By 2040, all of the vehicles sold worldwide could be electric.
Electric vehicles, once a far-fetched dream, are now in high demand thanks to falling prices, longer ranges, and better battery capacity. They’re becoming increasingly cheap to produce and could soon cost the same as a conventional car, if not less.
For most would-be electric vehicle (EV) owners, finding a place to charge their EVs is probably the main challenge you’ll face. Although you can install a charger at your home, you’ll often need to rely on public charging stations when traveling to other cities for vacation or work. Most charging stations accept credit cards or payments via their network’s app, and it can be best to use a credit card that can give you points and rewards.
In this article, we explore what it’s like to charge and drive an electric vehicle. We’ll also take a look at the best credit card payment methods for EV charging.
Electric vehicles and charges
Whether you drive to work every day in your electric vehicle or are planning to go on a road trip in it, it’s not difficult to charge your EV. The wide availability of charging stations and the ease of setting up a home charger make charging relatively convenient.
How do you charge an electric vehicle?
Charging an electric vehicle requires access to a Level 1, 2, or 3 charging station and the right plug for your vehicle. Level 1 chargers are basically 110-120 volt outlets that are ubiquitous in homes and buildings everywhere. Level 2 charging stations have a higher voltage and charge at a rate of about 6 kilowatts per hour, while Level 3 charging stations have an output of 400 volts or more and are the fastest chargers currently available.
To charge your electric vehicle, you simply connect the cable from the charging station to the charge port on your car. Each of the different charging stations comes with its own plug class. If your electric vehicle’s charge port doesn’t match the connector type of the charging station you’re at, you’ll need to use an adaptor.
According to the Department of Energy, most electric vehicle owners charge at home over 80% of the time. Others charge their cars at work or at one of the increasingly common public charging stations.
What are the most popular charging stations in the U.S.?
Most of the charging stations currently in service are managed by Electrify America, ChargePoint, EVgo, the FordPass Charging Network, and Tesla’s Supercharger network.
Volkswagen’s Electrify America and the California-based ChargePoint have the largest shared charging station network in America, with an estimated 30,000 charging stations between them. The FordPass Charging Network trails behind with 13,500 public charging stations.
The stations charge a per-minute rate plus a session fee. Customers can pay for their charging using a credit card or with the EV charging network’s app.
As of early 2021, there are about 41,400 EV charging stations in the U.S., of which fewer than 5,000 are fast chargers. To expand this network, the Biden administration has pledged to install at least 500,000 charging stations by 2030 under his $2 trillion infrastructure bill.
How much does it cost to charge an electric vehicle?
According to the Alternative Fuels Data Centre, it will cost drivers about $9 to fully charge a 200-mile range EV with a depleted 66kWh battery. For people who put about 1,000 miles on their EV each month, this could average to about $25 to $33 per month in “fuel costs”.
Charging costs can vary from one EV model to another, of course, depending on the size of the car’s battery as well as the type of charging station used. Tesla says that the charging cost for its Model S is about $23 for 300 miles. In contrast, driving a Hyundai Ioniq Electric for the same distance would only cost about $10.
Some Level 2 public charging stations can be used for free but others charge a fee that can be paid on a pay-as-you-go basis using a credit card or the charging network’s app. Drivers can learn more about their EV’s fuel costs at the Environmental Protection Agency’s fueleconomy.gov website.
Benefits of going electric
Compared to traditional vehicles, electric cars can provide you with several environmental, cost, and comfort benefits. They can cost less than half as much to operate as their gasoline-powered counterparts and can also accelerate faster than them.
EVs give a more enjoyable driving experience
One of the most commonly cited benefits of switching to an electric vehicle is the comfort it provides.
Because they don’t have internal combustion engines or exhaust systems, EVs are quiet and relaxing to drive. Their batteries are usually placed on the floor of the car, which distributes weight and provides balance when driving around corners and curves. Plus, all electric cars have instant torque, helping you accelerate from zero to 30 mph in an instant.
They help reduce your carbon footprint
It’s said that driving an electric vehicle can help you reduce your transportation carbon emissions by 50%. Fully electric cars produce zero tailpipe emissions, reducing air pollution considerably and keeping towns and cities clean from soot.
You can further reduce your EV’s carbon footprint by relying on electricity from renewable resources only, such as solar or wind.
In many parts of America, clean electricity is readily available to charge your EV with. EVs that are charged with conventional coal or natural gas-generated electricity may not demonstrate much of a life cycle emissions advantage over conventional vehicles running on gasoline or diesel.
They have low maintenance needs
Electric vehicles are powered by just 3 main components which are designed to give them enhanced fuel efficiency: an on-board charger, inverter, and motor.
With fewer moving parts that are susceptible to damage than traditional vehicles, EVs experience fewer breakdowns and less stress on the motor.
Plus, EVs don’t need engine oil to function because they don’t contain gas engines. They also rely on regenerative braking, which recharges batteries as the car is in motion and significantly reduces brake wear. This reduces the need to conduct regular maintenance over the course of your EV’s lifetime.
How to pay and earn rewards for your EV
If you often charge your EV at a pay-as-you-go charging station, you might want to consider using your credit card to pay for your charging. Most chargers do not code your charging purchases as ‘travel’, so you can earn extra points on un-bonused spending with your credit card.
Some of the best credit cards for this are the American Express Blue Business®️ Plus Credit Card, which offers 2x Membership Rewards points on the first $50,000 spent per year, and the Chase Freedom Unlimited, which offers 1.5% cashback on purchases.
Security concerns with paying EV charges with cards
But before you start using your credit card to pay for your EV charges, there are a few security issues to keep in mind.
Hackers and fraudsters often target charging stations, especially ones located on city outskirts and in semi-remote areas, for credit card theft. They may tamper with credit card readers or install hidden pinhole cameras to steal your credit card details.
Credit cards with magnetic stripes are most vulnerable to this type of fraud, so be extra careful if your credit card is of this type. Fraudsters can easily clone your details and repurpose another credit card with the stolen details.
It’s better to link your credit card to a contactless smartphone payment app or ask your card issuer if they can switch your card to an RFID-enabled credit card which comes with a spending limit per transaction.
Why these are not the most sustainable options
Although mainstream credit cards may be convenient for EV charging purchases, they could also be supporting fossil fuel financing.
Reports by environmental and climate action groups have discovered that some of the largest banks in America – including JPMorgan Chase, Wells Fargo, and Bank of America – invested more than $750 billion in coal, natural gas, and fracking companies between 2016 and 2020.
These investments may hinder positive climate action.
As long as we continue to rely on fossil fuels and help keep oil and gas companies in operation, we run the risk of pushing average global temperatures beyond the 1.5°C limit.
Big banks may feel that renewable energy technologies are not worth investing in yet because of the continued profitability of fossil fuels. This mindset could negatively impact the growth of electric vehicles and the clean sources of energy to power them.
How the Aspiration Zero credit card helps you go carbon neutral
Within the sea of credit cards available, is a credit card that helps you eliminate your carbon footprint.
The Aspiration Zero is a carbon credit card issued by the B Corp-certified financial institution Aspiration. The card can help you go carbon neutral track by planting carbon offsetting trees each time you make a transaction.
It’s essentially a credit card that helps you reach carbon zero. Customers are rewarded with 1% cashback each month that they plant 60 or more trees with their purchases.
And – even better – Aspiration does not invest any money in fossil fuels. We prefer to help our clients build their wealth and fight climate change instead.