E-ZPass Tips for Travelers

Pay Your Travel Tolls Automatically With E-ZPass®

Cars at E-ZPass Tollbooth Lanes
••• Corbis via Getty Images / Getty Images

What is an E-ZPass®?

An E-ZPass® is an electronic transponder that you can use to pay your tolls automatically. The transponder itself is a flat, square or rectangular device that can be attached to the inside of your car's windshield with adhesive strips. Some E-ZPasses® have a switch that you can use if you want to travel in a HOT (Express) Lane, either as part of a carpool or on your own. If your transponder does not have a switch, you should not use it in a HOT Lane.

How Does the E-ZPass® Work?

When you sign up for E-ZPass®, you will make an initial deposit into your E-ZPass® account, using either cash or a credit card. This allows you to use your transponder to pay your tolls. As you drive through a toll booth lane, the E-ZPass® sends toll data from the transponder to the main computer system, which then deducts the toll amount from your account balance. When the account balance drops below a pre-established level, you will see the "low balance" yellow light signal as you pass through a toll booth, rather than the typical "toll paid" green light. This lets you know that you need to replenish your account very soon.

You can replenish your account by going to an E-ZPass® office and paying in person, or you can set up your account so that pre-set replenishment amounts are either charged to a credit card or deducted from your bank account.

Where Can I Use My E-ZPass®?

You can use your E-ZPass® on Canada's Peace Bridge and in the following states:

  • Connecticut
  • Delaware
  • District of Columbia
  • Illinois
  • Indiana
  • Maine
  • Maryland
  • Massachusetts
  • New Hampshire
  • New Jersey
  • New York
  • Ohio
  • Pennsylvania
  • Rhode Island
  • Vermont
  • Virginia
  • West Virginia

How Much Does an E-ZPass® Cost?

Some states require you to purchase your transponder, while others charge you a per-transponder deposit.

Charges vary by state. Many states offer toll discounts to frequent E-ZPass® users; check your state's E-ZPass® website for toll plan information.

I Don't Commute. How Can an E-ZPass® Help Me?

If you travel through the Northeastern, Mid-Atlantic and Midwestern US, using an E-ZPass® to pay your tolls can save you time. Most large toll plazas (and many small ones) have dedicated E-ZPass® lanes, so you will not have to wait behind drivers who are paying cash. In addition, you do not need to stop your car when you drive through an E-ZPass® toll lane. Instead, you slow down to a specific speed so the toll booth's computer can read your transponder.

Your E-ZPass® can also save you money, because some toll systems give E-ZPass® users an automatic discount.

Will My E-ZPass® Work in Canada?

Your E-ZPass® will work on Canada's Peace Bridge, which connects Buffalo, New York with Fort Erie, Ontario.

I Rent Cars When I Travel. Can I Use My Personal E-ZPass®?

Yes, if you are willing to take a few extra steps. When you pick up your rental car, you'll need to add that vehicle's registration information to your E-ZPass® account. It is easier to do this online, but you can also visit an E-ZPass® office and add the vehicle information to your account in person.

Two days after you complete your trip and return your rental car, you'll need to go back into your account maintenance page or visit an E-ZPass® office and delete that vehicle's information.

Some car rental companies also offer customers use of their E-ZPasses®, but you will be charged about $4 per day for this privilege. If you have your own E-ZPass®, bring it along and use it instead.

How Do I Get an E-ZPass®?

You can go to an E-ZPass® customer service center in your state to sign up or you can fill out an online application form. If you apply online, you will need to pay for your transponder and establish your account balance with a credit card.

What Else Do I Need to Know About Using an E-ZPass®?

You'll need to use your E-ZPass® every so often to keep your account active. Time periods vary by state.

If, for some reason, you don't want to use your E-ZPass® at a particular toll plaza, you'll need to wrap your transponder in aluminum foil to prevent the toll booth from reading it.

You won't get a receipt when you pay with an E-ZPass®, but your account statement will reflect your driving activity.