High fuel costs and ways to combat them—whether through discount fuel cards or more strategic planning—are at the top of every trucker’s mind these days. Diesel prices continue to rise every week throughout most of the country, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration. Fuel prices have knocked the driver shortage out of the first position as the number one industry concern in the trucking industry for the first time in five years, according to the American Transportation Research Institute’s (ATRI) 18th annual Top Industry Issues report.
So, what can be done? Using a discount fuel card is one of the easiest ways for truckers to save money at the pump, and there are some additional ways to save money that will really add up and make a substantial difference.
Larger trucking companies can leverage their size and cash flow to alleviate the sting of these high fuel costs, but it’s not as easy for an independent with only one or two trucks. One of the simplest ways to save money at the pump is by applying for a discount fuel card. Companies like Comdata and EFS negotiate lower prices from fuel retailers across the nation, so drivers can reap significant savings. And every bit of savings counts: a 250-gallon truck now costs more than $1,000 to fill up instead of roughly $800 a year ago.
The TBS Comdata and TBS EFS discount fuel cards can save drivers up to 90¢ per gallon at some locations and are both loaded with extra benefits, such as tools to keep track of fuel expenditures; the ability to set spending limits and specify authorized products for purchase; the choice to deposit factor payments directly to the card; loyalty programs with savings on tires, parts, legal services, and more; PLUS, exclusive access to the TBS Fuel Finder site to find the cheapest fuel.
So, if you’ve been wondering which fuel card for truckers is the best, take into consideration which cards provide the most benefits besides just price discounts.
TBS FUEL FINDER
We’ve all been there: you pass station after station, thinking there’ll be a cheaper price up ahead. But then your gauge is too low for comfort, and you pull off at the next stop, whether it’s the cheapest or not.
In tandem with utilizing a discount fuel card, route planning using TBS Fuel Finder is an easy way to make sure TBS clients get the lowest prices on fuel, regardless of where their journey takes them. The map is color-coded in green, yellow, and red, to quickly see which fuel stations have the cheapest prices and which have the highest prices. Start and end points can be input to see which stations are on an exact route to make planning even simpler.
There are also filter options that allow customization of a route plan. Routes often traveled can be saved to avoid inputting start and end points each time. Spending the extra minutes to plan a route with TBS Fuel Finder can end up saving a driver time and money and eliminate any stress when it comes to picking a fuel stop.
OTHER WAYS TO SAVE
It may sound strange, but there are several other ways to save on fuel costs that don’t involve fuel at all.
Maintaining the truck’s tires (pressure, wear, replacement schedule) can make a BIG impact on fuel usage. If tires are underinflated, they flex more than they should. This generates more heat and increases rolling resistance, which increases fuel consumption and wastes fuel.
Overinflated tires are hard and stiff, reduce traction, and make it harder to stop and start due to the lower amount of rubber in contact with the road. If the engine is having to work harder to get moving and to stop, extra fuel is being burned and money is being wasted. Check out our e-book on tires for more ways to keep tires in tip-top shape.
Additionally, practicing safe driving habits can significantly lessen fuel consumption. It’s easy to want to go-go-go, but having a heavy foot (among other things) can waste fuel and cause unnecessary wear & tear on the engine. Read 4 Ways to Save Money on Fuel for more details on how to improve fuel consumption and save money.
As mentioned earlier, larger trucking companies usually have the cash flow to withstand periods of high fuel prices. As an owner-operator with a handful of trucks (or even just one), passing the costs of fuel to customers doesn’t alleviate the need for more cash flow NOW. Those owner-operators are still waiting 30, 60, or even 90 days for their customers to pay. How many gallons of fuel have they gone through by then?
The solution is simple: partner with a factoring company like TBS Factoring Service and get paid the same day the load is delivered. No more waiting for customers to pay and sweating at the fuel pump as those numbers climb higher and higher. Plus, funding the TBS Comdata or TBS EFS fuel cards through factoring is quick and easy. Whether a large trucking operation or just getting started, discount fuel cards are a smart way to save money, especially during times of high fuel prices. But they aren’t the only answer. Planning routes beforehand to ensure the cheapest prices, practicing good driving habits, making sure the tires (and entire rig) are operating at peak levels, and using a factoring service to help with cash flow are all ways to endure these high fuel prices.