Rental Car Tolls: How to Avoid Unexpected Costs

PUBLISHED ON Jun, 27 2023

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Rental car tolls can lead to unforeseen expenses, but with proper knowledge and preparation, you can steer clear of unexpected costs. This article dives into the intricacies of rental car toll charges and provides practical tips to help you avoid unnecessary expenses. Learn how to navigate cashless tolls, choose the right toll pass, and sidestep unnecessary fees. Take control of your rental car tolls and ensure a stress-free journey.

Understanding Rental Car Toll Charges

Rental car toll charges can sometimes be confusing and lead to unexpected expenses. It’s important to have a clear understanding of how toll charges work to avoid any surprises during your rental period. In this article, we will explore different aspects of rental car toll charges, including options provided by rental car companies and specific examples from various sources.

  1. Rental Car Toll Pass Programs:
    • Some rental car companies offer toll pass programs, such as PlatePass® and Hertz Toll Day Pass, which allow drivers to use electronic toll lanes and bypass toll booths.
    • These programs provide convenience by eliminating the need for exact change or stopping at toll booths.
    • However, opting for rental car company transponders may come with additional daily fees and administrative charges.
  2. Cashless Toll Roads:
    • With the increasing prevalence of cashless toll roads, rental car drivers without transponders may face challenges in paying tolls directly at the toll booths.
    • In such cases, the toll charges may be sent to the rental car company, and the driver may be liable for administrative fees imposed by the rental car company.
    • It is essential to be aware of the toll payment options and potential fees associated with rental car toll charges.
  3. Personal Toll Passes:
    • Using your own personal toll pass or transponder, if applicable, can be a cost-effective solution to manage rental car toll charges.
    • Some toll passes, like E-ZPass and NC Quick Pass, offer reciprocity across multiple states, allowing you to use a single transponder for toll payment.
    • Researching the toll pass options and their coverage areas in advance can help you make informed decisions and avoid unnecessary expenses.
  4. Potential Consequences of Non-Payment:
    • Failure to pay toll charges or enroll in rental car company toll programs can result in additional fees and penalties.
    • Rental car companies may charge administrative fees for toll violations, which can significantly increase the overall cost.
    • It is crucial to read and understand the terms and conditions of the rental agreement, especially regarding toll charges and potential penalties.

Conclusion: Understanding rental car toll charges is essential to avoid unexpected costs during your rental period. Familiarize yourself with the available toll pass programs offered by rental car companies, consider using your personal toll pass if applicable, and be aware of the consequences of non-payment. By being prepared and informed, you can navigate toll roads smoothly and enjoy a hassle-free rental car experience.

Essential Tips to Avoid Rental Car Toll Costs

Toll costs can quickly add up and turn a cheap car rental into an expensive one. To help you avoid unexpected charges, here are essential tips to keep in mind:

  1. Don’t pay for a toll pass from the rental car company:
    • Rental car companies often offer transponders or toll passes for a daily fee.
    • These passes may seem convenient, but they can come with additional charges, including per-day fees and taxes.
    • Instead of opting for the rental car company’s toll pass, explore alternative options to save on costs.
  2. Bring your own toll transponder:
    • If you have a toll pass or transponder from your personal vehicle, check if it is compatible with the rental car’s route.
    • Some toll passes, such as E-ZPass, have reciprocity across multiple states, allowing you to use a single transponder for toll payment.
    • By using your own transponder, you can avoid the rental car company’s daily fees and potentially save money.
  3. Beware of cashless toll roads:
    • Many states are transitioning to cashless toll systems, where toll booths are unstaffed, and vehicles without transponders are identified through license plate recognition.
    • If you rent a car without a transponder and drive through a cashless toll, the toll charge will be sent to the rental car company, who will forward the charge to you along with an additional administration fee.
    • To avoid these charges, either bring your own transponder or explore alternative routes that don’t involve cashless toll roads.
  4. Research rental car company toll programs:
    • Each rental car company has its own toll program, which may offer options for covering toll costs.
    • For example, Dollar and Thrifty have the PlatePass all-inclusive program, where a set daily fee covers all tolls.
    • If you choose not to enroll in such programs and drive through cashless tolls, you may be responsible for paying the toll and an administrative fee imposed by the rental car company.
  5. Plan ahead and ask for quotes:
    • Before renting a car, research toll roads along your route and estimate potential toll costs.

