Car using smartphone for navigation

The Best Car Chargers of 2021

By Dave Dean Vehicle TechNo Comments

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At a time when we’re relying on our mobile devices for pretty much everything, it’s no surprise that they’re getting more in-car use than ever before.

Google Maps, Waze, and several other good navigation apps help get you where you’re going. Spotify or Apple Music let you stream your favorite tunes. A tablet for the kids to watch their favorite games and movies can be the difference between an easy trip and high blood pressure.

With all of that, however, comes a problem: keeping everything charged. On a long trip, even the biggest phone batteries will drain hours before you arrive at your destination.

That’s where car chargers come in. Available in a wide range of wired and wireless versions, with extra features that let you do everything from jump-start your vehicle to charge your laptop, there’s a car charger out there for every need, budget, and trip.

One size doesn’t fit all, however, and it’s worth thinking about the needs of both your devices and passengers before deciding what to spend your money on. Whether you’re driving across the country or just across the city, these are 10 of the best car chargers you can buy right now.

USB Car Chargers

Whether you’re on a budget or traveling with a large group, want the fastest possible charging speeds or want to make sure the kids can power up their iPads in the back seat, there’s a very wide range of USB car chargers out there.

These are what most people think of when it comes to car chargers, but they’re definitely not all the same. Certain types are better for certain uses, and some are just terrible no matter what you want to do with them.

That’s why we’ve put together our picks for the best USB car chargers for all needs, devices, and budgets.

Best on a Budget: Anker PowerDrive 2
  • Dimensions: 2.5 x 1.1 x 1.1 inches
  • Ports: 2x USB-A
  • Maximum output: 12W per port, 24W total
  • Extra features: None

Best for Faster Charging: Anker PowerDrive Speed 2
  • Dimensions:2.6 x 1.4 x 1.4 inches
  • Ports: 2x USB-A
  • Maximum output: 19.5W per port, 39W total
  • Extra features: QC 3.0

Best for Big Groups: Aikenuo 6 Port Car Adapter
  • Dimensions: 3.7 x 2.7 x 1.1 inches
  • Ports: 6x USB-A
  • Maximum output: 4x 19.5W and 2x 12W per port, 96W total
  • Extra features: QC 3.0, 40-inch cable

Sale
Best for Backseat Drivers: Belkin Road Rockstar
  • Dimensions: 76.8 x 2 x 1.1 inches
  • Ports: 4x USB-A
  • Maximum output: 12W per port, 12W total (front) / 24W total (rear) / 36W total (combined)
  • Extra features: Six-foot cable, separate ports for rear passengers

Best USB C Car Charger: Anker PowerDrive Speed+ 2
  • Dimensions: 2.6 x 1.4 x 1.4 inches
  • Ports: 1x USB-A, 1x USB C
  • Maximum output: 30W USB C, 19.5W USB-A, 49.5W total
  • Extra features: QC 3.0, Power Delivery

Best on a Budget: Anker PowerDrive 2

Anker 24W Dual USB Car Charger, PowerDrive 2 for iPhone X / 8/7 / 6s / Plus, iPad Pro/Air 2 / Mini, Note 5/4, LG, Nexus, HTC, and More

There are hundreds, if not thousands, of cheap USB car chargers out there that all do much the same thing for about the same price. In this range, we look for a few different things: at least two ports that can quickly charge phones and tablets, small size, low price, and a known brand with good support.

Anker’s PowerDrive 2 ticks all of the boxes. This compact, inexpensive charger has a pair of USB-A ports that can both put out up to 2.4 amps of power (4.8 amps/24W total.) Anker is regularly our top pick for electronic accessories of all kinds, and offers an 18-month warranty even on budget models like this.

This car charger is suitable for iPhones and iPads, most Android devices, and many other USB gadgets. It doesn’t have Power Delivery or QC 3.0 support, so you won’t always get the absolute fastest charging speeds, but it’ll still charge your smartphone or tablet pretty quickly regardless.

