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Guide to USA Toll Roads

Golden Gate bridge of San Francisco, USA banner

If you are heading interstate, or traveling to the United States from another country, it can be confusing to work out how much you will end up paying in tolls, and what preparations you need to make. VroomVroomVroom has put together a quick guide to help you prepare for driving in the United States.

Where will I pay tolls?

You will pay tolls on a number of roads across the United States. Certain highways and tunnels charge users a toll, sometimes to specifically use express lanes. Bridges will sometimes charge a toll if you plan to cross, like the famous Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco. However toll roads are not in all 50 states, so it is a good idea to check and see if you will have to pay for any of the roads you are planning to use.

If you are traveling on certain roads in California, New York, Texas, Florida, Georgia, Virginia, New Jersey and many other states, you may encounter a toll road. States like Arizona, Idaho, Montana, Wisconsin and Tennessee do not currently charge any tolls.

How do I pay tolls?

Toll road in the United States

Each state has a unique method of charging for the use of toll roads. The most widely used system in the United States is E-ZPass, predominately used in the north-eastern parts of the country. It is important that you check the details of the state you will be travelling to in order to familiarize yourself with the requirements.

On many toll roads that only use an electronic system, visitors are required to either set up an account where they register their license plates or pay the cost of their toll online after they have used the road. There are some roads and bridges across the country that still accept cash payments.

How do I pay for toll roads in a rental car?

If you fail to register your license plate or pay your toll online, you may be billed through your car rental company. Before driving your rental car, check with your company if they have methods to register with them to pay the tolls.

Often companies offer toll devices for separate states with their rental cars. These are normally charged at a daily rate in addition to the cost of any toll charges incurred. Note that you are normally charged the same daily rate even if you do not use any toll roads on that particular day.

Toll roads in New York & New Jersey

There are many toll roads and bridges connecting New York and New Jersey, and many miles of highways that charge a toll within each state. Many of these roads are centered around New York City. Here are a few of the major toll roads and bridges in New York and New Jersey:

  • New York State Thruway
  • Holland Tunnel, New York City
  • Lincoln Tunnel, New York City
  • Garden State Parkway, New Jersey
  • New Jersey Turnpike

Many drivers in New York and New Jersey use E-ZPass, which allows drivers to travel easily through the tolls without needing cash. At some facilities in the area there are automated gates that are raised when your tag is successfully read. Credit cards are not accepted at tolling stations in New York.

A few roads in New Jersey do accept cash payment. E-ZPass is also accepted on some roads in Pennsylvania, Ohio, Illinois, Virginia, West Virginia, Indiana, Kentucky, Delaware, Maryland, Rhode Island, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, North Carolina and Maine.

Paying for toll roads in California

There are a number of toll roads in California. Many of these routes pass through Los Angeles and Orange County, and the toll network also encompasses many of San Francisco's bridges. Here are some of the major toll roads in the state:

View of the 110 Freeway from Park Row drive bridge, Los Angeles
  • Golden Gate Bridge, San Francisco
  • Oakland Bay Bridge, San Francisco
  • State Routes 73, 133, 241, 261, Orange County
  • Riverside Freeway, Orange County
  • South Bay Expressway, San Diego

If you have a FasTrak account, you can temporarily add the vehicle plates of your rental car to your account. You can register your license plate online if you do not have a FasTrak account and tolls can be charged directly to your credit card. Note that not all toll roads in California will accept this payment method.

Orange County has the largest portion of toll roads with no booths or cash payments accepted, including on the Riverside Freeway express lanes. Most of the San Francisco bay area bridges will accept cash payment, with the exception of the Golden Gate Bridge. You have the option on the Golden Gate Bridge to pay the toll online or open an account for a specified period of time using your license plates.

Using toll roads in Florida

Many of Florida's major roads charge a toll. Before traveling to the state, check if any passes you have in your home state are accepted in Florida. Here are a few of the major toll roads:

  • Florida Turnpike
  • Beechline Expressway, Orlando
  • Interstate-75, Miami
  • Interstate-595
  • Veterans Expressway, Tampa

If you are frequently using Florida's toll roads, you will find a SunPass to be beneficial. You can purchase a Sun Pass online or in retail locations around the state. The pass can save you up to 25 per cent on the cost of toll roads.

While visiting Florida you can open a pre-paid Pay-By-Plate account to avoid registering for a Sun Pass. Certain transponders from Georgia and North Carolina are accepted in the state.

Do you have any tips on using American toll roads? Let us know in the comment section below.

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