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January 2024
|Last updated:
January 2024

How to pay for electric car charging on the public network

Charging payments blog header

With new technology being developed & released quicker than you can say “public charging”, it’s becoming increasingly difficult to keep up with the different payment methods available and how they work - or could work.

In this blog, we’re going to be looking into some of the latest developments in EV charging payment. From a physical card to virtual payment methods, there are plenty of payment methods to choose from - take a read and find out which are right for you.

Let’s get plugged in…


RFID (radio-frequency identification) card

Let’s start at the beginning: RFID stands for Radio-Frequency Identification. It’s a wireless technology that gives and receives data, communicating specific, individual information.

For those interested, ‘tags’ do the giving - ‘readers’, the receiving.

Here are the different types of RFID cards used to make payments in the EV world:

Physical RFID (Electrocard)


Each Electrocard has a unique ID reference - once the card is tapped on the chargepoint RFID reader, the unique code is read and authorises the start (and stop) of the charging session. RFID cards’ easy-tap system is where our saying ‘one-tap access to thousands of chargers’ came from!

As an eMSP (eMobility Service Provider*), RFID card technology was the industry standard when we started. It’s a great and easy way to provide effortless access to a variety of charge points; taking away the need for customers to have lots of different cards for different CPOs (charge point operators)! Plus, while in-app charging is great, there are times when phone signals drop or are too weak to start a charge. In these situations, an RFID card can come to the rescue - it’s good to always have a fallback!

Have a read of our blogs: How to order an Electrocard and How to use an Octopus Electrocard, to get started with your own physical RFID card for EV charging!

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*Octopus Electroverse is an eMobility Service Provider (eMSP) - a company that provides electric vehicle (EV) charging roaming services. Have a read of our blog The Definitive EV Dictionary, to check out other EV related acronyms!

Virtual RFID

A virtual RFID card mostly works in the same way as a physical one, except the ‘virtual’ part means the technology is being accessed online (e.g. via a mobile phone)! So, like with Apple/Google Pay, you’d simply have to tap your phone against the reader and the information would be communicated.

However, as much as we’d love it to be this simple in the EV world, this virtual technology relies on a large number of companies cooperating - and currently -  standardisation of this tech is a long way off, causing major blockages in the rollout for this type of EV charging payment 

Whilst this technology is not off the table, most companies have diverted their attention elsewhere - to even more progressive EV charging authorisation methods, such as Plug & Charge.

With all of the above in mind, this is why Electroverse is not currently offering a virtual RFID... but we do offer Plug & Charge!

Contactless bank cards

Some CPOs (charge point operators) have the option for you to pay for charging with your debit or credit card. For example, you could walk up to an Osprey charger and tap your card to start a charge and pay directly through your bank account.

However, this option comes without several Electroverse benefits: 

  • A downloadable VAT (via the Electroverse app)

  • Being able to track your charging session away from your EV (via the Electroverse app) 

  • A holding/pre-authorisation fee (e.g. £40) might be charged - this is not the case when you pay with Electroverse

  • Using a contactless bank card would exclude any CPO discounts you could receive with Electroverse (e.g. 20% off Osprey chargers)!

In-App Payment

Image showing the Electric Universe mascot, Zapman, starting an EV charge from their phone

With in-app EV charging, comes in-app charging payment! Here’s how it works for us:

Once you’re set-up with an Electroverse account (with a valid payment method linked), you’re ready to use the in-app charging feature. No RFID cards necessary.

It’s a super easy-to-use feature - all you need to do is check that the charging station is compatible with in-app charging, by looking at its access information in the Electroverse App - this can be found within the charging station information. Tap on the charge point and you can simply follow the instructions in the app from here on out - leaving your EV to charge to your desired amount!

Then, once you’re happy and have stopped the charge within the app, you’ll be billed for the amount of energy consumed within 24 hours.

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Sometimes, receipts from the charging operators can be delayed, so it’s worth waiting 72 hours before contacting us!

If you’re a UK Octopus Energy customer, you can link your Electroverse account - meaning your charging payments will be automatically included in your energy bill at the end of the month!

For a step-by-step guide on how to charge in-app, check out our blogs: How to charge your car from your phone and How to use the Octopus Electroverse app, or watch our video tutorial below!

Plug & Charge

Octopus Electroverse mascot, Zapman, using plug & charge functionality to automatically charge their EV with an IONITY chargepoint

Plug & Charge is the future realised! Eventually, it could remove the need for any of the previously mentioned methods. No card, no app, just a certificate installed on your EV and a chargepoint with Plug & Charge capabilities. The ability to simply plug your in EV and walk away - no interaction with the charge point required!

Compatible vehicle owners can now set up Plug & Charge with Octopus Electroverse! Any charges made with Plug & Charge would be billed to your Electroverse account - i.e. whichever payment method you have registered on the app/website.

Check out our blog and find out how to get started today: What is Plug & Charge?


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