Colorado Toll Road E-470 north of Denver expensive for rental cars

The toll road E-470 runs north of Denver and links the Denver International Airport with communities north of Denver, the I-25, and subsequently Boulder, CO.

The following information is important for all visitors to the Denver area who will rent a car and made plans for driving the E-470 toll-road.

The problem with the toll road is that the privately held company who has leased the E-470 has stopped accepting cash at the toll booths since July 2009. People driving their own car can either puchase a yearly subscription or opt in for a license plate toll which means that their license plate is photographed and the registered owner of the car gets automatically an invoice sent. So far, so good, but what do visitors with a rental car do?

Best advice would be to avoid the E-470 completely because it is so expensive! Rental car companies charge tremendous amounts of money if you drive E-470. Please check following E-470 official website to get information about how the toll can be paid and the rental car companies’ policies.
Also make sure to get up-to-date information at your rental station. If a visitor is not aware of the fact that one cannot pay cash at toll booths a single ride may cost easily 30 dollars or even more with certain rental car companies!

It is the most visitor-unfriendly toll road we have ever heard of and one of the most expensive ones (per mile). Besides, rental car companies take advantage of the fact that drivers cannot pay cash at the booths.

Before the toll road owner decided to shut down the cash payment option the road cost already 6$ from the airport to the I-25 junction and more if you drove the entire stretch to Boulder.

Read also the following article in the Denver Post regarding the E-470 toll road.

  • http://www.facebook.com/ron.lee.1829 Ron Lee

    Low lifes keep sending me a bill and I live in Kansas and have not been to Colorado for 40 some years. The tag number they show is NOT my tag nor is it a Kansas tag. As far as I see Colorado and the people that live there are a bunch of scam artists.

  • John lippre

    Same as James above. Budget is a bait and switch. The agent said my $300 rental was unavaiable and tried to sell me on a gas guzzling suv for additional 1o$ a day. Then a 6 cyl at $8 a day. Bill boosted another $125$. Then i was never told there was a toll transponder hodden under the visor nor warned of the private toll rd. So it seems i got off 470 and was billed a few bucks but that activated a $2.50 a day rental charge times 3 weeks. Screw Budget such a shady outfit at the colorado airport. Oh, forgot this. The clerk hurried to try to have me buy the insurance at a cost of more than the 3 wk rental! If you use a major credit car they will refund your deductible up to 500$ plus your own insurance covers the car.

  • Longmont Resident

    E-470 is the nastiest surprise you are likey to encounter on any trip to Colorado. It would be best for the driving public to simply leave it off the map and have your GPS warn you that you are likely to encounter some hefty tolls and fines just for driving on this road. As terrible as it is for visitors, it is just as bad for residents. If you are coming from Northern Colorado to Denver International Airport, you have little choice but to take it if you are not familar with the area. The surface streets from Thornton and Commerce Cty are little more than goat paths with plenty of stop lights, rough pavement and lots of turns. Add to that the confusing signs along the way telling you the way to the airport is actually directing you onto the toll road. As a resident, I can tell you that we go out of our way to avoid this road. One person pointed out earlier that she shares this road with only a few Beamers and Mercedes as only the rich can afford to drive this road. I’m telling you that even THEY have a problem with the amount of money and the billing headaches associated a single trip down this enormous trap. Even the rich don’t like getting ripped off. I make many trips to the airport and I absolutely refuse to stand for this. I don’t care if they dig it up or abandon it – that road is dead to me. My family drives it only if I am afraid I am going to be late or my 17 year old daughter is driving . I never see more than 10 cars along the whole stretch from I-25 to the airport.

    By the way, if you are traveling from Longmont – here is the route I take and it takes about an hour vs about 45 minutes via the tollway. From Longmont, take CO 66 east to Platteville and turn right (south) onto US-85 and take it through Ft Lupton and Brighton and turn left (east) onto 120th Av. Drive through Commerce City and avoid the temptation to the many DIA directional signs trying to get you onto the Tollway. When you reach Tower Road, turn right (south) until you reach Pena Bl. Turn Left at Pena (It is a freeeway-type interchange, so pass undrneath Pena) and take the Ramp east to the airport.

    A single trip down E-470 will get you a mailbox full of bills – one for each toll station you pass – if you are lucky. If you don’t recieve a bill, your nightmare has just begun. Eventually you will receive a bill for hundreds, if not thousands of dollars. The prepaid option is best, but you get this ugly little box you are supposed to tape to your windshield and you cannot move it from one car to another. If you have more than one car, you must have a prepaid account for each one of them.

