Business expenses are part of doing business anywhere in the world. With mobile workforces, the complexity of expense flows increases exponentially. Many business owners and finance managers are asking what type of fuel card would be the best for them.
The Netherlands and Germany have always been mercantile economies. Therefore sectors like logistics, transport and supply chain have grown to play a crucial role in the economy. In this context, various expense solutions have been created to match the needs of mobile workforces.
In this article, we explore different types of business fuel cards and how they work. As the name implies the main purpose of these cards is to pay for fuel. With business, fuel cards employees can easily and safely pay for fuel on the road. And they can also provide a solution for managing travel expenses.
What is a fuel card?
A fuel card is a payment method provided by employers to the employees. It allows them to pay for fuel while travelling on business.
This allows the employer to control the spending on fuel. And relieves the employee of paying for it himself.
Some fuel cards also allow for expenses other than fuel. These can be maintenance, repairs, parking or other more general expenses.
How do business fuel cards work?
The main purpose of business fuel cards is to allow mobile workforces to pay for fuel expenses while on the road. Different types of fuel cards fulfil this function.
The variety of fuel card providers makes it difficult to give a universal explanation of how all business fuel cards work. Nevertheless, there are some characteristics they all share.
The first question anyone would ask is, what can a business fuel card be used for? In short, most business fuel cards are limited to fuel, car wash, parking and other small commodities.
They mostly can only be used in gas stations. This can create some problems in case an employee needs to pay for other expenses. Especially tools or equipment that can’t be bought in a gas station.
Universal travel expense cards offer a more comprehensive solution. They can be used as a more general payment method.
Another relevant question is where can business fuel cards be used? As mentioned, the use of business cards is mostly limited to gas stations. Geographically, business fuel cards can often only be used in the country where they are issued. This makes business fuel cards a less favourable option for multi-country operations.
Types of fuel cards
There are various fuel cards on the market. All with their own (dis-)advantages. Let’s take a closer look at how organizations benefit from the different types of fuel cards.
❯ Fuel brand cards
Brand-specific cards are issued by a particular fuel brand (i.e Total, Shell, etc). Fuel brand cards allow you to refuel and pay for expenses like a car wash or engine oil.
Predictably, they can only be used in the specific brand of the gas station that issued the card.
You benefit from small discounts provided by the fuel brand. On the other hand, the main disadvantage is that you are ‘’locked’’ to that brand’s fuel station services.
❯ 3rd party fuel cards
Third-party fuel cards allow employees to refuel in multiple gas stations. Typically, these include several branded and independent stations. This gives this type of card the upper hand regarding geographic coverage.
The disadvantage of these cards is the lack of discounts provided. However, they allow you to choose the gas station with the best price yourself.
Advantages of brand and 3rd party fuel cards:
❯ Refuel anywhere in the Netherlands or Germany
❯ Easily reclaim VAT
❯ Employees don’t need to advance money
❯ Employees don’t need to carry cash
❯ Discounts in specific gas stations (fuel brand cards)
We are happy to help you find the right fuel card for your organization.
A universal travel expense card as a fuel card
The main drawback of many fuel cards is their limited use. They don’t allow for spending outside gas stations or cover for emergencies. This is where the universal travel expense card comes in.
This type of business fuel card works as a normal debit card. It allows for refuelling in any station. This gives you the freedom of choice to select the best fuel price.
Next to fuel, employees can also use the cards for any other type of business expenses. By using universal travel expense cards you make paying safer for your workforce. It relieves them of the need to carry cash. This is great for workforce morale and makes the organization more agile.
So can anyone just spend what he or she likes? No, definitely not. In fact, these cards give the administration team tight control over the types of spending per card.
The universal fuel card is prepaid. This means, only the funds allocated to each card can be used. If necessary, recharges can be done by the finance administrator in seconds. On top of that, the finance team can define the settings of each card. For example, if cash withdrawals are allowed and which cost types can be used. This provides the workforce with clear guidance on whether they can use the card to pay for lunches, equipment rental, etc.
Employees will also save time, not having to collect receipts and justify expenses manually, leaving more time to do their actual job.
For your organization, there are multiple benefits to using universal fuel cards. Firstly, you’ll be able to issue your own Maestro and Mastercard cards and directly assign them to your employees.
Budgeting becomes much clearer as you are able to separate limits per location and function. You will have real-time insight into all expenses made with the cards. Most importantly, you can better control the expense justification process.
When employees pay with their card, they can simply upload a photo of the receipt to the transaction. This saves them the hassle of carrying receipts, leaving more time to focus on their actual job.
For the administration team, it means that costs can be checked and processed with only a few steps. And that bookkeeping of expenses becomes fully traceable and in control.
Finally, universal travel expense cards mostly offer direct integration to your accounting system. With one click all your spend data is transferred.
Advantages of universal travel expense cards:
❯ Refuel and pay for travel expenses anywhere in the world
❯ Easily reclaim VAT
❯ Track all expenses and receipts in one system
❯ Recharge cards, block cards, define budgets and personalize authorization for different kinds of expenses on each card
❯ Integrate with your bookkeeping system
How to use SimpledCard cards for your travel needs
SimpledCard has been a provider of prepaid Maestro and Mastercard cards for business expenses since 2014. With multiple references in the transportation, logistics and maritime sectors, SimpledCard is acquainted with the needs for universal travel expense cards.
With SimpledCard you can issue bank independent prepaid cards in your organization. These will enable your teams to pay on location and online across the globe. You can define and assign cost types to each group of cards. So employees can pay for fuel, repairs and other necessary business expenses. Through a centralized Card Management System, you can instantly track expenses and approve cost justifications. Your employees use the mobile app to capture the receipt and link it to the correct transaction.
As a finance manager, you will be able to control all expenses and manage the approval workflows. You can set spending rules like automatic top-ups for specific expense cards. Or delegate this to a cash manager in your team.
Lastly, you can easily and directly upload all the spending data to your accounting system. SimpledCard offers accounting integrations for all main software.
Do you want to learn more about universal fuel cards and how you can implement these into your organization’s expense management workflow? Please contact our team of experts.