Energy Saving Trust is urging fleet managers to consider using fuel cards in a bid to reduce their motoring spend – while reassuring firms this does not automatically mean providing free private fuel to drivers.

A guide produced by the Trust outlines how costs, fuel consumption, administration time and security risks can all be reduced if businesses embrace the cashless payment method.

Fuel cards work like credit cards, but can only be used to purchase petrol, diesel, and sometimes other vehicle-related items such as oil. The vehicle registration and mileage are recorded at the point of sale, meaning the performance of individual vehicles can be easily tracked.

Ian Featherstone, knowledge manager at the Energy Saving Trust, said: “Our practical guide demonstrates how fleet managers can make their lives easier by adopting fuel cards.

“Fuel cards provide significant benefits for businesses. They remove the need for time-consuming expenses claims, and are more secure than conventional payment methods because they can be embossed with the drivers’ name, the registration of the vehicle and the company name and consolidated invoices make calculating and claiming VAT easier too.

“Many organisations believe that fuel cards can only be implemented when employees’ personal fuel costs are paid by the business.

“However, this is not the case, and indeed free private fuel is rarely cost-effective for either the employer or its drivers.

“Fuel cards should be complemented by a system where drivers repay private mileage at an individual rate – such a ‘fuel at cost’ approach encourages fuel efficient driving, is fairer to both drivers and vehicle managers, and is HMRC compliant.”

Paul Chater of business fleet consultancy Vertivia Mileage Management, added: “Channelling fuel purchases through a fuel card maximises buying power while also providing valuable data to act upon. While requiring a robust system to manage it, fuel at cost is a fair, transparent and compliant reimbursement process.”