Van users should remember that falling fuel prices can bring problems, according to The Fuelcard People. Steve Clarke, group marketing manager, was commenting as the price for Brent crude fell below $40 per barrel for the first time in six years. He 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.”

He added that fuel cards offering fixed weekly pricing can generally beat pump prices no matter where a van refuels. “Some users 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 van users all have differing refuelling needs. Steve Clarke said, “This is the perfect time for anyone with vans 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.”

Steve Clarke’s long experience in the sector makes him perfectly positioned to comment. The Fuelcard People reduces refuelling costs for many thousands of van users every day, typically by up to 4p per litre for both diesel and petrol. It offers commercial rate, fixed-price and pump price fuel cards, covering the whole of the UK with more than 7,600 forecourts.