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Parties, Parcels, and Pizzas - the Gig Economy and Fuel Cards

The gig economy in the UK has evolved quickly over the last 15 years, transforming the way people earn a living and the nature of the employer/employee relationship.

The definition of the gig economy is a simple one - self-employed workers are paid for each specific job they do for a business, whether that's delivering a takeaway, a parcel or dropping people off at a party.

This has created a growing workforce of people on short-term contracts who work when it suits their lifestyle. For many gig economy workers, this flexibility is the attraction – they are free to work and play by their own rules.

While many people actively choose this way of working, the gig economy isn't without controversy. As people are deemed to be self-employed, they don't enjoy the same worker's protections and benefits that someone in a full-time or part-time role receives.

This has resulted in many high-profile court cases where gig economy workers have challenged their employers for the same rights as full-time staff such as sick pay, holiday pay, the minimum wage and employer pension contributions.

As the driving focused gig economy continues to grow and companies such as Uber and Deliveroo become an even bigger part of our everyday lives, the people who work in the sector will be looking for smarter ways to pay for their fuel to maximise their income.

Growth of the gig economy

The gig economy has grown quickly and shows no sign of slowing down. Now a staggering 15% of the UK economy are classified as self-employed, and one of the key drivers of this rapid growth is the emergence of Uber.

The company has completely revolutionised how people use private hire vehicles. There are now 40,000 Uber drivers operating in the UK, and a driver only has to make one trip per month to stay active on the books.

An Uber driver has to pay various fees, and their ‘wages' are paid directly into their account. An average 60-hour working month would return approximately just over a £1,100. Of that, around 20% is spent on fuel.

It’s not just Uber drivers who have changed the face of the UK workforce, Deliveroo currently has 15,000 drivers in the UK. And as the number of independent couriers grows, fuel and the desire to get the best possible deal has become increasingly relevant.

Traditional use of fuel cards and how the gig economy can benefit

Fuel cards have traditionally been used by businesses to save on fuel purchases and significantly reduce admin time.

There are two main types of card – ‘pump price' and ‘fixed'. Fixed price cards are designed for haulage businesses while pump price offers service benefits such as greater network coverage.

The nature of the gig economy means a fuel card could provide benefits to a driver beyond simply saving money at the pump. The reduction in admin means there’s no need to save receipts for tax returns. Additionally, payment terms can offer extended payment periods. And many fuel cards offer other benefits such as breakdown cover.

For people operating as couriers, private hire drivers and takeaway delivery drivers, their circumstances will ultimately determine whether a fuel card would be of benefit. The majority of fuel cards involve the payment of an upfront card fee, but drivers can immediately make a saving at the pump and over an extended time this can make the benefits outweigh the outlays.

What are the alternatives?

Petty Cash / Debit facility


No credit facility.

No VAT improved invoicing, meaning the driver needs to collate all receipts.

No discount on fuel.


Complete flexibility to utilise any site.

Benefit from reward schemes offered by the oil brands and supermarkets.

Credit Card


No VAT improved invoicing, meaning the driver needs to collate all receipts.

No discount on fuel.

Limited credit facility – the full balance needs to be paid each month to benefit fully.


Monthly payment terms.

Complete flexibility to utilise any site.

Benefit from reward schemes offered by the oil brands and supermarkets.

Should you be exploring your fuel card opportunities?

The very nature of the gig economy means every individual will have different expectations and a fuel card might not suit everyone. But, to see how fuel cards could deliver the benefits you need visit comparethefuelcards.co.uk.

Why compare fuel cards?

Get the best value

By comparing fuel cards you can find the one that offers the best value for your requirements.

Different cards match different needs

Many fuel card features come as standard but they have different benefits and usage restrictions so find the one that’s right for you.

Weigh up your options

The best way to find the right card for your business is to compare their specific features, then you can choose with confidence.