Zip through toll booths with this handy service

Commuters and travelers know the hassle of stopping at toll booths to pay the fee. It's tricky to always have exact change on hand, and lines of cars waiting to get through can slow you down. A good option to make driving more convenient is E-ZPass, a service offered in several U.S. states to speed travelers through the toll booth posts. Here's everything you need to know about E-ZPass to determine if it's right for you.

What is an E-ZPass?

E-ZPass is an electronic tag drivers can place inside their vehicle to collect tolls without stopping to pay. Unlike usual toll collection methods – which require you to deposit cash, tickets or tokens at toll plazas while driving – an E-ZPass uses electronic toll collection, called ETC, to collect fees. E-ZPass users are not required to stop because the tag is read by an antenna at the toll booth. Tolls are automatically calculated and then deducted from your account.

Where can E-ZPass be used?

E-ZPass is currently available in 16 states. These include Maine, New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Delaware, Rhode Island, New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Maryland, Virginia, West Virginia, North Carolina, Ohio, Indiana, Kentucky and Illinois. An E-ZPass may be used at any toll point where the E-ZPass logo is displayed in any of these states.

How much does an E-ZPass cost?

Each time you use a toll lane the amount is deducted from your E-ZPass account, which means the cost varies based on where you drive and how frequently you pass through toll plazas. All E-ZPass users are entitled to a standard automatic discount on tolls when using E-ZPass lanes. A minimum account deposit is required when applying and goes towards the purchase of your transponder and future tolls.

Some states, like New Jersey, offer discount programs for those who use E-ZPass daily. For example, Maine offers a 25 percent rebate to drivers who make 30 one-way trips in a month, and a 50 percent rebate for those who make 40 one-way trips in a month. Check your state's website to see what is offered.

How do you get an E-ZPass?

Head to the dedicated E-ZPass website for your state to fill out an online application. Individual accounts may have up to four tags per account and require the vehicles to be individually owned or leased (i.e. not by a company or business).

Payment information is required to set up an account and may be provided via check, cash or credit card. When setting up an account, a minimum deposit is required, usually $35, depending on the state. It's important to continually replenish an account with toll funds when driving frequently. Set up automatic or manual refills, depending on your needs.

After filling out the application, users typically receive their transponder within two business days. Follow the instructions to install the transponder in your car, and hit the road.