Truck driver holding up a Bobtail fleet card

How Fleet Cards Work

One of the best ways to save money on fuel is to get a fleet card. Like any financial product, it’s important to understand how fleet cards work. This will help you find the right option for your trucking business.

What is a fleet card?

A fleet card (or fuel card) is a payment card used by transportation companies and fleets to manage fuel and other types of spending. 

Fleet cards can benefit any trucking business, offering fuel savings, spending controls, reporting, and cash flow support.

Related: Should More Small Carriers Use Fleet Cards? Pros, Cons, and Fleet Card Stats

Who can use a fleet card?

Any transportation business can use a fleet card program, no matter the size. 

When signing up for a fleet card, you can choose how many cards to order and assign each card to individual drivers or trucks. This makes it easy to track how much each truck costs to fuel or how much each driver is spending.

What can I buy and how much can I spend?

Trucking companies get fleet cards to manage fuel spending – this is the most common purchase on a fleet card.

Some fleet cards can be used to pay for maintenance, parts, food, showers, parking, and other on-the-road expenses. 

How much you can spend depends on whether the card is prepaid or using a line of credit.

If prepaid, you can only spend as much as you load on the card. If it’s linked to a line of credit, you can spend up to that limit during each period.

Where can I buy fuel with a fleet card?

A fleet card’s “network” refers to the collection of locations where the card can be used. 

A closed-loop network means the card can only be used at certain truck stop brands. If you find a better fuel price somewhere else, you’d need to use a different fuel card or a different payment method to buy fuel there.

An open-loop network means the card can be used anywhere the processor is accepted (think Mastercard, Visa, American Express, etc.).

For example, the Bobtail Zero Mastercard® can be used to pay for fuel anywhere Mastercard is accepted

An open-loop network is typically more convenient for owner-operators and small trucking business owners working on the spot market because their routes are more variable and need to be able to fuel wherever is most convenient. 

How is a fleet card different from a credit card?

A fleet card may use a prepaid or credit line model. 

With a prepaid fleet card, the user loads money onto the card that they then use to access the fleet card’s benefits like discounts and spending controls.

With a line of credit, the user is assigned a certain amount they can spend during each period (weekly or monthly, depending on the program). Users then pay the bill in full and the line of credit resets at the beginning of the next cycle.

This may sound similar to a credit card, but they are different financial products. 

For example, the Bobtail Zero Mastercard® offers a weekly line of credit customers use to pay for fuel, but it is not a credit card. Customers pay their balance in full using autopay they set up with their bank account.

Fleet cards also have benefits specific to transportation that credit cards don’t:

  • Ability to assign cards to individual drivers or vehicles
  • Detailed information about fuel spending
  • Fuel discount or savings programs with retailers
  • Easier approval, in some cases

How can I get a fleet card for my trucking business?

Here are the steps to getting a fleet card:

  1. Shop around: don’t stop at the first fleet card you find or even at your favorite truck stop’s fleet card. Find a card with little to no fees, a convenient network, and good fuel savings.
  2. Check eligibility, apply to the fuel program, and order your cards. Depending on the program, this can take a couple of days.
  3. Activate cards and assign them to drivers or vehicles.

Related: How to Get a Fuel Card for Your Trucking Business

The Bobtail Zero Mastercard is the zero-fee way to control fuel spending and save money. 

We have over 900 retail partner locations, including TA Petro, TA Express, Roady’s, Maverik, Sheetz, and Speedway, with savings available up to 78¢ per gallon.

And, as mentioned, our fleet card can be used anywhere Mastercard is accepted. 

Reach out to learn more.

Bobtail Zero Mastercard -- Apply Now
Fuel card

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