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E-ZPass: What Is It And How Does It Work?

Last updated: September 23, 2021
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vector graphic showing ez pass on windshield of car driving down highway

If you’ve heard about E-ZPass, then you might wonder how the system can make your life easier as you travel the toll roads in states such as New York or Delaware on a busy Friday or Saturday.

Many benefits come with using E-ZPass to pass through tolls while traversing the thruway.

There are also details you need to know about such as how to gain access to the system, how it works, and potential alternatives.

This article will give you everything you need to know about using E-ZPass and saving time during busy months like January, April, July, October.

What is E-ZPass?

E-ZPass is a toll system that lets you pay tolls electronically in an automated fashion.

Businesses and individuals alike can take advantage of the technology.

E-ZPass gives you an electronic sensor that attaches to your vehicle’s license plate, roof, or windshield.

The sensor relays a signal to the toll collection entity controlling the thruway you’re traveling on.

It creates a record of when your vehicle enters the toll area and when you exit it.

Based on the distance between the entry and exit points, the required toll gets calculated and then automatically deducted from your prepaid E-ZPass toll account.

Using E-ZPass

Using the RFID technology that powers the system, you’re able to save time when going through tolls.

You don’t need to practice patience and stop to pay tolls because dedicated E-ZPass lanes, marked by Express E-ZPass signs, allow you to breeze past the toll booth knowing that your E-ZPass transponder keeps track of the route.

Your account is a debit account.

This means you can prepay, adding credits to the account.

Toll charges get deducted from the amount you’ve previously loaded in.

You may also need to pay a monthly fee between one and two dollars per month.

Some toll agencies require you to pay for the transponder sensor that goes on your vehicle.

Did you know?

Getting E-Zpass violations will cost you money. The violations are easy to do, so make sure to avoid them at all cost. They add up.

What States is E-ZPass Good For?

E-ZPass is available in 17 U.S. states.

The E-ZPass Interagency Group controls 39 different agency members that exist within those 17 states.

Here are the 17 states where you can use E-ZPass:

  • Florida
  • West Virginia
  • Delaware
  • Virginia
  • Illinois
  • Rhode Island
  • Indiana
  • Pennsylvania
  • Kentucky
  • Ohio
  • Maine
  • North Carolina
  • Maryland
  • New York
  • Massachusetts
  • New Jersey
  • New Hampshire

Paying for Parking with E-ZPass

E-ZPass isn’t only available for paying road tolls.

You can pay for parking on an automated basis when you visit parking lots with the E-ZPass technology installed.

Some airports let you pay for parking, such as LaGuardia and JFK airports.

Keep in mind that you’ll find other non-E-ZPass automatic toll systems in these 17 states.

Your E-ZPass transponder won’t work with any toll networks that aren’t part of the E-ZPass system.

How Much Does E-ZPass Cost?

Costs to use the E-ZPass network vary widely from state to state.

Some of the 17 states charge for the transponder while others don’t charge for it.

Depending on your state, you may need to pay an annual fee.

Here’s a breakdown of the charges from state to state.

Kentucky

Riverlink is the E-ZPass version in Kentucky.

It costs $20 to open an account that you can add four vehicles to.

Maryland

The Maryland transportation authority offers free transponders and charges an annual fee of $18.

People with Maryland addresses can get the E-ZPass Maryland annual fee waived.

You start each account with a $25 balance.

Once your balance falls below $10, the account debits your bank to bring the balance back up to one month’s average usage.

Rhode Island

Rhode Island charges $15 for the exterior transponder tag and $10 for the interior tag.

You’ll pay $1 per month after the first year if you want statements mailed to you.

Your E-ZPass balance must remain at a minimum of $25 and stay at a level that can handle your average use over a 6-week period.

New York

New York charges motorists $6 annually for monthly statements and $1 per month to use the tracking tags offered by the Port Authority of New Jersey and New York.

If you get your tags from the state’s Thruway Bridge Authority, then they’re free.

Your initial cost to get the transponder tags is $25 to $30, depending on your area.

New Jersey

New Jersey charges an annual fee of $18 and a $1 monthly fee to use E-ZPass.

Your account needs to maintain a minimum balance of $25.

Pennsylvania

The Pennsylvania turnpike commission charges $35 for a new transponder and also $3 annually to keep it.

You need to pay a $25 deposit unless you choose the auto-replenish option.

