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First time car renter - Hertz / Amex / Boston Logan Airport

First time car renter - Hertz / Amex / Boston Logan Airport

Old Jan 20th, 2022, 11:02 AM
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First time car renter - Hertz / Amex / Boston Logan Airport

Hi, I am brand new to renting cars, and will be renting one at Logan this weekend. Hertz seems to be the cheapest at Logan from what I can see on AutoSlash when I let it know I have an Amex Platinum credit card, so that's where I'm planning to go with. I'll be taking the car north up to Maine, and need seating for 4 people, but only space for a bag or two. I'll also be adding one of them as an additional driver (non-spouse or domestic partner.)

====== Here's what I've done so far: ======
A) --> Setup my account with Hertz, and added my Amex Platinum to get the Gold 5 Star status.

B) --> I've called and confirmed that Customer Support can see my upgraded status, and I've verified that I get to skip the front desk and that I get a free one-size upgrade as long as I book a midsize or better.

C) --> I've run a search picking up and dropping off at Logan International at my respective times, chosen my Platinum Amex, and has AutoSlash find me prices on midsizes. The cheapest is through Priceline, so I booked a free-cancellation, pay on arrival midsize through Priceline, making sure to enter the CDP associated with my Amex Platinum card, and my flight number. I didn't see anywhere to add and extra driver, so I assume I'll do that onsite.

D) --> I looked up the process on arrival which appears to go as follows: At Hertz just head directly to the Gold lot without having to stop anywhere, then wander around and find a car I want, being sure to inspect it thoroughly for existing issues, which I must photographically document. Jump in and drive to the exit where apparently I'll have an interaction with an agent; I assume they'll see if I want to add an additional driver here and ask me if I want insurance and so on.

E) --> I've read a lot about drop off stuff (full tank, re-documenting vehicle, etc.) I also have read about insurance a bit, but need to read more, and also call my insurance company to see what they cover in terms of rentals. I know Amex Platinum provides secondary insurance, but I'm guessing that I might have needed to book through the Amex portal for that, and they're not competitive price wise.

====== Questions: ======
1) --> Am I correct so far, or have I missed a step somewhere? Any pointers about the on-site process that'll make things go more smoothly for me?

2) --> How do I identify which cars I can pick as my 1-size upgrade? I've seen others talk about getting an SUV or something from just a midsize, which I think is probably more than a 1-size jump. Just trying to figure out how I'll know what's fair game.

3) --> As I noted, the cheapest rate I could find by a decent margin was the Priceline rate that was found when I went through AutoSlash. I can't even get the rate that low when I manually go through Priceline, and definitely not when I use the Hertz website. Are there any problems with using Priceline?

4) --> As a continuation to #3, are rental agencies similar to hotels where they may match a price you find online? If I call and tell them I'll book directly with them if they'll match the AutoSlash / Priceline price that I've booked, are they likely to do that? It's always my preference to go direct when possible.

5) --> If you're someone familiar with the Hertz at Logan, do you think it's likely that I'll be able to get a size upgrade when I arrive tomorrow morning (Friday the 21st?)

6) --> What am I missing? Are there blind spots you suspect I have not considered?

Thank you!
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Old Jan 20th, 2022, 11:16 AM
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Know nothing about Logan but in this day and time of rental car shortage I wouldn't count on a lot of choice of upgrade.
More important, walk around the car with the agent and point out ANYthing that looks like a problem. Or take out your phone and do a video of the car.
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Old Jan 20th, 2022, 11:31 AM
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Originally Posted by Gretchen View Post
Know nothing about Logan but in this day and time of rental car shortage I wouldn't count on a lot of choice of upgrade.
More important, walk around the car with the agent and point out ANYthing that looks like a problem. Or take out your phone and do a video of the car.
Thanks for the quick response, Gretchen. That's a very good point about the shortage. Fortunately, we're not relying on an upgrade per se, I just am trying to get the most bang for my buck, while also trying to avoid any potential pitfalls (or would it be potholes in this case haha). I will definitely plan on videoing / taking pics of any issues and making sure to alert an agent of any issues I can see. Thank you.
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Old Jan 20th, 2022, 11:46 AM
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Like the previous posted mentioned I can’t be sure if Logan will be different or if Hertz has recently changed their procedures but if you plan on adding an additional driver you’ll have to do that at the main desk not when you interact with the “agent” when exit the rental lot.

