Cash Flow Protection

Why the Right Transportation Credit Cards are Essential for Employee Expenses

Growing your transportation business starts with streamlining your employee expenses

The Transportation Industry and its Employee Expense Needs

The transportation industry is a vital part of the U.S. economy. According to Zippia, there are roughly 4.27 million transportation and warehousing businesses in the United States. Moreover, as of last year, the transportation industry was worth 1.36 trillion dollars.

With many of these companies commuting back-and-forth delivering supplies, there remains a constant need for both companies and their employees to pay for gas and repairs. Typically, they rely on card sharing, employee reimbursement, or traditional fuel cards; however, these methods can be inconvenient, time-consuming, and limiting.

This is where a transportation credit card can become a game-changer.

What is a Transportation Credit Card and Why Use One?

A transportation credit card is a type of card that is designed to pay for fuel expenses or vehicle maintenance. These travel credit cards are beginning to grow in popularity because they are the best credit cards for transportation. According to Statista, the fuel card market is expected to reach $842.41 billion by 2023.

Businesses often purchase these types of credit cards for travel and distribute them amongst their drivers so they’re always in hand. That way, whenever the drivers need fuel or one-off repairs, they have a simple way to pay for it without needing to share cards or pay out-of-pocket.

Transportation business credit cards are popular solutions to meet businesses’ fuel expense needs, but it’s important to know your options to have the proper spend controls in place to help reduce the risk of fraud.

Who Uses Transportation Credit Cards?

Different kinds of fleet and transportation companies typically implement this method as their primary business travel credit card. For supply delivery companies, food and event delivery, and trucking/towing companies, they’re typically the most sought-out commodity for employee business expenses.

Delivery drivers typically have one on hand, as they incur most of the business’ travel expenses. Other kinds of employees, such as field technicians and travel installers, also use transportation business credit cards. In these instances, employees are often given permission to use their cards not only to purchase fuel, but other travel-related costs (such as hotels) if they are required to remain at worksites for several weeks.

Small rideshare companies may also have travel credit cards on hand for their drivers. They incur the same gas expenses for business travel; however, many also make purchases that are less typical in other industries (such as trucking/towing companies). For example, some entrepreneurs run limousine transportation companies that specialize in both transportation and entertainment. Outside of vehicle expenses, these drivers may stop at grocery stores or other retail outlets to purchase entertainment-based items for their customers to use while they ride.

Each of these companies often have three things in common:

  1. They need to give their employees a means to pay for company expenses
  2. They usually need a way to pay for one-off purchases other than gas
  3. They need to be able to get funds to their employees quickly- sometimes often- from wherever they’re at on the road

Because of this, it’s important to understand the different kinds of solution options you can utilize to address these three areas. 

Transportation Credit Card Options

Different kinds of transportation credit cards offer different employee expense tracking and controlling:

  1. Traditional business credit cards function like any other credit card, with the ability to pay for anything; typically, these offer rebates/rewards.
  2. Standard fleet cards offer drivers the ability to pay for gas, track mileage, and offer rebates and rewards.
  3. Standard gas cards offer drivers the ability to fuel up at any one specific gas station company nationwide with rebate and reward offerings.

While these alternatives offer value, the best transportation credit cards can offer more versatility.

What is U.S. Bank Spend Management?

U.S. Bank business credit cards offer a Spend Management Platform to help business owners and admins manage business transportation costs they incur in real-time. As an alternative employee expense method, these business credit cards allow admins to set customizable spending controls and limitations that help your business:

  1. Stay on budget
  2. Load/reload cards from wherever
  3. Track each employee transaction in real-time
  4. Pre-set spend controls for employees (including card on/off capabilities)
  5. Change controls on-the-go for one-off purchases (outside of just fuel)
  6. Allow your employees to purchase from any merchant, anytime
  7. Set company policies through your dashboard
  8. Capture and consolidate receipts digitally (no expense reports)
  9. Customized employee note fields for mileage tracking
  10. Automate your bookkeeping processes (like coding/reconciling)

When comparing this option with other alternatives, it’s important to know some of the key differences.

Traditional Business Credit Cards vs Cards with U.S. Bank Spend Management

U.S. Bank business credit cards offer different capabilities than a traditional transportation credit card does.

Traditional transportation cards will simply act like any other credit card. You open a credit line for your business, spend where you need to, and earn rewards. The difficulty with this alternative is the lack of visibility into each transaction. These kinds of credit cards are typically opened with the intent that the business owner or a select group of executives will be making purchases. The lack of transaction visibility can make business executives hesitant to hand cards out to the rest of their staff, even though they incur most of the businesses’ expenses.

