How to electronically pay tolls in Georgia and E-ZPass Land?
November 30, 2018 11:40 AM   Subscribe

I want to be able to pay tolls electronically in Georgia and the northeast, perhaps in a rental car - how can I do that? Is a North Carolina Quick Pass the best solution?

I live in the Atlanta area and my parents live in southern New Jersey. I would like to be able to drive on toll roads in the E-Z Pass area - the bridges between southern NJ and Philadelphia, the New Jersey Turnpike, etc. - and also to use the express lanes we have on some of the interstates here in Atlanta. I'd want to be able to pay E-ZPass tolls in a rental car, since we fly up there.

As far as I can tell the North Carolina Quick Pass is the answer; I can buy a transponder for $7.40 and this is interoperable with both Georgia's Peach Pass system and E-ZPass up north. Is there some catch I'm missing, such as:
- some horrible monthly fee?
- some caveat that I actually have to be in North Carolina?
- some rule against moving the transponder between vehicles that's actually enforced?
posted by madcaptenor to Travel & Transportation (11 answers total)
I have an NC Quick Pass, and there is no monthly fee, but they do have a slightly annoying way of funding your account. You give them a credit (or debit) card to bill to, but they don't charge you directly for each ride, they take out chunks of cash at a time - I believe the minimum is $25 - and then when that is about to run out they take another chunk.

You do have to register your vehicles so that the license plate matches the transponder, but that may only be enforced in NC, where the toll gates operate by taking photos of your plate as you pass through. Even so, it's not to hard to add vehicles to your account online, but you do need to have the make/model/plate number, so you wouldn't be able to do it until you picked up your rental.
posted by Rock Steady at 11:51 AM on November 30, 2018

While I'm not familiar with the Quick Pass, I do have an EZ Pass in PA, take the bridge home to Philly every day, do lots of driving in NJ, and review my count a lot because I get reimbursed for tolls when driving for work. I'm going to assume they operate similarly.

Definitely make sure to register the rental car on your account. It's super easy to do with my EZ Pass, but it's absolutely mandatory to do ahead of time or else they'll be sending a ticket to the car rental company. The transponder will only register/pay the toll if the license plate matches up to one on the account. EZ Pass makes it easy to only authorize another car temporarily, as well, which is great for rentals.

they do have a slightly annoying way of funding your account
Can confirm that EZ Pass operates the same way, except they modify the amount they charge based on recent average use - so when I'm driving a lot they'll take out ~$100 every couple weeks, and if I'm driving less it's more $50-60.
posted by DoubleLune at 12:12 PM on November 30, 2018

Why NC? Have you looked at the NJ EZ Pass? Different states offer discounts on tolls. Like here in RI, I think the state EZ Pass gives a discount on the Newport Bridge. But I hardly ever go to Newport, so that’s not valuable to me. I do drive to DC and other points south often enough that I have a NJ EZ Pass for the discounts on the Turnpike. I don’t think the tag cost me anything.

You can easily add a rental car to an EZ Pass. They have an option for start and end date just for that reason (at least they do in NJ).
posted by Ruki at 12:47 PM on November 30, 2018 [1 favorite]

I can't speak to NC specifically, but there's apparently some sort of weird agreement among the E-Z Pass states barring them from selling units to residents of another state that participates in E-Z Pass itself. Basically they have a noncompete agreement among each other.

What this means is that if you live in a state that wants to screw you for a transponder, you can't go to another state with more reasonable terms and just get the transponder there. Which is bullshit, but seems to be exactly the intent.

However, if you are in a non-E-Z-Pass state, then you can shop around. When I lived in Connecticut, which doesn't have any toll roads, I could go to any E-Z Pass state I wanted for a transponder. (I got one from NYS, which was probably dumb, but it was easy to buy one in person and I was lazy.) But when I moved to Virginia I had to give that one up and get a Virginia one, which was obnoxious.

So... just be sure you have an address in a non-EZ-Pass state to register the thing to, if you want to shop around for the best deal. Otherwise you may have to get one from your state of residence (or at least the state on the billing address). Interestingly though, there doesn't seem to be an issue with registering a car with out-of-state plates to an EZ Pass account and transponder from another state.

And you do want to register the car to the EZ Pass account; that's how you get the tolls charged correctly (and avoid a ticket) if the transponder doesn't respond correctly, or if you just forget to have it on your windshield. They are actually doing you a solid by giving you the EZ Pass toll pricing instead of mailing you a toll violation ticket, by virtue of having your plate registered in the system.
posted by Kadin2048 at 12:48 PM on November 30, 2018 [1 favorite]

Car rental places in EZ-Pass areas will also rent you a transponder at a nominal rate; any toll charges will be passed on to you. It's a fairly simple way to handle it if you don't need that capability when you're not in a rental.
posted by asperity at 12:51 PM on November 30, 2018

What this means is that if you live in a state that wants to screw you for a transponder, you can't go to another state with more reasonable terms and just get the transponder there. Which is bullshit, but seems to be exactly the intent.

Umm, I don't think this is entirely true -- or else we screwed up!

I live in Rhode Island, which is an EZ-Pass state. Our daughter goes to college in New Hampshire, and she drives through Massachusetts to get there, both of which are also EZ-Pass states. I thought that we would have to buy her a pass from RI, but my wife ordered one from Massachusetts (because you get a slight discounts on those tolls as a "home" pass), and they happily sent it to us in RI!
posted by wenestvedt at 1:03 PM on November 30, 2018 [1 favorite]

Hmm. I had no problem setting up an EZ Pass account with NJ online and my husband had no difficulty more recently when he got an EZ Pass transponder from MA. He set up his account online, too. On preview: Yeah, RI definitely doesn't care. And they charge $25 for a transponder so if it were a thing, I feel like the state would be all over that lost revenue.
posted by Ruki at 1:11 PM on November 30, 2018 [1 favorite]

Ruki, the reason for NC is interoperability - I want to be able to use the same thing both in Georgia and in E-ZPass land. Georgia doesn't have agreements with E-ZPass but North Carolina has agreements with the E-Z Pass states to its north as well as Georgia and Florida to its south. (I very well may never actually pay a toll in North Carolina.)
posted by madcaptenor at 1:14 PM on November 30, 2018 [1 favorite]

Wouldn't go the transponder rental route unless this is close to a one time issue--I would not call the fees "nominal".
posted by emkelley at 1:28 PM on November 30, 2018 [2 favorites]

I remembered the fee being surprisingly cheap when I did that... but it was three years ago and I can't find any record of how much it cost then, not that it's relevant.
posted by asperity at 3:03 PM on November 30, 2018

Different states charge different amounts (or $0) for the transponder. *shrug* Truly, monetization of the commons is a land of contrasts.
posted by wenestvedt at 3:40 PM on November 30, 2018

« Older Looking for an excerpt about throwing rocks at...   |   Virtual gifts of membership Newer »

You are not logged in, either login or create an account to post comments