If you’re just after a simple, low-cost car charger from a reliable brand, this is the one to go for.

Pros
  • Compact
  • Inexpensive
  • Able to charge two devices at useful speeds
Cons
  • No support for Power Delivery or QC 3.0
Buy on Amazon

Best for Faster Charging: Anker PowerDrive Speed 2

Car Charger, Anker Quick Charge 3.0 39W Dual USB Car Charger Adapter, PowerDrive Speed 2 for Galaxy S10/S9/S8/S7/S6/Plus, Note 9, Poweriq for iPhone 11/XS/Max/XR/X/8/7, Ipad Pro, LG, Nexus, and More

Whether you’re using your phone for navigation or the kids are endlessly watching their favorite shows on the iPad, road trips can drain your devices’ battery surprisingly fast.

If you don’t want to wait several hours for them to get back to 100%, the power output of your car charger is important. There’s a confusing mess of specifications out there, which means the best fast car charger for your needs depends on the devices you own.

Fortunately, a few models (like our pick, the Anker PowerDrive Speed 2) combine different standards to give you a better chance of charging whatever device you’re using at high speed.

The charger can put out up to 39W of power from its two USB-A ports, using either Qualcomm QuickCharge 3.0 or Anker’s own PowerIQ. There are a few devices out there that won’t fast-charge using either standard, but even those will still charge at normal speed.

As with all Anker gear, you’ll get an 18-month warranty and easy replacement if something goes wrong. Note that if you need to charge a USB C device in your vehicle, you may want to look at Anker’s PowerDrive Speed+ 2 (below) instead. It supports Power Delivery, and if your device does as well, you’ll get even faster charging with that model.

Pros
  • Fast charging from both ports simultaneously
  • QC 3.0 support
Cons
  • No Power Delivery support
Buy on Amazon

Best for Big Groups: Aikenuo 6 Port Car Adapter

Car Charger, AI AIKENUO 96W Quick Charge USB Cars Charger Adapter, 12V-24V Multi Ports QC 3.0 USB Auto Splitter Fast Charging for Galaxy S10 S9 Plus, Compatible with iPhone & Android

It’s easy to find car chargers with one or two USB ports. With a bit more effort, it’s not hard to find them with three or four ports either. When you’re traveling with a whole bunch of gadgets, however, even four ports won’t be enough to keep everything charging at the same time.

That’s where this Aikenuo charger comes in, with its 96W output and six separate USB sockets. Four of those sockets are QC 3.0-compatible, so if your devices use that standard, you can fast-charge them all at up to 19.5W each. The other two sockets put out up to 2.4 amps (12W) each, which is still enough to quickly charge many phones.

The 40″ cable is long enough to extend the charger into the back seat, making it easier for several passengers to use it at once. Simple and well-priced, it’s worth picking up one of these before going to pick up all your passengers.

Pros
  • Can fast charge several devices at once
  • Long cable extends to the back seat of most vehicles
  • QC 3.0 support
Cons
  • No Power Delivery support
Buy on Amazon

Best for Backseat Drivers: Belkin Road Rockstar

Belkin Road Rockstar with 4 USB Ports for Front and Backseat Charging, 2 Front Seat USB Ports with Shared 2.4 Amp and 1 Backseat Dual-Port Hub with 2.4 Amp/Port

While some new vehicles are starting to come with USB sockets in the back, they’re still relatively rare. If yours doesn’t have them, or you want to guarantee you can keep the backseat drivers quiet in your rental car, take a look at the Belkin Road Rockstar.

The Rockstar (as we’ll call it) has a pair of USB sockets for use by the driver and passenger, and a small box with another two sockets for those in the back seat. A six-foot cable runs between them, more than long enough for most cars, and the box can clip onto a seat pocket to keep it secure and out of the way.

The front two ports share 12W of power between them, while the rear ports have 12W each. That’s enough to charge three tablets or four phones at the same time, albeit not always at maximum speed.