  • John Cernkovich

    On August 13, 2010, I received a “Reservation Confirmation” over the internet from Thrifty Car Rental for rental of an automobile at the Denver, CO Airport for 12 days from August 19, 2010 through August 31, 2010, with a quoted rental of $428.28, confirmed by an initial Thrifty billing after the vehicle was returned. I spent the first ten days in Avon, CO after I drove approximately 128 miles west from the airport onto I-70. On August 29th I drove east and then south to visit a friend in Colorado Springs, CO using MapQuest directions obtained in Avon on the Internet. On August 31st before I left Colorado Springs, I inquired of my friend, a civil engineer who has been working on a construction project at Ft. Carson, as to the tollway mentioned in my MapQuest directions.. He replied that he knew nothing about it even though he had been down there for slightly over a year. I thought I would pay at the toll booth(s), but noted that they were unoccupied once I got on the tollway. ( I later learned that cameras replaced the toll booth employees in July, 2009.)

    I traveled north from Colorado Springs on I-25 over 50 miles before the MapQuest directions steered me onto the E-470 Tollway off I-25 going north at the Limon exit onto E-470 at Toll Plaza B and continued up thru 4 stations including the 3 in Toll Plaza C, a drive of approximately 27 miles. After I inquired of a Thrifty parking lot attendant as to the unoccupied toll booths, he informed me that a camera-scan system had replaced the booths with attendants and suggested I speak to a person inside the facility. The man inside the car rental site told me that if I did not pay $65.90, citations would be issued to me amounting to $85.00. He said that I was getting “a good deal.” I learned that Thrifty charges $25.00 per week as an administrative fee plus $7.50 per week for a pass for unlimited access to any tollways in the State, and he told me he would have to charge me for two weeks. Although I ventured onto the tollway only on the final day of my 12-day trip for approximately 27 miles and less than half an hour at the end of my car rental, I was charged for both weeks of access. In addition to the fees for the two-week pass, I note that my final bill charged on my American Express Credit Card by Thrifty amounted to $511.29 after that company added a State Tax and a Concession Recovery Fee amounting to approximately $16.00 to the $65.90 Tollway Pass Fee. (A bill of $511.29 presented to me by the Thrifty employee after I protested .) My brief Tollway drive of 27 miles resulted in a $83..01 charge. It is an unscrupulous system, which preys on unwary tourists. Thrifty, motivated by profit and given license by the State, treats drivers like me in punitive fashion as though I violated some law.

    I had 4 hrs. to get to the Denver airport from Colorado Springs, so I could have gone all the way up I-25 north to I-70, which would have taken me to the western edge of Denver and maybe a 30-mile drive to the airport. Taking the E-470 Tollway took me several miles east of the airport turnoff, so I could have easily avoided the assessment. (Moreover, I had no intention to use the Tollway(s) when I arrived in Denver.)

    I telephoned Thrifty a couple days after I returned home and was told by the Customer Service lady that she would “pass my complaint on.” After receiving no response from Thrifty, I then wrote an email complaint to that company—again with no response. I also filed a complaint with the Office of the Colorado Attorney General, Consumer Fraud Division. This type of business practice is ripe for legal Class Action in my opinion.
    .

  • Pete H

    I have a similar issue, except they sent me to collections for $1255.75, only $40.75 of which was toll related. That’s almost 3000% the cost of the toll, in penalties and fees. I had never seen any sort of bill or received any sort of notice or call prior to the collector. I explained to them that I would be happy to pay them what I owe them, but that the fees are unreasonable considering I had never received their bills.

    Doesn’t sound like this is a new problem, and their sloppy billing seems to be something they are doing intentionally to whip up some quick cash.

    Has anyone figured out how to deal with them? Is there some sort of class action law suit I should know about? I fail to see how this can be legal.

    In the mean time I have written the Colorado Attorney General.

  • carolynroy

    I went through the toll a year ago, only four days after they initially started these new practices… I received a bill in the mail and paid it immediately (now realizing it was for my husband’s car and not mine.) Just got a letter from the collection agency saying that I owe them $270.00 for a $6 toll in my car. They claim that they sent me 12 bills although I never got one until now a full year later. There is absolutely no way that they sent those bills out, I have been hearing so many similar stories from people, it is ridiculous! I’m not sure what to do… the collection company told me that they already are “giving me a deal” and that the original fine was over $400, and the toll company told me they can’t do anything because it’s already been sent to collections. There has to be something that can be done, no way this is legal!

