The majority of states in the U.S. rely on toll roads to raise money for infrastructure projects. Few have embraced the practice like Texas, which now has over two dozen toll roads and counting. In particular, Central Texas has seen a significant increase in toll roads in recent years.
Renting a car in Texas? Having a toll tag can not only be convenient but it can also save you a considerable chunk of money. Sure, you can buy a transponder from the rental car company, but that’s typically a pricey option.
Rental Car Charges for Toll Tags
Rental car companies offer plenty of services that many drivers don’t necessarily need, and toll tags are no exception. Renting a transponder from the rental car company may seem like the convenient option. But it will likely set you back more money than if you purchased your own toll tag.
In both cases, you will be charged for both the tolls and the daily toll service fee. In other words, you will inevitably end up being charged more than necessary. You automatically opt into the rental car company’s toll service when you drive through the toll lanes statewide in Texas. The toll system identifies the rental car and charges the posted toll to the rental agreement.
You can opt out of the rental car company’s toll-transponder service if you bring your own tag with you. If you opt for a sticker-type tag, make sure that the tag is mounted properly on the windshield; otherwise, it will not be activated as you drive through the toll lane. In this case, you will be charged for the toll through the rental car company’s service.
Texas Toll Tags: Three Options
An alternative to forking out for the rental car company’s toll transponder is to purchase your own toll tag. Of the three toll tags, the best option for out-of-state rental car drivers is an app called EZ TAG Express. The other two options require a bit of planning ahead; you’ll have to fill out an application online and preload money into an account with a credit or debit card. Then it will likely take a week or so to receive the physical tag.
EZ TAG offers both a traditional windshield sticker and a mobile app version (both start at $20) that is supposed to work like a toll tag on all toll roads in Texas, Oklahoma and Kansas. We recommend the sticker option as we have heard negative reviews of the app from customers. The standard version of EZ TAG is a sticker that is permanently fixed to a car windshield. The EZ TAG Express app is billed as being a quick solution designed for infrequent users that does not require applying in advance of your trip; you simply download the app for your smartphone and set up your account with your rental vehicle’s license plate information and a credit card. Customers who used the app version report being charged by the rental car company anyway, so our advice is to stick with the physical sticker version of this product.
TxTag covers toll roads throughout Texas and Kansas. This thin sticker is issued by the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) and placed on the car’s windshield. While this tag can provide significant savings, it is technically not meant to be used in a rental car. When you apply for a TxTag, you’ll need to fill out an online application and provide your own car’s make, model and license plate number. You’ll also have to load $20 of prepaid tolls into an account tied to the vehicle.You will receive your TxTag(s) and account profile in the mail within five to seven business days. Then, when you pick up your rental car, you can call TxTag’s customer service number (888/468-9824) and provide the license plate number of the rental car.
TollTag was created for North Texas drivers but is good on any Texas toll road. It is issued by the North Texas Tollway Authority (NTTA) and is another type of windshield sticker that gives benefits of cashless payments and discounts over the pay-by-mail option that drivers would normally receive when driving through a toll road. For rental car users, the bill is passed onto the driver with extra fees. The online application requires preloading a minimum of $20 into your account. TollTag’s average toll rate is about 19 cents per mile, and offers about a 50 percent discount over the pay-by-mail option. Like the TxTag, TollTag is not geared for rental car drivers.