How to Pay a Toll

by Contributor

Traveling a toll road is a convenient alternative to sitting in traffic. There are several payment methods available. How often you use a toll road and your personal preference can help you determine which option is best for you.

Prepaid Account

Establish a prepaid account if you use toll roads on a regular basis. The prepaid account is part of an electronic toll collection system. With a prepaid tag you can use a toll road without stopping at a toll booth. The system uses an electronic transponder to deduct money from your prepaid account each time you use a designated lane.

Set up an account using a credit card or checking account online or in person. Accounts are replenished automatically when your balance reaches a specified amount. An added benefit is that the rates for using prepaid accounts usually are at a discount from the regular toll rate.

Attach the tag to your windshield according the directions that come with it. In many states you can use your prepaid tag on toll roads throughout that state or even a particular region.


Use exact change, the fastest and easiest way to use cash. You must use exact change at toll lanes with baskets that you "throw" money into. These lanes are not manned, and do not take paper money. Pennies are not accepted.

Select the "Full Service Lane" if you don't have exact change, or if you need a receipt for income tax purposes. The attendant will make change for your bill. Be aware that many booths don't accept bills larger $20.

Remember there are some machines that accept bills and deduct the toll before giving you your change. Others have coin changers that require you to insert the bill, get change and then put it in the basket.

Wait for the appropriate signal before leaving a toll plaza lane. Cash lanes may have traffic lights and/or automatic arms. When you've paid the proper toll, the green light will come on and/or the arm will go up.


Choose tokens if prefer not to have a prepaid account or want to use change for other reasons. You may also be able to purchase them at a discounted rate.

Check your local toll road website for more information. Not all toll road systems use tokens.

Handle tokens the same as "Exact Change". Toss one into the basket, wait for the signal and proceed. Keep a supply in your car or with you if you are traveling with someone else.


  • check Electronic toll systems are offered under a variety of names, including "EZ-Tag" in Texas, "EZ-Pass" in New Jersey and "FasTrack" in California.
  • check If you don't have money go to a "Full Service" lane. You'll be billed for the toll amount and an administrative fee. Some states may offer to waive the administrative fee if you open up a prepaid account.
  • check Make sure you have exact change before entering an "Exact Change" lane. Your fellow drivers may not be that understanding while you're searching for coins on the floor board.
  • check As you get closer to toll plazas or toll ramps, the lanes divide. Prepaid lanes are to the left.
  • check Verify the toll cost and the number of tolls your route has. Avoid prepaid lanes if you don't have a tag.


  • close Should you intentionally and repeatedly use the prepaid lane without a tag, you'll not only be billed for the toll and administrative fee, but you risk a fine, a hold on your driver license renewal and/or a hold on your car registration.
  • close Approach toll plazas with caution. Be on the look out for motorists making sudden changes to get into the correct lanes.

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