Home Rental Cars How To Avoid Crazy Toll Charges When Renting A Car In Orlando (Updated January, 2020)

How To Avoid Crazy Toll Charges When Renting A Car In Orlando (Updated January, 2020)

by SharonKurheg

When you rent a car, there are almost always costs not included in the advertised price. Sales tax. Vehicle license recovery fee. Customer facility charge. Concession recovery fee. Parking surcharge. Insurance charge. An added fee if you’re under 25 years old. An added fee for additional drivers. Upcharges for satellite radio and car seats. Stuff like that. In Orlando, as is the case in other cities, the cost of a toll transponder is often quietly added on, as well. And folks, it ain’t cheap!
The Orlando area toll roads include:

  • SR 91/Florida Turnpike
  • SR 408/Spessard L. Holland East-West Expressway
  • SR 417/Greeneway
  • SR 429/Western Beltway
  • CR 522/Osceola Parkway
  • SR 528/Beachline (formerly known as the Beeline, for you folks who, like me, are old school. It will ALWAYS be the “Beeline” to me)

Screen Shot 2017-07-22 at 2.37.02 PM

All of the above roads primarily use electronic payment so if you stay straight on the road and get to a toll, you need a transponder to pay for the (electronic) toll. Most (but not all!) of the roads still offer a cash option if you merge to the right side of the road (if you look at the right side of the photo above, which is where the non-electronic payments are, the toll booth with the blue sign is unmanned and only takes exact change; the ones with green signs are manned, and they can take bills and can give change. None of the booths take credit cards). After you’ve paid your toll with money, your “pay by cash” road merges back to the main road. There are also blue/unmanned/change only booths for some entrances and exits of the toll roads (because they don’t just charge you while you’re on the road, they also can charge you to enter and exit it, as well), but many nowadays ONLY have an electronic option. Oh, and if you go through an electronic/cashless toll and don’t have a transponder, they record your license plate and bill you that way.

Orlando is the largest rental car market in the world, with most of the major car rental companies located on-site at Orlando International Airport (MCO), without the need for a shuttle bus to pick up your rental car. Here’s a breakdown of the largest car rental companies at or near MCO and what they say about paying for tolls with toll transponders:

IMPORTANT UPDATE! The Central Florida Expressway Authority (READ: the highway authority responsible for construction, maintenance and operation of toll roads in five counties of Greater Orlando (Lake, Orange, Osceola, Seminole, and Brevard Counties) is piloting a new automated toll payment solution for select visitors to Florida who are renting a car from the Orlando International Airport. This program allows car renters to refuse the rental car companies’ toll transponder, thereby saving them the cost of transponder and/or penalties – YOU ONLY PAY FOR THE TOLLS INCURRED. Click here for more info!

Advantage Rent A Car

Advantage used to use Plate Pass Automated Toll Payment but as per their website, they now use their own E-Z Toll package. From their website’s FAQ: “…you can purchase our E-Z Toll package for a daily fee, which varies by location, at most of our U.S. locations. Please check with the counter-agent for the specific fee at your rental location (Note from Sharon: There are no prices for E-Z Toll on Advantage’s website, so I called them. Prices vary from location to location; most are $9.99 to $12.99 per day [Florida is $9.99 per day], but some, such as New York City, it’s as high as $23.99/day). E-Z Toll would cover all toll charges and waive administrative fees for tolls. If you do not add E-Z Toll to the rental then you would be charged for each toll along with an administrative fee of $15/day with up to a maximum of $90 charged for the length of the contract. Please note you would not be charged for those tolls until after we receive and process the toll invoices from the toll authority. If you choose not to add E-Z Toll to your rental, be sure to turn off the toll transponder in your car before driving through tolls. Depending on your location, there may be toll roads that do not provide the option to pay with cash or credit/debit cards. Purchase of E-Z Toll or administrative tolling fees can be avoided staying off of toll roads, using a personal transponder, or by making direct-pay arrangements with the toll-authority, where allowed.”