West Virginia

West Virginia has two payment options for E-ZPass customers.

The first option is a $13 one-time transponder fee along with a one-year fee of $25 for unlimited travel.

Or, you can choose to pay a deposit of $10 and a $5 annual fee.

Maine

You’ll pay $17 for the exterior license plate tag and $10 for the interior windshield tag in Maine.

The state requires a $20 balance to open the account.

New Hampshire

New Hampshire charges $13.49 for the license plate tag and $7.40 for the interior tag.

Your account must always have $30 in it or enough money to pay for six weeks worth of toll charges.

Delaware

Delaware charges a $15 one-time transponder fee and requires a $25 toll deposit.

Indiana

Indiana asks for a $12 annual fee along with a $7 deposit.

The minimum balance required is $10.

Illinois

Illinois charges a $10 deposit, an upfront fee of $30, and requires a pre-payment of $20.

Ohio

Ohio’s E-ZPass account charges a $3 transponder activation fee and an annual fee of $9 to use the Ohio turnpike.

The state requires a minimum account balance of $25.

Virginia

Virginia asks for a minimum account balance of $35 to start.

Massachusetts

Massachusetts doesn’t charge any deposits or annual fees.

You’ll need $20 to start your account if choosing the auto-replenishing option.

You’ll need $30 to open up a manual account.

You need to keep an ongoing minimum balance of $20, and your account replenishes after going down to a $10 balance.

How to Get an E-ZPass

vector graphic showing ez pass on windshield of car driving down highway

You need the following information to set up an E-ZPass account:

  • Application
  • Plan descriptions
  • Payment method
  • Invoice pre-payment amount
  • Personal and vehicle information
  • PIN

Where to Buy an E-ZPass

You can pick up the application at any of the local E-ZPass customer service centers or download it from the E-ZPass website.

If you decide to set it up online, then click over to your state’s webpage from the list found here.

How to Buy an E-ZPass

Once you’re on your state’s website, decide which type of plan you want and select it.

A basic plan is good for all roads and bridges, while discount plans work only on certain roads and bridges.

Enter your credit card information and make your first payment based on your state’s fees and payment requirements.

Next, enter your personal information and your vehicle’s information.

Finally, set up a personal PIN, and your account is all set up.

Alternatives to E-ZPass

If you decide you don’t want to use E-ZPass, then you can choose from alternative options.

1. SunPass

SunPass offers automatic toll services through the Central Florida Expressway Authority.

It also works anywhere E-ZPass operates.

The stickers that come with your account cost $4.99, and the transponders cost $19.99.

2. FasTrak

This toll system is available in California only.

It used to only work in San Francisco.

However, it now operates in and around the San Diego and Los Angeles areas.

3. GO PAK

GO PAK is a part of the E-ZPass system and lets Pennsylvania residents purchase their E-ZPass transponders at various locations in the central and eastern parts of the state:

  • Giant Eagle
  • Wegmans
  • AAA offices
  • ACME
  • Shop n’ Save
  • ShopRite

4. I-PASS

I-PASS is an E-ZPass alternative located in Illinois.

This system offers a discount on the costs associated with E-ZPass and lets Illinois residents travel seamlessly through open tolling lanes.

However, your I-PASS account will also work when traveling to the other E-ZPass states.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is E-ZPass cheaper than paying tolls?

Many toll fares using E-ZPass will cost you similar rates to paying cash at the physical toll booth.

If you enroll in one of the discount plans, however, then you can find the lowest tolls.

For example, you can save 25% to 50% per month on fares in Maine with its discount option.

You’ll need to use E-ZPass for at least thirty trips to qualify for the discounts.

Using another example, you can save 5% off the cash rate on each toll charge in the state of New York.

What is the difference between I-PASS and E-ZPass?

I-PASS is an E-ZPass alternative when driving in Illinois.

However, it runs on the E-ZPass system, which means there isn’t much difference between the two systems.

You can still use your I-PASS account when traveling into other E-ZPass states.

Can I go through E-ZPass without my transponder?

No, you must stop and pay cash payments if you don’t have the transponder in your car.

If you go through the E-ZPass lanes without the transponder, then you face paying an expensive fine.

Wrapping Up

Using E-ZPass offers the main benefit of avoiding waiting in toll road lines across the Eastern United States.

If you don’t have E-ZPass yet and want to start using it, then your next action step is to go online and start the account.

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