With Hertz Gold you normally go directly to the lot where you’ll see a sign with your name and parking space number where you’ll find your assigned upgraded car. If you’d prefer a different model you’ll have to go to the counter and request a change. Likewise, if you want to add a driver you have to do that at the counter, not with the agent who mans the exit booth -as he/she only compares the name on your driver’s license with the rental paperwork that will be in your car.
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Old Jan 20th, 2022, 01:13 PM
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The insurance question needed to be higher on the list. Call your agent to make sure. You can also check with Amex. (basically, you have liability coverage on your own and the card covers collision damage, so you should be good, but don't take my word for it).
Good idea to call Hertz to meet or beat the rate - they probably won't do it but if you don't call then they definitely won't do it. I have a policy that has worked well for me before and that is to ask for what I want.
Also ask Hertz what the process is for adding a second driver - if you can. The deal you have might not allow it and/or might be an added fee and/or have to do a different deal to get the second driver.
You don't want to find out at the gate that you have to go to the counter (there may be others behind you). What you could do is go to the car that you want and get the keys and then go to the counter if you have to.
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Old Jan 20th, 2022, 01:36 PM
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I'm pretty sure to add another driver, you have to go to the counter so that they can enter that person's information. Same thing if you want to do anything different with the insurance than is in your profile. The only thing that the person at the gate does before you leave is verify your DL and what car you are in, then print out the rental agreement if you didn't get one at the desk.

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Old Jan 20th, 2022, 04:56 PM
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I second Gretchen's recommendation to thoroughly inspect the car (inside and out) before accepting it. Taking a video is a good idea, and then take another video when you return the car.

And watch out for fees added after the return. Hertz has developed a very bad reputation lately for tacking on large, undeserved fees.

https://www.latimes.com/business/sto...stomer-service
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Old Jan 21st, 2022, 02:58 AM
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And I'll add my one and only rental from Hertz (because it was the best deal at the time). I got on the BIG shuttle bus with all the other renters and stood in line longer than I ever have at any other rental
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Old Jan 21st, 2022, 10:51 AM
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I rent from Hertz regularly (not at Logan, but various other places) and have had very good experiences with them. On average, I rent from them 6-10 times a year. I've read about the tacking on of undeserved fees, but fortunately haven't experienced that myself.
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Old Jan 22nd, 2022, 08:39 AM
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There’s nothing to worry about reserving through Priceline.

You will need a transponder, how does Hertz charge for that, and the tolls? Or are you going to try to dodge tolls? I recall that there is a very precise and peculiar way to get to Logan without paying a bridge or tunnel toll so find that and print it out, if you are staying off the Maine turnpike.
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Old Jan 24th, 2022, 03:39 PM
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Hi all, I just wanted to report back with my experience so that perhaps it'll benefit someone else.

1. tom_mn's comment was one of the more important ones, because I didn't realize that there were non-cash tolls before we departed. Live and learn, I guess. I recalled it was an add-on service and was concerned that by using the transponder, I would open the whole contract up to re-pricing. Accordingly, I kept the EasyPass type thing closed in the little faraday cage that it sits in. We figured that we'd just let them bill Hertz and then Hertz can bill me for the tolls. I have no clue whether this was the right decision or not, but we'll see.

2. Everyone who said that Priceline / AutoSlash are fine to use were correct... mostly. There was one stumbling block, and I'm fortunate it didn't trip me up. Getting the booking attached to my Hertz number so that my status was recognized (and so that I didn't have to go to the counter) was not something that I'm guessing everyone would think about. The only reason I knew to do it was I saw someone mention a horror story when they didn't "confirm their reservation" ahead of time. When I tried to confirm online using the Priceline confirmation code in the Hertz website / app, it didn't find it. Conversely, when I called in to confirm the booking they found it immediately. The rep said it wasn't working on the website for me because it was a third party booking, but the rep was able to see it, confirm it, and attach it to my profile without issue. After that it showed up in my Hertz app properly. Without taking this extra step, I suspect that my Gold 5 Star status would not have applied, that I would've had to go to the counter, and that they may have even charged me a different price if I arrived after the designated booking time. I don't remember where, I read about that last part, but it's what scared me into really making sure I understood the confirmation process. Notably, when I did call to confirm, the recording that played directed me to use the website to confirm, and said that having a live agent confirm the booking would charge me an additional 5% on top of my booking. I asked the agent about this and indicated that I didn't think that was appropriate b/c the website wouldn't work for me. The agent said that it I would not be charged the 5% because I wasn't actually making the booking online, I was just confirming / having it tagged to my profile. I was pretty confused as to why the recording was saying one thing and the agent was saying another, but my bill didn't include an extra 5% or anything, so I guess the representative was correct. What I don't know is whether the agent really was supposed to charge me but didn't, or whether the message was just outdated.