By following these essential tips, you can minimize rental car toll costs and avoid unexpected expenses. Remember to plan ahead, explore alternative options, and be aware of the specific policies of the rental car company you choose.

Selecting the Right Toll Pass for Rental Cars

When renting a car, it’s important to choose the right toll pass to ensure a smooth and cost-effective travel experience. Here are some options provided by different rental car companies:

  1. PlatePass® by Hertz:
    • PlatePass® is a pre-paid toll service offered by Hertz.
    • It allows you to bypass toll booths and use all-electronic tollways and bridges without needing a personal transponder or direct payment to toll authorities.
    • With PlatePass® All-Inclusive Tolling, you pay a low daily rate and enjoy unlimited toll usage throughout your rental period.
    • By opting for PlatePass®, you can experience speed, convenience, and avoid the hassle of carrying change or waiting in cash-only toll lanes.
  2. Enterprise TollPass™:
    • Enterprise Rent-A-Car offers the TollPass program, an electronic toll collection service that enhances convenience during your rental.
    • The program allows you to drive through electronic toll lanes and pay tolls electronically, eliminating the need for cash or waiting in long payment lines at toll plazas.
    • The availability and coverage of the TollPass program may vary depending on the rental location, so it’s advisable to check with your specific rental location for details.
  3. Avis E-Tolls & Cashless Toll Services:
    • Avis e-Toll is a service offered by Avis Rent a Car in various locations, including the Northeast (from Maine to North Carolina), California, Chicago Area, Colorado, Florida, Oklahoma, Texas, Washington, Puerto Rico, and Canada.
    • For cashless toll roads where drivers cannot pay in cash, Avis customers automatically opt into the e-Toll service program. The charges for e-Toll services vary depending on the location and the specific terms and conditions set by the toll authority. In some regions, such as the Northeast and Chicago Areas, a convenience fee of $3.95 per day of the entire rental period is applied, up to a maximum of $19.75 per rental month. In other areas, such as Canada, the charge is $17.00 plus applicable taxes per rental.
    • Customers have the option to pay tolls in cash, use their own electronic toll device, or avoid cashless toll roads or passages to avoid the convenience fee and additional charges associated with e-Toll services. It is advisable to check with the toll authority directly for alternative toll payment options outside of the e-Toll program.
    • The charges for e-Toll services may take 4-8 weeks after the rental period to be billed to the customer’s credit card or debit card on file. It is important to be aware of roads designated as “cashless tolls,” where cash payments are not accepted, to ensure compliance with toll payment requirements.In summary, Avis e-Toll is a service provided by Avis Rent a Car that allows customers to conveniently pay tolls on cashless toll roads. By opting into the e-Toll service program, customers can have toll charges billed to their rental account, subject to applicable fees and the prevailing rates set by the toll authority in each location.
  4. Budget E-Toll Services:
    • Budget offers e-Toll services to its customers. While specific details about the service are not available on the provided website, it can be inferred that e-Toll services provided by Budget are designed to facilitate electronic payment of tolls during car rentals.
    • To utilize the e-Toll service, customers may need to opt into the program and agree to pay Budget or its toll program administrator for the tolls incurred during the rental period, along with any related fees, charges, and penalties. The specific charges for the e-Toll service may vary depending on the location and the prevailing rates set by the toll authority.
    • By opting into the e-Toll service, customers can conveniently pay tolls electronically and avoid the need for cash payments or stopping at toll booths. The charges for e-Toll services may be billed to the customer’s credit card or debit card on file after the rental period, but the exact timing may vary.
    • It is advisable for customers to review the terms and conditions of Budget’s e-Toll service and familiarize themselves with the specific charges, payment methods, and any alternative toll payment options available.In summary, Budget’s e-Toll service provides customers with a convenient way to pay tolls electronically during car rentals. By opting into the service, customers can streamline their travel experience by avoiding cash payments and toll booth stops.
  5. Dollar PlatePass® All-Inclusive Tolling
    • PlatePass® All-Inclusive Tolling is a pre-paid toll service offered by Dollar Car Rental. By opting into this service, customers can conveniently bypass toll booths during their drive, eliminating the need for coins, cash, or waiting in long lines. With PlatePass®, drivers can cruise through traffic and access express lanes with ease.
    • For a low daily rate, PlatePass® offers unlimited toll usage throughout the rental period, providing customers with a hassle-free experience. By enrolling in PlatePass®, customers do not need to worry about tolls during or after their rental, as all toll-related charges are taken care of.
    • It is important to note that many toll roads have transitioned to All Electronic Tolling, eliminating the option to stop and pay tolls in person. In such cases, PlatePass® All-Inclusive Tolling becomes the ideal solution. It is recommended to check with the local tolling authority for available payment options when traveling through toll roads without traditional toll booths.