Alamo

Alamo uses HTA TollPass and, as per their website, the car rental program is offered in different ways, depending on where you rent.

You can avoid the convenience fee and any other charges by paying the toll in cash, using your electronic toll device, or avoiding any cashless toll road or passage.

Avis

Avis uses the e-Toll program. Avis e-Toll is offered in the Northeast (from Maine to North Carolina), California, Chicago Area, Colorado, Florida, Oklahoma, Texas, Washington and Puerto Rico.

Budget

Budget uses the e-Toll program. Budget e-Toll is offered in the Northeast (from Maine to North Carolina), California, Chicago Area, Colorado, Florida, Oklahoma, Texas, Washington and Puerto Rico.

Dollar Car Rental

Dollar uses Plate Pass Automated Toll Payment. The charge for Plate Pass used to be on their website, but is no longer found; it’s only described as a “low daily rate” (I called and “Rob” said it’s, “only $5.95 per day”). You must opt-in or decline this service at the time of reservation or at the rental counter. If you decline PlatePass 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), you will be liable for and will be charged for: (a) all tolls incurred for such use (at the highest, undiscounted applicable toll rate); (b) a $15 administrative fee for each toll incurred (in Florida & Boston it’s $9.99 per occurrence, subject to a $90 cap for such toll-related administrative fees for the rental period); and (c) all other applicable toll charges or fees, if any.

Enterprise

Enterprise uses HTA TollPass and charges $3.95 fee per usage day (24 hour interval) that customers incur tolls (so they don’t charge you for the 24 hour period you don’t use toll roads, which is nice), plus tolls (at the posted cash/toll-by-plate rate). There is a $19.75 maximum fee per rental period (not including the tolls). Your opt-in decision is made when you elect to use a cashless toll lane – it’s billed automatically.

E-Z Rent A Car

E-Z Rent A Car uses its own E-Z Toll program. “You can add E-Z Toll to the rental when you arrive at the counter. For a daily fee, which varies by location, E-Z Toll will allow you to drive through unlimited tolls and waive all administrative fees. Please check with the counter-agent for the specific fee at your rental location. Without E-Z Toll, you would be charged for each unpaid or automated toll you drive through, and you could be charged an administrative fee of $15/day with up to a maximum of $90 charged for the length of the contract for each of those tolls.” Call 800-277-5171 to reach E-Z’s Customer Service.

Fox Rental Car

Fox is off MCO property – they have a shuttle to get to/from the airport. Fox uses PlatePass All-Inclusive Service, which includes the following charges:

  • Florida:
    — Fort Lauderdale, Miami, Fort Myers: $8.99 per rental day. Maximum charge of 15 rental days or $134.85.
    Orlando: $7.49 per rental day. Maximum charge of 15 rental days or $112.35.
    Tampa: $6.99 per rental day. Maximum charge of 15 rental days or $104.85.
  • California, Colorado, Texas, Washington: $11.49 per rental day. Maximum charge of 15 rental days or $172.35.
  • Chicago, Illinois: $12.99 per rental day. Maximum charge of 15 rental days or $194.85.

From their website: “If you choose not to purchase the optional PlatePass All-Inclusive service at the commencement of your rental, and you utilize a PlatePass Toll Road, then you will be charged a USD/15 admin fee per toll (USD/90 maximum per rental agreement) plus the price of the toll and fees from the tolling authority.”

Hertz Car Rental

Hertz uses Plate Pass Automated Toll Payment. The charge for the transponder is $5.95, on top of the actual tolls you have to pay. Your opt-in decision is made when you elect to use an electronic-only lane – it’s billed automatically to all drivers who use an eligible cashless toll road, and they charge you every day of your rental, whether you use a toll road each day or not.

National

National uses HTA TollPass and, as per their website, the car rental program is offered in different ways, depending on where you rent.