3. Another point of confusion is that there are two different Amex Platinum CDP codes that I found. I initially registered with the Amex Platinum CDP code starting with a '6' but at some point, while I was trying to figure out the difference between the codes, I entered one that starts with a '2' into the CDP field on the rental quote search screen. Now on my Hertz profile shows 2 instances of "Platinum Card from Amex" on my profile under the Corporate Discount Program; it also lets me select one or the other from a dropdown on booking screens. Neither shows the number, but it's pretty clear that they represent the two different CDP codes. I didn't see any difference between them when I chose one and ran a quote, and then repeated it with the other one. When I called Amex and asked them which code to use, they said the one that starts with a '2' is the correct one. I didn't ask them about what the other one was.

4. I do have Gold 5 Star status, which is evident both from the fact that my name appeared on the board as "5 Star" at Hertz, and the fact that it's showing everywhere in my Profile now. I suspect I may have gotten lucky, but it's tough to be sure because of the deviating info and confusion from the internet blogs, Amex and Hertz. It seems like everyone I asked and everywhere I looked, I would get a different answer. Some sources indicated that Amex Platinum allows for similar but slightly different benefits compared to 5 Star, some indicated that it is actually 5 Star, and some even indicated that it was higher than 5 Star. I don't know if my email to the Hertz Status Match team helped me get it, but I don't think it was showing as 5 Star until I did that. I also wonder if perhaps one of those two CDP codes was an outdated, secret, or international CDP code that does / did actually give 5 Star membership, and that's why I have it now -- perhaps the Status Match Team saw that and upgraded me to 5 Star? Very difficult to tell. I was told both by the Hertz gate agent that I was 5 Star, and by ones on the phone too, so it isn't just a system glitch on my profile either.

5. Despite the info online about not being able to use status or add additional things to a 3rd party booking, that didn't prove true for me - I was able to use my status (see #2 on how I connected it) and could've added on other stuff like the insurance and really any of the additional extras I wanted. I did confirm that doing so would not have affected the price I got through AutoSlash / Priceline. As I've explained above, this proved to be true as my status was recognized, and I was allowed to upgrade from midsize to a sedan. I also was told that I'd be able to add an extra driver when I arrived by going to the Gold counter.

6. When I arrived, I went to the board, saw my name listed as 5 Star, and went to the 5 Star lot. I had seen videos which indicated that despite the "one-size-upgrade" verbiage for 5 Star that often you'd just be able to take any vehicle in the section. I grabbed the keys to one of the many SUVs (Jeep Compass, which was one of the nicer SUVs in the 5 Star section) and ran into the Gold desk to make sure I didn't need to do anything else, and they told me "pick and sedan and you're good to go - no SUVs today though." That made it sound like normally they may let people take whatever they please, but perhaps it was a busy weekend and therefore they were keeping the SUVs for those who chose to rent that size specifically (this is speculation of course.) It was fine b/c the Ford Fusion we chose was nice, and if we wanted to walk around in the cold longer we probably could've found an even nicer full size or whatever.

7. 'Domestic Partners' seems like it's a flexibly defined term to Hertz, which surprised me. I think that with a stricter interpretation, my g/f and I wouldn't be considered domestic partners b/c we don't share bank accounts, don't have our address listed as the same place on ours licenses (despite living together for years) and don't have our names on a deed together. Regardless, when I went to request an additional driver, the woman at the Gold desk said that as long as I'm willing to attest that my g/f and I live together, then we're considered domestic partners. I probably should've gotten that in writing or on video, but thankfully there we no issues -- I'm not sure the interpretation would've been the same had my g/f wrecked the vehicle though, but then again who knows. Notably, I actually asked the Customer Support line about this more than once ahead of my trip, and I think they indicated that my g/f would not be considered a domestic partner for the purposes of the rental. I guess my suggestion here would be for people to call the actual folks working at the rental desk if possible b/c they seemed much more lenient.

