Here’s what you need to know about fuel discounts for truckers
Fuel is one of the largest operating costs incurred by trucking companies, and paying full price to ﬁll up just doesn’t make sense when there are other options for those who are willing — and savvy enough — to play the game.
There are multiple ways for truckers to save money on diesel fuel costs, but unless you understand who is providing the discounts and how each type of discount works, you’re at high risk of paying way too much for fuel. CDLLife reached out to the team at Overland Park, Kansas-based Multi Service Fuel Card for a dive into how fuel discounts work along with expert tips on how to avoid paying too much at the pump.
“If you’re paying retail price, you’re purchasing fuel the wrong way,” Multi Service Fuel Card Director of Sales Brian Webb told CDLLife.
How Do Fuel Card Discounts Work?
Fuel discounts are generally made possible by truck stops, who will discount fuel in an effort to earn the business of a fleet. Fuel cards offer a purchasing platform that can facilitate fuel discounts awarded to fleets by truck stops. It’s an important distinction as often fleets believe that it’s the fuel card that makes the discount possible, when in reality, almost all fuel discounts are issued by truck stops. The fuel card is the fiddle in the middle, ensuring the discount is honored and properly invoiced.
There are a few types of discounts offered — “retail-minus,” a straightforward subtraction from the per-gallon price at the pump. Next is “cost-plus,” which is the truck stop’s approximate gross cost of fuel which involves calculating fuel costs based on current Oil Pricing Information Service (OPIS) reporting and adding taxes and other costs to get the ﬁnal price for a gallon of fuel. A third type of discount is called “better of,” an option that automatically gives the fuel customer the best price option between the retail-minus and cost-plus discounts.
Fuel card providers are also able to negotiate with truck stops to offer their cash price to customers when using their card, which is usually between another 4 and 6 cents per gallon discount versus the credit price. Additional discounts are Network discounts, which are between 1 cent and 12 cents, depending on location, and “direct to you” discounts, which are negotiated speciﬁcally between one particular truck stop and one particular ﬂeet. Many ﬂeets can also enjoy signiﬁcant savings through negotiated “direct bill discounts” for customers who directly bill through a particular truck stop.
By combining multiple fuel discount options, fleets can stack significant savings and make their fuel budget go further.
How Do I Maximize My Savings on Fuel?
According to the Multi Service Fuel Card team, the best way to get the most bang out of your diesel dollar is to understand your trucking business and its fueling needs and to be persistent in your search for discounts. At the end of the day, ﬂeet owners who aren’t seeking out multiple avenues for fuel discounts are throwing money away. It pays (literally) to do your homework, build relationships, and ask for what you need.
If you’re a ﬂeet owner and you want to switch truck stops to get better fuel discounts, don’t forget that drivers often have strong opinions about truck stops and may be unhappy with a switch — something to keep in mind as part of your fuel card game plan, according to Multi Service Fuel Card.
If there is a preferred truck stop, reach out to the truck stop and ask for a discount in exchange for a commitment to purchase a certain amount of fuel. You should be able to obtain discounts at that fuel retailer without the hassle of switching fuel cards.
“If you understand the relationships and you understand how the game is played, you shouldn’t have to jump from fuel card to fuel card as long as you build those relationships at the truck stop and say, hey look, I’d like to have this [discount] hosted on the card that I’m currently on,” Webb said. “At the end of the day they just want the gallons.”
It can be worth looking into fuel discounts provided by various mobile apps, but there can be some friction involved in the purchase process, the Multi Service Fuel Card team said.
The Fuel Card Game — Partner With An Experienced Provider to Win
The money-saving beneﬁts of using a fuel card do not stop at fuel discounts. The right fuel card can also provide you with a layer of protection against costly fuel card fraud, a growing problem within the trucking industry.
Founded by OTR truck driver more than 45 years ago, Multi Service Fuel Card offers 24/7/365 customer support and robust ﬁnancial tools to help trucking companies maximize proﬁtability. If you’re an owner-operator or a small, medium, or large ﬂeet in need of help saving money on fuel, the Multi Service Fuel Card team has smart solutions — just click here to connect.