What Is A Fuel Card? | Checkatrade
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What is a fuel card?

If your trade business regularly uses a company vehicle, there are a number of advantages to using a fuel card.

What are fuel cards?

Often favoured by business owners, fuel cards are an efficient form of alternative payment. They act as a sort of credit card to use just for fuel.

Having a card can help you track spend and expenses more efficiently. Rather than have employees use cash or their own payment methods, fuel cards let your business pay directly.

Every month there will be just one invoice to pay and track, rather than several. That is especially useful when you have several company vehicles.

Whether you have just one van, or a whole fleet of different vehicles, the fuel card will work the same.

There are often many other advantages to running your costs through fuel cards rather than other payment methods.

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Checkatrade members are saving around £160 a year on fuel

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How do fuel cards work?

Whether it’s yourself or one of your employees using the fuel card, they all tend to work the same.

Instead of using a credit/debit card or cash to pay for fuel, you swipe or tap the card. It is verified either by a PIN, signature or sometimes both. The fuel expenses will then be billed to the company.

Limiting usage to just fuel payment is good for managing your general business costs. By restricting the cards just to fuel, they can provide peace of mind. 

Most fuel cards will also let you customise where your staff can top up. That way, you make sure your money is going to the right place.

Many card providers give you access to an app or mapping tool that helps drivers find suitable petrol stations. This can sometimes be limited to following a specified route.

A different app means an extra tool when planning out work routes and delivery runs. As a business owner, you’ll be able to calculate how much every journey is going to cost in fuel.

With a constantly changing economy, it is good to keep an eye on exactly what petrol you’ll need. Using a fuel card can also, therefore, help you control your cash flow.

How can I save money with a fuel card?

Fuel cards can often help you save money off the pump price, adding up to an annual saving for your business.

Checkatrade members can benefit even more, with a FREE Esso Card™ thanks to WEX Europe Services. You can access more than 3,500 petrol stations across the UK, saving money at every one!

You’ll save £48 a year for the cost of the card, plus you’ll also save around 5P PER LITRE off the price at the pump.

There are additional benefits provided by an Esso Card, such as Nectar and Tesco Clubcard points at participating service stations.

AdBlue, motor oil and other lubricants are essential to good vehicle maintenance, so can also be purchased with a fuel card.

The Esso Card provides competitive pricing, no fees and access to Esso, BP and Shell garages. That makes it really useful for trade businesses, hence why it is included in the Checkatrade membership package.

Get your free Esso fuel card

Checkatrade members are saving around £160 a year on fuel

Learn more

Can anyone use a fuel card?

Fuel cards can’t be used for personal reasons, as they are intended to be used for business purposes only. But no matter what your trade business, whether plumber, electrician, carpenter, gardener, or anything in between, you should qualify.

Fuel cards are distributed by employers, not the providers, so anyone in your business could have one. You may not want all vehicle-driving employees to have access to a company credit card, so a fuel card is a perfect solution.

Instead of paying with cash or credit/debit cards when refuelling, the person simply presents the card to the cashier. The company is billed directly and the employee can collect a receipt as proof of purchase.

These are the types of businesses that can apply to have a fuel card:

  • Sole trader
  • Limited company (Ltd) or public limited company (PLC)
  • Partnership
  • Not-for-profit organisation or charity

van fuel cost


Will a fuel card help with my tax return?

Drivers can fuel their vehicles at any participating petrol station. Any amount will then be billed directly to the company with a VAT compliant invoice. When it comes to tax returns, it makes it much easier when recording fuel transactions.

How much money can I save with a fuel card?

People can usually expect to save a set amount of money per litre. There will also be some other savings to be gained on related products such as screen wash, oil and AdBlue. Make sure to check the specific terms of any fuel card you use as they will offer different benefits.

Where can I use a fuel card?

Depending on the type of fuel card you have, there may be some limitations on the places you can use it. For example, an Esso Card™ can also be used at Shell and BP.  If unsure, please check with your fuel card provider, or a cashier at your nearest petrol station.

Can any of my employees use a fuel card?

Yes. Access to a fuel card is granted by an employer, not by the card’s supplier. However, as a business, you’ll need to make sure staff don’t use the business fuel card for personal driving. Using the card for anything other than business reasons could be seen as a taxable benefit to the employee.

Check with your card provider, as some will charge you to have more than one card on an account.

What do fuel cards cost to use?

Every fuel card has a different pricing structure, so it is important to compare fees from all providers. Many will charge you when you don’t use the card, as well as standard monthly charges. Check that it won’t end up costing more than you’ll save in the long term!

Checkatrade members can enjoy FREE fuel cards as part of their membership, thanks to WEX Europe Services, instantly saving you money.

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