8. We picked the car up around 10AM or 11AM or so at Boston Logan International on Friday. There were tons of suitable vehicles in the 5 Star section, and would've been plenty of suitable SUVs had that been allowable. Obviously we're talking the bitter cold month of January here, so YMMV come nicer weather, but I know that it's a bit of a concern these days with the ongoing vehicle shortages, so I figured I'd mention it. They also had some fancier stuff like sports cars and some big SUVs like an Escalade -- those were sitting in the "reserved" and "ultra premium" type areas though. The SUVs found in the 5 Star lot were all the smaller sized ones like the Jeep Compass.

9. I didn't look closely at the normal rental counter for Hertz, but I do recall thinking it was a bit longer than I would've expected for such cold weather. I imagine it might be a bit of a nightmare once things warm up. From what I understand even the free status tier that is awarded simply for creating an account with username and password on the Hertz website allows you to skip the line and head directly to the lot, albeit with slightly less options and no free upgrades. If my understanding is correct, then I can't really see any reason not to do that.


Here are a few things I wish I'd known. (a) I wish I'd known that I needed to fill out the damage report detailing any issues with the vehicle before arriving at the gate agent. It wasn't an issue, but it was just a bit embarrassing having to do that with a line of cars waiting behind me. May seem like common sense to most, but with my group already antsy that we were a bit behind, I guess it didn't occur to me. (b) A bit redundant, but I wish I'd known about tolls thing. (c) This was a gargantuan effort trying to figure out the Amex stuff, the Hertz ins and outs, Priceline / AutoSlash stuff, and so on. I get that if everyone could just do it after 2 minutes of reading, then the deals wouldn't exist, but still... this was pretty intense. Hopefully this knowledge gained helps with other rental agencies I use in the future.


Hope this helps others who may find this thread.

Last edited by kda0000; Jan 24th, 2022 at 03:45 PM.
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Old Jan 24th, 2022, 04:28 PM
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I do find this amazing. I'm a lowly woman and have just walked up to the counter for a number of years. I may have learned a couple of my suggestions along the way. This has been truly interesting to follow
If I may be so nosy, what do you do for a living. Just a "ballpark". Acturarial? Carpenter who "nails things down"?
The tolls thing is realatively new with the transponder--and I have been grateful to Fodor's poster for REVEALING it 'cause it IS a real rental car agency burglary.
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Old Jan 24th, 2022, 05:37 PM
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Haha I'm in finance, so my scrutiny can mean quite a lot in terms of dollars and cents; I like to know with as much certainty that I've optimized things. Fell a bit short on this one with the oversight on the tolls, but it happens. Hopefully I made the right choice just keeping the transponder closed, but we'll see.

Since, I don't post a lot, so I figured I'd try to be as informative as possible to help someone else who may be looking for similar information at some point. If I can save someone a bit of time and stress with my write-up, then all that typing will have paid off.
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Old Jan 25th, 2022, 06:36 AM
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I'm glad I saw this thread. We're doing a Maine coast road trip in June, flying in and out of Boston. The idea was to take mostly Route 1 during the trip and on the way back to Boston our last day, to take I-95 from Bar Harbor. I know there are tolls on I-95, but I figured we could pay cash.

So there are some tolls along the way going southbound that are non cash and I should get a transponder with our rental? I didn't choose that option for the car I booked, wondering if I need to go back and redo my reservation.
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Old Jan 25th, 2022, 06:53 AM
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I googled a bit more and I think I found the answer - apparently all of Massachusetts is cashless tolling. So perhaps the problem isn't I-95 in Maine, but encountering toll booths within MA.

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Old Jan 25th, 2022, 06:57 AM
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Originally Posted by chepar View Post
I'm glad I saw this thread. We're doing a Maine coast road trip in June, flying in and out of Boston. The idea was to take mostly Route 1 during the trip and on the way back to Boston our last day, to take I-95 from Bar Harbor. I know there are tolls on I-95, but I figured we could pay cash.

So there are some tolls along the way going southbound that are non cash and I should get a transponder with our rental? I didn't choose that option for the car I booked, wondering if I need to go back and redo my reservation.
From my research over the past two days, it seems that you definitely should get the transponder add-on, OR look into buying an easy pass of some sort. I haven't looked into the latter route extensively, but I can tell you from my experience using my easy pass in New York, it's very simple to get started and setup with an account. You'll likely need to load $20 onto it or something, which may be more than you use, but it's likely cheaper than renting the transponder + paying the tolls, and then you'll have the transponder that you can take with you for use in a lot of other states if you ever visit. Having said that, I would encourage you to look up threads discussing that route specifically because as with everything I'm sure there are probably stuff you need to be careful of so you don't get screwed.