You can avoid the convenience fee and any other charges by paying the toll in cash, using your electronic toll device, or avoiding any cashless toll road or passage.

Note: For nearly all rental car companies, the price of the toll transponder usage varies from state to state. Hertz actually lowered the price of TollPass usage for their Emerald Club members in some states in early 2018, but the price in Florida is still less ;-).

Payless Car Rental

Payless uses the e-Toll program. As per their website, Payless e-Toll is offered in the Northeast (from Maine to North Carolina), California, Chicago Area, Colorado, Florida, Oklahoma, Texas, Washington and Puerto Rico. Go to this page of their website for specifics.

Silvercar

As we posted a while back, Silvercar made its debut at MCO on August 31, 2017. As part of their “car rental the way it should be” campaign, Silvercar only charges you for the actual tolls you incur, plus a one-time (not per day) administrative fee of $4.95 per reservation. Of all the car rental companies out there, Silvercar is our favorite, even though we never get to use them, LOL.

Sixt

Sixt is off MCO property – they have a shuttle to get to/from the airport. They have their own Sixt Express Toll Service program and a huge explanation of it, but no actual price on their website short of “fees.” We used Sixt for the first time when we were in Texas not too long ago, but had no tolls to go through, so we didn’t sign up for the program. PROCEED WITH CAUTION, READ ALL OF THE FINE PRINT and MAKE SURE YOU UNDERSTAND HOW YOU WILL BE CHARGED FOR TOLLS before accepting a rental car with Sixt Rent A Car.

Thrifty Car Rental

Thrifty uses Plate Pass Automated Toll Payment. The charge for Plate Pass used to be on their website, but is no longer found; it’s only described as a “low daily rate” (I called and was told it varies from $8.99 to $21.49 per day and she could not give me a specific price for Florida)).  You must opt-in or decline this service at the time of reservation or at the rental counter. If you decline PlatePass 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), you will be liable for and will be charged for: (a) all tolls incurred for such use (at the highest, undiscounted applicable toll rate); (b) a $15 administrative fee for each toll incurred (in Florida & Boston it’s $9.99 per occurrence, subject to a $90 cap for such toll-related administrative fees for the rental period); and (c) all other applicable toll charges or fees, if any.

Heads up that for almost all of these companies, if you opt-out of using their toll transponder and you wind up going through an electronic toll, they will charge you a huge penalty (sorry, they call it an “administrative fee”) – upwards of $15 PER TOLL.

How Can You Avoid Paying Some Of These Crazy Charges?

  1. Consider renting from Silvercar, since they only charge you a one-time-per-reservation $4.95 administrative fee and then only for the actual tolls incurred.
  2. Bring your own transponder. There are a few transponders from other areas of Florida, as well as parts of Georgia and North Carolina, that are interchangeable with SunPass. Below are the ones listed on SunPass’s website.IMPORTANT!: Joy of joys, effective September 1, 2018, E-Z Pass can now be used on Central Florida Expressway Authority roadways! Click here for more information!

