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Fleets advised to keep eye on fuel management despite falling pump prices

The message comes from The Fuelcard People as the price for Brent crude fell below $40 per barrel for the first time in six years.

Steve Clarke, group marketing manager, said: “We expect continuing global price drops to be reflected at the pumps, with the RAC predicting a sub-£1 litre by Christmas. Any saving soon disappears, though, when drivers go off-route to hunt for bargains. Meanwhile, most of the price is accounted for by taxes and, if you have the wrong fuel card, transaction charges.”

He pointed out that a driver going three miles and back to a ‘cheaper’ forecourt, saving 1p per litre, could need to pump 60 litres just to recoup the fuel used for the diversion. “It can become a game between colleagues,” he said, “with drivers competing to boast of how little they pay to refuel. As they are not responsible for the bills, it does not bother them how far off-route the ‘winning’ can take them. With the right fuel card, they should not need to divert at all to save on pump prices.”

Clarke added that fuel cards offering fixed weekly pricing can generally beat pump prices no matter where a driver refuels.

“Some fleet managers may not realise that most ‘pump price’ fuel cards are nothing of the kind. It is common for a transaction charge, £2 or more, to be added regardless of the quantity bought,” he said. “If a ‘pump price’ forecourt is 1p per litre cheaper than neighbouring fixed-price alternatives, you could need to buy at least 200 litres just to break even.”

Fuel cards are not all the same and fleets all have differing refuelling needs. Clarke commented: “This is the perfect time for any fleet manager to reassess their needs and compare the whole fuel card market. Ideally, they should talk to a supplier that can offer both fixed-price and pump price options, to avoid costly compromises.”

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Natalie Middleton

Natalie has worked as a fleet journalist for 16 years, previously as assistant editor on the former Company Car magazine before joining Fleet World in 2006. Prior to this, she worked on a range of B2B titles, including Insurance Age and Insurance Day. As Business Editor, Natalie ensures the group websites and newsletters are updated with the latest news.