You own a business. You have vehicles, and employees who drive them. As your business grows, so does your need for more vehicles. That means more employees. Suddenly you realize that your fuel spend is becoming one of your biggest expenses.

You may not have a large fleet, but you should think about tackling your fuel spend as if you do. That means rethinking how your drivers pay for fuel.

Small businesses often begin their fuel program with a simple credit card issued by a bank. This card allows you to carry a balance, and possibly use points back towards your business. But that’s usually where the benefits end.

It’s important to take a step back and think about what your fuel spend means. At its most basic, it means you have drivers in vehicles that require fuel. You need to know where they are fueling up, how much they spend and when they are doing it. A credit card won’t be able to tell you these things.

Finding the right fuel card is the next step toward managing your fuel expenses. Finding the right partner is just as important.

Take a look at where your employees drive. Do cover a wide territory, or do they stay in a more local area?

If your fleet travels in an area with many of the same branded fuel stations, like QuikTrip, you should consider signing on for your fuel card with them. This will keep your drivers from going out of their way to fuel at remote stations and help them run more efficiently.

There are several advantages to aligning with the right partner for your fuel card. First and foremost is the chance for higher rebates. Typically, these rebates are tiered, so the more you can consolidate fueling at a single location, the more you save. This keeps more cash in your business.

Another huge advantage to a fuel card is the expense reporting and tracking. Each driver needs to enter an ID number at the pump before they fuel. This lets you know when, where and who used the card. If something strange pops up on the expense report, it’s easy to find out what happened and you can take steps to rectify the situation. These could be simple misunderstandings like a higher fuel grade purchase, or something more serious like an employee using the card for personal fueling.

Having more information on hand leads directly to help prevent unauthorized use. You can set spending limits and controls on every card you issue to your drivers. Don’t want them buying miscellaneous items like food and drink? Block those items from being purchased. Don’t want anyone using the cards after hours or weekends? Set limits when the cards can be used.

If suspected fraud does take place, you’ll be able to figure out where and when it happened and instantly shut that card down as soon as you know—even remotely.

Which gets us back to the core advantages of a fuel card. With the detailed reporting, transaction reports, spending controls, fraud protection and rebates, a fuel card represents not only more control for how your employees spend, but allows you to spend less time with paperwork and more time on finding other ways to grow your business. That’s why finding the right fuel card partner can make all the difference for your fleet and your business.