If you own a business in Australia, you’ll know the financial and time-consuming headache that comes with fuel-related expenses and administration. The good news is it doesn’t have to be a stressful facet of your business – not when fuel cards exist.
Regardless of how big your business is, your bottom line can benefit from business fuel cards to help reduce expenses and allow the daily operations of your business to run much more smoothly. However, with several fuel card brands available in Australia, how do you know which is best for your business and unique needs? We’ve rounded up the best fuel cards for Australian businesses to help take the hassle out of the process.
The Fuel Cards We Recommend for Australian Businesses
When it comes to choosing the right fuel card for your business, there are several things you need to consider. Every fuel card has it’s pros and cons, but some are more uniquely tailored towards Australian businesses. That’s why we often recommended Fleet Card Orange for Aussie businesses because it’s built with user flexibility in mind. Not to mention it means your employees can fill up almost anywhere at anytime, which is great for peace of mind. While it is a premium card, the investment is worth it because your employees save time on the road, allowing them to get around with ease.
The other thing to consider when choosing a fuel card for your business is how long you’ve been in business. Unfortunately, most fuel card providers stipulate you need to have an active ABN for at least a year, making it hard for some businesses to find a fuel card to suit them. However, there are a couple of fuel cards that have no minimum time in business – such as Shell Card. This make the Shell Card an excellent option for Aussie businesses just starting out.
What is a Fuel Card?
Fuel cards make managing your business’s fuel expenses simple. A fuel card works like a credit card in many ways, making it easy to pay for and keep track of your business’s fuel expenses. It means your employees can pay for fuel without cash and without needing to submit a fuel reclaim. The fuel card is attached to an account and when an employee fills up, the cost is charged to that account.
The amount owing will then be deducted from your linked bank account or credit card, usually monthly. Every purchase is recorded and itemised on a single tax statement, so there’s no need to keep and tally up fuel receipts. And, many fuel cards also offer discounts and savings, which is a great value add and very convenient.
The Benefits of a Fuel Card for Small Australian Businesses
1. Save Money
Fuel can be a huge expense for your business. A major benefit of a fuel card is the discounts you can receive off the pump price. Most people assume this is the only benefit of a fuel card, and while it is a perk, the reality is unless your fleet consumes a lot of fuel, the fuel savings you get off the pump price will be minimal. Fuel card providers often attract new clients with a great 6 month promo offer with very good pump price discounts, but these then often discontinue thereafter. While some fuel card brands do offer some ongoing discounts, it’s generally minimal. That’s not to say over the long run it won’t add up to significant savings, it’s just worth noting fuel cards have other benefits business owners often don’t think about, such as…
2. Detailed Reporting
Detailed reporting on your fleet’s fuel consumption is especially important as you start to grow your fleet, especially if you’ll be spending a lot of admin time going through every receipt to generate your own reporting. Many fuel card providers offer additional reporting for businesses where they can track a vehicle, see what they’ve purchased and where over a monthly basis. It gives you a great holistic picture of how your fleet is running.
3. Track Fuel Usage
When your drivers are paying cash for their fuel or with their own credit card, there’s a good chance they’ll forget or lose the receipt. When fuel is purchased on a fuel card, it is logged into a digital statement and you can quickly and easily see what your drivers are spending.
When fuel costs are clearly documented on an automatic statement, there’s no need to go through a pile of crumpled receipts to figure out what to reimburse your team. This data capture is one of the most important aspects of fuel cards.
4. Save You Money & Time
Fuel cards will save on administrative time and expenses, as there is no need to go through piles of receipts at the end of the month. Also, you’ll receive a full report so you can track which drivers are buying fuel, how much they are buying and where they are buying it. This will help you to spot any vehicles that are using excessive fuel and look into the issue.
5. Simple ATO-Approved Statement
Just a simple statement with your fuel expenses at the end of the month isn’t enough. In order to manage your fleet as efficiently as possible, it’s important to know more details – such as fuel economy, cost per kilometre, etc. Many of the popular fuel cards come with fuel management reports that will provide you with this information. Then, when tax time rolls around, you’re done and ready to go and won’t have to spend countless hours manually uploading your business’s fuel expenses and data.
All-Brand Versus Single Brand – What’s the Difference?
