Article | Guide

What to know about RFID cards and EV charging

01 Feb 2024

Sometimes referred to as ‘EV charge cards’, we share a quick introduction to one of the most important charging accessories

As electric vehicles (EVs) have continued to gain popularity, more and more drivers are switching from traditional fuel vehicles to EVs. If you're switching to an EV, you might be concerned about how you charge on the go, and be eager to understand if you can use a normal debit or credit card—or if you need a specific charging card. This is where RFID cards come in.

What is RFID?

RFID stands for radio frequency identification. It is a form of wireless communication that can be used to identify a unique object by leveraging the radio frequency range of the electromagnetic spectrum. RFID technology allows digital data encoded in an RFID card to be captured by a reader. This is similar to the technology used in bar codes, except RFID data can be read without needing an optical scanner.

What is an RFID card?

While RFID can have multiple applications, when it comes to EV charging, RFID cards are used to make it easy to pay for charging at charging points. An RFID card lets you start a charge at a public charging point by tapping your card against a reader. The card contains unique data that is transmitted to the charging station, allowing it to identify the user and initiate the charging process.

When you download the bp pulse app and subscribe for £7.85 per month, you’ll receive
your choice of a bp pulse card or key fob. Both are a type of RFID card, and let you start
and end a charge on one of our public charging points with a simple tap. Subscribers also
enjoy our best rates for public charging** – from £0.44/kWh, in addition to receiving a month’s free subscription and £45 credit over 5 months**

Find a public charging point near you by downloading the bp pulse app >

Do I need to use an RFID to charge my EV with bp pulse?

When you charge your EV with bp pulse, you may receive an RFID enabled bp pulse card
or key fob if:

  • You’re an EV driver using our public charging network, who has downloaded our
    app and selected to ‘Subscribe’. When you subscribe, a bp pulse key fob or card will
    be sent to an address of your choice. Once you receive your card, activate it by
    following the instructions provided to access public charging. Not ready to
    subscribe? You can also pay by contactless card (excludes 7kW chargers), pay as
    you go, or as a guest. Find out about our payment options and pricing here.

  • You’re part of a fleet using bp’s Fuel & Charge Card

  • You’re part of a business using bp pulse’s Workplace scheme

What is public EV charging?

At bp pulse, we’re building a network of public EV chargers can help to keep you moving
as you travel around the UK. Looking for a charger? Download the bp pulse app, or visit
our live map, to search for available charging points near you, and filter by factors
including charger speed. Our app also lets you save your favourite EV charging points so
that you can easily locate them the next time you charge.

Find out more about public EV charging

We'll keep your electric vehicle moving as you travel around the UK with our network of charging points—so you can plug in, power up, and go.

What is a Fuel & Charge Card?

For fleets, bp offers the Fuel & Charge Card—a single, convenient card, which connects your fleet to a network of thousands of bp and partner petrol stations across the UK, and features an RFID chip to provide access to EV charging via the bp pulse on-the-go network. This option is ideal for businesses that want the option to connect to charging networks and fuel stations while on the go.

What is the Workplace scheme?

Our Workplace scheme is an opportunity for businesses to manage a private network of charge points. Employers can set tariffs, monitor usage, and invite employees to join the scheme, all from one platform. Employees who are part of the scheme will receive a private RFID card, sent to an address of their choice, which will allow them to charge at work. Employees can also opt to add on membership to the wider bp pulse on-the-go network.

Are there benefits of charging with an RFID card?

Using RFID can be convenient – allowing you to quickly tap the reader on an EV charging point to start and end a charging session. An RFID card can be stored with other payment cards, as a dedicated way to pay for EV charging, or you might choose to keep an RFID-enabled key fob on your key ring, so it’s with you whenever you’re on the move.

Because an RFID card or key fob contains unique information, it can also be linked to a user account. This can allow users to monitor and track transaction history through a centralised platform. For example, if you use a bp pulse card or key fob to our public EV charging network, all of your transactions will appear in the bp pulse app – making it easy to keep track of your charging sessions and spend. Alternatively, if you’re a business, equipping your fleets with RFID cards can help you to track spend across your fleet, contributing to more efficient operations management.

With bp pulse, depending on your subscription type, RFID cards can be a convenient and easy way to access EV charging—eliminating the need to carry cash or search for a credit card to pay for charging, to keep you journey ready.

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  2. Terms and conditions *Pay on average 20% less than Contactless rates when using bp pulse network. Savings vary by charger type (Fast = 25%, Rapid = 20%, UFC = 19% less) and not available on non-participating chargers. Rates & average subscriber savings are subject to change. Payment by bp pulse charge card or via bp pulse app is required. Rates & savings vary across bp pulse network. *1 month's subscription free, then £45 credit on us. When you download the bp pulse app and register and upgrade to a full bp pulse membership subscription (£7.85 inc VAT per month), we’ll give you your first month’s subscription free, plus a £9 charging credit each month for the following 5 months. Total of £45 credit is only valid if you remain a full member for 6 months from registration.