How Hertz Whacked One Renter $519 For Going Through A Single $1 Toll

Hertz charged a customer $519.80 for driving their rental car through a single $1 toll. Reader Chris had rented from Hertz for four weeks in Stamford, Connecticut. And he went through one toll. That activated Hertz’s ‘PlatePass’ system and charged him for it for every single day of his rental.

He writes that he (1) never had the option to decline this, (2) never received any disclosures about the fee, or that it would apply to every day of his rental if he went through a toll once. Expressing his frustration with a fee that added 50% to the cost of his rental he told Hertz,

That would be like me stating that I am charging you a $500 fee for the privilege of allowing you to email me directly as you declined the option to call me.

Hilariously, PlatePass says they’re doing you a favor. They say they’re saving you money avoiding charges for going through the toll lane without it. Though in many places there aren’t “costly violations” just higher fees for not using a transponder and covering the cost of billing by mail. $519 and Hertz did you a favor, you should like it!

Last month I wrote about 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.

In most places this is an opt-in service, but in the Northeast it’s frequently opt-out and they may not even tell you about it so that you’d know to opt out. If you use the transponder in the vehicle even once you’re charged the all-inclusive rate for every day of your trip.

So if you’re renting from Hertz, consider:

  • Bringing your own EZ Pass
  • Purchase it from a state that allows you to enter a vehicle’s license plate and add the one from your rental car (like California or Pennsylvania)
  • Though even then it’s not fool proof, the charge might still track to the transponder in the rental car. So photograph 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.

EZ Pass NY has a free, pay as you go plan. They withdraw funds from your account as you incur charges, and they send you a free transponder. (Some out of state accounts could get assigned to the New Jersey $1 per month scam plan). AAA has offers, here’s one from AAA Northeast, offering $30 for a transponder with $30 credit. Massachusetts EZPass doesn’t have a deposit or monthly charge.

If you want to feel better about a surprise $500, consider that since this is billed for the duration of the rental it should be proof that they consider your rental to have been returned, and they shouldn’t prosecute for stealing a car that you returned and that they lost track of.

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, 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 »

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  1. Rental cars are increasing becoming more complex for travelers. This is an example. As EVs become more common, especially at Hertz, detailed advanced planning will be needed.

  2. Your last point is the true value-add. Well done!

    (I have long since traveled with an E-ZPass transponder for the East Coast and a FasTrak one for the Bay Area — as that also lets me dial in the passenger count for HOV lanes, as I’m often traveling with at least one person in the tolling areas.) I laugh when I think how my travel kit has evolved over the decades.

  3. For EZPass NY, several years ago, I attempted to enter the rental car license plate into my account. But it was declined because that car plate was already assigned to another account. That simply means that someone previously with an EZPass NY account that rented the same vehicle forgot to delete the license plate from their account. It is easy to forget that and probably happens very often. Thus, odds are good u wont be able to add your rental car to your EZ Pass NY account which you MUST do for your transponder to work in the rental car. Therefore, the safest action is to ALWAYS opt out of Plate Pass unless you know that you are going to have some high dollar tolls each and every day of your rental period.

  4. The way to get around this is to never open the transponder. Just drive through any toll and allow the license plate to be read and charged (yes, platepass will charge you double the toll for convenience, but it’ll be one and done). This way, the daily fee for using the transponder doesn’t occur.

  5. Florida’s Sunpass transponder is easy to buy and fund and the latest generation is finally interoperable with a number of other nationwide tolling systems.

  6. SunPass let’s you enter a rental car plate number in your account with start/end date/time. No need to bring your transponder along! The SunPass system automatically reroutes the toll-by-plate charge to your SunPass account and you pay the cheaper rate as well

  7. @Steve S: Nice try, but Plate Pass has a contract with the rental car companies and when they run your plate and it hits a rental car company owner you get the rental car company fees.

    @305: True, but NOT reliable: I do this often, and 50% of the time I still get dinged for a toll through the rental car company even though the plate is on my account. $1 toll $50 fee last time. Fortunately Alamo had messed up and not taken a credit card at check-out so HA-HA!

    So when using SunPass definitely take your transponder with you and mount it.

