Young woman charging an electric car at public charging station and pays using a mobile phone
As of April 20, 2023 CIBC is introducing a new way to earn rewards for charging electric vehicles when using eligible CIBC credit cards.

The prospect of public charging can seem daunting to new EV drivers. CIBC is taking the uncertainty out of the experience and is pleased to offer a new program giving EV drivers more value for their dollar at the charging station

This article is partner content presented by CIBC.

One of the benefits that comes from owning an electric vehicle (EV) is freedom from the fuel pump.

Many EV owners manage most of their charging at home with chargers installed on their property.

But what happens when you’re out and about?

Charging when you’re away from home is simple, but it can involve a few more steps than refuelling a gas-powered vehicle.

Finding a public EV charger

When learning about public EV charging it’s best to start at the beginning: locating an EV charging station.

The good news is this is relatively simple in most of Canada’s urban areas and is becoming increasingly easy in between big cities.

There are more than 8,000 EV charging stations now located across Canada. Chargers are commonly found at stores and shopping centres, parking lots and train stations, hotels and dedicated charging depots. You can also find them at plenty of other locations, from libraries to tourist attractions and national parks.

To find public charging stations, you can use PlugShare or the ChargeHub app. Natural Resources Canada charging station locator is another resource and Google Maps now locates charging stations as well.  Some vehicles (Tesla and Mercedes, for example) are capable of route planning with charging stops built into your trip.

Something to note: many charging networks use a dedicated network app for payment (see below for more information on payment) and also offer charger location services within that app.

EV charging speeds

Unlike gas stations, not all charging stations dispense equally. There are several tiers of charging stations and it’s important to know which ones you are using on the road.

When you charge on-the-go you’ll need to factor charging time into your travel plans. Public chargers generally offer two speeds: Level 2 and DC Fast Charge. However, it is possible you’ll encounter a Level 1 charger.

The better metric is to find out what speed the charging station offers. This usually ranges from below 50kW up to 350kW. The higher the charging speed the faster you will get back on the road.

It’s important to be aware of your vehicle’s charge limit which may vary from the station’s capabilities. That and cold temperatures can slow charging speeds down.

Different ways to pay

Once you’ve located a station you need to go through a series of steps to get your EV charging. Many networks have a slightly different sequence of steps to go through as well as different payment methods.

This is where drivers need to be patient with themselves and the technology. The best way to avoid headaches — at least for the first few times you use public charging — is to do a bit of research on the charging stations you plan to use to find out what payment methods the stations accept.

Credit Card – Some public charging stations allow payment by credit card directly at the charger, like at a gas station. While this is the easiest system to use, it isn’t universal — yet.  

Mobile Wallet – It is hard to beat the convenience of a mobile wallet, a single app that allows contactless payment through your phone or smartwatch. Some EV charging networks allow payment via mobile wallet, although they may still require a linked charging network account. 

App – Most charging networks allow payment via smartphone app. You add funds to a charging station network account via your credit card. You then use the app to pay by holding your phone to the charger (or even use a smartwatch). But you often need different apps to charge at different networks, which can get confusing.

QR Code – At certain charging networks you can use your phone to scan a QR code which will allow you to enter your credit card details. This is useful for charging stations in new areas, or networks you don’t usually access.

RFID Card – Charging networks often give their customers specific radio-frequency identification (RFID) cards to use at their public chargers, which work in areas where your mobile phone doesn’t have a signal. You add funds to your RFID card account with your credit card and then tap the card on a card-reader at the charger. RFID cards are as easy to use as a credit card and don’t require you to have your phone. You can also use them interchangeably between drivers. However, you may need multiple RFID cards to access different charging networks.

Earn CIBC rewards for EV charging

Bearing in mind all of the information above, as of April 20, 2023 CIBC is introducing a new way to earn rewards for charging electric vehicles when using eligible CIBC credit cards.

CIBC customers that are EV drivers are now able to earn bonus Aventura Points, cash back or Aeroplan points on eligible public EV charging purchases, matching the points that clients earn for gas purchases.

Clients with eligible cards will earn the same amount in Aventura Points, cash back or Aeroplan points that they currently earn on their eligible gas purchases.

The rewards will even apply to eligible charging stations where payment occurs via an app. Transactions with vendors that identify with a merchant category code of MCC 5552 are eligible for bonus rewards.

For more information on CIBC’s EV charging program and other ways to integrate climate action into your everyday life, visit CIBC.