Electric vehicles are becoming increasingly popular. Alongside that, the accompanying technology is becoming more advanced. This includes the ways in which you're able to pay for the electricity that you use.
EV charge cards are very convenient and can be used at most public charging stations in the UK.
We'll take a look at the different EV charge cards and how to use them. We'll then compare the best EV charge cards currently available.
RFID Electric car charging cards are one of the ways that you can pay to charge your electric car. Many electric car charging points allow you to pay by credit or debit card. Some of them also accept Google Pay and Apple Pay.
This is the case for fast chargers, rapid chargers, and ultra-rapid chargers.
Some charge points use a combined charging system, and some only use electric vehicle charging cards.
EV charge cards can be tapped on a reader like a contactless card. However, the way in which charges are taken is not the same as a contactless card.
Generally, you need to set up an account online that's linked to your charge card. Depending on the charge point operator, you may also have access to subscription services. Operators like BP Pulse offer discounted rates to subscribers.
Personal cards and access apps are used to pay for an individual's charging costs. Many EV charging networks require you to have a pre-registered RFID card or an app. Usually, you need to have a different card or app for each charge point network.
Unfortunately, this means you might end up with a lot of different apps and cards. Still, it's a small price to pay to reduce your carbon footprint!
Fleet cards are used by fleet operators. Charge cards are an efficient way for their drivers to top up their vehicles when they're out on the road.
There are fleet cards which are linked to certain charging point brands. There are also fleet cards that work across several networks.
One example of a fleet card is the Shell Recharge card. This gives fleet operators access to 250,000 EV charge points within Europe. This service is also available via the Shell Recharge app.
The Allstar One Electric card works across multiple networks, such as Genie Point, Osprey, ESB Energy, and Source London.
Business owners can issue workplace RFID cards to their employees so that they can charge their electric cars on-site. This also allows business owners to determine how much their employees are charged.
This can be used to incentivise the use of EVs and reward employees for good work.
The frustrating thing about charge cards and apps is that you need so many different ones. Currently, some operators are developing universal cards. These cards can be used across several networks.
There are few options at the moment, but this looks likely to change in the near future.
Like most people, you probably associate Shell with oil rather than EV charging solutions. However, in 2017, Shell acquired Newmotion. This is one of its biggest acquisitions within the EV charging world so far.
Shell Recharge Solutions now gives customers access to more than 300 charging points across Europe and the UK.
The Shell Recharge app is very handy and has lots of useful features. These include charge point profiles and charge point maps. You can also use it to control charging sessions from your phone.
The charge points profile feature is particularly convenient. It allows you to view details such as status updates and charging speeds. So, you can make sure those ultra-rapid chargers are still as rapid as they should be!
The Shell Recharge app is great, but it does take some time to learn how to use it. Alternatively, you can use a card or keyfob, which simplifies the process.
The main downside of Shell Recharge is that it charges a transaction fee of 35p. However, this is capped at £20.
Electric Juice is a unique EV charging card. It can be used to pay for charging sessions over numerous charging networks. This means you can use it at charge points run by several of the biggest operators in the UK.
Instead of paying each time you charge your electric car, you pay for your charge sessions monthly. This is done via direct debit. If Octopus Energy also supplies energy to your home, you can combine the two monthly bills into one payment.
The Electric Juice app is one of the best smartphone apps for EV charging. It allows you to modify your account, see the locations of charge points, and view previous charge sessions.
However, you're unable to start and stop charge sessions remotely. This is a useful feature that's included in many competing apps.
Still, even without this feature, Electric Juice is the easiest card to use in this list. Payments are automatic, and there's no need to alter your account once it's set up. The fact it's a universal card also gives it an edge over most of its competitors.
You may have already used Zap-Map to find charge points across the UK. Now, you can also use Zap-Pay to pay for sessions at various charging points. Unlike Shell Recharge and Electric Juice, Zap-Pay doesn't feature a physical card. To use it, you need to download the Zap-Map app.
This app has many of the same features as the Shell Recharge and Electric Juice apps. It also has a route planner, which is a really useful tool.
The big downside of Zap-Pay is that its access to charging networks is pretty limited. Currently, it's not even close to competing with Shell Recharge or Electric Juice in this area.
So, it's unwise to rely on Zap-Pay as your sole charge card.
Signing up for Zap-Pay is really easy. Once you have a Zap-Map account, you just need to add a bank card, and you can start paying via the app.
Bonnet has only been operating in the UK since 2021. It's also only available as a smartphone app. Like the other apps in this list, it has a profile viewer and a charge station locator. It also has an innovative CO2 tracker.
Bonnet is the only service on this list that charges a flat rate of 35p per kWh. However, it does offer refill packages. This allows you to buy refills on a monthly basis which makes it less expensive to use public charge points.
If you don't use up the energy you paid for by the end of the month, then it rolls onto the next month.
A monthly BP Pulse subscription costs £7.85. This gives you discounted rates when you charge your vehicle at a BP Pulse charging station. BP Pulse currently has over 9,000 public stations across the UK.
Yes, there are several ways in which you can be courteous when using public charging stations. They include:
Yes, it's very safe to sit in your EV whilst it charges. The risk of electrocution is really low as EVs are designed to ensure your safety. Chargers are also designed to safely transfer high levels of electricity to your vehicle whilst you're inside it.
When it comes to a winner, it's hard to separate Shell Recharge and Electric Juice. The former gives users access to more charging stations than any of the other cards in this list. However, Electric Juice allows customers to pay at charging stations across different networks.
Overall, we think that Shell Recharge just about comes out on top. Still, as more suppliers sign up to Electric Juice, it will probably start challenging for the top spot soon enough.
Zap-Pay and Bonnet are both handy apps, but they're also fairly limited. For now, we'd recommend getting a variety of EV charge cards. That way, you'll have access to as many public charging points as possible.