Discover Bethesda, Maryland...365 Days a Year!

Day 13: No More Nasty-grams from the Meter Maid!

Coin, CashKey or now Pay-by-Cell

You’re late for an appointment in Bethesda.  You are driving into town…praying for a parking spot that is not higher than the 2nd floor up so you’re not snarled in slow-moving traffic.  You enter the garage and join the procession. 

You prey upon pedestrians like a cat on a mouse as they begin to approach a parked car.  Ah ha!  You got one.  You thump on your steering wheel impatiently as they slowly load up, turn on their car (check their cell phone or whatever! UGH!) and finally back out.  At last the spot clears.  You dash in, collect your things and bound out of your car.  Oh wait – the meter!  You dig in your pockets, in your bag…no quarters!  Shoot.  Back in the car you proceed with the frenetic search for change – the cup holder, the glove box, the floor.  At last, you find a couple of coins and make your deposit.   You RUN off to your appointment – late.

An hour later, as you saunter back to you car, the shocking realization hits you – YOUR METER EXPIRED!  Maybe if you run, you will beat the meter maid and not get a ticket.  You bolt into the garage and to your car only to have the sinking realization that there is a little yellow envelope nestled under your windshield wiper.  As you open it, you can almost hear the ridicule, “nananananana, we got you!”  Do not pass go…go directly to the Montgomery County web site and PAY!  So much for the quarters you frantically hunted down.

It is my hope that today, with this blog, you will never again receive a little yellow nasty-gram on your car in Bethesda.  Parking garages all over Bethesda have now been outfitted with a Pay-by-Cell service.  I am reluctant to try anything new but I have to admit, this new system appears to be pretty fool-proof and worth using! 

It’s simple.  Once you register on-line, you simply call from your parking spot, enter the meter number and the time you arrive.  You will then receive a text confirmation.  The best part is that you will also receive a warning text when your meter is about to expire and you can re-load additional time remotely using your phone!  No more interrupting a meeting or a meal to go feed the meter.  Another perk: when you return to your car if you call it to let the system know you are leaving, you will be CREDITED for any remaining balance!  Wow.  You don’t get credits with coins or Cashkeys.

A friend of mine encouraged me to consider the Pay-by-Cell system, even though she once received a ticket that was unwarranted when using the system.  She called customer service and they handled everything in a jiffy.  No need to contact the County at all.

Some tips to know before you begin:

1. Click here to register on-line at to set up your payment so you are ready to go when you get to a garage.  The minimum pre-load for a credit card is $25.00.

2.  There is a $0.35 convenience fee every time you park and use the system.  No one works for free; however, it’s a far cry from the cost of an expired meter and little yellow nasty-gram.  Plus you can get credits for time you didn’t use.

3.  Program the phone number into your cell phone (301-830-7074) to make it even quicker and easier to dial from the meter.

4. You still might want to carry coins or a CashKey for those garages that are not yet outfitted with the system.

Hopefully, parking in Bethesda will be a little less stressful with Pay-by-Cell and take that feeling of racing against the meter out of your meeting or meal experience!


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