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Tolls East coast- what do we need
Old 08-28-2016, 03:12 PM   #1
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Tolls East coast- what do we need

Heading east Monday, having never used tolls. We are renting a car and have been told not to use their automated readers.

SO what do we need, cash and exact change, or credit cards? How much is a typical toll? We will be driving over several weeks from VA to Maine, and then to Boston. Any advice appreciated.
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Old 08-28-2016, 03:21 PM   #2
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Heading east Monday, having never used tolls. We are renting a car and have been told not to use their automated readers.

SO what do we need, cash and exact change, or credit cards? How much is a typical toll? We will be driving over several weeks from VA to Maine, and then to Boston. Any advice appreciated.
I would recommend using the toll device the rental car agency will rent to you. It is read by the electronic toll reader and you can use the non-stop toll lanes, which will save you a lot of time.

You will get a toll bill in the mail after you turn in the rental car. It will spell out the tolls recorded by location. The fee to use is small and well worth the convenience of using automated lanes.

Toll costs vary by state and road. Last time I was in NY city, the bridge crossing tolls wer $8 but that is for one way. No charge for the other direction. Road tolls can be $1.00 to $3.00.

For where there are no automated tolls (I ran all over NY, Mass & Maine and they were all automated), bring cash or a CC.
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Old 08-28-2016, 03:41 PM   #3
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I agree regarding the toll transponder. The same one ("EZ-Pass") will work from VA to ME. But do check the fee structure from the rental agency - when I looked at it the per-toll fee was quite high.

Otherwise cash is the only option. Some places are going to electronic tolling only, taking a photo of your license plate if you have no transponder and sending a bill.
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Tolls East coast- what do we need
Old 08-28-2016, 04:40 PM   #4
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Tolls East coast- what do we need

In PA using the EZ pass saves money and loads of time, going through the toll booths. Most are 5 mph (well, 15 works fine) but a few in VA you can do at 55 mph.

It's not worth the headache of change and stopping at the toll booths. Just cut your dryer sheets in quarters to make up the rental fee.😃


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Old 08-28-2016, 09:35 PM   #5
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I live here, so I have an EZ Pass account and transponder, but I would recommend it even with a rental. You will save an enormous amount of time going through all the tolls. Many of them are set up so that you don't slow down at all if you have EZ Pass, and if you do have to stop, the line is always shorter in the EZ Pass lanes.
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Old 08-28-2016, 09:40 PM   #6
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What I think you can do is find an EZ Pass retail location along your route and buy an EZ Pass transponder and register your rental car on it as well as your owned cars. You can move the transponder from car to car.

https://www.ezpassva.com/EZPages/Retail-Locations.aspx
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Old 08-28-2016, 10:10 PM   #7
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We drove North Carolina to the Canada Border heading toward Montreal. Tolls weren't crazy - maybe $20-25 for the whole way? We have an EZ Pass from Massachusetts (NC residents here but MA EZPass charges no account maintenance fees and they work on NC's only toll road). Maybe you can order one through the mail and get it if you mean you're traveling next Monday (not tomorrow).

Tolls into NYC were $9 at the Lincoln tunnel I think. That's one way. Might have been more if you cross during rush hour.

I'll go against most of the advice and suggest to look very closely at the rental car toll surcharges. I've heard horror stories of people paying $25 or more extra in addition to the tolls, so make sure you aren't paying anything huge. To me, stopping occasionally and throwing quarters in a bucket would be worth the $25 savings (I don't recall huge lines at any toll booths during our trip north, but we were not usually traveling during rush hour so YMMV).
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Old 08-28-2016, 10:27 PM   #8
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Oh yeah, twenty five bucks to cover 3 weeks of travel in addition to the tolls?

That's like a little more than a dollar a day only to not have to stop like 25 times and wait and toss coins into a chute or chat and make change while traffic whizzes by you.

Just pack up a pillow case of quarters and enjoy your twenty five bucks over the twenty one days. You'll be able to almost get a free cup of coffee every other day.
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Old 08-28-2016, 10:42 PM   #9
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We have tolls here in Chicago, and the transponders are charged 1/2 the cash rate, so you save time and money and avoid rear-end collsions by using the open toll (keep driving tolls).

