Fuel cards can be a valuable asset for both individual drivers and businesses that rely on transportation. Understanding how to choose the right fuel card requires considering several factors, such as the card’s acceptance locations, fees, and the specific benefits it offers. This guide will walk you through the necessary steps to make an informed decision, along with providing example pricing where applicable.

Understanding Fuel Cards

Fuel cards, often referred to as fleet cards, are used primarily by businesses to manage expenses related to vehicle operations, including fuel and maintenance. However, individual consumers can also use fuel cards to simplify budgeting for fuel expenses. These cards are typically issued by gasoline retailers or specialized fuel card providers and can offer a range of benefits such as discounts on fuel purchases, detailed reporting on fuel usage, and enhanced security compared to traditional payment methods.

Key Factors to Consider

Network Size and Acceptance: Consider where the card can be used. Some fuel cards are only accepted at specific chains or locations, while others may be accepted nationwide at various stations. For example, a card like Shell Fuel Rewards might offer specific discounts per gallon at all Shell stations.

Fees and Charges: Be aware of any fees associated with the card. Some fuel cards charge a monthly service fee, while others may have fees tied to card usage or account maintenance.

Discounts and Rewards: Evaluate the savings associated with the card. Some fuel cards offer a cents-per-gallon discount, while others provide a percentage back on purchases. For instance, a card might offer 5 cents off per gallon at certain stations.

Additional Benefits: Some cards include benefits like maintenance service discounts, roadside assistance, or purchase controls that allow you to restrict spending to fuel only.

Ease of Use and Management: For business users, the ability to track and control spending by multiple drivers can be crucial. Look for cards that offer robust management tools online.

Comparing Popular Fuel Cards

  • Shell Fuel Rewards Card: Typically offers discounts of 5 to 10 cents per gallon at Shell stations.
  • ExxonMobil Smart Card: Offers 6 cents per gallon in savings at Exxon and Mobil stations.
  • BP Business Solutions Card: Tailored more towards businesses, offering customizable controls and comprehensive fuel management features.

These examples are indicative of what you might expect when looking for a fuel card that suits personal use or business needs.

How to Apply for a Fuel Card

Research: Start by researching different fuel card options online. Compare what each card offers in terms of discounts, benefits, and network coverage.

Application: Once you’ve selected a card, the application can typically be completed online. You’ll need to provide some personal or business information depending on the type of card you are applying for.

Approval and Receipt: Approval can be instant or may take several days depending on the provider. Once approved, you’ll receive your card in the mail, usually within a few weeks.

Maximizing the Benefits of a Fuel Card

To get the most out of your fuel card, regularly review your fuel expenses and ensure the card’s benefits align with your or your business’s driving habits and fuel consumption. Take full advantage of any additional discounts or promotional offers linked to the card.


Choosing the right fuel card involves careful consideration of how, where, and how much you fuel up. By understanding the various offerings and aligning them with your needs, you can maximize savings and streamline the management of fuel expenses.