How Do You Pay For Electric Car Charging?

Rowan Harris 6 minutes Published: 15/02/2022

It might not be the first question that springs to mind, but how you pay for electric car charging has little in common with how you pay for petrol or diesel.

It might require a bit of getting used to (especially if you’re not one for all this newfangled technology), but once you know how it’s actually pretty simple. Better yet, it doesn’t break the bank. 

In this article we discuss how you pay for electric car charging at home and in public, and how you can save money doing so. 

Paying for home charging

If you charge your electric car at home using a UK three-pin plug socket or Wallbox, the cost of charging will be added to your next electricity bill. It’s as easy as that!

But how much does it cost to charge an electric car at home? Well, if you want to be ‘smart’ about how you charge (and save money in the process), there are a couple of things you’ll want to keep in mind.

The Office for Zero Emissions Vehicles (OZEV) currently offers a £350 grant for EV owners known as the Electric Vehicle Homecharge Scheme (EVHS). This goes towards the cost of installing a ‘smart’ wallbox for electric car charging at home. It won’t cover the full cost of installation, but it can save you money down the line. 

Several electricity providers (Octopus Energy, EDF Energy) have now started offering ‘EV tariffs’ for those who wish to charge their EV at home. These are essentially variable rate tariffs that allow you to charge your car for as little as 4.5p per kWh during certain hours of the night!

With a ‘smart’ wallbox, you can programme your car to charge only when it is cheapest to do so. On the Octopus Agile Tariff, prices change every half an hour. 

When paired with an Ohme ‘smart’ charger and the ‘If This Then That’ (IFTTT) app, you can programme your car to charge automatically when energy prices drop below a user-defined level, and stop charging if prices increase beyond a certain threshold.

If you’re incredibly lucky, as some Octopus Energy customers were last year, you can even get paid for charging your EV when demand is low and energy output is high.

Paying for public charging

As EV uptake has increased, so too has the number of ways in which you can pay for an electric car charge. Gone are the days of walking into a petrol station and handing over cash. Instead, NFC-enabled smartphones and subscription-based models are leading the way.


Traditionally, charging operators would supply an electric car charging card known as an RFID card. Because most smartphones now have an internet connection and NFC capability, RFID cards have become less popular. This means there is usually an alternative method of payment. 

However, if you do use a particular charging station operator frequently, you may want to request an RFID card that is synced to your account to make the checkout process a little smoother. Chargepoint providers that still use an RFID card include ChargePlace Scotland and Source London


Contactless payments are increasingly common at public chargers, and work much like an RFID card to allow faster payments through your smartphone or contactless enabled bank card. 

Instructions should be located on the charging post or on screen and you’ll simply need to tap your contactless card when instructed to do so. 

If you’re already a ‘pro’ at ‘tap and go’, you’ll be pleased to know that as of 2019, all new rapid charging stations must incorporate contactless payments.

Smartphone App

Many public charging station operators also have a mobile phone app that allows you to pay for the service and track your monthly spending. In some cases, this may be required to access the charger. 

In others, it will actually give you access to reduced charging rates. Just by downloading the Osprey app, you can save 5p per kWh on standard contactless charging. No subscription needed! All you’ll need is a relatively up to date Android or Apple smartphone. Then, download the app and follow the on-screen instructions to activate the charger and pay for your charge.

Subscription Models

As EV uptake has increased, more charge point providers have decided to offer subscription-based charging models. It’s worth noting here that this doesn’t mean that you get unlimited charging for one monthly fee. Instead, you’ll often pay a small monthly fee and receive a greatly reduced charging rate per kWh when you use a charging station from the same provider. 

If you consistently cover a lot of miles, this can still lead to big savings. For instance, BP Pulse offers a ‘Free Membership’ and a Paid Subscription. The paid subscription is £7.85 a month with the first 3 months free. The cost per kWh for each of the EV charger types is as follows:

Type of Charger BP Pulse Free Membership BP Pulse Paid Subscription
Slow (AC) £0.20/kWh £0.16/kWh
Fast (50kW DC) £0.29/kWh £0.23/kWh
Rapid (150kW DC) £0.42/kWh £0.27/kWh

Let’s say you have an Audi E-Tron Sportback with a 95kWh battery. If you drive long distances and you want to recharge as quickly as possible, you’ll want to use a DC Rapid Charger. There is a 15p/kWh price difference between rapid charging with a BP Pulse Free Membership and the BP Pulse Paid Subscription. 

While this doesn’t sound like a lot, if you multiply that by 95 (the size of your battery), it adds up to an extra £14.25 for a single full charge. Even if you used it once a month, it would equate to a £6.40 saving. Over the course of a month or year, that subscription adds up to some pretty significant savings. 

Of course, if you have the luxury of charging at home overnight and you rarely use the motorway, a subscription will make less sense. Equally, if your car isn’t equipped for rapid charging (check out our post: how long does it take to charge an electric car?), then a subscription will make less sense. 

It’s worth calculating how often you’ll actually need to charge away from home before you commit to a subscription. 


The holy grail of charging stations. It is said to grant an EV driver unlimited charging at no cost. 

While it’s unlikely that you’ll ever find a free rapid charger (unless you’re one of the lucky early adopters of the Tesla Model X or Tesla Model S that has lifetime free supercharging!), many hotels and shopping centres offer free AC slow charging as an incentive for customers. 

It’s also increasingly common for employers to offer free EV charging as a way to attract new talent. Better still, you won’t be liable to pay BiK tax on subsidised charging. If your employer doesn’t offer it already, now might be the time to give them a nudge!

Alternatively, check out our electric car charging map to find free charging stations near you!


With new technologies like contactless and smartphones, paying to refuel has never been easier. And while electric car charging is already much cheaper than petrol or diesel, there are even greater savings to be had for those willing to go the extra mile with new EV tariffs and subscription-based services. 

For more information on how to charge an electric car, or for tips and tricks to prevent electric car charging cable theft and keep your EV charging bills low, check out our guide to buying an electric car.

We've also rounded up the leading electric car lease deals on the market - comparing deals from UK brokers is easy with Lease Fetcher!