Have you got with the program? Your carrier’s fuel network program? Besides driving at your “sweet spot”  and reducing idling, joining your carrier’s fuel network is one of the easiest ways an owner-operator can help control costs. And even though you are no longer a company driver, carriers want you to succeed in your business and try to help you control costs so you continue to work with them. That’s why they allow owner-operators to continue to utilize their fuel network, because helping you helps them.
Most owner-operators who use their carrier’s fuel network program don’t realize the benefits they receive from using their network. If you need a refresher on why you joined in the first place, are a new owner-operator, or have not joined, here is a list of benefits an owner-operator receives from joining a carrier’s fuel network:
  • Savings. You can save an average of 6 cents per gallon when you refuel at in-network truck stop.  Running through approximately 12,000 gallons of fuel a year, a .06 savings per gallon can save you over $700 of hard earned cash (12,000x.06). Your carrier’s discount is negotiated with each truck stop based on the amount of fuel they consume. Keep fuel discounts in mind when you are thinking of switching carriers. The largest networks typically have the best discounts negotiated. Even when pay per mile is higher at smaller carrier, the pay increase may not be enough to cover the lower discount on fuel.
  • Fuel Cards. You will receive a fuel card to make your fuel purchases on. Most carriers will provide their owner-operators a fuel card and automatically deduct the fuel expenses from your settlement. Having the fuel charges automatically deducted means you no longer have to manage this expense in your cash flow, make fuel purchases on your own credit card, or track fuel receipts. You won’t see the carrier’s fuel discount applied to the price on your receipt, but you will see the discount applied on your settlement. (Carriers may not want to have their specifically negotiated discount rate shown on paper at the pump.)
  • Fuel Tax Reports. Another benefit from having a fuel card is that it will track where you make fuel purchases. It’s tempting to fuel up in a state with a lower fuel tax rate but this can be a big mistake for drivers. The fuel card helps track how many miles you ran in each state and its information is used to determine your quarterly fuel tax report. The last thing you want is to owe more money on your next settlement because you refueled too often in states with lower fuel tax rates.
  • Fuel Efficient Routes. One of the best benefits is having access to the most fuel efficient routes created for you with the in-network truck stops along the way. Carriers create these routes for their company drivers and make the drivers follow these routes for a reason. Carriers do the research to determine the most efficient ways to a destination because it saves them thousands. Why not use these already established routes for yourself? It will save you time trying to figure out the best routes yourself and money by not paying too much at the pump or having to buy expensive fuel optimization software. 
If you are in the business of trucking, utilizing your carrier’s fuel network is a great way to save money on fuel and has lots of benefits to help you be more efficient. If you are a new owner-operator or haven’t joined yet, you can easily get started just by calling your fleet manager. Stop spending more on fuel than you have to and get with the program today! 

Comments (16)

Barry Sullivan

Bachelor of Science in Finance; 22 years in Trucking and Transportation (the last 10years as a Business Consultant at ATBS.)

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i think you can use technology for this, many of the smartphones out there, have very useful apps to help you calculate you fuel expense and also to show you the best fuel prices from differents states

October 31, 2012 1:46:14 AM

Great Article! We get fleet discounts on fuel like most other major fleets. I definitely take advantage of that. I also check ahead to see what the fuel prices will be on my route. One fuel stop may be cheaper on this trip, but next time it might be the fuel stop across the street

October 06, 2012 18:26:03 PM

Informative, thanks!

September 21, 2012 4:39:54 AM

I have looked at several fuel programs but most don't come close to the the savings I get through the carrier I'm leased to. I also have access to a computer database that gives me up to date prices that are changed daily (except weekends and holidays). It's become easy to know where my beat fuel values are. At 8 mpg, they're paying me to buy fuel!

August 31, 2012 14:12:45 PM

Good information, I just wish I could take full advantage of this information. My carrier recently quit giving us fuel stop information. They still give us the most efficient routes but they quit giving the fuel stops. So we are able to use there network for the discounts on fuel, but figuring the fuel tax is up to us now. :(

August 20, 2012 8:55:59 AM

Fuel is a complicated purchase..and the highest single per mile expense we hhave today

August 17, 2012 20:55:18 PM

Nice article Barry!

August 09, 2012 9:28:12 AM

Great article. When I got my truck the first thing I did about trying to figure out where to buy my fuel was looking at the stops that my company had discounts with, then input that into a fuel optimizer program to determine a good route to take and which stops to fuel at, also, looking at (retail cost - taxes) helps a ton as well.

August 05, 2012 7:16:29 AM

This is great information!

August 03, 2012 15:31:25 PM

We almost missed out on this great discount program... We use T-Chek and we take an advance on a load for our fuel purchases. The word Advance is a bad word as far as I am concerned and my ears closed down. Lucky for me another driver explained how the advances work and what happens if we pay cash for a fuel purchase.

August 01, 2012 14:37:16 PM

This is a easy way to save$ on fuel. If you are a independent OO there are many fuel cards that can get you similar discounts to the big fleets. I have a card from NASTC and the discounts are huge.

July 27, 2012 17:55:48 PM

Great article, very valuable information.

July 26, 2012 17:42:45 PM

Great article for those drivers who are skeptical about the fuel programs available thru their carriers.

July 26, 2012 12:19:26 PM

Having an itemized bill/expense report is always helpful. Being able to see the discount on your settlement is a plus. Great article!

July 26, 2012 11:37:14 AM

Great article!

July 26, 2012 10:41:02 AM

Barry, great perspective on how to save on fuel ... thanks for sharing!

July 25, 2012 16:32:58 PM