The thing that you definitely do not want to do is what I did by just not using a transponder. It seems that the rental companies are notorious for charging insane fees when you do that... so much so that there have been lawsuits against them for exactly this, which resulted in them having to refund huge chunks of money to customers they'd been charging these fees to. Since I fell prey to this, I am actively planning on fighting tooth and nail if they attempt to assess me any ridiculous fees along with whatever tolls they pass along.
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Old Jan 25th, 2022, 01:43 PM
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I think that in MA, you need to have your plate number on the transponder. You can do that on line and I have had more than one car in the system. The other thing is the transponder needs to be where the overhead receivers can get the signal. Ours is mounted on the windshield.

unless you know the routes to avoid them there are tolls just getting to Logan.
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Old Jan 25th, 2022, 09:29 PM
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We fly into Boston and drive up to Maine every year. If you leave the airport and head up the 1A you can avoid the tolls going north. Getting back to the airport you basically want to reverse this route. We put the Hampton Inn, 230 Lee Burbank Hwy, Revere into our phone GPS and once we get there we put in Logan Car Rental Return. We’ve found that if just put in the car rental return from the start the gps takes us to the toll roads as that is the more direct route. Our method is a little cumbersome but it works.

As for purchasing a transponder or EZ Pass, we looked into it last month and were told not to do it if our intention was using it for a rental car. The reason being that the pass needs to be linked to a car; with a rental you won’t know the license plate of the vehicle till you check out; you then need to log into your EZ Pass account to update the car and license plate. The person I spoke with at E Z Pass said that it takes 24 hours for the information to process so the Pass won’t recognize your car if you go through a toll area prior to that.

this past December my husband blew through a toll booth in Maine by mistake. We were pleasantly surprised that the charge from Alamo was only $5 above the toll itself. We did a similar thing in Florida a week ago and had a similar charge from Budget. Both were way cheaper than paying for the transponder for the entire the rental which I think is the only choice if you elect to use it.
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Old Jan 26th, 2022, 07:34 AM
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Originally Posted by tracilee View Post
We fly into Boston and drive up to Maine every year. If you leave the airport and head up the 1A you can avoid the tolls going north. Getting back to the airport you basically want to reverse this route. We put the Hampton Inn, 230 Lee Burbank Hwy, Revere into our phone GPS and once we get there we put in Logan Car Rental Return. We’ve found that if just put in the car rental return from the start the gps takes us to the toll roads as that is the more direct route. Our method is a little cumbersome but it works.

As for purchasing a transponder or EZ Pass, we looked into it last month and were told not to do it if our intention was using it for a rental car. The reason being that the pass needs to be linked to a car; with a rental you won’t know the license plate of the vehicle till you check out; you then need to log into your EZ Pass account to update the car and license plate. The person I spoke with at E Z Pass said that it takes 24 hours for the information to process so the Pass won’t recognize your car if you go through a toll area prior to that.

this past December my husband blew through a toll booth in Maine by mistake. We were pleasantly surprised that the charge from Alamo was only $5 above the toll itself. We did a similar thing in Florida a week ago and had a similar charge from Budget. Both were way cheaper than paying for the transponder for the entire the rental which I think is the only choice if you elect to use it.
I also looked into purchasing an EZ Pass and concluded it wouldn't work since I needed to link it to a car.

Adding the transponder to my rental will cost an additional $150 for a 12 day rental period. I'm renting through Avis though - hoping that their charge for mistakenly going through a toll booth would be similar.

Google Maps has a great option where you can opt for directions to avoid tolls. I'm hoping the phone app also has that feature so we can use it on the trip. I can't test it right now because we don't have toll roads where i live (Hawaii).

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Old Jan 26th, 2022, 03:27 PM
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Transponders: Yes we carry one for rental cars when traveling and without issue, it’s an Illinois I-Pass but works in the Chicago—Maine—Virginia triangle. We use it only for travel. We enter in the rental car license plate the night after use with no issues. This is easy, but in goofy NY you won’t get a transponder discount if it’s registered out of state (other states give the same transponder discount in state or out).

OP should rush to pay tolls online with license plate before they go to the agency. Online payment is available for about a week.

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