  8. Christopher, yes you are charged via Plate Pass if you go through a toll. And they charge you a hefty $10 convenience fee for ea toll you go through. BUT they do not turn on the daily charges for the length of your rental if you DO NOT open their transponder but instead just drive through. The license plate is then read and you are charged on a per toll basis (again with a $10 convenience fee per toll). The point is, if you are on a long(er) term rental, NEVER open the transponder.

  9. The whole road toll system has became a scam to strip money from people. The old way of stopping at a booth and paying was much accountable and a lot of times cheaper. The new way is to make it as a tax on travelers and very seldom users. There should be laws that regulate the add on fees.

  10. I just rented at phx and they did shady practice on purpose or mistake idk but charged with child seat and sky rack in Arizona. So I called to fix it, they adjusted but not sales tax on it. I prepaid but there is still facility charges per day but what facility I am using every day? Corp said it is unavoidable cost, kinda stupid.

  11. I rented from Hertz in EWR a few months ago (a tesla), and scrupulously avoided the toll roads driving to Allentown for a few days and then down to Philly for a night and back. I was 100% sure i had not triggered any tolls, so imagine my surprise when I got home and had an enormous bill for multiple tolls daily for my weeks rental. This is not on the bill when you return the car, it comes days to weeks later (as does the EV charging bill, btw). Of course I called to challenge it and complain and they said they couldn’t do anything and referred me to the EZpass company. I looked up my charges and they were all in NY and NJ. I called and cited I was never there but despite them being able to monitor the Tesla and where I charged, they put the burden of proof on me. I had to find restaurant receipts, parking bills and the like and go through several iterations before it was finally reversed. What a S….show. No apologies or reductions in my charges for the hours of my time to clear my bill At the end of the day I simple repeat over and over “At least I wasn’t arrested”

  12. I also have an E Z Pass and it works in 19 states, I think. Recently, I rented a car from Hurts (sic) for a month while my sports car was in the shop (awaiting parts thank you President Paw Paw). Both of my cars have our state’s permanent transponders on the windscreen. Since I’m in the airline business, I bought the E-Z Pass for travel. I put it on my rental car, changed the tag via the app and I could still use the toll roads. Works great. Amazon sells them. Since I first used it in Florida, it is attached to a Florida account but that’s no big deal.

  13. OH!!! It is a good idea to check your E-Z Pass account a couple of days after your first toll in a rental car. For some reason, the pass didn’t trigger correctly. I contacted both my State toll and the Florida State toll offices and told them the E-Z Pass account and the tag number to be on the safe side.

  14. So the guy didn’t do his homework and then gets mad at the company because he didn’t do due diligence. Sounds pretty Karen to me, but not something I haven’t seen before working for rental car companies. The terms and conditions are not just there to cost us more on blaster paper.

  15. Here’s a poem about Hertz

    Fuccin’ sucks
    Execs are cucks
    Suck my d1ck
    Lick my nuts

  16. Hertz did the same thing to me! I didn’t pick up coverage for special towing because it was never offered when I picked up the car. Then they forced me to have the car towed back when I had COVID, so I had to pay out of pocket because it’s a company policy that I can’t drop off the car. Horrible company and I will never rent from them again for treating a customer the way they treated me.

  17. Just goes to show the sheer amount of stoopid people that are renting and driving cars in ‘Murica

  18. I’ve used my NY EZpass in a rental car without registering it. This was a couple of years ago. Is it a new requirement that you have to register it?

  19. Avis only charges for the days where a toll is actually incurred, regardless of the total rental period length. Hertz’s approach is a total scam

  20. @PDT

    SunPass (Florida) just made available a combo E-Z Pass and SunPass transmitter all under the SunPass account. Allowed me to close out the E-Z Pass account.
    Great for those traveling up and down the east coast. I bring it with me on trips to Florida.

    Waiting for the day of a master toll account based on license plat numbers. But that would be too logical for local governments who are control freaks.

  21. Budget in San Diego offers the Platepass option for $14.99 per day. If you opt out they will charge you for the toll plus $15 per transaction.

  22. Another shoutout for Florida Sunpass Plus. I had to replace my Sunpass with a Sunpass Plus, but that cost was minimal. Works everywhere EZ Pass does and the app has a special section for rental cars so you don’t forget to remove the license plate. I’ve never tried to use it without the physical device because I just attach my Sunpass Plus to the windshield with suction cups when I rent and never have to think about it until I return the car.

  23. Old Hertz slogan: Hertz puts you in the driver’s seat.

    New Hertz slogan: Chances are you won’t be arrested. Probably.