Pros
  • Power for people in both front and back seats
  • Rear ports can quickly charge two devices at once
Cons
  • Front ports not very powerful when used simultaneously
  • No QC 3.0 or Power delivery support
Buy on Amazon

Best USB C Car Charger: Anker PowerDrive Speed+ 2

USB C Car Charger, Anker 49.5W PowerDrive Speed+ 2 Car Adapter with One 30W PD Port for MacBook Pro/Air 2018, iPad Pro, iPhone XS/Max/XR/X/8, S10/S9, and One 19.5W Fast Charge Port for S8 and More

While it’s easy enough to charge a USB C phone from any old USB port as long as you've got the right cable, there are definite advantages to having a proper USB C car charger like the Anker PowerDrive Speed+ 2.

This charger supports the USB C Power Delivery (PD) specification, a jumble of acronyms which means the port will deliver as much power as your device requests. This allows it to charge most devices at high speed up to around 80% capacity, where it will then slow down to reduce wear and tear on the battery.

The 30W maximum output of the USB C port is more than most, and means you can charge smartphones, tablets, and even some laptops at full speed. There’s also a USB-A port with up to 19.5W of power for charging other devices, separately or at the same time.

This flexibility, coupled with safety features like surge protection and the reliability of a major manufacturer, makes this our top USB C car charger pick.

Note that if you’re looking to fast-charge your iPhone from this charger, that’s possible as well. You’ll just need to pick up a high-quality USB C to Lightning cable to do it with.

Pros
  • Supports USB C Power Delivery
  • Can fast-charge phones, tablets, and even some laptops, together or separately
Cons
  • At the higher end of the price range
Buy on Amazon

Multi-Purpose Car Chargers

Who said a car charger was only any good for topping up your phone or tablet?

These two chargers can do that and more, letting you jump-start a flat vehicle or power anything from a laptop to an air compressor.

Sale
Best Portable Jump Starter: HULKMAN Alpha85 Jump Starter
  • Dimensions: 9.1 x 4.1 x 1.8 inches
  • Weight: 2.0 pounds
  • Ports: USB-A, USB C, 12v
  • Output: 2000amps, 12v DC, 19.5W USB-A, 18W USB C
  • Other features: Vehicle jump start, flashlight, QC 3.0, Power Delivery

Best for Charging Everything: BESTEK Car Inverter with Dual 110v and USB
  • Dimensions: 4.8 x 3.1 x 1.9 inches
  • Weight: 10.1 ounces
  • Ports: 2x 110v AC, 2x USB-A
  • Output: 300W AC total, 24W USB-A total
  • Other features: None

Best for Flat Batteries of All Kinds: HULKMAN Alpha85 Car Jump Starter and Power Bank

HULKMAN Alpha85 Jump Starter 2000 Amp 20000mAh Car Starter for up to 8.5L Gas and 6L Diesel Engines with LED Display 12V Lithium Portable Car Battery Booster Pack (Space Gray)

Having a flat battery on your phone can be a big problem, but a flat battery in your car is an even bigger one. Even though it’s a different kind of “car charger” to others on this list, the HULKMAN Alpha85 combination power bank deserves a mention simply because it deals with both problems.

The 20000mAh capacity and 2000A max output mean the Alpha85 is rated to start anything with an engine up to 8.5 liters (gasoline) or 6.0 liters (diesel.) That covers all cars and pickup trucks, and it can turn them over up to 60 times on a single charge.

The device hooks onto the vehicle battery via a pair of detachable alligator clips, with a screen showing the battery voltage and alerting of any problems. From there, you simply wait for the “ready” prompt, turn the key or press the ignition switch, and all going well, you’re up and running in a few seconds.

Doubling as a power bank, there’s a USB-A QC 3.0 port, a USB C Power Delivery port (18W), and a 12v DC socket for car accessories like air compressors. An inbuilt 400 lumen flashlight has strobe, SOS, and standard beam modes.

Using the bundled 65W wall charger, you can fast-charge the Alpha85 from flat in 90 minutes, with enough juice for a single jump start in five minutes.

