Renting A Car in Orlando: How to Avoid Crazy Toll Charges

Renting A Car in Orlando: How to Avoid Crazy Toll Charges

Icon October 27, 2017
Icon By b12admin
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When you rent a car, there are expenses that in most cases, are not mentioned in the advertisements.

Sales tax, vehicle license recovery fee, customer facility fee, concession recovery fee, parking surcharge, insurance fee arejust some of the additional charges that you need to incur.

Apart from the above mentioned charges, there’s also an additional fee for individuals under 25 years old, for additional drivers, for satellite radio, GPS navigation and car seats.

In Orlando, the cost of a toll transponder is often quietly added on, too.

  • 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

All the above highways basically utilise electronic payment so if you remain straight on the road and get to a toll, you require a transponder to pay for the (electronic) toll. Most of the streets still offer a cash option if you merge to the right side of the road.

After paying your toll with cash, 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, but many only have electronic options these days.

If you happen to pass through an electronic/cashless toll and don’t have a transponder, they record your license plate and charge you that way (you can still register after the event within a day or so and avoid penalties).

Orlando is the biggest rental car market worldwide. With nearly all the large-scale car rental companies located on site at Orlando International Airport (MCO), there’s no need for a shuttle bus to pick up your rental car.

Here’s a list of the largest car rental businesses at or close to MCO, and their opinions about paying for tolls with toll transponders:

Advantage Rent A Car

Advantage utilises Plate Pass Automated Toll Payment. The payment for the transponder is $4.95, an addition to the actual tolls you have to pay, with a maximum charge of $24.75 every 30 days. Your opt-in decision is made when you choose to make use of SunPass ONLY or E-PASS ONLY lanes. It will be charged automatically to all drivers who use an eligible cashless toll road. An important note to make: you will be charged every day of your rental whether or not you make use of a toll road each day.

Alamo

Alamo uses HTA TollPass and charges $3.95 for each usage day that customers incur tolls. In addition to that, you will pay tolls at the posted cash/toll-by-plate rate. But what’s nice is that they will not charge you for the 24-hour period you don’t use toll roads!

There’s a $19.75 maximum fee per rental period (tolls not included). Your opt-in decision is made when you choose to make use of SunPass ONLY or E-PASS ONLY lanes. It will be charged automatically to all drivers who use an eligible cashless toll road.

Avis

Avis uses the e-Toll program. Once you get to an electronic toll, you will pay a $3.95 convenience fee every day of the whole rental period, including any days on which e-Toll is not utilised, up to a maximum of $19.75 per rental month. Added to that are incurred tolls at the maximum prevailing rates posted by the toll authority. You can avoid the convenience expense and some other fees by paying the toll in cash using your electronic toll device or avoiding any cashless toll passage.

Budget

Budget also uses the e-Toll program. If you do not pay cash for tolls, you automatically opt into their e-Toll service, pursuant to which you agree to pay them or their toll program administrator for all tolls incurred during your rental and every related expense, charges and penalties.

Under the e-Toll program, once you go through an electronic toll, you will pay a $3.95 convenience fee every day of the whole rental time frame, including any days on which e-Toll is not utilized, up to a maximum of $19.75 per rental month, plus incurred tolls at the maximum prevailing rates posted by the toll authority.

Dollar Car Rental

Dollar uses Plate Pass Automated Toll Payment and charges a $10.49 flat fee per rental day with a maximum weekly expense of $52.49. You must opt-in or decline this service at the time of reservation or at the counter. If you decline PlatePass at the beginning of the rental period but still use electronic toll roads and/or bridges during the period, you will be accountable for and will be charged for: all tolls incurred for such use (at the maximum, undiscounted applicable toll rate); a $15 administrative charge for every toll incurred (subject to a $90 cap for such toll-related administrative expenses for the rental period); and any other applicable toll charges.

Enterprise

Enterprises uses HTA TollPass and charges $3.95 per usage day that customers incur tolls, and any additional tolls (at the posted cash/toll-by-plate rate). Like some other companies, they will not charge you for the 24-hour period you don’t use toll roads!

There is a maximum fee of $19.75 per rental period (excluding the tolls). Your opt-in decision is made when you choose to make use of SunPass ONLY or E-PASS ONLY lanes. It will be charged automatically to all drivers who use an eligible cashless toll road.

E-Z Rent A Car

Renters can choose to be included in EZTOL program which considers quick bypass of unmanned toll stalls. Acceptance of EZTOL incorporates a fee of $6.99 per day (including the tolls). EZTOL must be taken at the time of pickup and be applied for the full span of the rental. On the off chance that EZTOL is not accepted and a toll violation occurs on the rental, an admin fee of $25 per violation and the cost of the toll will be applied to the rental contract.

