Even with prices this week falling below £1 for the first time in 6 years, diesel is a major expense for any company that has vehicles on the road. Things can change quickly: oil is a volatile commodity and chancellors can change the tax regime on a whim. In 2003, diesel was just 78p a litre, and just two years ago prices peaked at 141p. Clearly, anything that helps us to manage fuel costs is welcome.
Fuel cards are rightly popular, and they’re typical of the many complex products that today’s business owners and managers find themselves procuring. Without analytical tools, market knowledge and experience of suppliers, even the most competent managers simply don’t have the information or the time to make an informed decision. If this sounds like you, consider getting some independent expert advice – it’s all too easy to make costly mistakes.
All fuel cards have huge advantages over the old way of reclaiming expenses on till receipts: better security, easy administration, management information, less paperwork and payment credit terms. But there are also always some issues to resolve – above all coverage, given that you usually have to nominate a particular chain of filling stations. Most of the major cards, however, have good networks and some will allow you to use multiple brands.
Will you save money? Not necessarily. Market leaders Allstar, for example, provide cards that will charge you the prevailing pump price on the day, plus a transaction fee of up to £2. Most others will generally be a penny or two below pump price.
Other leading players in the UK fuel card market include:
- BP – with 1200 sites and excellent coverage on motorways and truck routes
- Shell – the other major player with 1100 sites and a good proportion of motorway service stations
- Esso – around 850 sites
- Texaco – have gained popularity as you can also use them at Tesco and Morrisons, giving them 2,400 sites
- UK Fuels – a multi-brand network with 1500 selected sites including Shell, BP, Tesco and Morrisons
- Fuel Genie – gives access to 1000 supermarket sites, with generous 45-day payment terms
How do you choose which is right for you? And how do you avoid being besieged by eager salespeople? Auditel can help. As your procurement professionals, we will assess your usage and outline your options before approaching suppliers on your behalf. We’ll make sure all your questions are answered and go on to implement the new cards and manage the transfer so it all gets done without any headaches. And it doesn’t stop there: we continuously monitor the market on your behalf to make sure that you stay on the best possible deal.