What is a fuel card?

Fuel cards are a great way to save money on business fuel. Discover exactly how they work and get our unbiased top picks here.

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When reviewing fuel cards, our expert team of writers and researchers understands that the main consideration for any small business is value for money. We focus on fees and charges, contract length, one-off or recurring costs, plus how pricing can scale with the size of your fleet.
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What is a fuel card? It’s an easy way to save money on the petrol/diesel used by your business vehicles, something that’s more important than ever given the spiralling fuel prices that small businesses are having to contend with.

Here, we’ll dive into exactly how a fuel card works, how to use a fuel card, our impartial top fuel card picks, and briefly cover how much a fuel card costs.

Compare Costs on Fuel Card Rates

Our fuel card cost comparison tool can help you find the right fuel card for your business. It takes just a minute to answer a few quick questions and you’ll get bespoke no-obligation quotes from some of the UK’s leading fuel card companies.

Read on for our full guide to all you need to know about choosing and using a fuel card, and how they can help a business to save on their fuel costs and expenses processes.

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What is a fuel card?

A fuel card is essentially a sort of fuel business credit card that gives your fleet access to discounts on standard pump prices.

Your drivers use their fuel cards to pay for fuel at selected fuel stations, and then you get one invoice at the end of the month.

It’s a simple and smart way to cut your fuel costs, and a vital weapon to fight against the rampant inflation and cost of living crisis threatening small businesses up and down the UK.

Interested in an Electric Vehicle (EV) Fleet?

For business owners who are on the lookout for a more sustainable commercial fleet, particularly with the sale of new diesel and petrol cars set to be banned in 2025, the government’s Workplace Charging Scheme offers owners a discount when buying EV charging equipment.

How can I use a fuel card?

Using a fuel card is a lot like using a business credit card.

You’ll need a fuel card for either every driver in your company or one for every vehicle in your fleet (if your vehicles are used by multiple drivers).

Drivers fill up with discounted fuel at fuel stations that are in the fuel card’s network, and pay for their fuel with a Chip and PIN card.

This transaction is then recorded automatically (no more paper invoices) and, at the end of the month, you get one invoice for all the fuel purchased by your drivers that is paid through a direct debit linked to your business account.

Depending on the fuel card, you can get discounted fuel at anywhere from 1,300+ to over 7,700 UK fuel stations, including supermarket sites that generally have the lowest prices.

How can I get a fuel card?

There are two ways to get a small business fuel card:

  • You can either contact fuel card providers one by one and request quotes from them
  • Or, you can get quotes in bulk and save hours of research time

Bulk option sound good? Well, we can help, our free fuel card comparison service has been designed by experts with years of experience in this field, and has been shaped by our extensive knowledge of the current challenges for small businesses.

Just take a minute to answer a few quick questions and you’ll get a range of no-obligation bespoke quotes from leading UK fuel card providers that show you exactly how fuel cards could help your business.

How long does it take to get a fuel card?

In total, it generally takes between seven and 10 days to apply and receive your fuel cards.

There are four key steps in this process:

  1. You request a quote, either through our free fuel card comparison tool or through another website
  2. The fuel card company calls you to check key information
  3. Once they’ve got this info, they’ll conduct a credit check into your business (or you if you’re a sole trader). Depending on the fuel card company and how much information you’ve filed at Companies House etc, this can take anything from a few hours to a couple of days as the fuel card company will need to check your business’ financial situation and work out what sort of credit limit they should offer you.
  4. Once approved, your fuel cards are sent, and generally take between three and five days to arrive. Once you’ve got them, you’ll need to complete a quick online registration process to assign cards to particular drivers/vehicles and then you start using them and reaping the rewards.

Which fuel card is the best?

Which fuel card is best for your business will always depend on what exactly your needs are but here are our unbiased top three picks for different small businesses:

  • FuelGenie – An innovative fuel card with no basic fees, FuelGenie is ideal for small businesses looking to cut costs – the only downside is a relatively small network of around 1,350 fuel stations.
  • The Fuel Store Card – With fixed weekly prices, a low £12 per card per year account fee and a network of over 3,000 fuel stations, The Fuel Store Card is a great middle tier option.
  • BP Supercharge – Our top choice for small businesses with big ambitions, the BP Supercharge card gives access to a huge network of over 7,600 fuel stations and has no transaction fees. The standard annual account fee of £24 per card is reduced for large fleets, and your drivers can earn reward points on BP transactions.

To learn more about our top three picks and a few more strong contenders, check out our rundown of the best fuel cards for small businesses, where we’ve used our over two decades of small business experience to analyse total cost, fuel discounts, network size, customer service and more to pick out the best small business fuel cards.

How much does a fuel card cost?

We actually have an entire in-depth guide to fuel card costs, but here’s the quick version.

Aside from ultra low cost fuel cards like FuelGenie (which is basically free but has a very small network compared to most fuel cards), fuel cards have an account fee that ranges from £12-£24 per card per year.

Generally speaking, the higher the fee, the bigger the network you’ll have access to but you’ll also need to watch out because some cards have transaction fees of up to £2.75 per transaction.

There are also charges for replacement cards and pretty hefty fees for returned direct debits, so make sure you always have enough in your business account to cover your monthly fuel bill.

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What is a fuel card FAQs

Frequently Asked Questions
  • Is it worth having a fuel card?
    Yes, it’s worth having a fuel card. They save you time and money by automatically recording fuel expenses and giving you access to discounted fuels. With pump prices spiralling and rampant inflation, these savings are more important than ever.
  • Can you have a fuel card without a company car?
    Yes, there are fuel cards specifically designed for small traders and other micro businesses. Often, these work on a top up basis (like a debit card) rather than giving you a line of credit that’s paid off monthly.
  • How do fuel cards work?
    With most fuel cards, you pay an annual fee and then get access to discounted fuel at fuel stations in the fuel card’s network. Every driver is given their own fuel card, and the total amount spent is paid off at the end of each month via Direct Debit from the company’s business bank account.

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Written by:
Alec is Startups’ resident expert on politics and finance. He’s provided live updates on the budget, written guides on investing and property development, and demystified topics like corporation tax, accounting software, and invoice discounting. Before joining, he worked in the media for over a decade, conducting media analysis at Kantar Media and YouGov, and writing a wide variety of freelance pieces.

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