“All-Inclusive Tolls” New Rental Car Company Scam That Could Cost You $140 Per Week

Airlines and to a lesser extent hotels nickel and dime travelers. The Biden administration has made a campaign issue of these fees. However the greatest offender in travel, which skates by mostly free of criticism, is rental cars.

You may pay tourism fees; concession recovery fees; customer transportation fees; parking recovery fees; vehicle license fees; energy surcharges; and even tire fees. Junk fees often add 50% – 100% to the cost of a car rental. Car rental companies employ the most creative people in the world at developing scam fees and naming them euphemistically.

Toll tracking is one of the more annoying fees that rental car companies impose. The car usually comes with a transponder, and they charge you not just the actual toll charges but a daily administrative fee for each day you incur tolls. The administrative fee is usually more than the tolls in most jurisdictions.

Hertz offers PlatePass All-Inclusive which covers administrative fees and unlimited tolls. The cost varies by location but in the Northeast can run $26 or per day whether you use any tolls or not. (Hertz has a maximum charge of $139.95 per week.)

In most places this is an opt-in service, but there are numerous reports that in the New York-New Jersey area it’s opt-out, in fact if you use the transponder even once you’re charged the all-inclusive rate for every day of your trip. Here’s a reader who used their transponder twice and got charged $140 for the week:

If you want to avoid these fees, you may need to be proactive and bring your own EZ Pass. You may even want to purchase one from a state, like California or Pennsylvania, that allows you to enter a specific vehicle’s license plate and add the one from your rental car, though this isn’t strictly speaking necessary. None of this is foolproof – if the transponder doesn’t get read, the charge may still track back to the rental car triggering fees. Also, in some states the license plate is what’s used rather than the transponder so you’ll still trigger fees.

You might try photographing yourself with your personal transponder in front of the rental vehicle with license plate showing, so that you can demonstrate to PlatePass that you were using your own transponder (and thus that they are double charging you).

Something uniquely annoying even apart from the fee is that these PlatePass fees do not generally post with return of the rental, especially for short rentals. So you’re given a receipt that is incomplete. For business travel, then, you’ll be submitting only a portion of your actual expense.

And even if you manage to avoid getting dinged with this, watch out for the Hertz toll tracking scam where you’re charged for use of a stolen transponder.

(HT: Jake)

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community InsideFlyer.com, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

More articles by Gary Leff »


  1. It has been about 2 years since I last tried, unsuccessfully, to use my EZPass NY transponder in a car rental. You MUST enter the rental vehicle make and license plate info into your EZPass online account for your transponder to work in your rental car. For several years up until 2 years ago, EZPass would reject the acceptance of the rental car because the rental vehicle was already assigned to another account. I suspect EZPass knows that the vehicle is a car rental or, more likely, people renting vehicles FAIL to timely remove the vehicle from their EZ Pass account. My best option was to always Opt-Out of the car rental companies weekly toll charge plus the excessive administrative fee since I only usually crossed two toll bridges on two days during each NY visit. Thus I was just charged by the car rental company for 2 days instead of 7 days. Also, for ONLY the bridge and tunnel crossings across the Hudson River, I always opted to pay cash and ask for a receipt instead of using EZ Pass or the car rental agency daily charge. Unfortunately, payment by cash to cross the Hudson River may no longer be an option.

  2. Another indignity of the ‘rental transponder’ and similar programs is that you get charged the full cash toll instead of the transponder toll.

    It is not clear if the rental company pockets the difference, or the tolling authority does.

  3. SunPass now has ez-pass compatible transponders that have a small initial fee, no maintenance fees. You can enter rental car license plates and specify start/end dates/times.

    There’s also a new scam where some rental cars electronically report how much fuel is in the tank at check-out/check-in and charge you by the tenth of a gallon at a ridiculous price, even if the fuel gauge is above full.

  4. And if you opt out and pay by plate they charge an administrative fee on each individual charge. I was in Illinois with National and while most of my charges got picked up by the online self registration a couple early ones didn’t and hit with two junk administrative fees.

  5. Yeah, I just got hosed by this on a 5 day rental from Budget at BOS. Agent said it was open road tolls based off the license plate and asked if I wanted plate pass. Said it was $14.99 and covered all tolls & related fees. She failed to say that that was $14.99 per day. I would have NEVER agreed had I known or even thought about it. But after waiting in line for over an hour to get the counter I wasn’t thinking as clearly.

  6. @ Gary — How timely, just filed a complaint with Hertz today for adding a $29.95 fee for just having the transponder in our car, although we intentionally avoided toll roads. We were told AFTER our rental, when we first learned of this “service,” that it was added for all Gold members at our location to “help” them get on their way more quickly. Furthermore, we were charged another $30 for taxes and fees not disclosed on our rental reservation. It appears this situation will escalate to a credit card dispute and possibly result in a DNR from Hertz. Whatever, we will not be stolen from like this.

  7. Another ‘favorite’ is a rental car on the southbound Golden Gate. This happened on 5 out of 5 rentals from SFO. The procedure is that you have to go on line and enter when you crossed the GG and enter your card number with particulars on the rental car to pay the toll. 5 out of 5 times about 2 weeks later I would get a letter stating I didn’t pay the toll and I was being charged the toll plus the administrative fee. A phone call would get them to remove the administrative fee and I quote here “as a courtesy” but to get the tolls refunded I had to send them via fax my bank statement showing where I paid. In other words I was guilty until proven innocent.
    I finally said no more and now I take the bus to Santa Rosa and get a car there. Much much much easier.
    Jean luc

  8. Amongst rental car company alternatives, like Turo and GetAround, does anyone here have any recommendations? Was curious if such options are any different in terms of these kinds of scam fees, and charges for preexisting damage, etc.

