The 5 Rookie Mistakes I Made Paying Tolls In A Rental Car

by joeheg

When it comes to paying tolls while in a rental car, we’ve already covered the topic several times. With some advance planning, you can act accordingly to keep from paying extra fees when driving while away from home. Here are some of the topics we’ve covered over the years:

As I prepared for our trip to New Jersey and New York, I thought I had a good handle on the situation. We were renting a car from Newark Airport and staying in Weehawken, NJ. We’d be doing a bit of driving in North Jersey, and I knew we’d be on the NJ Turnpike, which uses E-Z Pass for toll payment.

Since E-Z Pass and E-Pass (my Florida transponder) now work on each other’s systems, all I’d need to do is remember to bring my transponder from the car before leaving home. (That was mistake #1, the prime mistake that led to the other mistakes.)

I remembered to bring my E-Pass, and I put it on the window of my rental car. According to E-Pass, this is fine as long as you register the plate on your account, which I didn’t do. (Mistake #2)

The rental vehicle and the vehicle from which you’re transferring the E-PASS must be the same class (for example, two axles). You also must update your E-PASS account information with the rental vehicle’s license plate number.

Since I used my Hertz President Circle status to pick a car from the lot, I never spoke to an agent until I was leaving. As she typed in my info, I saw a sign on her booth about Plate Pass, which is the system Hertz uses to track tolls. I didn’t ask because I brought my transponder with me. (Mistake #3)

After leaving the airport, we made a stop at my hometown Polish deli for some provisions to take home. We’d come prepared with our cooler for the plane ride home.  From there, we hopped on the Turnpike. As I went through the E-Z pass lane, it flashed (that meant “no transponder found”). I thought it was a bit strange, but it happened again when we exited, and I saw “Toll Not Paid.” Something was wrong.

When we got to the hotel, I did some checking, which included reading some of our posts. That’s when I discovered my biggest mistake. While you can use an E-Pass transponder in New Jersey, it has to be a Uni. (Mistake #4)

a white rectangular object with purple text

I have an E-Pass Portable, which is no longer made but looks very similar. It only works in Florida, Georgia and North Carolina.

a white rectangular object with a logo on it

Not only did I go through a toll in a rental car, but I’d also now have to pay the toll and any subsequent penalties to Hertz via Plate Pass. (Mistake #5)

All I could do was wait for the invoice to arrive and see how much I’d have to pay. I found this information on Hertz’s website.

If you 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 period (including “cashless” or “all electronic” toll roads and bridges, as noted above), you will be liable for and we will charge you: (a) all tolls incurred for such use (at the highest, undiscounted applicable toll rate); (b) a $9.99 usage day fee; and (c) all other applicable toll charges or fees, if any.

It’s not that bad of a penalty considering the usual price for PlatePass in New Jersey is $5.95 each day you go through a toll.

Since I already screwed up, I could have used the E-Z Pass lanes on the way back to the hotel. However, we went old school on the Turnpike and used the ticket lane for the rest of the trip.

a blue and white card with black text

I finally received the bill, and my total amount due for the one toll is $13.90. I paid two and a half times more in fees than the cost of the toll. I could have been worse, and I learned my lesson. When I got back home, I ordered a Uni from Amazon and will be ready when I need to pay while driving a rental car.

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