So what are the best ways of finding cheaper fuel, and paying less?
In order to find cheaper fuel, you first need to know what the current cost of petrol and diesel is. With the volatility in the fuel sector, it’s easy for drivers to lose track of what is a competitive price.
At Allstar, we analyse prices throughout the UK every day and you can find the average daily nationwide price here. All prices exampled/listed below are from this page – and all cover the month of March 2022.
If you want a more localised view, you can sign up for free so you can search 20 locations a week too.
Once you have this information, you can then send this to drivers and direct them to try and fill up at below average prices wherever possible.
Of course, for drivers to find cheaper fuel it's useful to have some rules of thumb to help them in their search.
Our analysis of more than 7,700 sites in the Allstar network throughout the UK shows some general trends which are worth keeping in mind.
Supermarkets usually have the cheapest fuel, and motorways the most expensive, as these average figures from March 2022 show:
Nationwide (including motorways) 163.2
Nationwide (including motorways) 172.2
These prices are high, following the well-publicised issues of post-Covid demand and the war in Ukraine, but they reflect the wider trend of pricing.
As Paul Holland, Managing Director of UK Fuel at Allstar said as the Ukraine crisis unfolded: "With fuel prices passing £1.73 for diesel and £1.64 for petrol and a huge rise in price volatility, companies who operate vehicle fleets are going to find their working capital and credit facilities stretched thin.
"By intelligently using the different methods available to them, including lines of credit and fuel cards, fleet operators can make the best of this difficult time."
There are some other patterns worth bearing in mind, although it should be noted they are not definitive and don’t always follow the trend. Fuel in cities is often slightly cheaper than in surrounding areas, usually because of higher volumes through the forecourt:
Greater Manchester 170.1
If a driver is on a route that includes city and county, it might be worth considering filling up in the city rather than outside.
If a driver knows that there is cheaper fuel to be found, but it is off their route, is it worth driving to that station to get it? The answer is that as average prices across the country tend to vary only by around 4p per litre from the cheapest to the most expensive (excluding supermarkets), it makes it difficult to justify driving extra miles off route to find cheaper fuel.
Take this example:
Clearly then, it is financially costing your business money to try and save £2 on fill up. And that’s before you factor in the time doing it.
But even when fuel is cheaper or the vehicle more efficient, the rules still apply, albeit not quite as starkly.
If diesel costs 125p per litre, and the vehicle is managing 40mpg, its pence per mile cost is 14.2ppm. If your driver only has to go only five miles off route to find fuel at 4p per litre less (saving £2 on a 50 litre fill-up), that 10 mile round trip will cost £1.42, meaning the overall saving is only 50p.
Of course, these figures are subject to various factors, such as the differences in cost, how much you buy at each fill up, the routes you operate on and how economical your drivers are.
But what they do show is that there is a very fine balance to be struck when searching for cheaper fuel, and in fact, being able to find the best prices for fuel on route is the most important factor.
Being able to access a wide network is vitally important. As the figures above show, if you must go to brand-specific forecourts, then even the smallest deviations can incur extra costs that wipe out savings.
Imagine that your drivers have to go off-route regularly by five miles to find diesel at a fuel station that accepts their fuel card.
If you have to do these 10-mile round trips to off-route fuel stations 150 times a year, then for the 40mpg/125ppl example, it would cost £213 (14.2ppm x 10 x 150), while at 25mpg/170ppl and therefore 31ppm, it could cost £465 (31ppm x 10x 150). Only to get to brand-specific fuel.
Just because a fuel card provider says it can offer you savings, you must be absolutely certain that its locations are in the right places or those savings can be easily wiped out - and it could in fact cost you more money, not less.
What this shows is having a large network of fuel stations on the routes from multiple brands, where you need them, has the potential to save a lot of time and money.
With 90% of UK fuel stations included in our network, you're sure to be close to an Allstar accepting fuel site, and you can also use our tool to plan your route with minimal refuelling diversions or find fuel at specific locations.
With the Allstar Co-Pilot app you can search for the nearest network site anytime, anywhere. You can search by town or postcode as well, so you can locate the best prices at the most convenient locations.
Using our pence-per-mile examples, a 20,000-mile, 25mpg driver costs a business over £300 more a year in diesel than a 40mpg driver, and having just a few with heavy right feet could wipe out all the good work of the others. So it is important to identify those costing your business money.
Allstar’s online account management tool could help you to stay in control of costs by giving you visibility of when and where your drivers buy fuel, helping you identify those driving less efficiently.
The other way to ‘find cheaper fuel is to make the petrol or diesel you buy go further. Driver training can reduce fuel consumption by 10% or more, providers claim. If you can get drivers operating at this enhanced efficiency, it is the equivalent of wiping 17p off the price of 170p per litre diesel.
Combine this with offers such as Discount Diesel, better route planning, more choice of fuel stations and an understanding of where you spend money on petrol and diesel, and why, and you will be able to reduce your fuel bill.