  9. The downside to not using a NY E-ZPass around NYC is the toll rates for any other transponder are significantly higher. I had no issue using a NY transponder unregistered until this past Christmas when half my tolls didn’t register. Now I’ll carry the NY transponder but register the plate with a different E-ZPass agency where I have an account as a backup.

  10. Here’s another thing that can happen.

    We rented a car, never went anywhere near a toll road, never touched the transponder. A couple of weeks later we got a bill for tolls…in another state.

    They were, of course, somebody else’s tolls. The rental company straightened it out, but it does show that this kind of mix up can happen…and if you get somebody less nice at the company they might actually believe you teleported to New York State.

  11. Oh, wow. I’ve used my own New York–registered transponder for years but the last time was late 2020 or maybe mid-2021. It would never have occurred to me to register my rental car’s plate number in my account.

    I guess the solution is to modify or obscure the plates somehow. The police never care about that; they even do the same themselves. (I kid, I hate that sort of thing and think all deliberately defaced or illegible plates should be cause for a car to be immediately impounded. But I’m also not going to pay more than the actual tolls.)

  12. Having your own transponder won’t always solve the problem.

    Some toll authorities will not let you register your own transponder for a car that already has one registered to it which is pretty much every rental car in states with toll roads. For example, cannot use my E-Z pass NY with a NY rental car but could use it with one from Illinois. Fastrak in California also lets you use your own Fastrak device.

    Be warned though that if you forget to delete a rental vehicle from your transponder account or set the wrong end date, you will be charged for another customer’s tolls even if your transponder isn’t in the rental car anymore.

    Really just set google maps to avoid tolls snd take the long way around whenever possible.

  13. Can someone buy a SunPass via mail from out of state?

    What’s the best way if getting one if you are planning a trip in Florida. The toll starts right outside MIA.

  14. Maybe it’s time for payback. How about we all go to NYC and get the unlimited toll pass and drive back and forth on the Verrazzano Bridge all day long. That should wake them up 🙂

  15. I went go Florida last December and was surprised that most of the toll roads did not have a way to pay cash for using them. An advancement to fleece the unwary. In California, the politicians took taxpayer funded lanes HOV lanes (Harbor Freeway) and turned them over to the toll companies even though they said that they would not do that. So you get to pay a toll for the lane you helped fund with your taxes, even when you have the required number of people in your vehicle but don’t pay for a transponder that you would use once in a blue moon.

  16. @Beachfan: I ordered a SunPass transponder and had it shipped out of state. Make sure you get the reusable one with suction cups, and only certain transponders work on e-zpass roads.

  17. Yes, the tolling systems are relentless hostile to visitors. If I have to rent a car (and I try to avoid it as much as possible with Uber and transit), I set Google Maps to avoid tolls, but it is sometimes almost impossible to get around that way. Many of us live in states without tolling and/or with tolling that you can pay for on the spot with credit cards and/or cash, so it’s a real hassle when visiting toll-happy jurisdictions. I really don’t mind paying actual tolls in principle – it’s a user fee – but I absolutely do mind paying all those associated scam charges the rental car companies gleefully impose to make it a profit center for them.

  18. @ Gary — This latest scam will now factor into my cost analysis when it comes to renting a car vs taking uber/lyft/public transit. I detest wasting my time chasing down chargebacks (but I will NOT be defrauded), so I guess this bs will just mean that we will only rent a car in rare circumstances going forward.

  19. I tried adding my rental car plate to my EZ Pass account before a trip this summer, and I got an error that the plate was already registered to another account.

    I did have my own EZ Pass, and in the end I didn’t go through any tolls in any event, but after the fact I was wondering what might happen if I added the rental car plate and forgot to remove it – presumably I’d be billed for any future tolls where the transponder didn’t register. Seems like there is a use case for temporarily adding a plate even if it is already registered elsewhere – maybe you’re borrowing a friend’s car, and not just for car rentals.

  20. In Florida, I find it helpful to rent a car with out of state plates (and also not from the northeast where there’s ezpass) and turn the pay to play transponder off. Never been hit with toll fees that way. If you can score a car with canadian tags, even better.

  21. We rented from Thrifty that had a plate pass. There was NO information provided to us about it. We registered with Illinois tolls for the rental vehicle. When we returned the vehicle we were not charged anything for it.

    We did get a bill from Plate pass $16 in polls $29 admin fee and $33 daily fee. we got the $33 waved but then had to fight for the $29 (amex then had to back charge it)

    The Fraud division calls this Bait and switch

  22. I used to drive to Cleveland often so I have three Ohio toll passes for my cars. After the third car was totaled I now keep the EZPass in my travel bag. Rental companies are scams.

  23. I rented a car from Dollar out of Syracuse NY and on the last day of my trip that was 14 days long I used the toll way going into Charlotte. This one toll has turned into a $257.96 bill that I disputed on my chase account credit card, but chase reinstated the charge a month later with a notice that gave me the info needed to look at the invoice. This is absolute criminal and fraud. Where is the class action lawsuit. I want at least 75 cents back for my troubles.

  24. I rented a car from Hertz at the Buffalo Airport first week of January of this year. (2024). I was not informed any regarding the tolls or a transponder. Didn’t think I needed one since there was one on the car windshield.
    I drove from Buffalo to Northeast PA., on the toll road. Then drove back to Buffalo Airport on the toll road ten days later.
    The charge my credit card was hit with (from PlatePass) was for $251.91. That is very high charge for driving twice on the toll road. (with the transponder door open).

Comments are closed.