Do Tesla Superchargers Cost Money To Use? (Explained)

The titular question is a common one for the Tesla owner. While it may cost money to utilize Tesla superchargers, they provide motorists with a much cleaner and cheaper alternative to traditional gasoline.

This guide is here to help readers learn everything that they need to know about these superchargers so that they can get the most bang for their buck.

Do Tesla’s Superchargers Cost Money To Use?

Tesla superchargers do cost money unless you purchased your Tesla prior to 2016. However, you can earn free credits through Tesla’s referral program and you can check whether you have free credits via the Tesla mobile app. Many Tesla owners qualify for free supercharging without knowing.

Here you can see exactly how much it costs to charge Teslas using superchargers.

Do some Tesla owners use superchargers for free?

There are instances in which some owners are able to use superchargers without having to pay for the privilege.

The company has referral programs in place that are designed to assist motorists who are looking to save on their superchargers.

Those who have participated in these programs may have free supercharging miles at their disposal and not even know it.

If you would like to look into the availability of your miles, take a moment to check on the Tesla app.

All you need to do is sign into the Tesla account. From there, find the vehicle that is linked to your account and select the Manage tab.

Click View Details next.

The motorist will then be shown their supercharging status.

There are three different options to choose from:

  1. time bound supercharging,
  2. free unlimited
  3. or pay per use.

How do I know if I qualify for free supercharging?

As stated above, the Tesla app is a one stop shop in this regard.

All the motorist has to do is log in and follow the aforementioned directions to find out if they qualify or not.

Will Tesla out-phase free supercharging?

Of course, this is a common question that is asked, as motorists will want to know if they are going to be able to enjoy these privileges for a significant period of time.

Yes, the company has already made plans to phase out free supercharging, as they have decided that it will not be sustainable for a significant length of time.

These vehicles have come a long way from their humble beginnings, as far as superchargers are concerned. The earliest Tesla owners had to pay in order for supercharging to even be enabled.

When it was first introduced to the general public, it was free.

At the time, there was no fair usage policy. Tesla enabled free supercharging as a means of encouraging long distance travel. No prohibitive measures were taken on the matter at the time.

These things tend to evolve as time passes, though.

By late 2016, the decision was made. Tesla declared free supercharging to be unsustainable and from there, changes took place. At this time, it was decided that their new cars would only come with 400kwh included for each year.

Once motorists exhausted these supplies, they would have to pay for the rest of their supercharging themselves.

These rules were hard for motorists to understand because of the cutoff date. The car would need to be ordered during the year of 2016, with a delivery date that would need to take place by March 31, 2017. The car would also have to be registered by April 2017.

Supposedly, these cars would still have free supercharging but there were major caveats added to that claim that will be discussed in a second. Once the announcement was made, Tesla drivers did not exactly take it in stride. The referral system was updated so that drivers could still receive free supercharging after the aforementioned amount was used up.

However, the first owner of the car is the only one who is able to enjoy these supercharging privileges. 

Once the car has been purchased by a secondary owner, they are expected to pay for all of their supercharging needs.

This policy was only put into place for a few years before newer Tesla owners stopped receiving free supercharging.

Now, Tesla has since updated their referral policy to provide to roughly 4,000 supercharging miles for free with each referral. Not long after, this dropped to 1,000 miles. In addition to this policy, the miles that the motorist receives must be utilized within a fixed time period.

The miles are not technically “free” at that point since they will arrive in the form of a monetary credit to an account that is already.

There are some new inventory cars that come with a year’s worth of free supercharging, though, so prospective owners will need to do their homework. Once Tesla has a stable of vehicles with transferable unlimited free supercharging, this feature is going to be removed entirely.

Any owner who is purchasing a Tesla that was made prior to April 2017 cannot assume that they will retain access to free supercharging.

Does Tesla only offer free supercharging to specific models?

At the moment, there are only a few models that qualify for free supercharging. None of these models are a sure thing in this regard, either.

The following models are merely models that may qualify. 

No Tesla models that are manufactured from the year 2021 on will have any promotions of this nature.

However, the models S, X, 3 and Y may all have promotions that will come in handy for those who seek free supercharging. There are caveats that must be discussed for each of these models as well. For example, free supercharging is only available for the 2020 or 2021 Model Y if you happened to make your purchase during the month of December 2020.

The 2018 or 2019 Model 3 only comes with free supercharging for performance trim only and this privilege only applies to the previous owner.

 

Supercharging is potentially available to owners of a 2016 to 2020 Model X but this must be confirmed with Tesla first. The Model S has a wider range of availability (2012 to 2020) and the motorist will also have to confirm with Tesla.

How much do you pay to use Tesla’s superchargers?

While this pricing tends to vary from place to place, the average motorist can expect to spend roughly 25 cents for every kilowatt hour that they are using.

Those who are looking for a full recharge to the 250 mile range can expect to spend about $25 in total. If you decide to recharge the Tesla to the 80 percent range, this will only cost you about $18.

How is Tesla supercharging billed?

Billing for supercharging will depend on the location but for the most part, motorists can expect to be billed for each kilowatt hour. In other instances, the owner of the vehicle will be billed for each minute.

If the billing is taking place on a per-minute basis, there are four different tiers for drivers to be aware of.

#1 Tier 1 has the lowest pricing and provides drivers with a charge of 60 kW or lower.

#2 Tier 2 has the second lowest pricing, offering Tesla owners charging above 60 kW, at or below 100 kW.

#3 Tier 3’s prices are the second highest, with charging rates that are above 100 kW, at or below 180 kW.

#4 Tier 4 has the highest pricing and offers drivers charging above 180 kW.

Payments are processed with the payment method that the driver has already provided on their Tesla account.

Are Teslas superchargers cheaper to use at night?

This answer will depend on your location. Tesla has already made changes to the off peak hours in the state of California, in an effort to encourage people to charge later in the day.

This decision was made as a means of hopefully freeing up space at supercharging stations during the daytime.

If the California initiative ends up being successful, it is easy to see Tesla implementing these off peak charging policies in other locations.

Are Teslas superchargers actually profitable?

At the moment, Tesla is looking to tweak the supercharging process so that it can become financially sustainable over the course of time.

While free supercharging was offered initially, the company had to make changes to ensure long term profitability.

As discussed above, these changes have already been implemented at select charging stations in the state of California. Only time will tell if they end up having their desired effect.

Are the superchargers open to other cars as well

As the world continues to transition to more sustainable forms of energy, Tesla is now looking to ensure widespread accessibility to their superchargers.

The non Tesla supercharger pilot was first opened in November of 2021.

The company’s objective is a simple one to understand: they are looking to continuously expand to other sites and other countries.

In time, all EV motorists are expected to have access to these ports, no matter what their location may be. As more customers start to use these locations, this will encourage even faster expansion.

While no one has a crystal ball in these instances, it is easy to envision a world where all drivers of electric vehicles will have access to Tesla supercharging ports before long.

Sources

Supercharger Support

Tesla Supercharging FAQ

How to tell if your Tesla qualifies for free supercharging

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