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Ulitzer Authors: marlin xp, janifar soloman, Symon Weedon, Elizabeth White, Yeshim Deniz

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Increased Fuel Costs?

Looking to Save Money on Petrol & Diesel

If you're like me, you'll have given plenty of thought about how much you spend each month on fuel. With the cost of petrol and diesel going up and the recent change in fuel duty, vehicle running costs are increasing and many company's profit margins are being squeezed.

I recently discovered a money saving opportunity that I'm sure most self-employed people and companies are completely unaware of that offers discounts of up to 6% on fuel. The offer even provides multi networks and multiple cards which are all shown on one invoice and this has helped us enormously with our VAT accounting.

Like other companies we were using fuel cards provided by Shell which allowed our drivers to fill up their vehicles at Shell stations but did not provide a discount off the fuel they used. Now we've got a range of cards (each one chosen by the driver which suits his/her needs) and we're getting a nice discount off our fuel spend.

Anthony Hobbs, E-Business executive at The Fuelcard Company UK Ltd, says: "The two major benefits are that admin is much easier and there can be savings on the fuel. There are no real cons, so it is a no-brainer for most companies who are buying fuel. We have the widest range of cards in one place so we can offer you the right card for your business rather than the one which makes us the most money."

Do fuel cards enable better planning?

"There is a view that unless you have a fleet of trucks a fuel card will not be applicable to you, but we are trying to make sure that more people realise the benefits. They are by far the best way to keep tabs on fuel that is being used. In terms of invoicing everything is broken down by transaction - by card or by driver name. There is no need to spend time inputting receipts and the data can be sent in an Excel spreadsheet, including where they filled up, what time of day it was, what price they paid etc. These results can be run on a monthly basis and compared to previous months - enabling you to look at average MPGs and the amount of petrol and diesel used. This information can then be used to accurately predict how much you are going to have to pay in future, and to budget accordingly."

Can fuel cards save money?

"They can all save you money in terms of lessening the administrative burden, for example, claiming back the VAT is made simple by compiling all transactions on a single invoice. In terms of price savings it depends on the type of card. There are two main types - ‘pump price' and ‘fixed rate'. With pump price cards, payments are made at the price on the sign at the forecourt. With fixed rate cards, payments are made at a rate set by the fuel card company - on average this is about three pence per litre cheaper on diesel."

Which fuel card is best?

"That is probably the hardest question to answer! It is individual to each company. All different companies and sectors have different needs. They may put emphasis on having carbon offset or on having even geographical coverage. It may also depend on what size the vehicles are, for example, HGVs will need suitable access."

Can charges be offset against taxation?

"It is all HMRC VAT approved and it is a lot tighter than any other method. For example, if you lose a receipt you will probably never be able to claim the VAT back."

Is there a danger of improper use or runaway bills?

"Most fuel cards are now Chip and PIN enabled, which reduces fraudulent activity. Cards can also be restricted so they can only be used to buy diesel or petrol and not everything in the shop! Each card can be registered to either a specific driver or a specific vehicle registration number. Vehicle registration is more secure as the number is checked at the point of purchase."

"In terms of runaway bills, there is weekly invoicing so there is no chance of anything building up that you do not know about. The system is much easier to monitor and it is difficult to use the cards improperly."

What accountancy issues can a fuel card introduce?

"Everything in one place - no receipts, no having to chase people for results at the end of the month!"

How is theft handled? Is it the same as with a credit card?

"It is very similar to a credit card. You need to notify the supplier. It can take 24 hours to stop the card and we will take all liability from the time you inform us that it has been lost or stolen."

Interested?

If like me you are interested in saving money on your fuel and this sounds of interest to you, log on to

http://www.discount-fuel-card.co.uk

More Stories By Symon Weedon

Symon Weedon Cert CII is the Marketing Manager of Waveney Group Schemes Ltd a specialist insurance broker proving insurance for driving instructors and driving schools. He has worked in the insurance broking market for over 14 years holding a range of marketing positions and has studied his insurance exams with the Chartered Insurance Institute obtaining the designatory letters Cert CII. Waveney Group Schemes Ltd is Authorised And Regulated by the Financial Services Authority http://www.driving-school-insurance.com