For fuel and other vehicle expenses, the benefits of Fleet Cards can rise well above traditional Purchasing Cards. But what do you do if common Fleet Card processes do not meet your organization’s needs? This was the case for Jessica Perdue, CPCP, Corporate Card Administrator for The Nature Conservancy. She responded by devising a new Fleet Card process that offers better control and satisfies her organization’s unique requirements. Everyone should consider her approach.
Why Use Fleet Cards Instead of Other Cards?
The short answer is details and controls. For The Nature Conservancy—an organization that utilizes federal funds—tracking details is critical. Regular P-Cards fell short in providing important information, including usage data to support emissions reports for their California unit, and the line item transaction data is not as robust. Their Fleet Card program with WEX Inc. includes reporting to help their efforts tracking the Conservancy’s carbon footprint.
Then there is the control element. P-Cards only go so far with spend and velocity limits, and MCC blocks. Fleet Cards make it possible to require the entry of vehicle mileage at the pump and restrict the number of gallons purchased. Jessica shared how she can block fuel types, too; for example, blocking unleaded gas if a vehicle requires diesel. Such a control was certainly lacking in the card fraud case I wrote about in 2014; see what happened and how to prevent something similar at your organization.
As for filling stations’ private label cards, no one wants to drive around to find a fuel location where they can use the branded card.
Common vs. Innovative
What is Common
With Fleet Cards, it is common for organizations to do one of the following.
- Assign a card to an employee, who might use their card with different company vehicles. If the organization wants to know which vehicle each transaction pertains to, the employee would need to specify the appropriate vehicle manually when reconciling. This leaves room for errors.
- Assign a card to a vehicle, which allows multiple employees to use it, but fuel purchases for a specific vehicle are all on one card. Some manual research would be required to: a) verify that all transactions are legitimately for the assigned vehicle, and b) determine the appropriate accounting code for each transaction.
Both approaches fail to tie together the three key elements: the employee, the card transaction and the vehicle. Not satisfied with the norm, Jessica worked with WEX to develop a different process.
A card with the VIN printed on it is assigned to each vehicle, but an employee who uses the card is required to key in their employee ID at the pump. The ID remains tied to the resulting transaction throughout the process, including within a feed into Concur. Fleet Card users access Concur—often through the mobile app—to allocate their fuel transactions to the appropriate fund (i.e., accounting code). This last step eliminates the need for someone in AP or Finance to determine the right fund. Jessica also relayed that, because line item data transfers to Concur, they eliminated the extra step of maintaining/imagining receipts.
She personally tested the card controls, including the number of transactions allowed per day, to ensure they worked successfully. The process is efficient and well controlled.
Finally, Jessica imparted her key message to me, saying, “Do not try to stay within the parameters of what your bank currently offers. If your organization needs something specific, create it and work with them to implement it.”
For more Commercial Card insights from others, visit the program management page.
About the Author
Blog post author Lynn Larson, CPCP, is the founder of Recharged Education. With more than 15 years of Commercial Card experience, her mission is to make industry education readily accessible to all. Learn more…
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