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Considering a fuel card or want to know how to get one? Whether you're an owner-operator or have a fleet, they can be a huge asset to your trucking company, allowing you to save on fuel costs and streamline your back-office processes. On this page, we'll break down some of the most significant benefits, answer commonly asked questions, and explore how you can get one for yourself or your team.

How Do Fuel Cards Work?

Fuel cards offer gallon discounts on diesel fuel and often come with other perks that can help with fleet management or give owner-operators an edge. Additional discounts and security features are common. In some cases, the card is loaded by a trucking company and used by its drivers or an owner-operator to score discounts. However, they're also offered alongside other financial services for truckers, such as factoring. For example, a trucking company that factors its invoices can have the cash added to their fuel card or may be able to get cash advances added to a fuel card.

It's worth noting that you won't be able to walk into any gas station and claim a discount, though. The fuel card company typically negotiates discounts with specific truck stops and then lets you know which ones you can use to get the discount. For example, Viva's program extends to over 1,000 fueling locations across the United States. You can search for nearby locations or plan your route around them using tools on the dedicated app.

Is it Worth Getting a Fuel Card?

If you like not paying full price for your diesel fuel, yes, it's worthwhile. However, because each one comes with different benefits and will have a different network, you'll want to research any program you're considering signing up for.

What Are the Benefits of Having a Fuel Card?

Benefits vary depending on the program. We'll go over the most common universal fuel card rewards below.

1. You Can Reduce Fuel Expenses with Fleet Fuel Cards

One of the main reasons truckers and transportation companies seek out fuel cards is for substantial fuel savings. For example, those using the Viva fuel card program see an average savings of 40 cents per gallon. That's a total annual savings of $12,000, even at just 10,000 gallons per month. Plus, you also get the cash price and eliminate transaction fees, which might ordinarily add up when using credit cards.

2.  Fleet Fuel Cards Are Convenient for Drivers

When a trucking company doesn't offer its drivers fuel cards, the driver is often responsible for covering the cost of fuel, submitting receipts, and then waiting for reimbursement on their paycheck. That's a huge hassle and expense many truck drivers can't afford, plus it creates additional overhead for the trucking company. Fuel cards eliminate the burden for everyone involved by setting aside cash in advance for drivers and earmarking it for fuel. Many cards allow the company to set limits for food and other supplies, too, ensuring drivers only spend what they're allowed to spend on any given expense area.

3. You May Qualify for Additional Perks and Discounts with a Fuel Card Program

To sweeten the pot, many fuel card programs offer additional exclusive perks. Viva's fuel cards, for example, also include major discounts on maintenance, emergency repairs, and tires at TA Truck Centers across the nation.

4. You Get More Flexibility with a Dedicated Fuel Card

Sometimes carriers tie themselves down to specific brokers who offer fuel advances because it alleviates the burden of budgeting for fuel. However, this practice also limits who you can work for and may also leave you turning down high-paying loads because you don't have the cash to cover the fuel. When you have a dedicated fuel card, you can work for any broker or shipper, giving you more flexibility to choose the loads you want.

5. You Can Manage Budgets Better with Spending Controls

Allow your drivers to grab snacks at truck stops or cover the cost of showers? Perks like these can keep morale up but are all too often abused. With the right fuel card program, you can set limits on fuel products, non-fuel purchases, and even cash. As an owner-operator, this also frees you from constant budgeting and monitoring accounts while on the road—just set your budget in advance and go.

6. A Great Platform Gives You Accurate Records and Analytical Reports

Tracking fuel expenses is a challenge whether you're an owner-operator who's constantly on the move or you have lots of trucks to track. Modern fuel card programs are more than just the card and corresponding discount. For example, Viva's program comes with a dedicated app that lets you see activity in real-time and pull reports as needed. That makes it easy to track expenses, budget, and identify issues.

7. Fleet Cards Can Help You Prevent Fraudulent Gas Charges

Drivers who carry stacks of cash or credit cards are easy targets for theft. Fuel cards naturally eliminate this risk since they're typically tied to the driver and require a PIN. However, internal theft is unfortunately common within the trucking industry as well. All too often, truckers stop at fuel stations, fill up their tank and then pass the pump to a friend or acquaintance behind them. If your trucking company is still using a receipt-based system, this kind of fraud is almost impossible to detect. In fact, it's challenging to uncover, even if you have certain fuel cards. However, Viva's lets you set spending limits and offers real-time reporting, so the likelihood of theft is reduced, and it's easier to discover it if it's happening. The app also allows you to deactivate or cancel a lost card fast, offering yet another layer of protection.

8. Fuel Cards Offer Centralized Billing

Managing all your on-the-road expenses in one place makes budgeting a breeze and eliminates many common billing headaches.

What's the Best Fuel Card for Truckers?

If you're looking for a comprehensive program that helps accelerate your cash flow and provides access to fuel cards and lower fuel prices, you'll be happy with Viva. Our freight factoring services eliminate waits for payment, giving you immediate cash as soon as you submit an invoice. You can even qualify regardless of your business or personal credit score. If you choose to participate in the fuel card program, your advance can be added to the card to save with fuel and maintenance discounts. We also offer fuel advances that can deliver up to 50 percent of the value of the load's invoice as soon as you've provided proof the truck is loaded. Visit our transportation factoring page to learn more about the program or request a complimentary rate quote to get started now.

Armando Armendariz

Armando Armendariz, Director of Business Development and Partner of Viva Capital, facilitates new business, establishes referral partner relationships and oversees sales—over 15 years of experience in banking, finance, and business entrepreneurship.