California's New EV Charge Card Explained: What It Is, And How To Apply

Over the last year, the state of California has introduced a variety of new incentives to get its citizens to switch to wholly electric vehicles in lieu of traditional combustion cars. This is all toward the ultimate goal of phasing out the sale of gas-powered cars entirely by the year 2035. 

The primary incentive is a rebate for those who purchase or lease plug-in EVs, which increases for those in lower-income households. However, even with that extra cash, it may still be difficult for those to invest in an EV that they may not be able to effectively use. 

To assuage this problem, California has introduced yet another incentive. This week, as part of the ongoing Clean Vehicle Rebate Project's existing increased rebate incentive, California has introduced a proprietary "EV Charge Card" system, designed to guarantee EV owners access to an EV charging station. 

The primary means of powering an EV is, of course, electricity, but not all California residents own homes or parking spaces with plug access — and traveling to the gas station to charge up costs money they may not have. This new charge card provides an allowance of free recharging for those who need to rely on public stations.

How California's EV Charge Card works

From August 15 onwards, any California resident at or below 400% of the federal poverty line (approximately $58,320 annually for an individual, or $120,000 for a family of four) who applies for an EV rebate will also receive an EV Charge Card with $2,000 loaded onto it. 

This card can be used like a credit card at any public charging station, though it can't be used for anything else. Those above the income line cannot receive an EV Charge Card. Additionally, the Charge Card will be given to those who purchase or lease battery-electric vehicles or plug-in hybrids — fuel cell vehicles aren't eligible.

If you're interested in applying for the EV rebate and, by extension, an EV Charge Card, visit the Clean Vehicle Rebate Project application website to submit information about your EV purchase/lease and any supporting documentation (income, family size, housing, etc.). 

It may take up to 109 business days for your application to be reviewed, possibly longer if you are selected for income verification. If your application is approved and you are below the required income limit to qualify for an increased rebate, your EV Charge Card will be sent to you in the mail.