    Screen Shot 2018-08-18 at 4.56.22 PM

  3. If you want to avoid cashless toll roads and thus only avoid the crazy “administrative fees,” do your homework before you get to Orlando. Know where you will want to go and how to get there (i.e. Google SR528, SR429 etc.). If you’re going to incur toll roads in your travels, check with the websites of each road and see if cashless tolls are unavoidable (The 408 and 528 are the quickest and easiest ways to go between Orlando International Airport/MCO and the Disney/Universal/theme parks and convention/International Drive areas, and both have cash options all the way through to/from these places – but not necessarily at any exit in between them).
  4. I know it sounds kind of obvious, but if you want to avoid tolls and possible administrative fees altogether, don’t take toll roads. It CAN be done in the Orlando area…just be prepared to spend lots of extra time on the road (i.e. with no traffic backups, it will take about 30 minutes, give or take, to go between MCO and WDW if you use the 417 or 528, but a good 60 to 75 minutes if you take surface streets and non-toll roads).
  5. Consider purchasing a SunPass transponder of your own. They cost $19.99, plus a required minimum initial balance of $10, but you have the option of canceling your account when you get back home and getting your pre-loaded money back (or you can keep it for your next trips to Central FL).
    If you have your own SunPass, you may get a small discount for each toll you go through.
    You can purchase your transponder by mail and have it delivered (if you have a U.S. address), or you can buy it in person once you’ve landed in Orlando. SunPasses are available in Central Florida at Walgreens pharmacy, Publix supermarket, CVS Pharmacy and AAA Auto Club South. If you want to buy one after you’ve landed at MCO and avoid tolls until you purchase it, the closest locations are Walgreens (5702 Lee Vista Blvd.), which about 3 miles north of the airport, and Publix (4042 S. Semoran Blvd.) which is about 5 miles north of MCO. IMPORTANT! If you buy the transponder in Orlando as soon as you arrive, please note it takes several hours for your Sunpass balance to reflect the money you’ve put into your account – as per SunPass: “Please wait until 6:00 AM of the morning following activation before using your SunPass. After 6:00 AM of the morning following activation, your SunPass will work on all Florida toll roads and most bridges.” So if you land at 2pm, buy your transponder at 3pm and go through an electronic toll at 3:30pm, YOUR SUNPASS ACCOUNT MAY NOT HAVE MONEY IN IT YET and you may incur whatever fees & charges your car rental company lists. Purchasing your transponder by mail, ahead of time, will alleviate this issue.
    IMPORTANT INFO AS PER SUNPASS’S WEBSITE:

    SunPass customers using a rental vehicle may have their tolls applied to their SunPass account. Customers with SunPass Portable transponders may use their transponders in their rental vehicles. (It is strongly recommended that SunPass customers access their online SunPass accounts or contact the SunPass Customer Service Center to add the rental vehicle subscription to their account for the rental period.) If the transponder is not in your vehicle or functioning properly, tolls from other agencies will not be posted to your SunPass account, and may be charged to you by the rental Service Provider. Please remember to remove your transponder upon return of the vehicle. SunPass customers that do not have their transponders in the vehicle are subject to the tolls, fees and charges set forth below and in their rental agreements.

    SunPass also sells stickers for $4.95 but once attached to your rental car, you can’t take it with you when your rental period is complete.

  6. As I mentioned above, the Central Florida Expressway Authority is piloting a new automated toll payment solution for select visitors to Florida who are renting a car from the Orlando International Airport. This program allows car renters to refuse the rental car companies’ toll transponder, thereby saving them the cost of transponder and/or penalties – YOU ONLY PAY FOR THE TOLLS INCURRED. Click here for more info!

Renting a car in Orlando has its advantages – you have the freedom to go wherever you want, whenever you want during your vacation/holiday. However, the costs of car rentals can be a bit ridiculous. Hopefully, this article can help you avoid some of the more ridiculousness.

Like this post? Please share it! We have plenty more just like it and would love if you decided to hang around and clicked the button on the top (if you’re on your computer) or the bottom (if you’re on your phone/tablet) of this page to follow our blog and get emailed notifications of when we post (it’s usually about 3 or 4 times a day). Or maybe you’d like to join our Facebook group (that has over 10,000 members) – we talk and ask questions about travel (including Disney parks), creative ways to earn frequent flyer miles and hotel points, how to save money on or for your trips, get access to travel articles you may not see otherwise, etc. Whether you’ve read our posts before or this is the first time you’re stopping by, we’re really glad you’re here and hope you come back to visit again!

This post first appeared on Your Mileage May Vary

26 comments

Mark Peters July 24, 2017 - 10:31 am

How does the toll system know to charge my personal purchased SunPass and not the toll payment system used by the rental car company?? What are the chances of me getting charged the excessive fees by the rental car company even though I purchased my own SunPass??

