In my last article, ‘The Owner Operators’ Guide to Managing Fuel Costs: Part 1’, I discussed two methods of buying fuel for those engaged in haulage jobs. The first, bulk buying, had various potentially difficult issues attached, including cash flow and environmental and security concerns. The second option, Fuel Cards, had monitoring issues, as well as fees payable to the oil company.
Today I am going to look at the money-saving potential of Bunker Fuel Cards.
What is a Bunker Card?
A Bunker Card is similar to a fuel card, as it only permits a driver to purchase diesel or petrol (you can specify). However, you will not be paying retail prices, but paying prices closer to those paid by large operators who bulk buy their diesel. This means that the cost of haulage jobscould decrease for you, helping to increase your profits.
How Do They Work?
A Bunker Card uses a national bunkering network to provide an owner operator with fuel at a price that both parties have agreed to. The network purchases a large amount of diesel from an oil company, which then delivers the product to prearranged sites. There are thousands of outlets across the country which the user can draw from with their smart card. These outlets are located in convenient points, such as truck stops and petrol stations. Drivers can draw fuel up to an agreed limit.
There are two networks in the UK: Keyfuels and UK Fuels. Your card will only be valid for the sites of one of these networks, so make sure to do your research before applying. A benefit of using this system is that VAT claims are made simple, as you receive two invoices – one from the oil company and one from the network.
Is This the Answer?
Using a Bunker Card will probably help you save money. Of course, you will need to crunch the numbers before applying. Though the bunker network will charge you a few pence per litre for each ‘withdrawal’, – like a cashpoint might charge you to take out money – the saving from the retail price is still significant.
It is worth getting a Bunker Card if you are re-fuelling away from base fairly often (i.e. whilst you’re out on haulage jobs) or are an owner operator without a tank on site.
To set up an account with either of the UK networks, you’ll need to go through a dealer. As always, it is worth checking out all of the dealers beforehand and comparing prices and credit terms. When you decide on a dealer, only apply to that one – a network might get suspicious if they see lots of applications coming in from the same company.
A Bunker Fuel Card is a great option for owner operators, giving you a good deal on diesel and allowing you to monitor fuel use on your haulage jobswith ease. I hope that this article has helped you decide what the best fuelling method for your vehicles is.
Norman Dulwich is a Correspondent for Haulage Exchange, the leading online trade network for the road transport industry. Connecting logistics professionals across the UK and Europe through their website, Haulage Exchange provides services for matching haulage jobs with available drivers. Over 5,000 member companies are networked together through the Exchange to fill empty capacity, get new clients and form long-lasting business relationships.