FAQ

How has Chicago Parking Meters improved to the metered parking system?

Since 2009, CPM has invested $35 million to modernize Chicago’s on-street parking, replacing 36,000 outdated single-space, coin-operated meters with 4,700 state-of-the-art pay boxes that accept credit and debit cards.  This modernization has opened up more parking space and offers greater flexibility to motorists.  In 2014, CPM introduced a cutting-edge pay-by-cell phone option that allows motorists to feed and reload meters off-site with the use of a smart phone app.  The benefits of this modernization are:

  • Portable time: The parking time you purchase is good until expiration at any location with the same or lower hourly rate.  Given that the vast majority of meters within a neighborhood share the same hourly rate means that motorists can transfer their payment as they park in another location.
  • Extended periods of stay: Metered street parking near theaters, concert halls, schools, hospitals, and other places where parkers require more than a two-hour stay now offer extended periods of stay.  Businesses that would like to request changes to the period of stay or hours of operation may do so here.
  • Pre-payment: Pay boxes are programmed to offer pre-payment whenever possible. Motorists parking at 24-hour meters can generally pre-pay until 10:00 a.m. (unless rush hour restrictions are in place).  At most other meters, motorists can pre-pay as early as 5:00 a.m. until 10:00 a.m. or later.
  • More parking spots: A single pay box replaces many single space meters, creating more parking spots and sidewalk space per block.  Pay boxes also promote parking turnover, resulting in more availability in front of your favorite destinations.
  • Donated bicycle meters: Since 2009, CPM has donated thousands of single space meter poles and housings to the City, retrofitting them so that bicycle parking is protected.  Repurposed meter parts currently are located throughout the City.
  • 24/7 customer service: Motorists can call 877-242-7901 to report a broken pay box.  Repairs are made in less than one business day and usually in just a few hours.

What are pay boxes?

A pay box is an electronic meter that allows motorists to pay for parking at a central location and display a receipt on the vehicle's dashboard (preferably on the curbside, for safety reasons).  Motorcycle motorists can show proof of payment by writing their license plate number on the receipt and adhering it to the headlamp of the motorcycle.  Pay boxes also accept various means of payment: coins and credit, debit and branded pre-paid cards (such as Visa, Master Card, American Express and Discover).

Motorists may park in any legally available curb space between the posted “Pay at Pay Box” signs except in “No Parking” zones (such as fire hydrants, crosswalks and bus stops) and during street cleaning, rush hour and other restricted parking areas and times. Such areas are enforced, so it is important to pay attention to street signage.

Do the pay boxes accept dollar bills?

No, pay boxes accept quarters and dollar coins, as well as credit, debit and branded pre-paid cards.  The harsh and unpredictable Chicago weather does not work favorably with dollar bill acceptors.

Rolling out in 2014, motorists can pay via the ParkChicago app or website. Please visit the ParkChicago website for more information (click here).

Is it safe to pay at the pay boxes?

Credit card transactions at the pay boxes are secure because pay boxes are PCI compliant. PCI is the Payment Card Industry (PCI) Security Standard for protecting data. It is a set of requirements designed to ensure that companies that process, store, or transmit credit card information maintain a secure environment.

When using a credit card at the pay box, credit card information is transmitted directly to the financial institution. CPM does not retain or store the data except for the last four digits of your credit card, which is very similar to any other credit card transaction. Retaining the last four digits of the credit card enables CPM to provide better customer service in case there is a problem with the pay box and a refund is necessary.

What are the metered parking rates and hours in Chicago?

For general rates and times, please visit the Cost & Hours page.  For specific rates, times and restrictions please refer to signage near or around the parking area.  Also, review information located on the pay box.

I got a parking ticket. What do I do now?

If you received a valid citation, please pay it by following the directions on the ticket or envelope.  If you believe a citations was issued in error, you may contest the ticket.  Instructions for challenging a ticket can be found on the ticket or visit the City of Chicago website for more information (click here).

What should I do if a pay box is broken? Do I still have to pay?

If the pay box where you parked is inoperative, please call 877-242-7901 and report it within 24 hours.  In such cases, you don’t have to pay for parking. However, please be aware that you may park only for the maximum period of stay allowed in that zone; exceeding the time limit, even if the meter is broken, may result in a citation.

Please remember that by reporting a broken or malfunctioning pay box, you are helping us keep the system operational, helping your fellow motorists and protecting yourself should you inadvertently receive a parking ticket.

My credit card was charged twice. Can I get a refund?

If your credit card was charged an incorrect amount or if feel that you are entitled to a refund for any reason, please follow the instructions here or call 877-242-7901.

Do drivers with disabilities get special parking privileges at pay boxes?

Yes. A new Illinois law aimed at cracking down on abled-bodied motorists who abuse disabled parking permits took effect on January 1, 2014.  Passed unanimously by the Illinois General Assembly and signed into law by Governor Pat Quinn, the new law provides free parking to motorists who are physically unable to access a meter or pay box because they have a severe disability. Eligible motorists will now display a yellow-and-gray colored placard to park for free at metered spaces in Chicago and throughout the state.

What steps should I take to have a pay box relocated?

All pay box relocation request need be submitted to the alderman representing the specific ward where the pay box is located. For a complete list of aldermen and their contact information, visit here.

This page was last updated on 08-18-2014.