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Should I prepay fuel for a rental car?

Should I prepay fuel for rental cars 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 cars 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 gas. It’s a win-win for both travel managers and travelers.

So, is prepaid gas in your car 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 car gas prepay options.

For travel managers

Prepaid fuel is like a dream come true for travel managers. 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 optimizes overall travel expenditure.

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

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

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

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 travelers – freeing up time and resources for more important tasks.

For your travelers

Prepaid fuel offers a number of advantages for travelers. 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 traveling from meeting to meeting. Gone are the days when travelers were constrained by gas tank fuel levels.

A streamlined refueling process: Prepaid fuel eliminates the need for travelers to locate and stop at a gas station. This is particularly helpful for busy travelers who have tight schedules and don’t necessarily have the time to search for fuel stops along the way. By prepaying fuel, travelers can focus more on their business objectives, rather than worrying about where and when they need to top up or about nearby gas prices with a last-minute empty tank refill.

Greater Agency over expenses: With pre-determined fuel budgets, travelers can manage their finances and avoid unexpected costs with fluctuating fuel prices or premium fuel options. This predictability in expenses is great for travelers 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, travelers 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 gas stations, especially in unfamiliar or potentially unsafe areas.

You can also opt for prepaid travel cards

The last thing your travelers need when moving 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 travelers can:

Fill up anywhere: A lot of them aren’t tied to specific stations, so your travelers can fill up at practically any gas 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 programs 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 traveler peace of mind. Worried about overspend? 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 travelers 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 rental car companies offer “Express Options” in the USA; designed for those driving vehicles less than 75 miles for the duration of the rental. If you fit these mileage criteria and don’t return the tank full, they’ll charge you a flat fee - renters can opt-into this at rental counter pick-up or when reserving the vehicle.

Not all car rental agencies offer express options, however, they can substantially cap the cost of refilled gas at a set maximum per gallon over local prices. Ideally, try to determine in advance whether you’ll have time to refill the tank before returning the car.

No matter what you choose…

In conclusion, implementing prepaid fuel offers a range of benefits that not only simplifies your expense process but also offer peace of mind to your travelers rather than shifting focus to thinking about their rental fuel tank. And if prepaid fuel isn’t exactly for your business? You can still enjoy some of the benefits with 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 below links to FAQs with refueling information:


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