    • If customers decline the optional PlatePass All-Inclusive service at the beginning of the rental period but still use electronic toll roads or bridges during the rental, they will be liable for the tolls incurred, along with a $9.99 usage day fee and any other applicable toll charges or fees.
    • PlatePass® All-Inclusive Tolling offers several benefits, including speed and convenience, no need to search for exact change, no waiting in cash-only toll lanes, and the ability to use all-electronic tollways and bridges without personal transponders or direct payments to the toll authority.
    • In summary, Dollar’s PlatePass® All-Inclusive Tolling service provides customers with a convenient and pre-paid tolling option during their rental period. By opting into this service, drivers can enjoy a seamless toll experience, avoiding the hassle of cash payments and toll booth stops.
  6.  Hertz PlatePass®
    • PlatePass® All-Inclusive Tolling is a toll payment solution provided by Hertz that offers speed and convenience for rental customers. With PlatePass, customers can bypass toll booths and use cashless lanes or all-electronic tollways without the need for a personal transponder or direct payment to the toll authority. This service is available throughout the United States and Puerto Rico.
    • The benefits of using PlatePass include avoiding the need to search for exact change, eliminating waiting in cash-only toll lanes, and the ability to use all-electronic tollways and bridges without a personal transponder. There is no sign-up or prepayment required to use PlatePass.
    • PlatePass operates differently depending on the region and the toll collection method. In transponder regions like E-ZPass and I-PASS, the rental vehicle may be equipped with a transponder that communicates with the tollway using radio frequency technology to pay the toll. If the transponder malfunctions or is not present, the rental vehicle will still be enrolled in PlatePass if tolls are incurred without using a personal transponder or other approved payment method.
    • In video regions, the toll authority captures a photo of the vehicle’s license plate to assess tolls. To use PlatePass in transponder regions, the customer needs to open the gray transponder box behind the rearview mirror (if available) for the toll agency to read the transponder. In video regions, customers can simply drive through the toll lane, and the toll road system will automatically read the license plate.
    • It is important to note that if customers decline the optional PlatePass service at the start of the rental period but still use electronic toll roads and bridges during the rental period, they will be liable for all tolls incurred at the highest applicable toll rate, a $9.99 usage day fee, and other applicable toll charges or fees.
    • PlatePass is available in regions that have adopted cashless tolling or all-electronic tolling. It is advisable to check with the local tolling authority for available payment options and participating toll roads.In summary, Hertz’s PlatePass offers rental customers the convenience of cashless toll payment, allowing them to bypass toll booths and use all-electronic tollways without a personal transponder or direct payment to the toll authority.
  7. National Toll Pass
  8. Sixt Toll Pass
  9. Thrifty Toll Pass
    • PlatePass is a convenient pre-paid toll service that allows drivers to bypass toll booths and use cashless lanes or all-electronic tollways. With PlatePass All-Inclusive tolling, customers can enjoy speed and convenience by cruising through traffic and into the express lane without the need to search for coins, cash, or receipts.
    • By opting for PlatePass, customers benefit from pre-paid tolling at a low daily rate, providing unlimited toll-usage throughout the rental period. This means that drivers do not have to worry about tolls during or after the rental as everything is taken care of with PlatePass All-Inclusive Tolling. It is advisable to visit PlatePass.com for a list of participating toll roads.
    • PlatePass is particularly useful on toll roads that have converted to All Electronic Tolling, where traditional toll booths are no longer available for manual payment. In such cases, PlatePass All-Inclusive Tolling offers a perfect solution. It is recommended to check with the local tolling authority for available payment options in each area.
    • If customers decline the optional PlatePass All-Inclusive service at the start of the rental period but still use electronic toll roads and/or bridges during the rental, they will be responsible for all tolls incurred at the highest applicable toll rate, a $9.99 usage day fee, and any other applicable toll charges or fees.
    • In terms of how PlatePass works, it varies depending on the region and toll collection method. In transponder regions such as E-ZPass and I-PASS, the rental vehicle may be equipped with a transponder that communicates with the tollway using radio frequency technology to collect toll information. In video regions, the toll authority captures a photo of the vehicle’s license plate to assess tolls.In summary, Thrifty’s PlatePass is a pre-paid toll service that offers customers speed, convenience, and unlimited toll-usage throughout the rental period. By opting for PlatePass, drivers can bypass toll booths and use cashless or all-electronic tollways without the need for a personal transponder or direct payment to the toll authority.
  10. Personal Toll Passes:
    • Using your own toll pass in a rental car is another option to simplify toll payments and potentially save on costs.
    • E-ZPass and EZ TAG are two popular toll pass options that can be used in rental cars:
      • E-ZPass: E-ZPass works in 19 states primarily on the East Coast. If you already have an E-ZPass, you can add your rental car’s license plate to your account.
      • EZ TAG: If you’re traveling through Texas, Kansas, or Oklahoma, consider getting an EZ TAG for convenient toll payments. You can choose between a windshield transponder or using the EZ TAG Express app.

