While phone and tablet performance has improved by leaps and bounds in recent years, battery life hasn’t changed much. In most cases, you’ll still need to charge your phone once a day -- or two at the most.
That’s fine if you’re at home every night or have a convenient plug at the office. But what if you’re on the road a lot or living the van life?
That’s where USB car chargers come in. But choosing the right one is essential -- both for safety and reliability.
This roundup offers a list of top picks from leading brands and a list of questions to consider to help find the best option for you.
Editor’s Note: This post has been updated for 2020
Best Budget USB Car Charger
The RAVPower 24-watt 4.8-amp Metal Dual Car Adapter features a solid metal design, two ports, and a compact design that won't take up a ton of space -- all for less than the price of a dinner at your favorite restaurant.
RAVPower's iSmart technology adjusts the flow of power to suit your device and a number of built-in safety features prevent short circuits, overcharging, and overheating.
There's even a lifetime warranty if you register the charger with RAVPower.
That's not to say the charger doesn't have a few compromises. It's not the smallest charger out there for one. But the biggest issue is a lack of QuickCharge support. So while the charger can push out 2.4-amps to your phone or tablet, it won't offer the absolute fastest charging times available.
Covering all the basics, the RAVPower 24-watt 4.8-amp Metal Dual Car Adapter will keep your phone ready to go without breaking the bank.
Best Budget Quick Charge USB Car Charger
With Quick Charge 3.0 and iSmart technologies, the RAVPower Turbo 36W QC 3.0 2-Port Car Charger will charge just about any mobile device out there quickly and safely.
Better still, unlike a lot of budget chargers, both ports deliver full power so you can charge two devices at once without sacrificing speed.
The charger is both lightweight and compact. It won't take up much room in your car or take up much space in your bag if you're keeping it around for emergencies. There's even a blue LED light to help you find the ports if you're on the go at night.
Finally, it offers all these features alongside a range of overcharging, over-voltage, under-voltage, and short circuit protections. The charger is as safe as it is speedy.
If you're looking for the fastest charging speeds and compatibility with a huge range of devices, this charger offers tons of value for the price.
Best USB Car Charger
Anker reputation is outstanding. It's no secret that they make quality products at fair prices. The Anker PowerDrive Speed 2 keeps their long list of successes rolling.
Anker's PowerIQ technology offers rapid charging for nearly any mobile device while extensive protections keep both your gear and your car's electrical system safe.
The design is simple but fits the majority of car interiors so it won't stand out or look too flashy. It's also one of the smaller chargers in this lineup.
If all of that wasn't enough, Anker offers an 18-month warranty to ensure you get long-lasting performance from your charger. If you have any problems, just contact customer support and they'll take care of things.
Whether you're looking to charge an iPhone, a Samsung Galaxy, or an iPad, the Anker PowerDrive Speed 2's PowerIQ charging technology will keep your devices charged without breaking a sweat while an 18-month warranty provides extra peace of mind.
NOTE: The Anker PowerDrive III Duo offers the same excellent performance as the Anker PowerDrive Speed 2 but uses USB-C ports instead of USB-A ports. If you've already made the jump to USB Type C, buy this one instead so you don't have to hunt down older cables to keep your phones or tablets charged.
Best 4-Port USB Car Charger
Need to keep more than two devices charged up? The RAVPower 54-watts 4-Port USB Car Charger with QC 3.0 is a solid choice.
The charger features three iSmart charging ports and one Quick Charge 3.0 port to provide flexible, powerful charging on the go. With 54-watts to share across the ports, it should have no trouble keeping up with the most power-hungry devices.
You could keep your phone, GPS, and Bluetooth speaker charging all at once and still have a port free for whoever is in the passenger seat.
The charger includes built-in protection against overcharging and voltage regulation to ensure it delivers a smooth, safe charge to all of your devices.
If you're worried about the size, it's also surprisingly compact for a 4-port charger, just make sure the ends of your USB cables are nice and slim so you don't block any ports.
If you need to keep a small army of devices charged while on the road, the RAVPower 54-watts 4-Port USB Car Charger with QC 3.0 has the ports and power to deliver.
