Which charging cards should you choose for your electric car?

Charging marks or cards are among the essential accessories to have when you switch to an electric car. Even for those who basically charge at home, badges will still be able to help you. So which one (s) to choose?

While some public charging stations have bank card payment systems, this solution is quite rare in France. More generally, motorists driving in electric vehicles must have in their possession to start charging: either the operator’s application on their smartphone or a compatible RFID badge. Charging tags can be classified into several categories: those limited to one type of local area network (or a terminal operator), more universal badges, or manufacturers’ charging cards.

There are many charging networks and the prices used vary greatly depending on the intended payment solution. We will try to give you some keys so as not to be taken by surprise when connecting to charging stations in France, as in neighboring countries.

How do you choose your recharge card from the various solutions?

Universal recharge cards or badges are, in our opinion, the Swiss Army Knives that systematically slip into your wallet (or your car). The more charging cards that cover different charging station networks, the more peace of mind you get when it comes to driving on the road, without having planned the trip down to the smallest detail.

You can only select one mobility operator brand, but some users collect several. Why ? Simply because all recharge cards do not always cover all existing networks, there may be a one-time breakdown or incompatibility, and above all, recharging is not always negotiated at the same price. The most far-sighted and the most economical have therefore become accustomed to traveling with several recharge cards and / or badges.

What are the most important badges to know?

Chargemap Pass

The Chargemap brand is certainly the best known and most widely used in France. It costs you € 19.90 when buying, but without a subscription thereafter. It works with a large number of networks in France, but it also extends abroad (more than 270,000 terminals). For us, it is crucial for recharging. However, the charging rates are not always the most advantageous compared to other badges.

freshmile

For € 4.99 in acquisition, the Freshmile pass gives you access to a network of more than 150,000 charging points with quite attractive prices on the terminals in the network of the same name, but not systematically on all compatible terminals.

Shell Refill / New Motion

The Shell Recharge card covers 275,000 charging stations internationally. The card is free, but the operator charges a fixed commission of € 0.35 each time a charge is started (up to a limit of € 7 per month).

Kiwhi Pass

KiwhiPass is divided into two commercial formulas: either a card for € 19 and then € 0.70 per. charging session or a subscription of € 24 / year and charging sessions for € 0.35. The map claims to cover a network of 43,000 charging points.

Plugsurfing

The plugsurfing operator offers a card for € 9.95. The operator then charges a service charge of up to 10%, in addition to the charging session. The network covered by Plugsurfing is primarily developed among our German neighbors. This is a solution used by several car manufacturers who offer their own charging card.

Charging mark for electrical terminals. // Source: Raphaelle Baut

There are many other terminal operators and mobility operators that can offer cards that are compatible with many networks in France and abroad. We have quoted the best known here, but depending on your location and the type of terminals you normally use, other maps may be relevant. If you only want to choose one card, we recommend Chargemap Pass, this is what accompanies us on our travels.

Are manufacturers’ charging cards interesting?

The various manufacturers of electric cars have followed suit and almost all offer a charging card in the name of their brand. It’s a way to make it easier to get started with a first electric vehicle and build customer loyalty.

The first year after purchasing an electric car, the manufacturer’s charging card is basically free. With some manufacturers, the period offered may be longer, e.g. at Porsche, which offers the service for free for 3 years. After this period, several manufacturers (BMW, Kia, Hyundai, Volkswagen, etc.) offer monthly subscription offers with several service levels at prices between € 5 and € 18 / month.

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Mercedes Me charging mark // Source: Mercedes

Is there any interest in reviewing these recharge cards offered by the manufacturers? It all depends on your use and the formula associated with the card. If you often make long journeys with Ionity stations, the brands that are part of the Ionity consortium offer a favorable price for this recharging. It may be worth it, despite the monthly subscription around 13 to 15 € / month (after the free period). However, if you only have a very occasional need for this type of charging at public terminals, you need to do the math before committing.

How much does an electric car charging card cost?

As you have probably understood, there are almost as many possible prices as solutions are offered. To preserve the essentials, we could classify the offers into three categories:

  • If the recharging card is free of charge, the operator generally pays the commissions or fees associated with each recharging you make on partner networks.
  • If the card is linked to a subscription formula (eg cards from certain manufacturers), you must have advantageous charges for recharging on certain networks, otherwise the offer has only limited interest compared to other solutions.
  • If the card is charged, the commission on your charging sessions will be lower, but the networks offer different negotiated prices to the different mobility operators.

It is therefore the frequency of use of these top-up cards that should define the formula or formulas that best suit your top-up needs.

The Chargeprice application to avoid unpleasant surprises

Unlike service stations, the charging rate is only rarely stated on the terminal and there may be surprises. This is still a specificity for the electric vehicle compared to thermal vehicles, but the same charging station may see the price vary depending on the badge used (excluding any additional operator commission).

The price difference is sometimes minimal, but in some cases the charges charged go from simple to triple without really knowing the rationale for such a difference. So before connecting to a terminal you do not know, a little check can be helpful.

To check the price you will be charged, you can use your usual recharge card. If you use multiple cards to get the best possible price, we recommend that you download the application or consult the Chargeprice page.

chargeprice_capture
Charging cards and prices on Chargeprice. // Source: Capture from the Chargeprice website

For each terminal, Chargeprice indicates the estimated prices according to badges. Although the price list and the actual fee are not exhaustive and contractual, it gives a good indication. You are also free to contribute to the improvement of the information provided on the application by reporting errors. This is a tip to know for those who want to save money when recharging their electric car.

Pay attention to the price conditions for certain terminals

It is better to take the time to read the small lines about the pricing of the cargo. For electric vehicles, several elements can affect the price of a charge:

Charging at public terminals can look like a hostile jungle. It is better to be well prepared to avoid being surprised. The generalization of “plug & charge” (connect & charge), as Tesla drivers can experiment with superchargers, will certainly help to ease and standardize the issue of charging. In the meantime, it’s up to you to choose the charging brands that suit your use.

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