As the price of gasoline continues to rise, fleet operators are on the lookout for programs that can help control fuel costs. Fuel card plans offer timely and comprehensive reporting, security, expense monitoring and a large pool of fueling stations.

Using one comprehensive report, managers can track fuel purchase types, times and amounts. This type of detailed monitoring helps to maintain a fleet's fuel economy by curbing expenditures and reducing time spent with paperwork. Online account management services allow for easy access to data and downloadable records to the fleet's own database.

Most providers offer a wide range of capabilities and options for all fleet sizes and compositions including: security features, pricing, exception reports and account manageability. Fuel management programs allow you to eliminate paper receipts, monthly reconciliation and manual tax preparation. Also, to prevent unauthorized purchases and fuel consumption, each driver can have a unique PIN code that, in most cases, can be turned on and off.

Every transaction is tracked and reported back to the fleet manager with optional grade and gallon limits.

Survey Says

Several respondents to a survey conducted by Automotive Fleet magazine reported they were able to either reduce or realign their workforce after adopting a fuel card program, citing that the fuel reports had simplified work processes and sped up operations.

All the while, these fleet managers noted that they were now receiving checks, balances and documentation that were never before available. Many programs are either free to join or require a minimal fee upfront, and cost pennies per transaction. Those fees are recouped, and then some, with reduced paperwork and cost controls. AF's survey revealed that, on average, fleets that move from no fuel program to a managed fuel program realize savings of 15 percent on their overall fuel management costs. With today's escalating fuel prices there can be as much as 20 cents per gallon difference in price between premium and regular unleaded fuel. Thus, for a fill-up of 15 gallons, that could be $3 per tank.

For two tanks per week and 52 weeks in a year, a 50-vehicle fleet could incur an additional $15,600 to unnecessarily fuel its fleet with a higher grade of fuel.

Which Is Best For You?

Many fuel management companies will complete a full analysis of your company's assets and needs in order to design a custom program. With the growth of these fuel card programs, choosing the best fit for your fleet may seem like a daunting task.

For instance, which service can give you the ability to control purchases by type and cost direction – ultimately all done without added staff, assets or expenses? We've compared the major fleet fuel card programs to aid in your decision making process.