Managing Your Fuel Costs: Fleet Cards Make More Dollars and Sense*

Date: July 31, 2014

With gas prices back on the rise, now more than ever fleet managers must tightly monitor and contain their fleet’s fuel costs. For large and small fleets alike, doing so requires the right information presented in the right way.

Both proprietary fleet cards and bank-issued credit cards offer fleet managers the ability to track and set controls on their fuel spend. But the similarities stop there. Fleet cards provide more in-depth transaction data, greater flexibility and tighter controls than their bank card alternatives.

Proprietary Fleet Cards vs. Bank-Issued Credit Cards

One of the most significant advantages proprietary fleet cards offer over credit cards is their custom-built network, which can provide highly granular data on individual transactions—a must for today’s cost-conscious fleet manager.

While bank cards tap into one-size-fits-all approach, fleet card companies own and build all the necessary back-end processes associated with their card’s operation. That means fleet card companies can ensure that any vendors accepting their cards will comply with the same requirements, and that data capture is tailored specifically to meet fleet customer needs. These needs can differ significantly from the needs of a consumer driven network.

A proprietary network also means a fleet card can capture Level III data on all transactions. This means that when a driver swipes the card, the point-of-sale device will prompt them to enter information, such as odometer reading, vehicle ID, etc.

What is Level III Data?

Level III line item detail is enhanced transaction data that helps fleet managers identify not only the "when" and "where" behind a purchase, but also the "who," "what" and "why."

Examples of Level III data that can be tracked include:

  • Driver/vehicle ID number
  • Odometer readings
  • Line-item list of purchases
  • Cost per mile

Level III data capture also requires the cardholder to input a driver or vehicle ID number for added security.

Benefits of Level III Data

There is a significant difference between providers which offer Level II data and Level III. All fuel transactions on the major credit card networks offer Level I data – such as Purchase amount, Merchant name, and Purchase Date/Time. However, most of the major credit card networks do not offer Level II data – with the exception of one provider which has it partially integrated into their network.

More importantly, they offer limited access to Level III data. This lack of critical data limits a fleets ability to determine which driver or vehicle is fueling, and how many miles they are using per gallon.

While some credit cards do offer Level III data capture, their Level III coverage is inconsistent at best, leaving fleet customers to manually crunch the numbers to separate this information out from their receipts. This process can be tedious and cumbersome, with much room for error when reporting methodology is not consistent.

Another side benefit of Level III data capture is that it requires the cardholder to input an ID number for each transaction, preventing the card’s use in case of loss or theft. Contrast this to a typical credit card, which usually requires no additional verification—it’s simply swipe-and-go.

For most fleets, fleet cards are a more versatile option than bank-issued credit cards. Proprietary fleet card networks offer advantages to the fleet manager that regular credit card networks can’t, including greater consistency of Level III data capture, tighter and more granular purchase controls, and higher network acceptance for Level III stations nationwide.

For fleet customers the choice to switch to fleet cards is clear. Fleet cards can revolutionize reporting processes and allow immediate information, for quick financial decisions as soon as the need arises.  

NFIB members turn to WEX for solutions to save money, reduce administrative hassles, monitor driver behavior and gain precise control over theirs.  Learn more about this member benefit.

*Excerpt of "Skip the Credit Card.  Fleet Cards Make More Dollars & Sense". Provided by Automotive Fleet Magazine and WEX

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