Best 4-Port USB Car Charger for Families
With its unique design, the Belkin Road Rockstar offers everything you need to keep your kids' phones or tablets running on even the longest of summer road trips.
With a six-foot extension, the charger allows you to put two ports in the back seat of your car or van with ease. No more need to buy extra long cables to snake across your vehicle or extra chargers to plug into other ports.
But while the charger is convenient, it isn't perfect. The ports on the extension charge at 2.4-amps -- plenty of power for most tablets and phones. However, the front two ports are only 1.2-amps. So if you're using a powerful phone and streaming music or running a GPS navigation app up front, it might struggle to keep up just a bit.
Still it should provide enough power to keep power drain at a minimum and allow for hours of use before needing to swap over to one of the more powerful ports.
With its built-in extension, the Belkin Road Rockstar can keep everyone in the car charged up without having to run multiple wires back and forth. While it's not the most powerful 4-port charger, it's certainly one of the most convenient.
How We Chose
We selected these models based on analysis of expert reviews from around the web, user feedback on sites like
Amazon and carrier stores, forum comments on our site, social media discussions, and more.
When answering the question, “What makes a USB car charger worth buying?”, we considered the following
A USB car charger doesn't do much good if you can't count on it to last a while. We researched models in this roundup to ensure they offer a track record of dependable, long-lasting performance.
Even just a few years ago, most chargers offered comparable performance. However, as fast-charging technologies have improved and phone power requirements have grown, choosing the wrong charger could mean waiting hours for your phone to charge. All of these picks offer at least 2.4-amps of power and many support fast charge technologies to help you top off your battery as fast as possible.
While budgets vary from person to person, we wanted to be sure that all of our picks offer good value compared to competing models. Our picks cover everything from the budget-friendly to the top tiers.
The best place to find out about how well a USB car charger works is from the people using them every day. If there's a problem, reviewers will usually let you know in a hurry. All of our picks are well-reviewed across multiple sites to ensure that information is as accurate as possible.
We compared the things most people consider when choosing a USB car charger.
In short, we did the research—so you don’t have to.
Quick Charge, Fast Charge, iSmart, PowerIQ: What's the Difference?
In essence, these are all names for fast-charging technology that allows your phone and charger to communicate to provide the fastest, safest charge possible. It will charge the fastest when the battery is low, then slow down as the battery's capacity nears full to maximize the life of the battery and prevent overcharging.
While there are multiple standards for fast charging, Quick Charge 3.0 is currently one of the newest and most wide-spread options. However, many manufacturers like to put their own spin on the name to make things sound fancy.
In the case of this round up, PowerIQ is Quick Charge 3.0 compatible but iSmart is not.
Still, iSmart chargers will deliver maximum power to your phone allowing it to charge quickly -- even if it isn't quite as fast as Quick Charge 3.0 might provide.
Also, if you have an older device with support for Quick Charge 1.0 or 2.0, any of the Quick Charge 3.0 or PowerIQ chargers in this roundup should be compatible and provide the best charging speeds.
How Many Amps Does a Charger Really Need?
While the exact answer will depend on what you need to charge and whether you're using it while charging, power usage for mobile devices is rising with each generation. So the long-term answer is "As many as possible."
However, for general purpose charging, 2.4- to 3.2-amps per port is often enough to provide speedy, stable charging for most of today's phones and tablets.
But it's not just about the number of amps. You also need to consider if that number is shared evenly across the ports on your charger and how many ports it has.
For example, a 4.8-amp charger with two ports sharing the amps evenly provides a solid 2.4-amps per port. So even if you're using both ports, you should enjoy fast, stable charging. However, if you spread the same 4.8-amps across four ports, that means you'd only be charging at 1.2-amps per port if you charged four devices at once.
If you're using a newer, power-hungry phone or tablet, the charger might struggle to keep up.
Metal vs Plastic: Does it Matter?
Yes and no.
The obvious benefit to metal chargers is that they're a bit more durable. In a car, you're more likely to knock things around a bit hunting for the charge port or moving stuff about.
But there's actually a second benefit as well: heat dissipation. USB car chargers can get a bit warm -- especially if you're using all the ports. So that little bit of extra heat removal can help keep things running safely and smoothly.
What's Up with All the Lights? Isn't that Distracting?