Seems like you can check with whatever rental agency you are going to use, but Avis for example is pretty reasonable.

Avis says:

" convenience fee of $3.95 for each day of the entire rental period, including any days on which e-Toll is not used, up to a maximum of $19.75 per rental month, plus incurred tolls at the maximum prevailing rates posted by the toll authority."
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Old 08-29-2016, 05:13 AM   #10
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I'll go against most of the advice and suggest to look very closely at the rental car toll surcharges. I've heard horror stories of people paying $25 or more extra in addition to the tolls, so make sure you aren't paying anything huge. To me, stopping occasionally and throwing quarters in a bucket would be worth the $25 savings (I don't recall huge lines at any toll booths during our trip north, but we were not usually traveling during rush hour so YMMV).
Have to second this one. Check out how much your rental car company is going to charge. For example, I know at least some of them charge by the day if you use it the automatic toll pass at all. For example, if you rent the car for two weeks and never use a toll then you wont get charged anything. But, if on one day you use the toll, you will get charged $5 per day over the entire rental. Most are subject to a max...something like $25/month maybe (plus all the tolls of course).

As someone else said, there are some toll roads that are only electronic and no cash (.e.g. Tobin Bridge in Boston). I have no idea what happens if you dont have an electronic toll pass there. I avoided it.

When I spent a few week driving around the east coast, I just put in my GPS to avoid toll roads. Much more fun and scenic that way. From VA might be problematic.
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Old 08-29-2016, 06:36 AM   #11
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We have tolls here in Chicago, and the transponders are charged 1/2 the cash rate, so you save time and money and avoid rear-end collsions by using the open toll (keep driving tolls).
This is what I was thinking... The savings from the transponder may override extra charges. Cash-only may not be the cheapest, and we know it also means delays.

Of course, I don't know about east coast tolls. Chicagoland and NC both give huge discounts for transponders. West Virginia gives you nothing, just a quicker trip through the booth. Is the rest of the east coast like WV?

So to me it depends on whether our friends up in the northeast give a discount or not.
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Old 08-29-2016, 06:42 AM   #12
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Of course, I don't know about east coast tolls. Chicagoland and NC both give huge discounts for transponders. West Virginia gives you nothing, just a quicker trip through the booth. Is the rest of the east coast like WV?
I don't think the I-95 tolls are heavily discounted for EZ pass. You're right about NC - much cheaper to pay electronically with the transponder. 35% off I recall. A $1 cash toll is $0.65 with transponder. Much cheaper to collect electronically rather than printing a bill and mailing it out.
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Old 08-29-2016, 08:45 AM   #13
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The OP talks about being on the east coast for several weeks. At least some of the rental car companies charge a fee per day once you opt in by using the automatic toll system. For example, this is what Avis has to say:


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Under the e-Toll program, once you pass through an electronic toll, you will pay a convenience fee of $3.95 for each day of the entire rental period, including any days on which e-Toll is not used, up to a maximum of $19.75 per rental month, plus incurred tolls at the maximum prevailing rates posted by the toll authority.
The OP is pretty sparse on info, about whether she will regularly be driving toll roads, or just knows that she'll be passing through a few on her drive. I suspect the latter, but I'm not going to waste time with specific advice for general questions and not knowing the specific route or rental car agency.

There is no "typical toll". Most places have lanes for exact change and lanes where change is given, but I'm not even sure of that anymore since I saw a toll road near me when I lived in the Austin area that required toll tags. I think they photographed license plates and mailed bills, probably with a fee, and almost certainly a fee from your rental car company. I don't think it's that hard to do a bit of research on your route to find out the toll situation.
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Old 08-29-2016, 09:19 AM   #14
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There is no "typical toll". Most places have lanes for exact change and lanes where change is given, but I'm not even sure of that anymore since I saw a toll road near me when I lived in the Austin area that required toll tags. I think they photographed license plates and mailed bills, probably with a fee, and almost certainly a fee from your rental car company. I don't think it's that hard to do a bit of research on your route to find out the toll situation.
I've heard nightmare stories of the transponder not working on these All Electronic Toll roads and the plate being read and the rental car company being billed. They tack on a huge $ fee at the rental car agency as a handling fee and I think it's per transaction and then send you the bill for the toll (which will be higher if it's from reading the plate) plus the rental car company's handling fee.