  24. NY EZ Pass FAQ says not to register rental cars if you have a transponder

    Should I add my rental car information to my E-ZPass account?
    Do not add rental car information to your E-ZPass account. However, you can use your E-ZPass Tag in any vehicle of the same class. Please ensure that your E-ZPass Tag is properly mounted as per installation instructions in all vehicles in which the Tag is used. A Tag that is not mounted properly may prevent the Tag from being read in the lane. If your Tag does not read, you will be subject to the terms of your car rental agreement that apply to E-ZPass usage, toll transactions and/or violation transactions.

  25. @SteveS so if I drive up I95 in Miami and go in the express lanes I’ll pay the toll and a $10 every few miles? I90 in Boston is another.

  26. HVC’s poem has me dying with laughter. It’s a thing of beauty. Should be printed and mailed to every Hertz Exec and filed into any ongoing litigation

  27. Why would anyone in their right mind rent from Hertz after all they’ve done and continue to do to screw their customers. Avis doesn’t charge toll fees like Hertz does. Here’s their policy:

    “If you use the e-Toll service at any time during your rental, you agree to pay a convenience fee of $5.95 for each day on which you incur a toll up to a maximum amount of $29.75 per rental period (not to exceed 30 days). In addition, you will pay all tolls incurred at the maximum prevailing non-discounted or cash rates posted by the toll authority”

  28. Anyone who rents from Hertz has no right to complain. They should realize what they are getting into. It’s no secret Hertz is a sham operation.

  29. Hertz has gone mad! They just charged me a $750 fee saying I was disgusting and smoked in the vehicle. I asked for proof, and they sent me a photo of the floor under the seat with what looks to be a small rock. I have been trying to clear this up for a month now, and Hertz won’t speak to me. I will never again rent from any rental company that is not at an airport

  30. Happened to me on a 3 week rental. Received a bill for $319.

    I called and they removed charges for all days that didn’t have tolls incurred since I didn’t want the service. I asked if this was an exception and the plate pass rep said “no” and to “call back if it ever happens again.”

  31. I have used my I-Pass in multiple rental cars in multiple states (including FL) and have never registered the plate in my account. I have a suction cup glued onto the back of my I-Pass so I can stick it on the windshield so it’s easily read. Also, when flying with my I-Pass I always wrap it in tin foil just in case the plane is landing above a toll road by the airport (who knows what the charge would be for a plane if the pass got read!!).

  32. Also be super careful to check that the PlatePass box is closed (and stays closed) before you drive off!

    Massachusetts EZ Pass shipped very quickly and allows for rental cars to be added online with start/end times (but cannot be backdated to a day earlier than you remember to add it). I bought a minimalist bracket with suction cup off Amazon so I can attach it to the lower part of the windshield of my rental cars. (I figure lower has a better chance of my transponder being read first if I forget the step in the first paragraph.)

    I’ve found the automated toll readers in NJ do not always read my pass, so now I either go through the full service lanes or slow way down when passing through the no-booth lanes.

    I don’t keep mine in a mylar bag when I travel and have never had any issues with accidental charges (CA – NJ about once a month). If it can’t reliably read my transponder at 70mph going under the sensors at the toll plaza, I’m not going to worry about it reading at 130+ kts approach speed hundreds of feet above them.

  33. Hertz is always creative in coming up with new scams. Here is the latest one: you book a “managers special”. Upon arrival you are given an EV. If this does not work for you (long desert drives, for example) you are charged an “upgrade fee”. In my case they wanted and extra $67 PER DAY on a rental that was originally $305 per week. Will they ever stop?

  34. The challenge with the NY transponders is Hertz/Platepass has all its vehicles registered through them so you get an error when trying to add the license plate. For me this wasn’t an issue until a trip last year where my transponder wasn’t read half the time (despite being on the windshield and working otherwise). I was dinged for two $10 charges because I had no proof I had registered the car to my account. Had a similar issue in Florida with the North Carolina transponder I also have but only had to pay the higher “toll by plate” rate because I had proof I had registered the plate to my account.

  35. Nick, see J.Hyde’s comment quoting the NY EZpass FAQ that says NOT to register a rental car on your EZpass.

  36. SteveS- Some tolls are gantries over the regular highway that work at regular highway speeds. There might not even be an option to drive through some alternate toll lane.

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