Canstar Blue’s annual review of fuel cards compares BP, Caltex and Shell on account management, value for money, customer service, number of petrol stations available, fuel discounts and overall satisfaction.
Regardless of how often you hit the roads, or what you drive, cheaper fuel prices are something we can all agree on wanting, with high or fluctuating costs enough to drive you up the wall. In addition to being a normal household expense, fuel is often a major cost for businesses, particularly those that operate as a mobile unit or require their employees to regularly travel. In an effort to keep petrol costs down, many Australian businesses turn to fuel cards in order to save cash at the bowser, as well as efficiently manage their spending.
Offered by a variety of petrol station retailers, fuel card programs could help you save every time you fill up the car or truck, while also offering extra bonuses like Frequent Flyer points, or discounts on in-store food and drink purchases. With businesses spending an average of over $1,600 per month on fuel, according to our 2019 survey, every discount and saving can help, especially when you’re operating a fleet of vehicles. So, which fuel card programs are the best of the bunch?
To help you find the best option for your business or workforce, Canstar Blue conducts an annual survey of business owners and key decision-makers across Australia, to find out which fuel cards are deemed to offer the best value for money, discounts and convenience for those out on the road. The idea is to give you as much information as possible about the compared fuel card program to help you make the right decision for your business.
The ratings include the three most prominent fuel card program around, courtesy of BP, Caltex and Shell service stations. BP and Shell have both previously topped our annual review, but in 2019, Caltex has put the brakes on the competition, earning five stars in every research category, including customer service, account management, fuel discounts and value for money.
Canstar Blue’s 2019 review of fuel cards has seen three major brands compared, rated in the following order for overall satisfaction:
Improving on last year’s results, Caltex has topped the ratings with five stars across all survey categories, including account management and value for money, ahead of BP in second place with four stars overall, with Shell rounding out the results in third place with three stars. While Caltex was the only brand to get a five-star rating in any category, BP and Shell both earned a creditable four stars in some areas, so there’s plenty to consider when it comes to picking the right fuel card program for your personal circumstances. Our latest survey found that seven out of ten businesses (71%) researched different fuel cards before agreeing to one – and that’s a smart move.
If you’re in the market for a fuel card for your business, read on to find out just what’s on offer from the brands compared, in addition to some of the other fuel programs available in Australia right now.
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Available for use at more than 1,900 locations across Australia, Caltex’s fuel card, StarCard, provides a variety of fuel discounts for businesses, at the pump, as well as at the checkout if you’re buying more than just fuel.
Its fuel discounts include 4c per litre off Caltex Premium fuels (such as Vortex 95, Vortex 98 and Vortex Diesel), as well as 2c per litre on regular petrol and diesel. Offering full pin security and low card fees, StarCard can also save you 10% on packaged engine oils and 5% on selected in-store items. Costing just $2.95 a month per card, a Caltex StarCard may be well worth the investment for businesses constantly on the go.
But in addition to fuel and various other savings at the checkout, extras such as Roadside Assistance, Tolls and savings on Services & Repairs can be added to help keep your workforce moving. While these additional extras may cost you per vehicle that you add, the peace of mind may be a small price to pay to ensure your business is kept running smoothly. You can even collect Qantas Points with your StarCard, as well as skip the Qantas Business Rewards Program joining fee, making it useful for those who also travel by air, as well as by road.
For those managing the account, StarCard can easily be tracked and managed through a ‘myCaltex’ account, with a full record of all transactions available for you to keep track of. If you’re looking to keep all your finances in one spot, you can even link your StarCard account to Xero accounting software, with an EOFY statement also available to help when tax season rolls around. Applications for StarCard can be made via the Caltex website.
Another prominent service station retailer, BP offers the BP Plus fuel card, which includes a number of discounts at over 1,400 service stations around Australia, as well as access to the BP Specialist Discount Network, which includes brands such as Bob Jane T-Marts, Tyrepower and Bridgestone.
Costing between $2.20 and $4.95 per card per month (depending on how many fuel cards you sign up for), the BP Plus comes with up to 51 days of interest-free credit, with the majority of discounts coming from the extended BP range and affiliates, such as BP Connect, Wild Bean Cafés, and the BP Truck Plus network. The BP Plus card also comes with Care+ security measures, such as a purchasing limit or a PIN to ensure that your fuel cards are used correctly, with online support also available.
For those in charge of the business account, BP Plus Online allows you to manage all your fuel cards, as well as access Business Activity Statements and transaction records for when it comes time to sort out your taxes. Applications for a BP Plus card can be made online, with the BPme app also available to help you keep an eye on your fuel cards when you’re out and about.
Giving motorists access to more than 1,250 sites around Australia, including 150 truck-friendly locations, the Shell Fuel Card provides a number of fuel discounts in addition to an easy way to keep track of those receipts and invoices. Costing $2.50 per month per card, you can apply for a Shell Fuel Card online.
With discounts on fuels such as Shell V-Power, Shell Premium 98, Shell Unleaded 95, Shell Unleaded 91 and Shell Diesel, you can even score flybuys points at Shell Coles Express sites, allowing you to make the most of when you need to fill up.
Some of the big advantages of the Shell Fuel Card come from the business administration side, allowing account holders to personalise each card to specific fuel types and purchases, along with offering access to previous invoices and receipts, in addition to Business Activity Statements. Shell also offers Shell Card Online to help you keep track of your account and cards, with tutorials available for those who are new to the system.
While Caltex, BP and Shell have most Australians covered when it comes to filling up at the pump, there are a number of other service stations chains that may also offer businesses a good deal.