Reply
sharonheg July 24, 2017 - 12:13 pm

Hi Mark! The tolls look for a transponder first – as long as you have one in use, your transponder will be charged. If you don’t have a transponder (or if it’s in the wrong spot – so make sure you place it where the instructions recommend, or not functioning correctly), then it takes a picture of your rental car’s license plate and, depending on the rental car company you’re using, you could incur the toll price and/or administrative fees and/or you then automatically opt in for the car rental company’s automated toll payment for the time you rent the car. As Sunpass suggests, make sure to access your online SunPass accounts or contact the SunPass Customer Service Center to add the rental vehicle subscription to your account for the rental period.

Reply
Kim August 7, 2017 - 1:30 pm

Good question and thanks for all the info! I am from NYC and have Ez-Pass. I understand it is NOT accepted in Florida. Is this correct?

Reply
sharonheg August 7, 2017 - 4:47 pm

Hi Kim! That’s correct – EZ Pass doesn’t work with the SunPass system at this time. I’ve read they’re trying to get them to sync up, but it’s been a long process so far.

Reply
Hyatt Card, Orlando Toll Charges, Victor Noir Erection, Tap Water Guide, Young Explorers - TravelBloggerBuzz July 26, 2017 - 6:30 am

[…] This may be helpful to some of you visiting Disney perhaps…How to Avoid Crazy Toll Charges When Renting a Car in Orlando. […]

Reply
Karen January 27, 2018 - 12:38 pm

Hi we’re flying into Miami travelling to Naples then upto Jacksonville,hiring our car from Alamo could you recommend best pass to buy for tolls .

Reply
SharonKurheg January 27, 2018 - 12:45 pm

Hi Karen! I would recommend a Sunpass. If you live in the US, you can order one online. If you live outside the US, the article tells you the brands of stores where you can buy one once you arrive in FL. Or you can use Alamo’s system, if you’d prefer.

Reply
Karen Duffy January 27, 2018 - 12:56 pm

Thank you travelling from the UK.

Reply
SharonKurheg January 27, 2018 - 12:59 pm

I thought so – you said “hire car” We say “rental car” 😉 Honestly, Alamo’s system isn’t bad, as far as toll payment systems go, IMHO.

Reply
Shannon April 14, 2018 - 10:19 am

Hertz has updated their policy to only charge for PlatePass for each day it is used with no maximum.

“You will be charged for each toll at the highest, undiscounted toll rate plus a $4.95 convenience fee for each calendar day when tolls are incurred. There is no maximum PlatePass convenience fee.”

Reply
SharonKurheg April 14, 2018 - 10:36 am

OK. I’ll double check that and change the article accordingly. Thank-you for the heads up! 🙂

Reply
Kevin June 5, 2018 - 12:19 am

They will ship the SunPass to Canada now. I just ordered one to be shipped to my Canadian address.

Reply
SharonKurheg June 5, 2018 - 12:27 am

Great to hear, Kevin! I didn’t know that. Will do some quick research and d the post as needed. Thanks for the update 🙂

Reply
rbtzn July 23, 2018 - 1:18 pm

Thank you so much for this detailed article! I remember our last trip we had a car for 10 days and drove thru the tolls only on the way to/from the airport! I’m researching rental cars now and just had 2 updates for your article. 1) SIXT has increased their daily fee to $8.99, but they did confirm that if I have my own transponder I can waive their fee and pay on my own. They said sometimes previous renters leave their transponders by accident and if SIXT can’t remove the old transponder, I won’t be able to add my own and there’s no way around that (not sure how that works exactly???) 2) the sunpass link is now https://www.sunpass.com/en/signup/transponderclassify.shtml thanks again for this wealth of information!

Reply
SharonKurheg July 23, 2018 - 1:25 pm

Oh thank you so much! I checked all the links (and price quotes) a few months ago but I guess I missed the updates. I’ll change them accordingly and give you a shout out, too 🙂

Glad the article was helpful!