If you’re in the market for something slightly different, we’ve also put together several other recommendations for the best portable jump starters.

Pros
  • Can jump start almost any car or pickup
  • Has several other ports for powering other devices
  • Compact enough to keep in the glovebox
Cons
  • Can be difficult to contact support in the event of a problem
Buy on Amazon

Best for Charging Everything: BESTEK Car Inverter with Dual 110v and USB

BESTEK 300W Power Inverter DC 12V to 110V AC Car Inverter with 4.2A Dual USB Car Adapter

Being able to charge your phone and tablet is great, but what about all your other gear? If you’re looking for a car charger for your laptop or most other 110v equipment that usually needs a wall outlet, you’ll need an inverter to do it with.

This Bestek model does the job cheaply and well, sporting a pair of earthed 110v North American sockets that can handle anything up to 300W of continuous power, and 700W peak. This makes it the best car outlet adapter for most smaller appliances, including laptops.

There’s also a pair of USB sockets for charging smaller gadgets, each one rated up to 2.4 amps (12w). Of course, if your device needs more power than that to fast-charge, you can just plug its wall charger into one of the 110v outlets instead.

Relatively light and compact for what it offers, it’s a useful addition for anyone whose road trip power needs extend well beyond their smartphone.

Pros
  • Lets you run many types of small mains-powered devices in your car
  • Can also power two USB devices at once
  • Inexpensive
Cons
  • Not enough power to run larger appliances
Buy on Amazon

Wireless Car Chargers

Even though they can’t charge as fast as a good wired version, wireless car chargers are still very popular. A hands-free mount that also charges your phone is much more convenient than having to mess around with cables every time you get in or out of the vehicle.

Not all smartphones support the latest (or any) wireless charging standards, however, and some will struggle to keep up with power-hungry demands like navigation and music streaming.

Check the specifications of both phone and charger before purchase, since anything under 7.5 watts of power could be a problem. All of the chargers below put out at least 10W.

Best for Vent Mounting: Anker PowerWave Wireless Car Charger
  • Type: Vent
  • Max output: 10W
  • Supported standards: Qi
  • USB car charger included? Yes

Best for Windscreen or Dashboard Mounting: iOttie Auto Sense Wireless Car Charger
  • Type: Dash or windscreen (other options available)
  • Max output: 10W
  • Supported standards: Qi
  • USB car charger included? No

Best for Fast Charging: ZeeHoo 15W Wireless Car Charger
  • Type: Vent, dash, or windscreen
  • Max output: 15W
  • Supported standards: Qi
  • USB car charger included? No

Best for Vent Mounting: Anker PowerWave Wireless Car Charger

Anker Wireless Charger, PowerWave 7.5 Car Charger with Air Vent Phone Holder, 7.5W for iPhone 11, 11 Pro, 11 Pro Max, 10W for Galaxy S10 S9 S8, Note 10 Note 9 (Quick Charge Car Charger Included)

The Anker PowerWave costs more than many other wireless car chargers, but that’s for good reason. The price includes one of the company’s high-speed USB chargers, the Anker PowerDrive Speed 2 we recommended above, to plug into the accessory socket.

This guarantees that as long as your device supports it, you’ll get the full 10W of power available from this Qi-compatible wireless charger. The second USB port remains available for charging other devices as needed.

If you already have a Quick Charge 2.0/3.0 car USB fast charger you’re happy with, though, you can save money by buying the Powerwave by itself.

The mount attaches firmly to the vent, and can be rotated through 360 degrees. A pair of legs on the vent side of the mount gives your phone extra support, and provides more stability than most other vent mounts. It works with the majority of vent designs, and through phone cases up to 5mm thick.

The main limitation of the Powerwave is only being able to mount it on your vehicle’s air vents. If you need a wireless dashboard or windscreen mount instead, check out the iOttie version below.