This often leads to a need for employee reimbursement at the end of each month coupled with the need for admins to collect a stack of physical receipts from everyone. It also can mean companies continue to use loose petty cash or per diems. Lack of transaction visibility also leads to concern that a company may overspend more than they should within an allotted credit limit.

U.S. Bank business credit cards offer both customizable controls and real-time transaction reporting that traditional transportation credit cards do not. There’s also the ability to set individual spend limits so employees can each have their own card without overspending. More specifically, admins can customize each card to use specific merchant categories only (like fuel and gas) and turn the cards off when your employees are not working. On the reporting side, there’s also a real-time way to track and download transaction reports to get a full-months view of card spending versus waiting until the end of the month for your bank to send one.

This also makes it possible to eliminate card sharing, employee reimbursement, expense reports, or petty cash systems altogether.

Standard Fleet Credit Cards vs U.S. Bank Spend Management

Standard fleet cards and U.S. Bank Spend Management offer many similarities to transportation companies. Both have transaction tracking, and both typically have digital receipt capture. They each can be used for fuel expenses as drivers are traveling and both have a customizable field to utilize that can ultimately track driver mileage. Each also offers rewards/cashback much of the time as people are spending.

U.S. Bank business credit cards, however, offer one feature that most standard fleet cards may not: versatility. These cards not only can pay for fuel expenses, but also have the ability- through customizable spend controls- to pay for one-off purchases in real-time. If drivers incur vehicle issues and need to pay for a repair wherever they are, admins can simply access each spend management credit card straight from a smartphone app and update the spend controls as needed to pay for more than just fuel. The same is true if drivers (or other employees) need a way to pay lodging for long-distance traveling.

U.S. Bank business credit cards also gives you the option to create, edit, and delete cards at will. It gives you the ability to create business transportation fuel cards for driving employees and the flexibility to distribute them for other purchase uses amongst non-driving (office) employees.

Standard Gas Credit Cards vs U.S. Bank Spend Management

Standard gas credit cards and U.S. Bank business credit cards are similar in the sense that both are used for business transportation fuel purchases; however, standard gas credit cards are typically fuel credit cards that are purchased through and only used for a specific brand. These cards typically lead to savings on fuel through the cards-specific company locations. Nonetheless, they can only be used at gas stations associated with a specific brand. They also cannot be used for one-off purchases. This can cause difficulties for drivers running low on fuel without a nearby gas station associated with their gas cards brand.

U.S. Bank business credit cards offer drivers the ability to purchase at any gas station, anytime. They offer real-time reporting and tracking with cash-back offerings that allow for savings. They mainly give employees peace-of-mind that they can purchase fuel wherever they need to, unlike standard gas credit cards.

How U.S. Bank Spend Management Can Help Prevent Fraud

One beneficial aspect of U.S. Bank business credit cards: fraud prevention. Every time your drivers fill up on gasoline, they run the risk of using their card at a pump with a credit card skimmer installed on it. Since these cards allow you to limit what merchant categories are turned on and how much can be spent, they naturally mitigate your risks of confiscation; transactions will automatically decline.

If an employee loses his or her card while they are on the road, admins can also turn off cards instantly by choosing “off” in the mobile or web app. Similarly, the same can be said in situations of standard employee fraud attempts or misspending.

How to Manage Transportation Expenses with U.S. Bank Spend Management

For delivery and transportation companies, expenses are happening frequently from multiple different areas where your employees reside. Both prior to and after purchases are made, companies should set a precedent for how employee business expenses are handled. Not only tracking each transaction, but also having a plan to collect receipts in a timely manner is crucial to running a successful business.

By writing a clear policy and procedure for company expenses, you can ensure receipts are submitted digitally and in a timely manner. When it comes to transaction reconciliation, set up auto-categorization rules that will automatically code transactions for you with similar spending attributes. For example, set up automated rules that make it so whenever employees fuel up at a gas station, those transactions are coded with the same coding (i.e. GL codes, class, location) used in your current accounting software of choice.

The Bottom Line

U.S. Bank business credit cards are great to use for transportation service expenses and may be a great alternative to other transportation credit cards. From point-of-spend purchasing to transaction reconciliation, you can completely automate your business expenses.

More importantly, the controls and reporting that admins have on this spend management platform can help businesses protect their cash flow, scale smarter, spend efficiently, and ultimately grow their business.