When selecting the right toll pass for your rental car, consider factors such as the coverage area, convenience, and potential discounts or fees associated with the pass. Research the specific toll pass options available in the area where you’ll be traveling and choose the one that aligns with your needs and budget.

Proactive Measures for a Smooth Rental Car Toll Experience

Proactive measures for a smooth rental car toll experience involve taking certain steps to ensure a hassle-free journey. Here are some tips:

  1. Book your rental car well in advance: Reserving your car before your trip is essential to avoid frustrations and delays. Waiting until you’re at the airport or rental counter can lead to limited selection, delays in getting a car ready, or even unavailability. Booking in advance ensures availability, convenience, and often lower prices.
  2. Understand insurance options: It’s important to understand the insurance coverage you have for rental cars. Your personal car insurance may provide some coverage, and some credit cards offer rental car insurance as well. Review your existing coverage and check if you need additional insurance from the rental car company. Understanding what is already covered will help you make informed decisions and avoid purchasing unnecessary insurance.
  3. Be cautious with add-ons: Rental car companies often offer additional services like GPS, satellite radio, or toll passes. While these features may sound appealing, they can be overpriced. Consider using smartphone apps for navigation and other services instead of purchasing add-ons from the rental company. Being mindful of add-ons can help you avoid unnecessary expenses.
  4. Familiarize yourself with toll systems: If you anticipate encountering toll roads during your rental, familiarize yourself with the toll payment systems in the area you’ll be driving. Research the toll roads and bridges you may encounter and check if they offer cashless or electronic tolling options. Understanding the toll systems beforehand will help you navigate them smoothly during your journey.
  5. Review terms and conditions: Before picking up your rental car, take the time to review the terms and conditions of the rental agreement. Pay attention to any specific instructions or requirements related to tolls, including information on using toll passes, handling toll violations, or associated fees. Being aware of the terms and conditions will prevent any surprises or issues during your rental period.

By following these proactive measures, you can enhance your rental car toll experience, minimize potential issues, and enjoy a smoother journey.

Conclusion

By following these expert tips, you can safeguard yourself from unexpected rental car toll costs. Be prepared, understand your options, and make informed decisions to ensure a seamless and cost-effective travel experience. With proper planning, you can navigate toll roads confidently, avoiding unnecessary expenses and enjoying your journey hassle-free.

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