The only place where you can grab a Slurpee while filling up your car, 7-Eleven has become increasingly popular in recent years, with the convenience store a handy option for many.
With no joining fee, the 7-Eleven Fuel Card does, however, charge a small fee every time you use it, with cards categorised into three separate uses. For those who only want to top up at the bowser, the ‘Fuel Only’ group will be suited to you, whereas those likely to change their oil, or make use of the car wash, may be better suited to the ‘Fuel & Vehicle’ group. But if you’re one of those who can’t pass up on a few snacks or a coffee while in store, the ‘All’ option gives you discounts on both fuel and in-store purchases.
The 7-Eleven fuel card also provides quarterly Business Activity Statements, an Annual Tax summary and other reporting documents, although you will incur a fee if you’re after the admin side of the fuel card.
With over 400 locations around Australia, Puma is also a viable option, providing two types of fuel cards for businesses to consider. The ‘Pumacard Direct’ is a better option for those who exclusively use Puma service stations – coming with no transaction fees – whereas the ‘Pumacard’ is widely accepted at other servos, allowing more options when you’re running on empty.
The Pumacard can also be used for discounts on a variety of travel options, including accommodation and parking, as well as repairs, maintenance and at tyre and auto retailers, allowing businesses to keep their fleet running while saving on costs. Your Pumacard will also be PIN enabled, and personalised to allow to only fuel purchases, or to allow access to the full range of goodies available at a Puma location.
The Puma app is also available, allowing businesses to check and top up card balances, as well as view transaction history.
Accepted at more than 90% of service stations in Australia (or over 6,000 locations), the WEX Motorpass is a handy card to have in your wallet. Providing a range of online services, the WEX Motorpass could be well suited to many businesses on the go.
When it comes to what’s covered, WEX offers a few options. There’s the ‘Fuel & Oil only’ option, the ‘All Vehicle Expenses’ options for those after oil and other services, as well as ‘All Products’, which will cover plenty of food and drink goodies for drivers. For those managing the program, WEX Motorpass provides Quarterly Activity Reporting, in addition to Annual Activity Reporting to help take some of the stress out of tax season, with the reports available to suit both MYOB and Quicken software.
For those not sure if their local service station supports Motorpass, WEX offers an online service which will search nearby stations for you, helping to take the stress out of the situation. Additionally, WEX also has a mobile app to ensure you’re not left stranded, or to keep on top of your accounts.
Fleet Card is available at around 6,000 fuel sites around Australia, with the card also accepted at around 6,000 motor dealerships and repair centres, helping you stay covered regardless of whether you simply need some fuel or need to fix something a bit more serious.
You can choose between the Fleet Card Orange and Fleet Card Blue options, with the Blue card more suited for those who simply need to fill up at the bowser, while the Orange card is best for those who prefer the option to get a bit of work done under the hood. With the Fleet Card Mobile App available to help you find your closest fuel station, applications can be made online, with monthly tax invoices and reports also available.
The main selling point of a fuel card is to help you save money when you go to pay for fuel, or for when you run into a bit of trouble out on the road. While some fuel cards offer discounts on fuel itself, other fuel cards offer discounts on services through affiliates in case something breaks or you need a service. With surveyed businesses spending almost $1,700 a month on fuel, finding a suitable fuel card can help you save money on fuel, as well as other products and services.
While the amount of options available may be daunting, 65% of survey respondents believe that using fuel cards works out cheaper than paying for fuel every time (down from 72% last year), which means it may prove a worthwhile option to explore if you’re looking to save a bit of cash. Adding that most cards provide additional security measures and administrative systems to help you run your workforce, a fuel card may even help with the day-to-day running of the business.
Another option to consider is using the company credit card for fuel purchases. Some credit cards, such as American Express, offer rewards such as frequent flyer points on purchases, meaning you can end up racking up plenty of points at the petrol station, which may help you save in other areas. The other side of this however, is that credit cards could incur a higher fee, and may not be as widely accepted as fuel cards, so it’s important to look at the fine print before locking into a contract with either a fuel card or a credit card.
Here are some of the other key findings from our 2019 survey:
Which fuel card you decide to whip out at the servo checkout will ultimately come down to a number of factors, including where your business operates, the number of petrol stations available to you, and how often you find yourself filling up. For those looking for a simple discount, there’s no shortage of options, with both the big players and smaller names providing a way for businesses to save on their travels. But those looking for the complete package of services may have to look a bit closer, with the larger names generally offering a wider net of affiliates and tools to help you on your way.
Ultimately it will come down to your personal preferences and what you consider to be more important. While some businesses will understandably prioritise getting the cheapest deal on petrol, 65% of survey respondents said the number of locations available is more important than discounts, meaning the best fuel card will vary from business to business. However, looking into all of your options, as well as reading the fine print, may help you find one that firmly puts you in the driver’s seat when it comes to getting a good deal.
Canstar Blue surveyed 837 Australian small to medium-sized business owners or key decision-makers (i.e. the key decision-maker for the business) across a range of categories to measure and track customer satisfaction, via ISO 26362 accredited research panels managed by Qualtrics. The outcomes reported are the results from customers within the survey group who have purchased and/or used a fuel card for business purposes in the last 12 months – in this case, 240 people.
Brands must have received at least 30 responses to be included. Results are comparative and it should be noted that brands receiving three stars have still achieved a satisfaction measure of at least six out of 10. Not all brands available in the market have been compared in this survey. The ratings table is first sorted by star ratings and then by mean overall satisfaction. A rated brand may receive a ‘N/A’ (Not Applicable) rating if it does not receive the minimum number of responses for that criteria.
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