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Florida’s Visitor Toll Pass Saves You $20–$30 a Day on Road Tolls. More Tourists Should Know About It.

Cashless tollbooths may be convenient for locals, but they’re hostile to out-of-towners. As states eliminate tollbooth workers so cars can zoom through sensor points using transponders, tourists get shafted.

In Florida, a state with an economy that depends on tourism, cashless tolls are particularly merciless. In the heavily touristed city of Orlando, for example, the only highways that connect the main airport directly to the theme parks are now built with cashless tollbooths, trapping first-time visitors as soon as they drive out of the airport. 

Most visitors, especially international ones, will have no idea which roads are cashless and wind up wandering into jacked-up fees. They could technically purchase a SunPass transponder at a local grocery store (that is, if they know that’s what they need to do) and set up an account for it, but in Orlando’s case, visitors don’t stand a good chance of finding SunPass purchase point that won’t require them to use a cashless highway first. I’ve advocated against the unfairness of cashless tolls for tourists for years.

The rental car companies say they can make it easier on tourists, but they extort them with high rates for the privilege. Take Enterprise Rent-A-Car, which charges customers up to $4.95 a day for its “TollPass Convenience Charge”—and you have to pay it even if you don’t use a toll road that day. That amount does not include the actual price of the tolls. There may be additional fees even beyond those.

Enterprise’s tacked-on day rate is one of the lower surcharges. Hertz, Dollar, and Thrifty slam customers with $14 a day in fees, while Avis, Budget, and Payless charge $13 a day. Even if you don’t borrow a transponder and ask to be billed by your license plate, fees are high: At Avis, you pay $6.95 every day you go through tolls, on top of the cost of the tolls themselves.

It’s all a way for private businesses, many of them founded by politically connected people, to rake cash from Florida’s highways through sweetheart deals. Enterprise’s car rental agreement refers customers with questions about cashless tolls to a firm named Verra Mobility and its partner, an outfit called the Highway Toll Administration (HTA).

Highway Toll Administration is not a government body, as the deceptive name might suggest, but an LLC formed to profit off drivers who drive rental cars onto cashless roads. HTA, which was purchased by a global equity firm, profits by charging ridiculous fees to process tourists’ toll payments for them.

As you can imagine, the complaints lodged with the actual toll administrator, the Central Florida Expressway Authority, have been vociferous and colorful.

And damaging enough to the state’s reputation, it seems, that a solution was finally introduced in 2019—but kept noticeably quiet since then.

Florida’s Visitor Toll Pass eliminates all extra fees for cashless tolls

The Visitor Toll Pass, which the Expressway Authority quietly rolled out, is a free tag that hangs from a car’s rearview mirror and reduces the cost of tolls, with no fees. A driver can pick up the tag right after landing in Orlando, and it’s automatically activated as their rental car leaves the parking structure.

For it to work, a credit card number, the rental car’s license plate number, and the day when the trip will be over (a maximum of 90 days) must be entered into an app. And that’s it. There are no surcharges. You pay for the tolls you go through, and that’s all.

In fact, with the pass, tolls are billed at a slightly lower rate than the normal charge. The booth closest to Walt Disney World on State Road 417, for example, is cashless and catches many tourists unaware. But with the Visitor Toll Pass, a toll might be billed as $1.40 instead of the usual $1.50.

When Visitor Toll Pass holders drive through a toll collection gantry, Florida’s system matches the tag dangling from the mirror with the license plate—meaning the tag is useless if it’s stolen or lost—and directly charges the driver’s credit card account.

The Visitor Toll Pass works in any cashless toll lane on any road in the state. If you have one, you won’t need to use cash for tolls at all. If you get one but never use it, you pay nothing.

To avoid being double-billed, you must decline your rental car contract’s toll program. You can do that without guilt—considering pre-toll transponder rental rates of $14 a day from the car renters, the Visitor Toll Pass is plainly the better deal.

When your trip is over, simply toss the tag into one of the collection bins located in the corridors leading from the rental car parking lots into the airport (you’ll find their locations marked on this map). There’s even a machine in MCO’s Terminal C, where the Brightline train arrives, so rail passengers can also pick one up when renting a car.

Forgetting to return the pass at the end of your trip will only cost you $10—that’s still cheaper than what you’d pay to use the rental car company’s system, before tolls.

For most people, the hardest part of the program will be believing it’s for real. 

I’ve used it many times—it’s real, with no hidden fees. When it was introduced, the the toll charges posted to my credit card within about three days of the end of my trip. On a recent trip, it took the program a few weeks to process my tag return correctly.

You don’t have to plan weeks ahead to get a Visitor Toll Pass. The program has rolled out two free apps (Google Play, iOS for iPhone) that you download to sign up and register a payment method.

This is one tourism development that leaves me ecstatic. But despite its radical money-saving usefulness for any tourist who drives a rental car in Orlando, Florida seems determined to keep it quiet. 

Despite the massive number of international tourists Florida welcomes, Visitor Toll Pass also has not expanded to help more people. It’s still only available if you land at Orlando’s main MCO airport. You can’t get one at Florida’s other popular tourist airports such as Miami, Fort Lauderdale, or Tampa. You can’t even obtain one if you fly into Orlando’s secondary airport, Sanford International. 

Far too many travelers are still falling prey to the high surcharges from the rental car brands. “I always use Avis,” one vacationer boasted on a recent TripAdvisor post. “The charge for the rental period of up to a month is $19.75 max plus any tolls.”

That’s nothing to brag about. They could have saved that money.

Visitor Toll Pass is legitimate and it’s terrific. When you fly to Orlando, don’t let the car renters and highway toll parasite companies keep ripping you off.

Visitor Toll Pass: 407/690-5300;