A truck driver probably isn’t going to choose which company to drive for based on a fuel card, but the cards are becoming a more important tool than ever before as part of the experience that more fleets are selling to attract and retain drivers. Comdata is trying to help in that process through a new fuel card offering that allows drivers to use it for their personal purchases in addition to company-authorized expenses.
“We’re not unrealistic that a fuel card in and of itself drives retention,” explains Terrence McCrossan, senior vice president and general manager for Comdata. “But what we are seeing with fleets is that it can play a role in broader retention [programs].”
Comdata’s new OnRoad card provides separate mechanisms that allows fleets or owner-operators the ability to authorize the card to be used at Comdata network locations for company expenses such as fuel. It also provides the ability for drivers to connect a personal account to the card and use it at all MasterCard Signature Debit Network locations with no fees. Drivers can access their personal funds at thousands of Cirrus and AllPoints ATM locations across North America, the company says.
Because of security efforts on the card, fleets can’t access a driver’s personal transaction history and drivers can’t pay for personal expenses using fleet funds. Fleets continue to receive the same controls and reporting mechanisms that have become a hallmark of Comdata’s products, McCrossan notes.
“Everything on the company side of the card is exquisitely managed,” he adds, with the “rich ability to allow or deny the purchase” based on the product type.
For drivers, the chance to carry a single card is attractive, McCrossan points out, and it is leading more fleets to adopt the new card. “We’re seeing very strong word of mouth among driver populations,” he says. “Once one fleet gets its drivers on the program and they talk to their buddies, then those fleets become interested.”
In addition to carrying just one card, there are no fees paid by drivers for using the card for personal use and a mobile app will allow them to track expenses. Additional feaetures will be added for drivers later this summer, McCrossan says, including the ability to make peer-to-peer money transfers.
McCrossan sees the card as another piece of the driver experience, eliminating concern for drivers having to carry large amounts of cash to avoid fees or multiple cards. It also allows them to handle the everyday chores such as paying bills and buying food easily.
“If you are a driver on the road 24 hours a day, you need to be able to carry on with your life,” he says. “This is a single-card solution.”
To simplify the process, McCrossan says the card will automatically default to the correct side – personal or company – when a transaction is made. If it is a company-authorized purchase, the network will determine if the card is being used at an authorized Comdata location and for an authorized product or service. If not, it will switch to the personal side of the card with no interaction necessary by the driver. For instance, if a driver tried to purchase fuel at a station that is not on the Comdata network, the card will switch to the personal funds side of the card – no different than if the driver tried to fuel up at that same location and couldn’t use the Comdata fuel card.
When a driver needs to make a reimbursable-eligible purchase with personal funds, the card gives the ability for the fleet to quickly and automatically reimburse the driver. Pay and other company-paid funds can also be automatically added to the driver’s personal account, speeding the payment process. McCrossan says that one-third of drivers still receive paper checks, and that can be problematic for drivers on the road for long stretches.
“We are increasingly seeing fleets focus attention on the driver experience as a way to attract and retain top talent,” said Greg Secord, president of Comdata North American Trucking. “Access to the MasterCard network will give drivers the ability to use their personal funds in virtually any location at any time, including online purchases. The OnRoad Card’s convenience and flexibility aligns with our mission to improve driver experience by empowering them to focus fully on the road ahead.”
As McCrossan sees it, a fuel card is not going to keep a driver in a fleet, but it might help lessen some of the burden and can be a differentiator for fleets that offer it