A circuit for safely and rapidly charging batteries, with the charging occurring at three different rates. A first rate is used to bring a battery up to a level where it is determined to be safe for rapid rate charging. At this charge level the temperature of the battery may also be checked to be sure it is within a safe range for rapid charging. If safe, the battery is then rapidly charged at a second rate, until it is almost at its maximum capacity. At that point a third rate charge, lower than the first charge rate, is used to maintain the battery at nominally full charge. A microprocessor controller controls a plurality of rapid rate chargers and determines when the battery parameters are safe so that rapid charging can be safely employed. The rapid charger may be of a conventional charge pump type.