How to pay for electric car charging at public EV chargers is a question I get asked a lot.
It's an understandable question too, as over the last few years there have been numerous ways (some of them complicated!) to pay for EV charging.
I'm going to keep this post short and simple, by describing the four main ways you can choose to pay for public EV charging.
Use the Bonnet EV app
If you're unfamiliar with the Bonnet EV app, then I highly recommend you take a look at it.
Bonnet – while still relatively new – has managed to transform the EV charging market by offering a one-stop shop for charging.
Basically, once you sign up to their app and choose a subscription (or PAYG) you get discounted access to thousands of EV chargers across the UK and Europe. These chargers include GeniePoint, Osprey and Shell Recharge.
The app is super easy to use and handles all the payments to the networks. It's also super reliable, and I've only once had an issue with initiating a charge via the app (which turned out to be my fault!).
If you want to give Bonnet EV a try, then make sure you sign up via our referral code R5X97 – which will give you £8 off your first month's subscription.
Check out with Zap-Pay
If you haven't used Zap-Map before, then I'd urge you to take a look at it. As well as providing a nationwide map of virtually all public EV chargers, Zap-Map also lets you view the live status of these chargers (are they free, busy or out of order) and their standard pricing. You can also quickly view comments from other users on what they like or don't like about particular chargers and their locations.
Zap-Pay is Zap-Map's effort to make paying for EV chargers as simple as possible.
ESB EV solutions, on-street charging provider char.gy, nationwide charging network Mer, and ultra-rapid network MFG EV Power are all current Zap-Pay partners. In addition, Zap-Pay has also recently announced partnerships with Fastned and Revive, alongside on-street providers Connected Kerb and Charge My Street.
How do you pay using Zap-Pay?
Well, it's actually pretty similar to the way the Bonnet app works. You basically download the Zap-Map app, link a payment card with it, and then select the charger from within the app and start charging.
Sign up to an EV charging network
If you regularly go to the same charging points in your local area, then it might be worth signing up to those charging networks.
Whether it's InstaVolt or Shell Recharge, most networks have an app which enables you to locate their chargers and to pay for your charging.
There are several advantages of signing up directly to a network:
You'll be able to apply for an RFID card, making it quick and easy to start your charging.
You'll be able to download or request invoices if you need to claim back your charging costs.
You'll be able to take advantage of any network offers, such as building up loyalty points that you can use for charging.
The one charging network I'm signed up to is InstaVolt. Not only are they one of the most reliable networks, but initiating a charge with their RFID card takes just a few seconds.
Billing takes place behind the scenes, meaning you don't have to worry about it at all during your charging session.
In an effort to improve drivers' experience with public charging – and to encourage more people to make the switch to electric cars – the UK government has recently tasked public EV charging networks with making all chargers accessible through Contactless payments.
I'm sure you're familiar with Contactless payments, as it seems to be the most popular way people now pay in cafes, restaurants and stores. Essentially, you just wave or tap your Contactless-enabled card or phone to make a payment below £100.
While Contactless payments at an EV charging station may not give you the cheapest price, it's still arguably the easiest way to pay. No apps. No subscriptions. No RFID cards. No hassle!
I've used my Contactless debit card at a GridServe charging station, and it was as simple as paying for a latte in Costa.
Don't be put off by the different payment methods
While, as this post demonstrates, there are several different ways of initiating and paying for public charging – don't let this put you off EVs.
If you don't want the faff of apps and subscriptions, then just pay with your Contactless debit/credit app.
However, if you want to make savings, collect loyalty points, or if you need an invoice, then signing up directly with a network, or using Bonnet or Zap-Map is the way to go.