Navigating Fleet Management: Why Open-Loop Fleet Cards Are the Future

Sep 15, 2023
Parker Pierce

Companies planning to launch a fleet card program face an important choice: Should the card be closed-loop – that is – only accepted at a specific network of stores, or open-loop, meaning the card can be used anywhere the payment network is accepted? Historically, the added security of the legacy closed-loop cards made them the industry leader, with 2021 research showing that closed-loop fleet cards account for around 80 percent of the total U.S. fleet card market.

However, interest in open-loop fleet cards is steadily growing. Why? Fleet operators are increasingly seeking card programs that are flexible enough to meet shifting market demands, including rising fuel costs, increased physical and digital payment fraud, and managing combined fuel and EV fleets.

An open-loop card has the distinct advantage of functioning like a closed-loop card while also offering product flexibility and near-universal acceptance. If you are considering switching to or adding an open-loop fleet card program, read along and learn the differences between the two cards and the extra advantages you obtain with an open-loop card.

The Basics: Closed-Loop & Open-Loop Fleet Cards

A closed-loop fleet card is a restricted payment card that may only be used at a specific network of stores. Closed-loop fleet cards are often valid only for a single fuel merchant and are frequently only accepted at a specific type of store or for a particular type of purchase. For decades, these restrictions were the greatest benefit of closed-loop cards, as they facilitated the spending control fleet managers required for their drivers and were considered the only way to minimize fraud.

In contrast, an open-loop fleet card is a payment card that can be used anywhere that the payment network of the card is accepted. Because of this, open-loop fleet cards offer increased convenience and flexibility. If your driver needs to make a maintenance purchase, a tire, for example, the driver can use the open-loop card rather than the closed-loop card designed for fuel only. In this case, open-loop fleet cards help you to access the full-trip data that includes every purchase a driver made, not just fuel.

A Fleet Card with both Flexibility and Control

You might wonder if there is an option to have the benefits of both worlds - enjoying the convenience of accessibility to a large number of stores while also being able to set controls on specific driver behavior. The answer is a resounding "Yes!" Highnote offers a purpose-built card issuer and program manager platform and the only fleet card fully customized for your goals.

Convenience and Security in Your Hands

Highnote is fully integrated with both the Mastercard and the Visa Fleet programs, providing complete coverage of the US fuel market. Working directly with these card networks, Highnote offers open-loop fleet cards with the convenience of acceptance at varied stores and maximum spend control. Ensuring purchases are only made at approved locations or at a set period of time is easy through the advanced restrictions programmed into the cards. The solution also allows you to dynamically set controls via our GraphQL API based on fleet-specific parameters such as fuel amount, merchant categories, and more.

Rich Transaction Data for Analytics

The Highnote Fleet Card offers visibility into deeper levels of enhanced data, such as the type of fuel, number of gallons, and price per gallon. The card also provides full-trip data, including meals and repairs, creating total visibility into the total trip cost.

You can set controls to optimize driver trips and manage costs using the reporting data provided by Highnote’s API, in addition to being able to design various rebate and discount programs to incentivize specific purchase behavior.

Your Security in Mind

The Highnote Fleet Card has several features to protect your business and reduce fraud:

- Prompting upon purchase: This feature allows you to set the card to prompt for tracking information, including driver ID or odometer readings, during transactions.

- Real-time alerts: You can create notifications for assorted scenarios, such as unauthorized card use and fraudulent transactions.

- Access to real-time data: Cards can be turned off when suspicious activity arises.

No Hidden Fees

We at Highnote know that, as a fleet operator, managing costs is one of your biggest priorities. For a card designed to help manage costs, the last things you want are hidden fees, complex pricing structures, and confusing terms. With the Highnote Fleet Card, you get straightforward, transparent pricing with no surprise fees.

Learn More

If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to talk to our team of experts. We will design the best card program for your fleet business. If you prefer to do a bit more research, read our Fleet Card Product API to learn more.

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