Fleet cards are a necessary stepping stone in the business credit-building journey. Some of them are more easily accessible in the early stages of building credit than others, and finding the right ones for your business is vital.
First, you have to actually qualify for the card in your business name. Then, you want to find cards that will report to the business credit reporting agencies. Not all of them do.
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Business Gas Cards that Report to Dun and Bradstreet
If you make it this far, come bearing gifts. Your sweetheart will definitely want that chocolate and roses. Once you make it through Big Brother and have several accounts reporting from the retail credit tier, you can hit the road and begin to apply for cards from the fleet credit tier.
There are tons of fleet credit cards, but to give you an idea of what is out there, here are a few examples.
The ARCO fleet card will report your payments to Equifax and Dun & Bradstreet. For approval, you will need an EIN as well as a bank and trade reference.
There is no minimum purchase amount required and new businesses are welcome to apply.
You will also have to provide your gross annual income along with the business name, address, and telephone number.
Valvoline will report payments to Experian and Dun & Bradstreet. You will need to have an established business credit history to qualify.
These cards are part of the WEX family and can be used for oil change and maintenance services. They are also accepted at 90% of fuel locations across the nation.
Card managers get access to monthly reporting, including where and when each purchase is made, by the driver. This is due to the unique driver identification number assigned to each one.
In addition, online tools allow card managers to set spending controls to help with budgeting and keep unauthorized spending at bay.
Does Wex Fleet Report to the Credit Bureaus?
WEX also reports to Experian and Dun & Bradstreet. They do require a personal guarantee as well. Most recently the minimum credit score requirement was 640, but that is subject to change. Be sure to check with them directly for the most up-to-date information.
Fuelman is a FleeCor branded card that has historically reported to Dun & Bradstreet, Experian, and Equifax. They state in their contract that they reserve the right to do so, though there is no guarantee.
They may require a personal guarantee if your business credit is not yet strong enough, in which case they also reserve the right to report to the personal credit reporting agencies.
They charge $59 per month for all of the cards your business needs, offer a $.12 per gallon discount on diesel, and have rewards of 1 point gallon redeemable for rewards such as gift cards and merchandise.
Casey’s Business Mastercard
This is another Fuelman brand card. As such, they do reserve the right to report to the business credit bureaus, but they do not guarantee that they will do so. Historically, however, they have.
You can use the card anywhere Mastercard is accepted, but rewards are only earned at Casey’s. If you frequent these stations, the rewards are generous, with users earning 8 cents per gallon.
The card also offers a number of spend management controls, including online and card-level security features. For example, managers have the ability to set security codes to deter card misuse.
Card managers can also monitor spending in real time 24 hours a day.
CEFCO Fleet Card
This Fuelman brand card is accepted at over 200 CEFCO locations. In addition, you can use it at more than 175,000 fueling locations that accept Mastercard® credit cards. Managers have the ability to:
- Set individual card usage and spending limits by day, week, or month
- Set prompts to ask for vehicle or driver number prior to purchase
- Shut off lost or stolen cards at any time
With these cards, the more you buy the more you save.
For example, for 1-499 gallons you earn a 1 cent per gallon monthly rebate. For 500 to 1,499 gallons, the rebate goes up to 2 cents per gallon, and so on up to a 6 cents per gallon monthly rebate for 10,000+ gallons.
They reserve the right to report to the business credit reporting agencies, and historically they have done so.
What is the Fleet Credit Tier?
When it comes to business credit, there are multiple tiers you can work through to establish your score. You start at the vendor credit tier and work through the retail credit tier. After that comes the fleet credit tier and the cash credit tier. Then, you can make it to the big show, which would be business loans from traditional lenders.
You have to start somewhere though, and the fleet credit tier is a romantic stop on the road. These are cards that are specifically for fuel costs and automobile repair and maintenance.
Why Not Just Regular Credit?
Why not just use regular credit for fuel, auto repair, and maintenance? Well, here is the thing….Those credit cards with the high limits and lower interest required to manage the costs of a fleet of automobiles do not come easily.
You have to have a business credit score that is decent. Those cards are in the cash credit tier. You can use them for anything your heart desires, even automobile costs. But a mediocre credit score or no credit score, will not cut it for cards in the cash credit tier.