As for doing the research on the route, it's a little tricky since you'll hit several toll authorities on your way north. Each state has at least one toll authority and there are several smaller toll authorities all up and down the east coast that run a bridge or two here and there or a single road (ex: Dulles Toll Road in DC area - 2 different toll authorities on one short road - Metro Washington Airports and the privately owned Dulles Greenway - all EZ-pass compatible).

You'd think EZ-pass meant they all work together under 1 umbrella, but it's more like a federation of a couple dozen toll authorities that use a small handful of compatible RF technologies and plate reading techs to consolidate billing across the many agencies that participate in EZ-pass. They share toll transactions between the various toll authorities with a somewhat manual batch process that runs overnight.

OP, when we researched our summer road trip, I found this site and their app slightly helpful: Cost 2 Drive | US Tolls I think the app was a couple bucks, and I returned it for a refund after giving it a test drive. It didn't really give me all the info in a convenient format.
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Old 08-29-2016, 09:29 AM   #15
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This probably won't work for this trip (too soon) but my solution has been to use an Illinois I-Pass. This device is compatible with the East coast EZ-Pass system.

I am a resident of Michigan so my friends in Illinois find it somewhat interesting that I have an I-Pass.

- There is no monthly use requirement
- You pay a small deposit on the hardware, but this is refunded if you ever turn it in
- In Illinois I believe there is a 50% discount on the toll-roads over cash payers
- Most lanes in Illinois read the I-Pass at highway speed.
- As mentioned before, it is compatible with EZ-Pass

-gauss
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Old 08-29-2016, 09:38 AM   #16
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This probably won't work for this trip (too soon) but my solution has been to use an Illinois I-Pass. This device is compatible with the East coast EZ-Pass system.

I am a resident of Michigan so my friends in Illinois find it somewhat interesting that I have an I-Pass.

- There is no monthly use requirement
- You pay a small deposit on the hardware, but this is refunded if you ever turn it in
- In Illinois I believe there is a 50% discount on the toll-roads over cash payers
- Most lanes in Illinois read the I-Pass at highway speed.
- As mentioned before, it is compatible with EZ-Pass

-gauss
Yes IL gives big discount for using the I-pass vs cash.
No monthly fee, or use requirement at all.

I've even considered buying one to mail to relatives (cost about $20) so when they travel they can save on the toll hassle and cost.
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Old 08-29-2016, 09:40 AM   #17
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As for doing the research on the route, it's a little tricky since you'll hit several toll authorities on your way north. Each state has at least one toll authority and there are several smaller toll authorities all up and down the east coast that run a bridge or two here and there or a single road
I agree, but that also means that any advice here is suspect because we don't even know if she's going up 81 or 95 or what. With so many different authorities and payment methods, I can't see how any can give good advice.

If she drives early in the trip on a road with no self pay option, she could start the daily meter running for all the remaining weeks left on the trip. Seems worth a little research to me.
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Old 08-29-2016, 09:54 AM   #18
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I would say any recommendation to not use EZ-Pass to save $25 is ill-advised. EZ-Pass saves a lot of time and avoids long lines (saving gas). If the rental car agency toll surcharge is excessive I would investigate getting your own transponder from your own state or another location. It links to a credit card or bank account and works like a pre-paid debit account that refills when you hit a low balance. I drove to the next state over on Saturday and I left Ez-pass in the other car. The bridge toll was $6 but only $4.50 w/ EZ Pass.
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Old 08-29-2016, 10:00 AM   #19
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..... I drove to the next state over on Saturday and I left Ez-pass in the other car. The bridge toll was $6 but only $4.50 w/ EZ Pass.
This is why with the I-Pass, I got one for each car.
For I-pass there is no cost to not using it for months, so it's worth it, even if only used 1 time per year.
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Old 08-29-2016, 10:06 AM   #20
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Remember that many GPS systems/apps have an option to avoid toll roads. This isn't always an option, but I find that the resulting routes are often more interesting and not too out of the way.

It's not always an option (depending on the area), but if you aren't in a hurry, give it a try.
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