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Should I prepay fuel for a rental vehicle?

Should I prepay fuel for rental vehicles on business trips?

5 min
Posted: 24 April 2024
Fuel Prices Displayed on a Board

This post originally appeared in 2016, and has been updated to reflect the travel landscape.

Imagine effortlessly streamlining your team’s business trips, eliminating the headache of fuel expenses, and gaining greater management over travel costs.

Well, prepaid fuel options for rental vehicles can make it all possible.

With prepaid fuel, you can bid farewell to the hassle of reimbursing employees for fuel purchases and the uncertainty of fluctuating prices. By locking in rates upfront, you gain predictability, simplify expense management, and encourage budget compliance. Plus, prepaid fuel offers peace of mind, allowing you to focus on strategic planning, rather than grappling with tedious reimbursement processes for a full tank of fuel. It’s a win-win for both travel managers and travellers.

So, is prepaid fuel in your vehicle and fuel policy?

This blog was originally written by Michael Tribuch, Director, Supplier Revenue & Strategy, Egencia in 2016. It has been updated to reflect the rental vehicle fuel prepay options.

For travel managers

For travel managers, prepaid fuel is like a dream come true. Picture this - you’ve got a team of road warriors jetting off to different destinations. That’s great for them, but what does that mean for you?  A messy pile of receipts and a lot of potential unexpected fuel charges. That’s where the benefits of prepaid fuel come in.

Cost Management: Prepaid fuel allows travel managers to accurately budget and forecast fuel expenses. With fixed fuel costs determined upfront, you can manage travel budgets better and maintain compliance. It also helps avoid any unexpected expenses and optimises overall travel expenditure.

Expense management: Prepaid fuel simplifies the expense management process for travel managers. By eliminating the need for travellers to handle fuel expenses individually and submitting fuel reimbursement requests, travel managers can streamline accounting processes and reduce administrative burdens.

Greater autonomy: By selecting pre-approved fuel vendors and monitoring fuel usage through centralised platforms or reporting tools, travel managers can negotiate favourable terms with preferred suppliers.

Risk mitigation: Prepaid fuel can help mitigate risks that come with unauthorised or fraudulent fuel expenses. By implementing protocols, travel managers can detect irregularities or misuse of fuel funds more effectively – reducing the potential for compliance breaches.

Convenience: With prepaid fuel, there’s no need to track down receipts or deal with messy reimbursement requests. It’s a win-win for both travel managers and travellers – freeing up time and resources for more important tasks.

For your travellers

Prepaid fuel offers a number of advantages for travellers. They provide convenience, and cost management for variable pump prices, and will save them time too. It also relieves a lot of pressure for those who are often on the road travelling from meeting to meeting. Gone are the days when travellers were constrained by the amount of fuel in the tank.

A streamlined refuelling process: Prepaid fuel eliminates the need for travellers to locate and stop at a petrol station. This is particularly helpful for busy travellers who have tight schedules and don’t necessarily have the time to look for fuel stops along the way. By pre-paying for fuel, travellers can focus more on their business objectives rather than worrying about where and when to fill up, or the price of fuel in the area for last-minute refuelling.

Greater autonomy over expenses: With pre-determined fuel budgets, travellers can manage their finances and avoid unexpected costs with fluctuating fuel prices or premium fuel options. This predictability in expenses is great for travellers who need to stick to strict budgets and track their expenditures for reimbursement purposes.

Peace of mind: No more dealing with payment transactions at the pump. Instead of fumbling with credit cards or cash, travellers simply refuel their vehicles without any payment process – saving time and reducing any risk of delays for an unanticipated low fuel gauge.

Enhanced safety: Prepaid fuel removes the need to make frequent stops at unknown or unfamiliar local petrol stations, especially in unfamiliar or potentially unsafe areas.

You can also opt for prepaid travel cards

The last thing your travellers need when going from one meeting to another is to worry about keeping track of receipts or fumbling for cash at the fuel station.  Offering prepaid fuel cards means your travellers can:

Fill up anywhere: Many aren’t tied to specific stations, so your travellers can fill up at practically any petrol station without worrying about carrying cash or using personal cards. Not only that. Some even offer detailed reporting, so you can easily track expenses.

Save money: A lot of the fuel cards even come with perks like discounts on fuel purchases, or reward programmes that can save your business some serious money in the long run. Not forgetting security – fuel cards offer fraud protection and can be easily deactivated if lost or stolen – offering both you and your traveller peace of mind. Worried about overspending? Well, worry no more, as some cards come with the option of adding a spending cap.

Track expenses: Prepaid fuel cards help travel managers track expenses easily, so travellers don’t have to worry about keeping receipts safe and noting down their spend on top of everything else they need to think about while away.

If prepaid fuel doesn’t make sense for your travel  

Some vehicle rental companies in the USA offer "Express Options" for those who drive less than 75 miles for the duration of the rental. If you meet these mileage criteria and don't return the tank full, you'll be charged a flat fee - renters can opt-in at the time of collection or when they make their reservation.

Not all vehicle rental companies offer express options, but they can significantly limit the cost of refuelling to a set maximum per gallon above local prices. Ideally, try to determine in advance whether you’ll have time to refill the tank before returning the vehicle.

No matter what you choose…

To sum up, implementing prepaid fuel offers a number of benefits that not only simplify your expense process but also give your travellers peace of mind, rather than having to worry about their rental fuel tank. What if prepaid fuel isn’t right for your business? You can still enjoy some of the benefits of Express Options. Either way, you can wave goodbye to piles of messy receipts and surprise expenses, and say hello to less costly,  more streamlined processes.

Want to discover more? Don’t forget to check out our Car rental travel tips and trends blog as well.

You can also check out the links below for FAQs with refuelling information:


  1. Avis FAQ:
  2. Hertz FAQ
  3. National FAQ :
  4. Enterprise FAQ:
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