In the midst of an economy-slowing pandemic, it's more important than ever to keep a close eye on your business expenses. Start by taking control of your fuel spend with one of the best prepaid fuel cards, ranked and reviewed on this page…
What are Prepaid Fuel Cards?
Prepaid fuel cards are a good way to cut the time you spend squinting over accounts. There are no expense forms to process, and you don’t need to spend countless hours pondering over lost receipts and unaccounted for items.
Unlike traditional fuel cards, which are essentially credit cards (your drivers use them to pay for fuel and maintenance, and you then pay that balance off each month), prepaid fuel cards – also known as gift cards – are more comparable to debit cards. You deposit money onto your prepaid fuel cards in advance, and your drivers can then use them to pay for fuel and maintenance.
Best of all, with a prepaid fuel card, there are no fees to consider and no minimums to meet. It’s as simple as having your cash in card form. And – gas station dependent – you may get to cash in on cheaper cash prices, too!
But which prepaid fuel card is right for your business? You can compare fuel card quotes directly through us, or read on to find out who we've shortlisted as the best prepaid fuel cards on the US market.
The Best Prepaid Fuel Cards
So what are the best prepaid fuel cards available? To find out, we conducted extensive research into the plethora of different prepaid fuel cards available on the US market – comparing them on top up limits, additional features, and more – to help you make the right decision for your fleet.
According to this research, the best prepaid fuel cards come from Shell, MasterCard, Bento, and ARCO. Let's find out what makes these cards excellent.
The Best Prepaid Fuel Cards Rated
|1||Shell Refillable Card||Best for simplicity|
|2||Brinks Business Expense||Best for nationwide coverage|
|3||Bento for Business||Best for fuel expenses management|
|4||ARCO PumpPASS||Best for cheap fuel|
Shell Refillable Card
Best for Simplicity
The Shell Refillable Card offers good gas station coverage, with over 14,000 refuel locations across all 50 states. Most gas stations will charge you cash price, so you benefit from the security of a pin number without the credit card charges.
You can load up to $300 onto the card at any one time via your online account and track the balance and spending. Most importantly, the Shell card keeps things simple by limiting spending to fuel, so you have peace of mind that your employees aren’t using business money to purchase things they shouldn’t.
- Plenty of refuelling locations
- Load different amounts onto the card
- Track spending online to keep things simple
- Pay cash price (gas station dependent)
- No rebate on spending
- Only basic online account management
▶ Read more: The Best Fleet Gas Card Companies
Brinks Business Expense
Best for Nationwide Coverage
Brinks' Business Expense card can be used anywhere that accepts Debit Mastercard. That's about 8 million retailers in the US, so you can rest assured that your drivers will be able to use this card at almost any gas station.
With this card program, you'll gain access to Brinks' intuitive expenses dashboard, which you can use to easily set up spending controls, disable and re-enable certain cards, and see how much each driver is spending, on what, and where.
All that said, you'll need to be aware that this card is designed for use by businesses of all kinds – not just fleets. So if you want your staff to use it for fuel and little else, you'll need to make sure you set up spending controls so your drivers can only use their Brinks card at gas stations, or for travel expenses.
- Can be used anywhere that accepts Mastercard
- 60-day free trial available
- Possibility of paying no subscription fee when you spend $20,000 per month
- Intuitive spending control and analysis dashboard...
- ...but this comes with a subscription fee, from $29 to $149 per month
- Isn't designed specifically for fleets and fuel spend
Pricing correct as of 10/01/2021
Bento for Business
Best for Fuel Expenses Management
If you’re looking for a better way to track your expenses in general, Bento for Business may be the route for you. Use the card alongside their software to check in on what your employees are spending. The best bit is you dictate what purchases your employees make. You can choose from gas or fuel cards, employee cards to monitor expenses or even project cards to keep track of budgets.
You’ll receive an alert each time a transaction is made, plus you can check your accounts on the go with the Bento app. So what are the costs? Well, if there are only two of you, you can have the software package for free. The next package is for up to 10 cards and that’ll cost you $29. Not bad. Unsure if it’s right for you? Get involved with a 60 day free trial.
- No personal liability
- Funds protection
- Easy to use tracking dashboard
- Turn cards on and off instantly
- No rewards
- Takes time for funds to register on the card
Pricing correct as of 10/01/2021
Best for Cheap Fuel
ARCO is another great prepaid fuel card to invest in, especially if you live on the West side of the US. ARCO gas stations are known for delivering quality fuel at decent prices, so what’s the point in going anywhere else?
This is a no frills card, for sure. It’s easy to top up and you can tap and go at the pump for ultimate ease. But there aren’t any particular benefits, aside from paying cash prices at participating fuel stations.
- Easy to use
- Access to ARCO’s cheap fuel
- Only use on fuel purchases
- Avoid fees associated with credit cards
- No account management
- Call up to add funds
The Different Types of Prepaid Fuel Card Explained
When it comes to prepaid fuel card options, you'll likely be choosing between two different varieties:
- Prepaid gift cards – such as the Shell Refillable Card and ARCO PumpPASS
- Prepaid expenses management cards – such as Brinks Business Expense and Bento for Business
The route you take depends on what you want from your card. Do you want to benefit from cash prices at specific gas stations? Would you like greater control over your expenses in general? Are you happy to pay a monthly subscription fee for greater spending control and insight, or would you rather go for something cheap and simple?
Let's explore the key differences between these two types of card:
Prepaid Gas Gift Cards
First off, don’t be put off by this label. Instead of insisting that you place each one inside a birthday card, fuel companies actually recommend that small businesses use their gift cards to manage spending.
Most gas companies supply them; it’s just a case of going for the brand with the largest number of gas stations within your business operation area.
For example, West Coast companies should check out ARCO PumpPASS for great value, quality gas.
Those that operate on a wider scale should check out Shell's Refillable Card for pretty solid gas station distribution – certainly in Texas, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Indiana, and along the East Coast states.
Expenses Management Cards
Expenses management card programs like Bento for Business and Brinks Business Expense typically come with rave reviews from users, and are a modern and intuitive way to handle your business expenses. They're also accepted at almost all gas stations.
No, they aren't designed specifically for fleets and fuel spend, but you can easily customize your spending restrictions to make sure your drivers are using them to buy the right things.
The only downside to these cards is you have to invest in the expenses management software, too. But with prices starting from as little as $29 a month, the return of admin time saved and fuel costs limited with spending controls is worth it.
1. What is the best prepaid fuel card for small businesses?
All prepaid fuel cards are good for small businesses. But if your company is very small, prepaid gift cards like the Shell Refillable Card and ARCO PumpPASS are the simplest way to manage fuel spend costs. As businesses grow, expenses management cards like Bento for Business and Brinks Business Expense will help you to manage the spending of a greater number of drivers – but these do come with monthly subscription costs.
2. What are the best prepaid fuel cards for account management?
Prepaid gift cards offer fairly limited account management, so if you’re looking to have more control over spending on your fuel cards, consider a dedicated expenses management card one. Both Bento for Business and Brinks Business Expense come with apps that you can use to easily check in on accounts.