It sometimes seems like a lot of the chargers out there today are a bit over the top. But lights on the chargers serve multiple purposes.
LED indicators often let you know if the charger is either plugged in or charging -- and sometimes both.
Lit up borders on the edge of the charger or in the ports actually aren't just about looking cool or appealing to a specific crowd. They make it easier to see your charger and plug in cables at night.
If you're the type to plug in a cable and leave it there forever, this might be less of an issue. But if you frequently unplug cables and leave the charger empty but plugged in, you'll definitely want to make sure the charger isn't too bright or distracting.
However, if it is, you could simply unplug it until you need it. Still, checking customer images on Amazon listings can help to show you what to expect if you're worried about it.
Why Not Choose a Model with an Attached USB Cord?
We debated including a model in this lineup with an attached USB cord. However, we ultimately decided against this for a few reasons.
First, while most phones now use one of three charging ports -- microUSB, USB Type-C, or Lighting -- there's nothing saying that won't change in the future. And if it does, your charger is essentially useless.
That's doesn't account for the fact that we'd need to make multiple picks to suit which type of phone you have. By choosing a charger that allows you to provide the cables, you get maximum flexibility.
Second, if the cable is attached to your charger and something should happen to any part of it, the entire charger is now broken. With a charger which uses separate cables, you can replace cables should the connectors get lose, or replace the charger if it stops working and still use your old cables.
What If My Car Already has USB Charge Ports?
The chargers in this lineup might still be an upgrade over the USB ports included in your car or on your stereo.
Very few built-in charge ports include fast charging support. If your car seems to charge your phone much slower than the adapter in your home or office, this would be why.
By picking up an affordable USB car charger, you can enjoy the convenience of fast charging on the go.
What About Chargers from My Carrier or Phone Manufacturer?
There is a good chance that your local carrier store has a whole wall of USB phone chargers. But there's an equal chance that they're all two to three times more expensive as the picks on this list.
The same applies to chargers from Apple, Samsung, Motorola, Nokia, or any other brand.
As long as you buy a high-quality third-party charger -- such as the ones featured in this roundup -- you'll enjoy the same quality and features at a fraction of the price.
Will USB Type-C Chargers Charge Faster than Regular USB Chargers?
Increased power output is one of the big advantages to USB Type C. However, you won't see much -- if any -- difference between them when it comes to USB car chargers.
That's because even though a USB Type C car charger could technically sent more power to the port, there's only so much power you can safely draw from the port where you plug the charger into your car.
This could change in the future. But for now, buying a USB Type C charger is more about being able to use your existing cords and never having to play the "flip the USB cable 3 times" game when you want to charge your phone or tablet on the go.
Recap: Best USB Car Chargers
- RAVPower 24W 4.8A Metal Dual Car Adapter: Best Budget USB Car Charger
RAVPower Turbo 36W QC 3.0 2-Port Car Charger: Best Budget Quick Charge USB Car Charger
- Anker PowerDrive Speed 2 39W Dual USB Car Charger: Best USB Car Charger
- RAVPower 54W 4-Port USB Car Charger with QC 3.0: Best 4-Port USB Car Charger
- Belkin Road Rockstar: Best 4-Port USB Car Charger for Families
A reliable USB car charger is the perfect way to keep your phone up and running on long road trips or enjoy a quick top off of the battery on the way to work.
By choosing a charger with enough ports and ample power -- at least 2.4 amps per port -- to charge as many devices as you need, you can ensure a great experience.
These picks represent what we feel are the best options on the market in 2020.
 PC World: Best USB Car Chargers for Your Phone
 The Wirecutter: The Best USB Car Charger
 Lifewire: The 6 Best Car Chargers of 2019
 The Drive: Best USB Car Chargers: Stay Charged Wherever You Go
 Android Authority: Best Car Chargers You Can Get Your Hands On
 Reviewed: The Best Car USB Chargers of 2019
 Make Use Of: The Best USB Car Chargers for Your Next Road Trip
 Bustle: The 3 Best USB Car Chargers
 The Droid Guy: 5 Best USB Car Chargers for Your Android Phone
 The Strategist: The Best Car Phone Chargers, according to Hyperenthusiastic Reviewers
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