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How do fuel cards work?

January 19, 2023 by

Fuel cards can offer a convenient way of paying for petrol and diesel; we explain all

Most of us pay for petrol and diesel using cash or bank card, but for a significant proportion of people a fuel card makes a wise and convenient alternative. This guide will explain what a fuel card is, why you might want one, and how they work.

What is a fuel card?

Fuel cards work like credit cards when paying for petrol and diesel: you fill up your vehicle, then go to the kiosk to pay using the card, which will either be swiped by the shop assistant, or inserted into the chip and pin machine like a conventional card.

Popular fuel card companies include Allstar and UK Fuels, while some petrol-station chains, such as BP, offer their own cards, although these can often be used at rival petrol stations.

Who uses fuel cards?

Fuel cards are generally provided by companies to employees who do a significant amount of driving for work. Building firms may give fuel cards to employees who drive vans and pick-up trucks (as well as larger equipment), while people with company cars may also have fuel cards. The emergency services also use fuel cards.

How does a fuel card work?

As described above, in physical terms fuel cards work like credit or debit cards. Payment is made electronically to the petrol station by the fuel card company, with your employer receiving regular bills for them to settle.

If you have a fuel card, you will typically need to provide your vehicle’s registration when paying for the fuel. This is entered into the till by the petrol station employee when they swipe your card, and they may look up to check if the vehicle you have filled up has the same registration as the one you have provided. You will also be asked to provide this vehicle’s mileage. Both of these checks allow your employer to ensure the cards are being used as intended.

To find the cheapest petrol and diesel forecourts in your area, check out our handy fuel prices checker.

Is it worth having a fuel card?

Fuel cards prevent your company’s accounts department from having to deal with multiple expenses claims or credit and debit-card bills. They also reduce the chances of fraud being committed, as might happen if multiple credit cards were issued to employees. Some fuel cards bring discounts of as much as 10p per litre on fuel.

There are some disadvantages, though: not all petrol stations accept all types of fuel card, which can make life difficult for employees. Some fuel cards charge a service fee of around £10-£20 per card, per year.

Can I buy anything else with a fuel card?

It depends how your company has set the account up. Some fuel cards can only be used to buy fuel, whereas others allow you to purchase oil and AdBlue for the car, and even car washes. Some fuel cards can even be used to pay for charging electric cars.

Can I get a fuel card if I’m self-employed?

Yes, absolutely. If you have a VAT registered company, you can get a fuel card. Some fuel card companies have a minimum monthly spend in order for you to qualify, though.

Can I get a personal fuel card?

No: fuel cards are for companies, not individuals.

How do I get a fuel card?

By applying to a fuel card company, such as AllStar or UK Fuels.

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