Reply
micheal August 19, 2018 - 3:33 pm

hi I am arriving on 4th sept . driving a hire car from Alamo .with 4nights in Orlando then fort Lauderdale ,then key west ,then clearwater ,return to Orlando . would I be better getting a pass from publics or Alamo or just paying cash tolls. thank you.

Reply
SharonKurheg August 19, 2018 - 3:47 pm

Hi Micheal! I’m only “very” familiar with the toll roads in the Central Florida region, since that’s where I live, so I can only answer you from that POV.

If you get the pass from Alamo, you’ll know how much you’ll be paying for the transponder each day.

If you get a pass from Publix, you’ll have to pay for the transponder or sticker, but you’ll also get a small discount on each toll you pass through.

Just as there are some electronic-only tolls in the Central FL area, there are sure to be some in the other places you plan to visit; in that case you’ll have no option to pay cash at those tolls.

It’s all a matter of sitting down, figuring out your route, Googling to learn about the tolls you’re incur, and figuring it out on paper. 🙂 Good luck!

Reply
Matt D December 27, 2018 - 8:27 pm

Wish I’d seen your article before I rented from Thrifty this trip…
Picked up a One-Way rental from Miami to Denver (24 days), with the Miami Airport office insistent that I had to pay for their Sunpass for the entirety of the rental despite only being in Florida for the first 3 days. Asked them if there was any problem with me buying the Sunpass sticker for $4.95 & they said it was for Florida residents ONLY.
So as Miami is all cashless tolls I was lumbered with a pre-paid toll bill of $189+tax on top of my rental fee etc…
I call it the Thrifty ‘extortion tax’, which is compounded by lies told to me at the Airport office re the sticker system it seems.
We still have more than 2 weeks to go as left Florida last week, annoyed to be paying Thrifty an extra $8/day for absolutely nothing…

Reply
SharonKurheg December 27, 2018 - 11:02 pm

OMG Matt, how awful! But yeah…they lie. They lie like a rug. And they know that when you’re at the car rental desk, you need to make split decisions and they take advantage of that. I wish you had found the article, too…it’s always better to know everything ahead of time, so you can make an informed decision instead of getting ripped off. I’m sorry that happened.

Reply
Shannon July 3, 2019 - 10:57 am

I always check “avoid tolls” on my GPS, and use the same routes that locals would use. The toll roads are a tourist trap. You can get around without them easily.

Reply
Kenneth Alan July 22, 2019 - 7:02 am

Hi, sorry for my question but some details are not very clear for me. For example for Advantage (and others) the daily fee is $4.95 with a maximum of $24.95 per month. So if I rent 10 days the fees will be $49.50 or $24.95. Thank you for your answer.

Reply
SharonKurheg July 22, 2019 - 10:35 am

Hi! As I understand it, it would be $24.95, since that’s the maximum.

Of course, that’s before tolls 😉

Reply
Ron August 7, 2019 - 3:10 pm

You need to update the policies. Some have changed and are much more customer friendly (Hertz, for example).

Reply
SharonKurheg August 7, 2019 - 7:52 pm

OK, thank-you. I do check them periodically to see if they’ve updated their policies. Will check again. Thank-you for the heads u!

Reply
David January 8, 2020 - 2:26 pm

I downloaded the free app PayTollo and paid the tolls via the app, much cheaper than any Other option. You enter your rental car license plate and description of the car. You load a balance/add a credit card and it is deducted from that balance, you are refunded the left over at a time of your choosing. Very slick, easy and cheap. https://www.paytollo.com/pt_florida

Reply
SharonKurheg January 8, 2020 - 2:30 pm

That could be good option if you have your own car but it says on PayTollo’s website that it doesn’t support rental cars at this time. That really won’t help anyone renting a car in Central Florida.

Reply

Leave a Reply

Stay Updated

* indicates required




Want to keep up to date with our latest posts?

* indicates required




BoardingArea
%d bloggers like this: