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Given high gas prices, it might make sense that your next vacation involves an electric vehicle rather than one that’s gas-powered. Whether you’re renting an electric car for the first time or road-tripping in one that you own, when you travel you’re likely going to want to charge it at the same location you’re staying.
Hotels and vacation rentals are tapping into the electric vehicle trend by making it easier to find lodging that’ll accommodate not just you, but also your electric vehicle, too. Hilton recently added a search feature on its website that allows you to filter hotels by those with EV charging stations.
While sorting by EV charger availability is still a relatively uncommon filter among major hotel brands, some online travel agencies like Expedia have begun adding them. Vacation rental website Airbnb added its own version of an EV filter last summer. Airbnb says it now has more than 850,000 listings on its site that offer an EV charger as an amenity.
Interest in EV chargers had been rising even before 2022’s massive gas price spike. The number of searches by guests for EV chargers doubled between June and December of last year, totaling over half a million unique searches by year end, according to Airbnb.
Hotels are catering to EV drivers
Some hotels are marketing specifically to owners of electric vehicles. At the Hyatt Place Portland-Old Port in Maine, guests can use charging stations that are compatible with Teslas and other EVs at no additional cost (though there is a $30 daily parking fee for all vehicles).
Last summer, the JW Marriott Miami Turnberry Resort & Spa in Florida launched a partnership with EV charging hardware and software platform EVPassport to offer a 19.2-kW Level 2 charger to guests (most hotels use 7-kW Level 2 chargers), which means even faster charging times.
Element Hotels, which is part of the Marriott Bonvoy portfolio of hotels and has 87 properties across the U.S., has made EV chargers a brand standard, meaning that every Element property is required to have at least two charging stations (though some have more). A spokesperson for Marriott told NerdWallet that most hotels typically install both a traditional and Tesla hookup. Guests can charge their cars for free at most Element Hotels — many of which also have free parking — for up to eight consecutive hours.
Electric vehicle charging has some road bumps
For all the benefits that come with hotels offering electric vehicle charging, there are also some road blocks. Especially as EVs become more popular, sometimes there can be more demand than supply of EV parking spaces.
At Element Hotels, charging is offered on a first-come, first-served basis, and the hotel chain does not have a booking system to guarantee a charging dock. That might be sufficient for cars that need only 30 minutes to charge but could pose a problem for cars that need to charge overnight.
For hotel operators, offering EV chargers has become a blessing and a curse. The supply issue has led to an uptick in negative reviews for hotels that offer EV charging as an amenity. Guests say they feel lured in by the benefit, only to find that the EV stations have already been taken by other guests.
How to ensure your EV has charge during your trip
You likely want a comfortable hotel where you can recharge throughout your trip, but it’s imperative your electric vehicle can — literally. Here are some tips to ensure your car recharges just as well as you do.
Plan a trip to places with high rates of EV chargers
If your destination is flexible, consider road tripping in a state that has an above average rate of EV charging points so that you improve your odds of finding an empty place to park.
According to the 2022 EV Charging Station Report from Drivers Ed website Zutobi, the three states with the most charging points per number of registered EVs are North Dakota, Wyoming and Mississippi. In North Dakota, there are around 1.5 electric cars for every charger. Perhaps this is the year you road trip to the state’s Theodore Roosevelt National Park or cruise through Fargo.
Use apps to find when chargers are busy
Turn to smartphone apps both to help plan an EV-friendly route and to get a better idea when EVs are available. PlugShare is a free app that shows charging stations, and — at some locations — even lets you check ahead to see if the station you want is open for use.
If your hotel doesn’t offer an EV charging station as a free amenity, at least earn some bonus points or cash back when you pay for it. A few credit cards offer rewards for EV charging.
How to maximize your rewards
You want a travel credit card that prioritizes what’s important to you. Here are our picks for the best travel credit cards of 2023, including those best for:
Flexibility, point transfers and a large bonus: Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card
No annual fee: Bank of America® Travel Rewards credit card
Flat-rate travel rewards: Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card
Bonus travel rewards and high-end perks: Chase Sapphire Reserve®
Luxury perks: The Platinum Card® from American Express
Business travelers: Ink Business Preferred® Credit Card