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Hate rental car ‘convenience’ fees for tolls? Orlando has an answer

Nov. 06, 2021
4 min read
Rental cars parked in a lot
Hate rental car ‘convenience’ fees for tolls? Orlando has an answer
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If you’ve ever rented a car in Orlando, one of the biggest rental car markets in the country, (or anywhere else), you may be familiar with the often-excessive fees many rental car agencies charge for those “convenient” toll payment transponders.

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CFX Visitor Toll Pass Return in Orlando (Photo Courtesy of Central Florida Expressway Authority)

Most companies rent out those transponders for up to $4.95 day, whether you go through a toll booth each day of your rental or not. Some charge even larger flat fees per rental. Even worse, they charge the renters the cash toll rate, which is always higher than that charged to electronic toll pass users.

Many consider those exorbitant, often unavoidable, charges a racket. Or a rip-off. After getting a lot of complaints from visitors, Orlando’s mayor, Buddy Dyer, and regional toll agency, the Central Florida Expressway Authority (CFX) decided it was a challenge.

“We had conversations with many of the rental car companies,” said Michelle Maikisch, Chief of Staff/Public Affairs Officer for CFX). But they were unsuccessful in having those companies reduce or eliminate the fees. “So, we decided to try to come up with a solution,” she says.

And they did. Orlando’s Visitor Toll Pass, which debuted in May 2019 and was put on hold during the pandemic, is back. It allows anyone renting a vehicle at Orlando International Airport (MCO) to get a transponder tag that allows them to bypass the rental car toll devices and pay the road tolls on their own, electronically.

Getting the Visitor Toll Pass is easy. You can download an app on Google Play or the Apple App store before you arrive at the airport or at the toll pass vending kiosk on Level 1 of Terminal A at MCO. The app will walk you through creating an account with your credit card and reserve a pass that you retrieve from the kiosk with a bar code. Then– an important step–be sure to decline the rental car toll transponder option on your rental contract and hang the toll pass on the mirror of your rental car vehicle.

Visitor Toll Pass App (Photo by Central Florida Expressway Authority)

“When you leave the parking garage, technology pairs your toll pass to the license plate of the car and you can see all the toll transactions on the app,” says Maikisch. “You will pay the exact toll that that local e-pass customers pay.”

Related: Airport rental car users are increasingly dissatisfied as prices increase

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There are no hidden fees, but you’ll pay $10 if you forget to drop the toll tag in a marked drop box at the airport when you return your rental car. “But we even give you a period of time to mail it back to us if you forget to do that,” says Maikisch.

Before COVID-19 landed, the Visitor Toll Pass program was just gearing up. There was an app to download, but visitors received their pass from a person in a booth at the airport. During a hiatus during COVID-19, from March 2020 to June 2021, the program was tweaked. “Now we have a team onsite to help out, but you get your pass from our vending machine,” said Maikisch. The agency has also ordered more toll tag dispensing kiosks, but supply chain issues have slowed down delivery.

Related: How to never pay full price for a rental car

The Visitor Toll Pass program is a win for travelers, of course, saving them more than 80% over the cost of using the car rental toll schemes. But it is also a win for the city of Orlando, the tourism community, the regional toll authority, and even the airport, which is the first place visitors experience when flying into or out of the region.

“Providing our passengers with another option to enhance their travel journey while here in Central Florida is all part of what we call The Orlando Experience,” says Tom Draper, Chief of Operations, Greater Orlando Aviation Authority.

Featured image by Rental cars parked in lot (Photo by Fahroni / Shutterstock.com)
Editorial disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airline or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

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TPG Editor‘s Rating
Card Rating is based on the opinion of TPG‘s editors and is not influenced by the card issuer.
4 / 5
Go to review

Rewards Rate

10XEarn unlimited 10X miles on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel
5X5X miles on flights booked through Capital One Travel.
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  • Intro Offer
    Earn 75,000 bonus miles when you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening, equal to $750 in travel

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    Credit ranges are a variation of FICO© Score 8, one of many types of credit scores lenders may use when considering your credit card application.

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Why We Chose It

The Capital One Venture X card is one of the best all-round travel credit cards ever launched. Not only is it offering a tremendous welcome bonus, but cardholders can earn tons of miles on everyday spending and receive a 10,000-mile anniversary bonus to boot. Its annual fee is $395, but cardholders can count on up to $300 in statement credits toward travel booked through Capital One Travel each year and other valuable benefits like access to Priority Pass lounges and Capital One’s own growing family of airport lounges.

Pros

  • Excellent welcome offer worth 75,000 miles after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first three months.
  • Up to $300 in annual travel statement credits toward bookings make through Capital One Travel.
  • 10,000 bonus miles (worth $100 toward travel) each account anniversary.

Cons

  • The $395 annual fee might be expensive for some, but this card’s benefits provide much more value than that.
  • If you don’t travel frequently, this might not be the best card for you.
  • Earn 75,000 bonus miles when you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening, equal to $750 in travel
  • Receive up to $300 back annually as statement credits for bookings through Capital One Travel, where you'll get Capital One's best prices on thousands of options
  • Get 10,000 bonus miles (equal to $100 towards travel) every year, starting on your first anniversary
  • Earn unlimited 10X miles on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel and 5X miles on flights booked through Capital One Travel
  • Earn unlimited 2X miles on all other purchases
  • Unlimited complimentary access for you and two guests to 1,400+ lounges, including Capital One Lounges and our Partner Lounge Network
  • Receive up to a $100 credit for Global Entry or TSA PreCheck®
  • Use your Venture X miles to easily cover travel expenses, including flights, hotels, rental cars and more—you can even transfer your miles to your choice of 15+ travel loyalty programs
  • Named editors' choice for "Best New Credit Card of 2021" by The Points Guy
  • Earn 10 miles per dollar when you book on Turo, the world's largest car sharing marketplace, through May 16, 2023