EV Myth: You need a smart phone to use a public charging station.

December 16, 2021

Myth: You need a smart phone to be able to charge at a public charger.

Myth BUSTED: You do not always need an app for that – you can use your credit card to pay for your charging session instead.

As more EV chargers are added to the national charging network, customers are experiencing increased complexities over how to access the power. The adage, “there’s an app for that,” comes into play here but the good news is you don’t always NEED an app for that.

First, I want to note that 90 percent of charging happens at home. When you charge on your 110-V outlet or your 240-V home Level 2 charger, you will be billed directly through your utility. Some utilities now offer specialized EV Charging programs with dedicated circuits that will clearly designate your EV charging costs from other electricity costs. Talk to your local utility about these options today!

If you do need to charge “in the wild,” you can download PlugShare or ChargeHub or simply type “EV Charger” into Google Maps to find nearby public chargers. Many EV drivers do download charging network apps like EVGo, ChargePoint, and Electrify America to access chargers. Some manufacturers have their own apps as well including Ford, Tesla, and Rivian. Using these apps is simple – you create an account and use the interface to register on the charging station which will recognize your account and bill you directly. Additionally, many of these networks will send you an RFID-card registered to your account. Virtually every charging network (of which there are many) has their own app. The benefit of using these apps would be to accrue membership points and benefits as a loyal customer as well as to protect your personal financial information, which may be subject to greater vulnerability with the use of magnetic reader strips as opposed to contactless payments.

However, if you are like me and you are averse to downloading 15 different apps for one purpose, you can access many charging stations with a credit card. I personally have used a credit card at a few different EVGo stations. That being said, some charging networks do not offer this, so it is smart to check before heading to one. You can see reviews from past users and ask questions on PlugShare’s website.

Finally, because many industry experts recognize the lack of interoperability between different charging networks is a barrier to access, there are currently efforts underway to create a universally accessible charging network using Open Charge Point Interface (OCPI) software. The U.S. government is helping to smooth the wrinkles here as part of their goal to install 500,000 EV charging stations across America by 2030.

Written by Sonja Meintsma, Regional Director for Southern Colorado of Drive Clean Colorado


Blanco, S. and Nichols, B. 3 December 2019. “EV Charging Stations: Where to find them, what type you need, how to pay.” Car and Driver. <https://www.caranddriver.com/news/a30031153/ev-charging-guide/>.

Whittaker, Zachary. 11 June 2019. “Card readers at electric vehicle charging stations will weaken security, researchers say.” Tech Crunch. <https://techcrunch.com/2019/06/11/electric-vehicle-charging-credit-card-fraud/>.

Yahoo Finance. 22 November 2021. “Major companies are calling for federal standards ensuring open access and simple payment methods for electric vehicle charging infrastructure.” <https://finance.yahoo.com/news/major-companies-calling-federal-standards-165108789.html>.

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