Shell Looking to Pump Up Commercial Fleet Sales

Refiners seeking to recover sales lost as banks cancel proprietary credit cards

Carole Donoghue, Petroleum Editor

HOUSTON -- Shell is beefing up its fleet-fueling offer, hoping to lure more business to its stations, CSP Daily News has learned. The company's move is part of a growing trend among refiners seeking to recover some of the sales lost as banks cancel proprietary fuel credit cards and overall fuel consumption slumps. Chevron and CITGO have also updated their programs.

Under Shell's new deal, the major will give fleets a 15-cents-per-gallon rebate on all fuel purchased for the first year after the customer opens a Shell Fleet Plus account. Rebates are capped at $300 per billing cycle and appear as a credit on statements. Shell had been offering discounts on fuel purchases but customers indicated that they would rather than a straight cents-per-gallon rebate, said one Shell executive.

Shell has also dropped the annual fee that it had been charging accounts, and there is no monthly fee on the card either. Under the new offer, accounts can earn three cents to six cts/gal in rebates on purchases from 300 gals to 10,000 gallons per month or more. The offer is good for accounts opened until December 31 this year.

To qualify for the giveback, customers must apply for the card through Shell's Fleet Finder program, which matches fleets with Shell marketer stations and allows fleet managers to manage their accounts on line, such as adding or deleting drivers and vehicles.

The program also gives marketers access to station-level, geo-coded business leads, incentives and help with employee training, coaching and support through a dedicated Fleet Finder team at Citibank, plus tips, best practices and letters of introduction.

Shell said fleets are potentially lucrative sales targets for marketers because 70% of all commercial business is local. Additionally, fleets buy eight times more fuel than other customers, the company said. According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration EIA), 65 billion gallons of fuel are sold into the commercial market, with 26 billion gallons of that purchased with a credit card.

"Commercial customers are looking for a simple and easy way to understand rebate programs," a Shell official told CSP Daily News. "The new Shell cents-per-gallon offer increases the opportunity for fleets to save money by having earlier rebate tiers and rewards those who purchase the most with the largest rebate opportunity."