In Australia, there are two major all-brand fuel cards – Fleet Card and WEX Motorpass. With all-brand fuel cards, you can typically use your fuel card at almost any fuel station Australia-wide. This is handy because it gives you and your employees peace of mind they can fill up anywhere and won’t be stuck on the road. The downside is these cards often don’t offer much of a pump-price discount, while monthly card fees can be higher and transaction fees may apply.
Single brand fuel cards are fuel cards dedicated to one fuel station, like the Shell Card Fuel Card or BP Fuel Card. Single brand fuel cards have the benefit of lower monthly card fees, better pump price discounts and typically no transaction fees (unless it’s used out of network). Some single brand fuel cards can be used at other fuel sites, but you may be charged a transaction fee.
Premium Cards Fuel Cards – Access All Brands
As one of Australia’s largest multi-branded fuel card providers, WEX Motorpass has designed its fuel card with convenience in mind. It is one of the most widely accepted fuel cards in Australia, with the ability to use it at 93% of fuel sites countrywide. As a premium card, it does have a higher monthly cost per card (over $4), and you’ll pay a 1.5% transaction fee at Coles Express sites.
The Fleet Card sits at the premium end of fuel cards suited to businesses that don’t want to be restricted to using one fuel station and packing it full of features. The card has been designed with user flexibility and convenience in mind with the ability to access over 90% of fuel stations Australia wide and over 6,000 non-fuel merchants, many of which have their own exclusive discounts on. The downside to this card is its higher monthly card fees.
Brand Specific Fuel Cards – Loyalty Discounts
With access to over 1,250 sites, the Shell Card Fuel Card is an excellent choice for Australian businesses that already use Shell-branded fuel stations. It’s also the ideal card for new businesses as there is no minimum time you need to be in business before applying. With a simple monthly fee structure of less than $4 per card, with the Shell Card your business can save time, reduce costs, and earn great rewards. You can’t use AMEX to pay your fuel card bill, however.
Previously known as the Caltex StarCard prior to transitioning to the Ampol brand, the AmpolCard is a corporate fuel card for Australian businesses. The AmpolCard can help you cut your fleet’s fuel costs by up to 4 cents per litre on premium Amplify 98 fuels, as well as 2 cents per litre off regular petrol or diesel. With 1,900 service stations across the country, you can easily find an Ampol station near you. The downside to this card is enabling extras added to the monthly card fees.
BP Plus Fuel Card
With 1,400 national fuel stations, for businesses that primarily use BP stations, the BP Plus fuel card offer is hard to go past. While smaller businesses who only need 1-2 cards are charged a premium (over $4 per card per month), the card fees drops with the more cards purchased so it’s cheaper to have 3 cards than 2 cards. You can earn bigger discounts as well based on volume.
7-Eleven Fuel Pass
The 7-Eleven Fuel Pass is ideal for businesses who want a simple way to keep track of fuel expenses and save on fuel costs. With often ecellent introductory offers and an ongoing minimum discount of 2c/l, the 7-Eleven Fuel Pass is hard to knock back. It can be used across the entire WEX Motorpass network. There are no transaction fees when using the fuel card at any location, but you only get a fuel discount at 7-Eleven sites.
The Pumacard is a great option as a WEX Motorpass alternative because you still get to access the network including non-fuel services when you need it (at additional costs – aka “open loop”), but save on card fees and gain fuel discounts when it’s used at Puma stations. There is a more restrictive card called Pumacard Direct which limits card usage to only Puma sites where there are discounts and no additional transaction fees. If your routes include Puma stations and you want one of the cheapest fuel cards, Pumacard is a top pick based on the running costs.
|Brand||Rating||Best for||Premium card?||Locations (Aus wide)|
|1||Fleet Card||5/5||Best for flexibility||Yes||6,000+ sites|
|2||WEX Motorpass||4.5/5||Best for peace of mind||Yes||6,000+ sites|
|Brand||Rating||Best for||Premium card?||Locations (Aus wide)|
|1||Shell Card||5/5||Best for small & new businesses||No||1,250+ sites|
|2||AmpolCard||4/5||Best customer care||No||1,900 sites|
|3||BP Plus Fuel Card||4/5||Best scalability||No||1,400 sites|
|4||7-Eleven Card||4/5||Best budget||No||700 sites|
Credit Cards Vs Fuel Card Vs Prepaid Card
How a Fuel Card Works
A fuel card works like a credit card in many ways. It makes it easy to pay for and keep track of your business fuel expenses. It means your employees can pay for fuel without cash and without needing to submit a fuel reclaim. The fuel card is attached to an account and when an employee fills up, the cost is charged to that account. The amount owing will then be deducted from your linked bank account or credit card, usually monthly.