  • Jeb Jones

    They are perhaps improving the system – but it ain’t there yet. We were in Denver in early May and rented a car with Enterprise. My wife used E-470 just once (thankfully) during the trip – and as others, saw signs about cashless billing. I just received three letters from Enterprise, two were bills for $2.25 (the tolls), the other was a bill for $2.50 (daily use fee) plus $6 (admin fee) – to be billed to my credit card. If that’s all I get charged, I will consider myself lucky after hearing stories from others. Of course, we had no idea beforehand that the toll road didn’t have a means to pay in cash nor that we would get socked with additional fees. I’ve heard of admin fees of $25 per toll from other agencies – but maybe those have since been lowered. Someone commented about the time it takes to process this stuff. All of the pertinent info is stored on and processed by computers and any human interaction is minimal. Most of the true cost is in paying off the cost of writing the software in the first place. The cost of each individual interaction is negligible.

    It’s clear that the system for notifying individuals has bugs and it’s clearly an added hassle for the rental car companies – but they seem to have found a way to turn it to their advantage.

  • Jon Walsh

    I used the E-470 toll road in December. I waited for a toll bill to arrive in the mail but it never did. I tried to check online for the toll but could not without a toll number that is mailed out with the toll amount. Having never received a previous notice, this week I received 3 “Final Notice of Toll Violation Civil Penalty Assessment”, one for each toll between I-25 and the Airport on E-470. They never sent any previous notices, but suddenly send out “Final notices” and want $240 for $7.00 worth of tolls. It’s a scam to fleece toll road users. The state attorney general should be looking into the business practices of this entity.

  • Megan Ford

    I just reserved a car thru Dollar at the airport for May2010 and as I read the fine print I did see a notice about use of the very unfriendly toll road charges. $ 8.95 per day. Thank goodness I read the fine print in advance! I believe that the car rental companies should be REQUIRED by LAW to notify their renters of this abnormal and costly deal. Or perhaps they receive a cut??? I will certainly not fund the private company who owns this road! Or pay extra to the car rental agency. I will head due west into Denver and then north on I-25!

  • EditorialStaff

    EDITORIAL NOTE:
    Thanks for your comments and sharing your experiences. We have forwarded all of your comments regarding this issue to the Denver Convention & Visitors Bureau which then gave us a feedback and stated its concerns about the practices:


    (the CVB is) “working … to investigate the processes and procedures, as well as the complaints, about communication about the toll roads, payment processes and penalty fees for rental car customers. We plan to meet with the parties involved and try to resolve the confusion and frustration on the part of users of the toll roads.
    We want Denver and Colorado to be recognized as what they are — that welcoming place for visitors,…a destination that values tourism and each and every one of those visitors to our city and state.”

  • Bruce Little

    I rented from Avis feb 6th and 7th. Told the young lady at the counter I was going to Fort Collins. She was very pleasant and explained how long it takes if she drives and how much quicker when her husband drives. NO mention of tolls or suprise bills. I did see the signs about the toll booths closed and wondered how it works. Well I recieved 2 billings on my credit card this week, one for 10.00 and one for 6.00. After reading the above posts I will feel fortunate if thats all it costs me. There should be a handout that is mandatory in the rental packet that explains the hows and whys. I have no clue if there will be more or possible penalties being added. Very poor state policy!

  • Charles

    Hell, I LIVE in Colorado (Colorado Springs to be exact) and didn’t even know what was going on. Returning from Vacation, we just saw that all the toll booths were closed. I thought it very VERY odd, but didn’t think much more of it other than “Huh, must be my lucky day.”

    A couple of weeks ago we got several letters in the mail of fines and fees totaling more than $400! After doing research, I just found out today about what was going on. How ridiculous. This smells of a disguised scheme to scam people out of their money than just “saving some money and making it easier and convenient for everyone” They should have signs up that helps explain what they are doing instead of “Toll Booths Closed”

  • PCS

    I received the $1.00 bill for going the short distance on E-470 between I-25 and the Peoria offramp in Aug 2009. I received at least three notifications to pay the $1.00. What is rediculous is that the cost to handle the paperwork and billing exceeds $1.00. Even one notice would exceed the $1.00 revenue. Ritter’s New Energy Economy, more paper and administration!!!!

  • Jerome Mosman

    I agree that this toll road-E-470-most confusing and automated mess that surprises tourists from other states. I thought Colorado liked tourists. After we paid the tolls online, we received additional bills that included an outrageous $70 civil penal per toll booth used plus the original bills. A processing fee of $9 for a $1.00 toll plus the $70 civil fee means you owe them $80 for passing through one toll gate. Does the tourist department of Colorado know what the toll road company is doing to the good name of Colorado? Of course the company has no 800 number to clear up the mess they cause through computerized billing. This toll road is an ugly stain on the state of Colorado.

  • Sam

    Last year while on Active Duty with the US Army i rented a car under my name/license and drove it for three days from DIA to Colorado Springs and return (did that twice). I rented from Hertz who never told any of us using the car about the Toll Booth charges – we simply assumed that with the tollbooths being closed (couldn’t pay cash) that there was no charges.

    man that was a costly error. I never recieved any notice from either Hertz or City of Denver but 6 months later i have a collection agency calling me weekly stating that I owe $320 in fees and penalties. Fortunately i checked with our lawyer at work who said simply not to pay it since there is no way that they can go after me credit-wise. But come on !!! $320 fine for using the tollway 4 times without having a pass!!!

    Since then we simply come out of the airport and go down to Pena Blvd and take 70 South from there…

    Man i bet they make billions a year (Denver and Hertz) by not telling folks things and ripping them off on outrageous toll charges..

  • Karen

    We drove E 470 from I 25 to I 70 in mid September. We have driven the road for several years and had always paid at the toll booths. We do not live in Colorado and had no idea the booths were shut down and couldn’t figure out what was going on. We checked the web site mentioned on the signs when we returned home and learned that we would be getting a bill in the mail sent to the address from our license plate.

    The info on the web site said that we would get the bill within 30 days of our trip. But no bill ever came. I started reading web sites telling tales of how motorists never received a first notice of the toll and then subsequently started getting bills with huge penalties for failure to pay. I started emailing the E 470 people asking when we should get a bill. They kept saying we would be receiving a bill soon. Finally I just asked them if they would just tell us the amount of the toll and an account number where we could just send the payment. I figured the cost would be $5 or $6 and did not want to get caught up in paying a penalty.

    They eventually emailed us a copy of our bill after about 10 weeks. We paid it but as yet have never gotten a copy in the US Mail as we were told we would. The E 470 is a nice way to avoid traveling through downtown Denver, but I will not travel on that road again. Too much hassle trying to get my measly $5 toll payment to them before getting penalties assessed.

  • Duane

    I suspect therei s a whole lot more going on than just rental cars. I started getting a bill from the toll authority (I live in Texas). I didn’t know who the person was. Finally because I was getting so many I opened one up. It had a picture of a car I didn’t own going on the tollway and a huge fine for failure to pay (which might be because the right person didn’t get the bill?). I called them and they said they had to keep sending me these bills but I could just write on them that I’m not there and send them back. But they still keep coming to me in Houston.

  • Bob “Chocoholic” Mac

    I unfortunately had a similar experience. But since I rented my car in Salt Lake City before going to Colorado, there was obviously no way for them to alert me. I have already received the rental company’s bill for the service (that is, the service they provided to Colorado by giving them my address). That was $10. I’m eagerly awaiting the “final bill” from Colorado. It’s been over 3 months since the trip, but I’m sure it’s coming.

  • Yoshihiro Katsuhama

    I had the same experience with Hertz rent a car. I claimed to E-470 and Hertz that to refund the credit, but they did not accept saying that it is mentioned in the terms and conditions. Terrible E-470, and I will never use the toll roads in Colorado!!!

  • Lesley

    This is the biggest rip off ever! I just spent 40 minutes on hold with National Rental Car because they sent me a bill for four traffic violations while we were in Colorado for a wedding. We had no idea about the toll situation. I could not imagine what the violations were. I have the most law abiding husband possible – he certainly did not drive through any tollbooths without paying. The agent who rented us the car did not tell us anything about e470. This is beyond annoying.

  • Donna

    I think this is outrageous!!!! Sorry James, you should have been warned!
    Thank goodness our Budget agent did warn us so we took I70 to I25 BUT
    we really did not believe her until I came back home and did research.
    We were told it would be a $5 charge per day for the 9 day rental period so we would be charged $45! We were only using it to go from and to DIA so the actual charge, if we paid cash at the booths, would be $12. When we passed the E470 exit there was no sign indicating the toll booths were closed. Colorado is a tourist state but I agree they and the car rental companies are ripping the tourist off! I could understand if they
    bill us for the correct $ amount for the actual # of times E470 was used.
    I hope they figure out a better system soon!!!!

  • James

    Sound advice above.

    I have been billed $25.00 (for a single journey!) by Budget rent a car (I wont be using them again and suggest you dont either) who failed to warn me about this. Use the e toll just once and they charge you $2.50 per day.

    I have been ripped off – this leaves a sour taste from an otherwise wonderful trip to Colorado.

    James, England