is assigned to a vehicle. So no matter who is driving that truck, they will use the fuel card. This option is best for fleets with a high turnover rate.
  • Floating pin of vehicle cards: In this hybrid option, the fuel card stays with the vehicle, but each driver has a virtual PIN that allows them to use any card. This option is excellent for fleets where drivers change vehicles often, as it allows for more accurate tracking.

Step 2: Implement a driver fuel card policy

Any time employees purchase something on the company dime, there should be a policy in place to protect both parties. A formal document outlining your fuel card policy is essential for keeping drivers accountable for purchases made using company fuel cards. 

Additionally, a driver fuel card policy ensures that drivers are fully aware of the rules regarding fuel card usage. If you’re struggling to draft a driver’s fuel card policy, online templates can help. 

Step 3: Set up fuel card management controls

Fuel card management controls are essential for minimizing fuel costs for your company. For example, if a driver only works Monday through Friday, they have no business purchasing fuel on Sunday morning. 

Alternatively, let’s say a company vehicle’s tank allows for a maximum fill of 75 gallons. There’s no reasonable situation where they would need 80 gallons at one time. As a fleet manager, you can restrict fuel card use based on fuel type, fill volume, daily transactions, and more to ensure proper usage of the company’s fuel card program. 

Step 4: Set up purchase notifications

Fleet fuel cards may occasionally get declined at the pump. Fleet managers can learn the reason by checking the authorization report, which details why the card was refused. Understanding the cause, whether driver error or card malfunction, helps determine if the card should be reactivated.

Step 5: Utilize fleet management reports

Every time a driver uses a fuel card, it creates a data point with valuable information that you can use when managing your fleet. All of this data can be used to create digital fuel expense reports, IFTA reports, and even fuel efficiency reports.

Step 6: Use API data

Some of the best fleet fuel cards utilize application programming interface (API) integrations for even more valuable data you can use to manage your fleet. By automatically connecting your fuel data to GPS tracking or with your accounting department, you can create better reports and reduce the time spent manually inputting fuel reports into accounting. 

Step 7: Set up departments for fuel invoices 

Do you have more than one operating fleet or department that requires fuel reimbursement? If so, you can separate different fuel card categories on your invoices to organize the total costs by department. This will make accounting more manageable and give you a better overview of each department’s fuel usage.

Step 8: Utilize fuel card mobile app to find the best fueling locations

Most fuel cards have a mobile app that helps drivers find a place to refuel that will accept their fuel card. These fuel-finder apps make finding fueling stations much easier. As a fleet manager, ensure you’re familiar with the app and can teach your drivers how to best use the app to find fuel. 

Step 9: Use authorization reports for troubleshooting

Fleet fuel cards may occasionally get declined at the pump. Fleet managers can learn the reason by checking the authorization report, which details why the card was refused. Understanding the cause, whether driver error or card malfunction, helps determine if the card should be reactivated.

Step 10: Deactivate cards that are not in service

In order for a fuel card system to truly benefit your business, there cannot be any unauthorized usage. Therefore, make sure you cancel any cards that are assigned to former employees or out-of-service vehicles immediately. That way, you can avoid the possibility of fraud and misuse.

Fleet management with fuel cards

Managing a trucking fleet is hard enough. Gain control over fuel purchases and simplify the accounting process by implementing these ten fleet fuel card steps as part of your business.


What can fuel cards be used for?

While fuel cards are mainly used to purchase gasoline or diesel, drivers can also use certain cards to pay for vehicle repairs, parts, road tolls, insurance, and so much more.

What is a fuel card system?

A fuel card system allows employees to make authorized vehicle-related purchases using company-managed cards.

Are fleet cards worth it?

Yes, fleet fuel cards can help your business reduce fuel costs and improve accounting processes.

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