Fox Rental Car

Fox is not within MCO airport car pick up area, but they have a shuttle to get to/from the airport. Fox uses PlatePass All-Inclusive Service that has a cost of $8.99 per rental day and with a maximum charge of $134.85 (or 15 rental days).

As their website states, if you choose not to buy the elective PlatePass All-Inclusive service at the start of your rental, and you use a PlatePass Toll Road, you will be charged a $15 admin fee for every toll and added to that are the toll and fees from the tolling authority.

Hertz Car Rental

Hertz uses Plate Pass Automated Toll Payment. The payment for the transponder is $4.95, over the tolls that you need to pay, with a maximum fee of $24.75 every 30 days. Your opt-in decision is made when you choose to make use of SunPassONLY or E-PASS ONLY lanes. It will be charged automatically to all drivers who use an eligible cashless toll road. An important note to make: you will be charged every day of your rental whether or not you utilize a toll road each day.

National

National uses HTA TollPass and charges a fee of $3.95 per usage day that customers incur tolls and any tolls (at the posted cash/toll-by-plate rate). The good news is they will not charge you for the 24-hour period you don’t use toll roads!

There is a maximum fee of $19.75 per rental period, which does not include the tolls. Your opt-in decision is made when you choose to make use of SunPass ONLY or E-PASS ONLY lanes. It will be charged automatically to all drivers who use an eligible cashless toll road.

Payless Car Rental

Payless uses the e-Toll program. As their website states, under the e-Toll program, once you pass through an electronic toll, you will pay a $2.95 convenience fee every day of the entire rental period, including any days on which e-Toll is not utilized, up to a maximum of $14.75 per rental month.

Added to that are incurred tolls at the maximum prevailing rates posted by the toll authority. You can avoid the convenience expense and some other fees by paying the toll in cash using your electronic toll device or avoiding any cashless toll road or passage.

Silvercar

As part of their “car rental the way it should be” campaign, Silvercar only charges you for the actual tolls you incur, with no charge for a transponder.

Sixt

Sixt is outside MCO airport area so that’s why they have a shuttle to get to/from the airport. They run their own Toll Express Service Program that costs $7.99 per day. You will be billed every day of your rental even if you don’t use their program. It has a maximum charge of $119 per rental. Stated on their website: “You may pass through any and all automated toll lanes within Florida even if the tolls will accumulate to be higher than the amount you have prepaid.”

If you’ve already paid the tolls, do not go to toll lanes with cash attendants because if you do so, you will be obliged to pay the cash toll.

Also, if you decide not to use their toll program and pass through one of their automated toll lanes, “You will be charged the cost of the applicable toll fee plus a $5 dollar administration fee per violation.”

Thrifty Car Rental

Thrifty uses Plate Pass Automated Toll Payment and charges a $10.49 flat fee per rental day, with a maximum weekly fee of $52.49. You must opt-in or decline this service at the time of reservation or at the counter. If you decline PlatePass at the beginning of the rental period but still use electronic toll roads and/or bridges during the period, you will be accountable for and will be charged for:  all tolls incurred for such use (at the maximum, undiscounted applicable toll rate); a $15 administrative charge for every toll incurred (subject to a $90 cap for such toll-related administrative expenses for the rental period); and any other applicable toll charges.

So how to avoid these crazy toll charges?

Do some research before going to Orlando! Know where you want to go and how to get there. If you’re going to incur toll roads in your travels, check the websites of each road and see if cashless tolls are unavoidable.

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 an extra time on the road.

Consider buying a SunPass transponder of your own. They cost $19.99 and has a required minimum initial balance of $10, but you have the choice of canceling your account when you get back home and getting your pre-loaded money back. You can buy your transponder by mail and have it delivered, or you can get it in person once you’ve arrived in Orlando.

SunPasses are available in Central Florida at Walgreens pharmacy, Publix supermarket, CVS Pharmacy and AAA Auto Club South. Keep in mind: if you buy the transponder in Orlando upon your arrival, it takes several hours for your SunPass balance to reflect the money you’ve put into your account. According to 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 arrived at 2 pm, buy your transponder at 3 pm and pass through an electronic toll at 3:30 pm, chances are your SunPass account may not have money in it yet and you may incur whatever expenses and charges your car rental company records. Hence, it is best to purchase your transponder by mail, ahead of time.

Renting a car in Orlando has its advantages – you have the flexibility to go wherever you want at whatever time you wish during your vacation. However, the car rentals costs can be a bit ridiculous. At least you know how to avoid some of those.

Have a great vacation 🙂

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