Are credit cards double edged swords for fuel retailers?

September 13, 2022

Written by: Mark Truman

5 min

Are credit cards double edged swords for fuel retailers?

Almost everyone has a debit card. And there are around 60 million credit cards in the UK.

Cards can be a double-edge sword for fuel retailers. If you don’t accept them, your volume could go elsewhere. If you do accept them, you eat into your margin by paying increasing fees to providers.

Cash is still an incredibly popular payment method and the cost of accepting it has actually increased in recent years as it needs to be handled and stored.

Many retailers we have spoken to have resorted to installing an ATM machine on site that not only reduces the cost of cash, but also gives customers another reason to visit your site.

So we took a look at the difference between cash and AMEX users and how their behaviour may have changed with the swings we have seen in the market since the turn of the year.

From January to June 2022, the monthly average cash fill up across the EdgePetrol UK network never exceeded 17 litres. Whilst EdgePetrol do not handle personal card data, it may be safe to assume that smaller fill-ups are going to be from the more price sensitive customers.

Average Fill Up from January to September 2022, Amex vs Cash

By contrast, the same average fill up of AMEX customers never dipped below 30 litres. Got to get those air miles. 🛫

The other interesting data point with the price fluctuation we have seen since January is that average fill up behaviour has changed across both AMEX and cash. In fact, Amex customers saw a 7.6% reduction and cash 7.1%. It looks like no matter the payment method, consumers are all feeling the pinch.

So what can you do with this data?

To start with, note that data can sometimes be misleading. These results don’t necessarily mean that AMEX customers are filling up more at your site over a period of time. It may just mean they visit less than cash customers who are coming twice to get the same amount of fuel.

Second of all, knowing who is coming to your site is important for your decision making. A higher average fill up (both by card and in general) means less site visits. You may only get that one shot to sell them that extra cup of coffee, or the hot food you have recently added. You can drive sales by offering promotions that offer discounts at a certain fill up level.

You can also work out what is more cost effective. If your card fees are too high or you have an ATM to run cash through, you may find driving cash customers is more beneficial.

Whatever your site’s data tells you to do, it is vital you keep an eye on both card usage and average fill ups. The more you know about your site, the better you can optimise it.
Want to learn more about how to optimise your data? Read our blog post here.

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