After you work through a couple of the credit tiers and you get some accounts reporting to the credit agencies on behalf of your business, however, you may qualify for cards in the fleet credit tier.
As a bonus, you are continuing to build your business credit while you use the fleet credit tier and make on-time payments on a consistent basis.
How Do You Start a Relationship with the Fleet Credit Tier?
Just like any relationship, you have to use a little romance. It’s the thrill of the chase. The fleet credit tier loves for you to pursue it. It needs to see that you are working hard at building strong business credit before it will open up and let you in. Where do you start? Flowers? Chocolate? Actually, you start with the vendor credit tier.
Romance the Vendor Credit Tier
Think of this as the warm-up. If you are a young man trying to romance a young woman, you need to start with the parents. You have to go through them first. When you get there, you might offer the mom flowers. That is a romantic gesture, right?
To get in good with the fleet credit tier, you have to make it through the vendor credit tier first. Romance it a little to prove you are worthy to move on. What is the vendor credit tier, and how do you make it like you?
The Vendor Credit Tier: Gateway to the Fleet Credit Tier
Head out on the road to the fleet credit tier and you will have to cross the vendor credit tier bridge first. These are starter vendors that will offer you net 30 terms on invoices and report your on-time payments to the credit agencies.
What does that have to do with the fleet credit tier? Well, you cannot begin a relationship with the fleet credit tier without a strong business credit score.
That has to start somewhere, and the vendor credit tier is that somewhere. You can typically get an account with them even if you do not have business credit. When they report your payments, your credit starts to build.
Who Lives on the Vendor Credit Tier?
There are plenty of vendors to choose from, but some of the most popular include:
You can order packing supplies and even some janitorial supplies from Uline. A few initial purchases may be necessary to get net 30 approval, but then you are well on your way to a strong business credit score.
Grainger sells industrial supplies, some tools and equipment, and products conducive to outdoor work. Similar to Uline, you may need to make some initial purchases and show how long you have been in business to get net 30 terms.
CEO Creative is a vendor of electronics, plus you can create your own logo through them. They report to CreditSafe and Equifax. Terms are net 30.
The Next Step to the Fleet Credit Tier: Get in Good with Big Brother
When you are ready to romance your date and get the show on the road, you will often find that after the parents you have a big brother to contend with. He isn’t as easy as the parents. And he may go to your school, he may even overhear your locker room talk. He is blocking the path.
After you make it through the vendor credit tier, you still have to go through the retail credit tier to get to the fleet credit tier. These are store cards such as Office Depot, Best Buy, Walmart, and even Amazon.
Once you have 3 to 5 vendors reporting, you can start to apply for cards from the retail credit tier. They like to see a solid business credit score, so you cannot try to apply for them until you have used the vendor credit tier to build up your score.
Break Up with Your Personal Credit Score
As you will notice, each of these cards relies on your business credit rather than your personal credit. Before you can romance the fleet credit tier, your business must break up with your personal credit. How do you do that? How do you ensure your business has its own credit that isn’t connected to your personal credit score? You cannot begin a new relationship until you end the one you are currently in, right?
Get Ready for Romance with your Business Credit Score, Breakup with Your Personal Credit Score
At least, stop using personal credit accounts for business purposes. There are a couple of reasons for this. First, if your personal credit isn’t great, you are going to struggle to find funding for your business. However, the flip side will also be an issue. If your business doesn’t do great, it can affect your personal credit.
Here is another thought. Personal credit cards have lower limits than business cards. Business expenses are significantly higher than personal expenses. If you put business expenses on personal credit cards, they are going to max out quickly. This can cause your personal credit score to drop even if you are successfully keeping up with payments.
That is because the ratio of your debt to your available credit is one of several factors that affect your personal credit score. Putting business expenses on personal credit cards can cause this ratio to get way out of whack.
Putting it all Together: How a Relationship with the Fleet Credit Tier Can Lead You to a Life of Business Credit Bliss
Of course, you can’t run your business on fleet cards alone. However, they are something you will need to get familiar with in the course of both building business credit and funding your business. They can help both now, and be a stepping stone in the journey to growing your business and having strong business credit.
Want to know more about how to get these and other business credit accounts? Contact us today for a free business credit consultation.