How a Credit Card Works
Broadly speaking, credit cards are an easy way to make purchases, simplify finances and smoothen out cash flow. A credit card is a way to borrow money, or get ‘credit’ from a bank. It’s a card with a set amount of funds you can borrow at any time. You can use a credit card to buy things without cash, and pay for purchases online or over the phone. It’s essentially a debt you need to repay, which also incurs interest rates, and most cards have an annual fee.
Why use a fuel card over a credit card? The major difference between a fuel card and credit card is control. Depending on the provider, fuel cards can only be used for fuel, in-store items and other car-related products. Meanwhile, normal company credit cards can be used anywhere, and employers do not have the same control as with fuel cards. Not to mention many fuel cards often come with fuel discounts, which you won’t get with a normal credit card. Moreover, fuel cards provide key data that can help you identify the best working cars in your fleet, and ones that might need to be retired.
How a Prepaid Card Works
A prepaid card – most commonly a Visa and MasterCard prepaid card – is one you load with funds from your bank account (or cash) and use to make purchases online or in-store. Prepaid cards aren’t like credit cards where you borrow money which then attracts interest and needs to be paid back. Rather, they work like debit cards and can be a useful way to control your spending as you can only spend however much you’ve loaded onto the card.
Why use a fuel card over a prepaid card? At the end of the day, prepaid cards aren’t fuel cards, and because you can’t set limits to where the card can be used, it becomes a matter of trust between you and your employees. As a result, receipts also need to be kept when filling up at fuel stations, which can be a hassle and is one of the main benefits of a fuel card – that all transactions are tied to the card account and paper receipts aren’t necessary. You can set transaction limits with some prepaid cards, but these limits are usually quite high.
How to Pay Your Fuel Card
Each fuel card offers different ways to pay, but the most common ways are direct debit through a bank account or credit card, or BPAY. If paying via credit card, there are often surcharges, so beward of that.
Most fuel card providers offer flexible payment options from weekly to fortnightly to even monthly payments. Payment terms can be fixed or they can be based on factors like your monthly spend, or how long you’ve been in business and so on.
Also, beware of late payment fees. Most fuel card providers have a hefty late payment fee (it’s like a fine!) and can be anywhere north of $60, even if you’re just one day late. The best way to avoid this is to set up a direct debit, which is often the default option for most cards anyway.
How to Choose the Right Fuel Card for Your Small Business
When choosing the right fuel card for the industry you work in, there are a few things you should consider in order to get the most benefits from the fuel card.
1. Where Can You Fill Up?
Do you want to stick to one brand, or have the ability to fill up at multiple locations country-wide? Whether you’re on the hunt for the cheapest pump price or want peace of mind that your drivers will never be stuck for fuel no matter where they travel, having the ability to use a fuel card at almost any station is definitely ideal. However, this ability often does come with higher monthly card fees and not as good ongoing fuel discounts as brand-loyal fuel cards. However, if your employees regularly fill up your tank at the same location or always choose the same fuel brand, it might be worthwhile choosing a fuel card from that brand. This way, you’ll often get better ongoing pump price discounts and other benefits.
2. How Much Does It Cost?
Most fuel cards have associated fees. All fuel cards have a monthly card fee attached to them, with many also charging for lost or replacement cards. Some fuel card providers also charge transaction fees every time you use the card. Or, some providers charge a transaction fee if you use the fuel card at an out-of-network location. Sometimes these fees offset any savings you make, so it’s important you read the fine print carefully to understand how fees work.
3. Fuel Discounts
Many fuel providers offer great fuel discounts, with particularly good intro offers. However, these attractive pump price discounts don’t typically last. Some providers offer higher discounts to start, and then drop to a set discount after the initial joining period. And then some fuel providers offer ongoing fuel discounts based on your usage – with the more you spend, the more you save.
4. Rewards & Extras
Various fuel card providers in Australia offer rewards and extras when you sign up for a fuel card account. Some rewards will be good for your business, while others won’t be that useful. Take the time to consider all the rewards and benefits on offer so you can choose the fuel card with the best rewards and extras for you (such as Woolworths’ Everyday Rewards or extra discounts at vehicle service brands like Bob Jane or Beaurepaires etc.)