Pros
  • Attaches firmly
  • Can be rotated through 360 degrees
  • Up to 10W wireless charging
  • Comes with high-speed USB car charger
Cons
  • Vent-mounted only
Buy on Amazon

Best for Windscreen or Dashboard Mounting: iOttie Auto Sense Wireless Car Charger

iOttie Wireless Car Charger Auto Sense Qi Charging Automatic Clamping Dashboard Phone Mount for iPhone, Samsung Galaxy, Huawei, LG, Smartphones

If the vent design or position in your vehicle makes it difficult to mount a wireless charger on them, put it on the windscreen or dashboard instead. This iOttie model attaches easily to a wide range of flat or slightly curved surfaces, thanks to the combination of a dashboard pad and sticky suction cup.

If you’re attaching the mount to your windscreen, it’s easy to attach and detach as needed, with a quick wash of the suction cup restoring the sticky surface if it gets dirty The dashboard pad is a one-time thing, however: once attached, it isn’t designed to be moved around.

The company also makes a vent-mounted version, along with one that sits in your cup holder, if the windscreen/dashboard model doesn’t work for you.

This Qi wireless car charger can output up to 10W of power to Android devices, and 7.5W to iPhones. It comes with an appropriate USB charger to plug into the vehicle accessory port, and a micro-USB cable to connect the two. You can also use the USB charger by itself, if you need to power a device that doesn’t support wireless charging.

As the name suggests, the iOttie Auto Sense detects when you hold your phone close to it, and automatically clamps onto the sides to hold it steady and start charging. When you get to your destination, you can retrieve your phone with a quick tap of one of the release buttons on the side.

The charger’s “foot” helps keep the phone steady, and can be adjusted into one of three positions to suit the size of your device. A telescopic arm pivots through 225 degrees and extends roughly 3.5 inches, so you shouldn’t have any trouble keeping your phone easily viewable no matter what kind of vehicle you drive.

This is a premium wireless car charger that’s made to last, and the price reflects that to some extent. If you’re happy to pay a bit more for quality, though, this is the one to get.

Pros
  • Firm, stable holding
  • Up to 10W wireless charging
  • Closes automatically
  • Comes with USB car charger
Cons
  • Premium model comes at a premium price
  • Dashboard pad can’t be moved after installation
Buy on Amazon

Best for Fast Charging: ZeeHoo 15W Wireless Car Charger

[Upgraded Version] ZeeHoo Wireless Car Charger,15W Qi Fast Charging Auto-Clamping Car Mount,Windshield Dash Air Vent Phone Holder Compatible with iPhone 13/12/Mini/11 Pro Max,Samsung S21,Note 20(Grey)

The Qi wireless standard supports up to 15W of power output, but most smartphones don’t try to hit that limit. Qi wireless charging on the latest iPhones maxes out at 7.5W, while earlier models and many other types of phone are limited to 5W or less.

Still, if you have one of the few phones that supports 15W Qi charging, you’ll want a wireless charger that can provide that much power. This ZeeHoo model does exactly that, and can be mounted on the air vent, dash, or windscreen for maximum flexibility.

The stand is highly adjustable, letting you change the length via the telescoping pole or move the bottom section of the mounting tray to accommodate phones of all sizes. The tray also fully rotates, letting you switch quickly between portrait and landscape mode.

The charger will auto-detect how much power the phone can handle, and charge it at the maximum available speed. Like the iOttie above, the clamp automatically closes when a phone is placed inside it, and releases at the tap of a button on the side.

It doesn’t ship with a cigarette lighter to USB adapter, so if you don’t already have one that can output at 15W, you’ll need to pick up something like this as well.

Pros
  • Up to 15W wireless charging
  • Automatic closing
  • Can be mounted on the air vent, windscreen, or dash
Cons
  • No USB car charger included
Buy on Amazon

Title image via Skitterphoto, other images via Amazon

About the Author
Dave Dean

Dave Dean

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Founder and editor of Too Many Adapters, Dave has been a traveler for 25 years, and a geek for even longer. When he's not playing with the latest tech toy or working out how to keep his phone charged for just a few more minutes, he can probably be found sitting in a broken-down bus in some obscure corner of the planet.

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