Have you ever been the person at the toll station holding up the line because you couldn’t find exact change? Maybe you were prepared but had to watch others zoom by in the E-ZPass lane while you waited with cash in hand. E-ZPass transponders are convenient, easy to obtain, and can often save you time and money. I’ll explain how they work and how you can get one.
Toll booths usually have two types of lanes: cash only and an E-ZPass lane. The cash only lanes often require exact change. Even if you have exact change or there is an attendant who can give you change, it is still inconvenient to dig around for money while driving. Sometimes the toll can be as much as $30 (using the Pennsylvania Turnpike to travel across the entire state). That can put a serious dent in your cash stash for those mom and pop shops that won’t accept plastic.
With E-ZPass you simply sign up for an account, associate it with a credit card or checking account, and wait for your transponder to arrive in the mail. This device is about the size of a deck of playing cards and sticks to the inside of your windshield near your rearview mirror. When you drive through a toll station, simply choose an E-Zpass lane and make sure you maintain the posted speed limit. Your transponder will activate upon entering and again when you exit the toll road and your account will be automatically charged. You can wave at the drivers in the cash only lane as you drive by and even receive a small discount on your toll at some stations.
There are a few caveats. Not every state participates in the universal E-ZPass. Florida, California, Texas and several other states each has its own system. Most states that use the E-Zpass are on the east coast and stretch from New York to Illinois and as far south as Virginia. Each of these states has its own fees and minimum balance. While you do not have to buy a transponder from your home state, you should know that some states offer discounts on tolls if the transponder is bought from that state but not if it is bought from another state. If your state does not offer discounted rates or does not require your transponder to be bought from that state to receive discounts, Massachusetts is thought to offer the best deal. It does not charge a fee for the transponder or a maintenance fee to maintain your account. Here is a list of E-Zpass states and fees:
|Delaware||$0/month||$15 (non-refundable)||$10||50% State Route 1|
|Maryland||$1.50/month – waived if used at least 3x/month in Maryland.||$21 (non-refundable)||$0||10%|
|Massachusetts||$0/month||$0||$20||Several plan-specific discounts|
|New Hampshire||$0/month||$8.90||$30||30% with NH transponders only|
|New Jersey||$1/month||$10 or $0 if using auto-replenish||$0||Discounts for NJ transponders only|
|New York||$0.50/month/tag||$10 or $0 if using auto-replenish||$0||Several plan-specific discounts|
|Ohio||$0.75/month||$25||$0||Several discounts depending on exit|
|Pennsylvania||$6/year||$25 or $0 if using auto-replenish||$10||17%|
|Virginia||$0/month||$25 or $0 if using auto-replenish||$10||None|
|West Virginia||$95/year Plan 1
$5/year Plan 2
($0 with Plan 1)
|Plan 1 – unlimited access
Plan 2 – 35%