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Best Fuel Cards for Owner-Operators

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As an owner-operator, you must control your expenses in order to maximize your profitability. Cutting excess costs and improving operational efficiencies helps your business move forward, even in the toughest economic conditions.

One of the top expenses for owner-operators is fuel, which accounts for an average of 23% of their revenue or up to $70,000 per year. And while fuel costs are considered “fixed,” meaning they can’t be controlled, having the right fuel card can help you save money at the pump.

Learn the benefit of getting the right fuel card and suggestions to help you find one that works best for your trucking business.

What are fuel cards for truckers?

A fuel card is a payment method owner-operators can use to purchase fuel at a discounted price. Discounts may be a flat percentage of the total purchase, or monthly rebates. Generally, owner-operators can expect to pay the cash price or less when using a fuel card.

Most fuel cards for truckers can be used only at specific fuel stations, although the network of stations is large. Some cards also work at out-of-network locations, but at a lesser discount.

When choosing the right fuel card, it’s important to consider what networks are available on your route and what stations you frequent the most.

How are fuel card savings calculated?

These are the two methods of calculating fuel savings:

Retail-minus

This is the listed cash price, minus an additional discount.

Cost-plus

This is the cost a fuel station pays for a gallon of fuel, including tax and delivery, plus a pumping fee.

Some fuel cards for owner-operators offer a “Better Of” option, which means they charge drivers either the retail-minus or cost-plus price to offer the best discount.

Benefits of fuel cards for owner-operators

In addition to reducing fuel costs for owner-operators, fuel cards:

Simplify accounting

You may be able to link your fuel card with your accounting software. This may eliminate the need to keep your receipts or manually record your fuel purchases.

Some cards also have mobile apps that track your purchases automatically, which simplifies IFTA reporting.

Offer enhanced security

Unlike debit and credit cards, fuel cards can only be used to purchase fuel, or pay for specific purchases at fuel stations. They are also PIN-protected, making it difficult for anyone else to use your card, even if you lose it.

May provide other discounts

Some fuel cards offer partner discounts for hotels, truck accessories, maintenance, and emergency service.

What to know about fuel card fees

Before you commit to a fuel card, it’s important to make sure you are aware of any fees. These may vary by provider.

Here are some fees you should watch out for:

  • Account setup fee — Some providers charge a one-time fee for setup.
  • Administrative fee — Providers that charge administrative fees typically assess them per gallon, and perhaps only when you buy fuel at an out-of-network station.
  • Late fee — If your provider operates on an invoicing system, look at what the monthly due date is, as well as any fees for late payments.
  • Monthly or annual card fee — Monthly fees of $10 per month are not uncommon, and these are usually per vehicle.
  • Transaction fee — Transaction fees can be a few cents to a few dollars, depending on the type of transaction.
  • Over credit limit fee — If your card comes with a credit limit, ask about any fees for exceeding this amount.
  • Payment processing fee — Providers may charge payment processing fees, especially if you use a debit or credit card for payment. ACH payments may help you avoid these extra expenses.
  • Account reinstatement fee — If your account is suspended, you may have to pay a reinstatement fee.
  • Account research fee — Some providers offer 24/7 free support, while others may charge you for researching billing problems or erroneous account transactions.

9 best fuel cards for truckers

Apex Fuel Card

Truck drivers using this card at in-network locations saved an average of 68 cents/gallon. Drivers can use the Apex Fuel Card at out-of-network locations for savings of 3-5 cents/gallon, but transaction fees apply.

With the Apex Fuel Finder app for iOS and Android, drivers can find in-network fuel stops and view available amenities. All fuel purchases automatically sync to the cloud-based fuel management platform, which simplifies quarterly IFTA reporting.

  • No fees for in-network use
  • Cardless transactions at Petro Stopping Centers, TA, and TA Express
  • Free custom fuel analysis via the Apex Fuel Finder app

Fuelman Deep Saver

Fuelman offers three Deep Saver cards: Premium, Plus, and Regular. The Regular card is the most affordable, offering a diesel discount of 8 cents/gallon — for a monthly fee of $3.99 — at any of the 50,000+ participating fuel stops.

  • 24/7 roadside assistance
  • Fuel card controls to manage spending
  • Fraud monitoring and alerts
  • Simplified reporting with product-level data
  • Rewards points

Comdata

The Comdata fuel card offers retail-minus and cost-plus discounts, or 25 cents off per gallon, depending on the fuel stop. The initial set-up fee is $50, and the monthly fee is $8. With the Driven for Comdata app, you can easily manage and track your expenses and find the best fuel prices while you’re on the road.

  • Easy to use account management portal
  • Accepted at 15,000+ locations
  • Real-time fuel fraud alerts
  • Discounts on tires and retreads at 3,000+ locations
  • 24/7 driver support

ExxonMobil BusinessPro

This card offers rebates up to 6 cents per gallon, based on the total volume of fuel you purchase in a month. You can also use this card to make other purchases at Exxon and Mobil stores, and you earn reward points as you spend.

ExxonMobil is specifically designed for smaller fleets and offers flexible payment options to pay in full or carry a balance, depending on your business.

  • Accepted at 12,000+ Exxon and Mobil stations
  • Mobile app for receipt-tracking that includes fuel grade, sales tax, and more
  • Contactless payments with fingerprint ID or facial recognition

Pilot Flying J Axle Fuel Card

This card offers custom credit solutions and charges no annual, monthly, or transaction fees. You can use it for fuel purchases, and you get promotional pricing on products at Southern Tire Mart locations.

The accompanying myRewards program lets you earn points for fuel purchases that you can redeem in-store for food, drink, truck accessories, and other items.

  • Accepted at 800+ locations
  • Preferred payment terms with flexibility
  • Dedicated account representative
  • Works for diesel and mixed-fuel purchases

Truckers Advantage Fuel Card

This card is for members of the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association (OOIDA). With it, you get cash price at the pump, cost-plus discounts at independent fuel stops, and a 10-cent discount per gallon at participating Pilot Flying J locations.

This card offers discounts at over 8,000 truck stops nationwide with participation at Speedway, Sapp Brothers, QuickFuel, and many other independent locations.

  • No transaction fees
  • Competitive cost-plus discounts
  • Cash advances
  • Access to discounted permit services

Shell Fleet Navigator Card

You can fuel up and save at 13,000+ Shell stations and at more than 95% of all fuel stations with this card. Rebates of up to 6 cents per gallon are also available.

You also get money-saving insights on maintenance, mileage, and training.

  • 24/7 customer support
  • Build-in reporting with detailed fuel activity
  • Integration with WEX Fleet SmartHub

WEX CrossRoads Freight Card

This card works at 95% of US retail gas stations and offers fuel discounts at 16,000+ truck stops. It also offers EFS and WEX technology for enhanced security and control.

  • 24/7 customer support
  • Real-time fuel data and reporting insights
  • Automated accounting and reporting

Love’s Express

The Love’s Express program has consistent and competitive pricing. This card offers retail-minus pricing, contactless payments with RFID tags, and custom reporting. Owner-operators can manage their accounts through the Love’s Connect Portal.

  • No fees for application, transactions, or account maintenance
  • Allows in-store purchases
  • Integration with bookkeeping systems
  • Love’s Express Program can be used for Love’s emergency roadside service, Truck Tire Care, TirePass and labor

Take control of your fuel costs

Truckstop can help you find a fuel card that works for your business. Visit our Partner Marketplace to find fuel card providers and other transportation resources. And if you need a tool for managing your fuel costs, the Truckstop Load Board Fuel Desk can help.

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