The Fleet Card Orange sits at the premium end of fuel cards suited to businesses that don’t want to be restricted to using one fuel station, and it’s packed full of features. The card has been designed with user flexibility and convenience in mind with the ability to access over 90% of fuel stations Australia wide and over 6,000 non-fuel merchants, many of which have their own exclusive discounts on.
What this means for a driver / employee is assurance that everything is taken care of while they’re on the road – from fuel and oil to repairs. From a management perspective, these benefits can be monitored, controlled and restricted at a card level. As everything is charged to the one card, it also means countless admin time saved.
Like its competitor WEX, Fleet Card has had its share of criticisms from past customers which stem from promotional offerings that make it seem like less money will be spent overall through direct fuel discounts, which sadly isn’t the case for a premium offering.
Need to know: Transaction fees, pump discounts and monthly card fees are subject to change after the promo period ends. Fleet Card says it informs customers 30 days prior to any changes being made.
With access to over 1,250 sites, the Shell Card Fuel Card is an excellent choice for Australian businesses that already use Shell-branded fuel stations. It’s also the ideal card for new businesses as there is no minimum time you need to be in business before applying, whereas most other major fuel cards require you to have an ABN for at least a year or two. With a simple monthly card fee structure, with the Shell Card your business can save time, reduce costs, and earn great rewards.
Need to know: You can also earn Flybuys points every time you fill up at Shell Coles Express and choose from a range of rewards when it’s time to redeem them. Not to mention come tax time there’s no need to worry about lost fuel receipts, with the Shell Card offering a single tax invoice and statement making it easier to track every fuel purchase.
When it comes to true multi-branded fuel cards, there are two real contenders. WEX Motorpass Fuel Card is one of them. They have designed their offering to target businesses that enjoy card flexibility over the small pump discounts competitors offer by packing it full of features.
When on the road and getting from job to job as a tradie being able to fill up anywhere is essential. If you choose a single brand fuel card, then you’re wasting time by trying to find that specific fuel station and therefore risk running late to the next job. It’s not worth the risk when you can choose a multi-brand fuel card and know you can fill up at the first station you see on your route from job to job.
Need to know: Most of the negative reviews from WEX Motorpass customers seem to stem from customer support issues, and promotional offerings where they have made it seem like fuel cards means you’ll spend less money overall, which sadly isn’t the case. Recently, however, WEX has been upfront about their additional fees, with everything outlined on their website. Overall, the WEX Motorpass Fuel Card offers plenty of flexibility, including what and how you can use the card.
Previously known as the Caltex StarCard prior to transitioning to the Ampol brand, the AmpolCard is a corporate fuel card for Australian businesses, helping you cut your fleet’s fuel costs by up to 4 cents per litre on premium Amplify 98 fuels, as well as 2 cents per litre off regular petrol or diesel. Not to mention you can receive 10% off packaged engine oils and 5% off convenience items at certain Ampol stations.
With 1,900 service stations across the country (including Woolworths Metro and Foodary outlets, in addition to 240 trucks stops) you can easily find an Ampol station near you (you can also the AmpolCard at Caltex Caltex locations that haven’t transitioned to the Ampol brand yet).
Need to know: Ampol also offers AmpolCash, which is a prepaid fuel card that’s similar to a gift card. AmpolCash is available to buy from participating Ampol service stations. You can also order AmpolCash online as either the Classic (physical) card or as a digital card that can be instantly downloaded to your smartphone for cardless payments. It can be purchased in multiple denominations of $25, $50, $100, $250 and $500.
For those in professional services, you want to look for a fuel card that has added extras like car washing. If image matters and keeping the car clean will send the right impression, it might be worth that small investment. Fuel cards like Fleet Card allow for them, but so do other fuel-specific brands like BP, Caltex or Shell. However, if you choose a single-brand fuel card, you’d need to check whether these stations have car washes, whereas if you choose an all-brand fuel card like Fleet Card, you can go to almost any station with a car wash.
Which Fuel Card Should You Choose?
After taking a look under the hood of some of Australia’s best fuel cards for businesses, we hope we’ve made the decision a little easier for you. As you can see, each card has its own unique benefits – but no card is perfect so it’s important you find the right card for you and your needs.
Don’t forget to look closely at the fine print and make sure you have a clear understanding of annual fees, fees at the pump and the additional charges.
Ultimately – the only person who can decide which fuel card is right for your business is YOU. After all, no one knows your fleet better than you do. The right fuel card deal will be seamless for your team to use, will save you money and will give you the data you need to grow your business.