How Do Boston Parking Meters Work?

Last Updated: March 28, 2016

boston parking metersIf you’ve spent time driving around Boston you know that street parking is often dictated by Boston parking meters. It can sometimes seem impossible to remember when meters are in effect and how to use them. And what’s going on with those annoying Boston parking meter cards? If you’ve ever felt frustrated by Boston parking meters you’re in the right place! We’re here to provide you with the ultimate guide to answering all your Boston parking meter questions. Read on for our tips, trips and recommendations.

Avoid Meters By Booking Boston Garage Parking


Top Boston Parking Meter Basics

  • Boston parking meters operate Monday through Saturday from 8am to 8pm
  • This means that street parking in Boston is FREE on Sundays – no time limit is enforced
  • You may deposit up to 2 hours worth of money in a meter at a time
  • Meters cost $1.25 per hour, or $0.25 for 12 minutes
  • If you park at a single-space meter, you may pay with a Boston Meter Card
  • Singe-space meters are located in popular shopping areas or near landmarks such as Faneuil Hall and the Financial District
  • IPS Credit Card Meters are located on Cambridge Street, Union Street, New Chardon Street, and Devonshire Street – you can pay with MasterCard and Visa credit and debit cards
  • If you park in a space with a “Pay and Display Meter” make sure you stick your receipt to the curbside window

Holiday Boston Parking Meter Rules

Boston parking meters do not operate during legal holidays recognized by Boston. The City of Boston offers a complete list of legal holidays and their annual dates on their website:

  • New Year’s Day
  • MLK Jr.’s Birthday
  • President’s Day
  • Patriot’s Day
  • Memorial Day
  • Independence Day
  • Labor Day
  • Columbus Day
  • Veteran’s Day

***Boston parking meters are only free on the actual day of a holiday — not on days when offices may be closed for celebration of a holiday***

How to Get And Use a Boston Parking Meter Card

  • Boston Meter Cards are used to pay for parking at single-space meters
  • These meters are found in popular shopping, business and entertainment districts of Boston
  • The City of Boston has created a map that displays where Boston Meter Cards are accepted.
  • You can buy a Boston Meter Card with $5, $25, $50, $75, or $100 on it
  • Cards can be purchased online and in person
  • To buy a card in person, visit the Office of the Parking Clerk at City Hall (Room 224) Monday through Friday from 9am to 4:30pm or Boston Tow Lot Monday through Friday from 7am to 11pm and Saturday from 8am to 1pm
  • You cannot reload a Boston Meter Card online – however, you can purchase a new card online
  • You can reload your card in person at the Office of the Parking Clerk at City Hall (Room 224) Monday through Friday from 9am to 4:30pm or Boston Tow Lot Monday through Friday from 7am to 11pm and Saturday from 8am to 1pm – make sure your card is empty when you try to reload it or you will lose the money on your card
  • To use your Boston meter card insert it into the meter and select the amount of time you would like to park for
  • When you return to your car insert the card again and any time you did not use will be returned to your card
  • For more information about Boston Meter Cards view this brochure

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