Spring break! The time of year northerners travel south. Florida is a hot spot for vacations, but also ripoffs. Car rental companies are charging tourists high fees to drive the rental car through an automated toll booth. If you don’t ask the right questions at the rental car counter, you could pay a big high car rental toll road fees.
How PlatePass, ATS Tolling, eToll, & TollPass work
Planning a vacation goes beyond booking a hotel and flight. Rental car companies add extras to the bill that catch vacationers off-guard.
High rental car fees are charged when tourists drive on the toll road. Don’t plan on paying cash to avoid the fees. In some states, electronic payments are your only option.
You expect to pay a price to drive on a toll road. However, the price you pay on Florida’s Turnpike goes up if you’re driving a rental car. It catches tourists off guard all the time.
Rental car companies use automated tolling. This means they pay the toll booth fee for you. Your credit card is later charged. It’s advertised as a convenience to the customer. However, it’s also costly.
Some drivers described the high fees as “highway robbery” in complaints to the Florida Attorney General. A $4 toll can easily climb to over $20 with automated tolling or toll by plate. Some fees are over $100.
Some rental car companies charge you a service fee for using automated toll billing. That fee is calculated based on the number of days you have the rental car. You don’t pay the fee based on how often you use a toll booth.
If you’re that rental car customer who says “no” to all the add-ons, this is one extra where you may want to say “yes.” With some programs, there’s a catch. If you say no to rental car toll coverage, and accidentally hit a toll booth, you pay an administrative / handling fee. With Dollar Rent A Car and Thrifty, you pay a $15 fee per toll booth you hit.
While automated tolling all works the same, the service has different names depending on the rental car company. It’s called PlatePass, ATS Tolling, eToll, TollPass, or HTA. Every rental car company runs its program differently. You need to ask specific questions because the rental car company may not tell you about the toll fees. Some have limits on the amount you can pay. Florida SunPass outlines the fees and program details per rental car company.
Car rental toll booth fees explained
All the major rental car companies have the automated toll service. Dollar and Thrifty charge $10.49 per rental day for its PlatePass All-Inclusive Tolling service from American Traffic Solutions. You either opt-in or out of the service when you rent the car. PlatePass charges a $15 administrative fee, on top of the toll, if you opt-out and still drive through a toll lane. The maximum charge is $105.
Fox charges an $8.99 fee for every day you rent the car. The maximum you can pay for the entire rental period is $134.85. If you are not enrolled in PlatePass, Fox charges a $15 administrative fee if you still go through a toll booth.
Avis, Budget, and Payless use HTA or eToll. Avis and Budget charge $3.95 per rental day for the service. Payless is a dollar cheaper at $2.95 per day. The eToll maximum fee is $19.75 per month. Of course, tolls are on top of these fees. eToll enrollment is automatic when you rent a car.
National, Alamo, and Enterprise use HTA TollPass. The fee is $3.95 per usage day. That’s different than other programs. With National, Alamo, and Enterprise you are only charged when you use a toll road in a 24 hour period. With these companies, $19.75 is the maximum per rental period. You opt into the program the minute you drive through a toll booth or SunPass lane.
Sixt Rent A Car uses Highway Toll Administration or HTA for its automated toll service. The charge is $7.99 per rental day. If you drive through a toll lane and are not enrolled in the HTA program, you will pay a $5.00 administrative fee.
Attorney General investigates Florida Turnpike toll fees
In Florida, it’s easy to hit a toll road and not realize it. While there are signs that you’re entering the Florida Turnpike, toll roads are confusing in Florida compared to other states. Plus, some toll booths are cashless. That means all payments are electronic and automatic.
The Florida Attorney General is investigating the complaints. In 2009 and 2010, The agency told the rental car companies to disclose their fees. Obviously, there’s still confusion.
The Florida Turnpike Enterprise also met with the rental car agencies but says it doesn’t have the authority to do anything.
Lawmakers have tried passing bills, but they don’t get very far.
How to avoid high car rental toll road fees
So far, Florida leaders haven’t fixed the high car rental toll road fees. It’s not just a Florida issue. Other states with toll roads have the same problems. However, Florida’s cashless toll booths complicate the issue.
Travelers need to prepare for the high car rental toll road fees. If you are traveling from another state, bring your transponder with you. SunPass is compatible with other state tolling systems.
When you get your rental car, you’ll have to notify the tolling authority. You need the make and model of the car, plus the license plate. That way the tolling authority knows the toll pass is temporarily associated with another vehicle.
If you don’t have a compatible toll pass, do your research so you are prepared for the fees.