Planet Princeton will host a Smart Card swap Friday, Nov. 9

Several readers have reached out asking what they should do with their Smart Cards now that Princeton has switched to a new parking meter system.

Smart Cards still can be used in the Spring Street Garage downtown until April 30 of 2019. The deadline was extended until April after people complained. Smart Cards can’t be used  with the new meters. You must use a credit card, change, or an app for the new meters.

Many readers who have Smart Cards don’t use the cards for the garage but would like to recoup at least some of the value left on the cards. The municipality is not refunding the balance that is still left on the cards. Your best bet if you don’t think you will be using your Smart Card in the garage is to try to sell your card to someone who uses the parking garage. You could offer a discount on the value as an incentive for someone to buy your card.

Planet Princeton wants to help you. We will host a Smart Card swap meet on Friday morning, Nov. 9, at 8 a.m. at the Panera on Nassau Street. We can’t guarantee that this will be a success, but it is worth a try. At the least, you can meet some of your fellow Princetonians and chat about local news with us and the stories you think we should be covering. So stop by Friday morning at 8 a.m., grab a cup of coffee and a bagel, and join us in the back of the Panera. Don’t forget to bring your Smart Card or cash if you want to buy someone’s card.

Sellers and buyers will have to work out details confirming how much is on the cards. You can walk over to the Spring Street garage together just two minutes away, or card owners can bring written documentation of their card balances.


  1. