SmartCard Parking Program

About the Program

The City of Charleston is pleased to announce the implementation of the SmartCard Parking Program.

  • The SmartCard is an economical and convenient payment alternative for parking meters in the downtown area.
  • This program is a new and innovative payment alternative for parking meters in the downtown area.
  • This program aids in making on-street parking more accessible for the citizens of Charleston.
  • Through both eliminating the need to carry coins to pay parking meters and allowing patrons to refund unused time from their meters, this program makes parking downtown both more economical and convenient.

SmartCards are designed and programmed to function only in City of Charleston parking meters and will not work in other cities’ meters. All of Charleston’s parking meters have been updated to accommodate the SmartCards and possess a slot into which the SmartCard may be inserted. City parking meters still accept coins.

Obtaining a SmartCard

In order to take advantage of these benefits, patrons must purchase a SmartCard at the Rueben M. Greenberg Municipal Building, Revenue Collections - Parking Division, 180 Lockwood Drive Room 234, Suite A (2nd Floor), Charleston, South Carolina, 29403. This card is similar in appearance, and functions typical to, a merchant gift card. It will serve as an alternate form of payment for Charleston’s parking meters.

Patrons must pay a one-time charge of $5 for the card. After obtaining a card, patrons may purchase and charge meter time onto the card. Meter time will be sold at the standard rate of 30 minutes per dollar and may be purchased in increments of $1 using cash, Visa, MasterCard, or debit cards. SmartCards can hold up to $300 in value and are rechargeable.

Using a SmartCard

When a SmartCard is inserted into the parking meter, the meter will first display the dollar value available on the card. To add more time press the "up" arrow (^) until the desired dollar amount and time has been purchased. Then press "OK" to confirm transaction.

When ready to leave a metered space, any remaining time may be refunded to the SmartCard by reinserting the card into the meter. The display will indicate the balance and refund amount. To receive refund press "OK" while the card remains inserted into the meter. Each card has a unique electronic identity, thus time may only be refunded onto the specific SmartCard from which it was originally taken.

Additional Benefits of the Program

While SmartCard users will enjoy increased convenience and the ability to refund unused time, the SmartCard does not carry any additional benefits such as guaranteed parking or permission to park at a meter beyond the maximum time allotted. SmartCards are very durable and can withstand considerable heat, cold, and moisture. They are unaffected by magnet or x-ray exposure.

Citizens and tourists alike will enjoy the benefits of the prepaid parking card system. Patrons will no longer be left searching for the heavy and often elusive coins needed to pay parking meters, and will instead simply pull out their SmartCards for a virtually endless supply of convenient and economical parking funds.