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How is a Fleetcard Different Than a Credit Card?

October 10, 2019

If you rely on a fleet of vehicles to serve your customers, you might be wondering which tool to use for your spending: A business credit card or a fleet card. Both provide an easy way to pay, but a fleet card offers extra advantages to keep your business running smoothly.

A small business owner might get both a business credit card and a fleet card, also known as a fleet fuel card, for similar reasons. Each card offers the ability to give employees spending power, track purchases and separate business and personal expenses.

But that’s where the similarities end. Here are five key differences between credit cards and fleet cards:

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Advantages of a business fleet card

Credit cards are an important part of managing a business. But a new business owner or manager might find it difficult to get business credit — even if they personally have an excellent track record — because the business itself has little or no credit history.

John Ulzheimer, a nationally recognized credit expert, explains why. “Consumer credit cards are not reported to commercial credit reporting agencies, but rather are reported to consumer credit reporting agencies like Equifax, Experian and Trans Union,” he says.

A fleet card can be an excellent tool for business owners who are just starting out. The good news is that it’s generally easier to get approved for a fleet card than for a business loan or even a standard business credit card.

That means a fleet card might offer a good way to start the journey toward building, or rebuilding, business credit.

On the road to new company credit

If you think a business gas card might be right for you, here are steps you should consider:

1. Choose the fleet card that works best for your situation.

Factors to consider when choosing a fleet card include: type of fuel your fleet uses, the number of vehicles in your fleet, the geographic travel patterns of your fleet and the type of business you run. Also consider:

  • Where can the card can be used? Some cards can only be used in certain geographic regions or at specific fueling stations or repair shops. Make sure the card is a good fit for your location, travel patterns and purchasing needs.
  • What types of purchases can you can make? Some cards allow only fuel purchases, while others offer the ability to pay for vehicle maintenance and other vehicle-related expenses. A card with more options may offer you more flexibility to use credit in the way that works best for your fleet.
  • What tracking and reporting tools does the card offer? One of the biggest advantages of a fleet card is the ability to monitor and control purchases for fleets. For example, a fleet card might offer the ability to: Lock or limit spending based on certain criteria, receive alerts, assign a card to a specific driver or vehicle, track activity and view reports online.
  • What discounts does the card provide? Some cards offer volume discounts on fuel purchases. Tally up how much you typically spend, compare it to the deal the card offers and calculate how much the card can save your business.

2. Start using the card to keep your fleet running.

Provide fleet cards to authorized employees and train them on what purchases they may make on the card. Make sure to take advantage of tracking and reporting offered by your card. These features allow you to monitor which purchases are made by which employees and to save money by reducing the risk of losses due to unauthorized purchases.

3. Pay your bill on time every month to build credit.

Just as you would with your personal credit cards, it’s key to pay your fleet card bills on time every time to build good credit. Set up alerts and automated payments if necessary to help you manage your fleet card and build new business credit along the way.

“The best way to get different types of business credit in the future is to exhibit responsible management of your current business accounts,” Ulzheimer says. A well-managed fleet card can certainly be a first step towards future extensions of business credit.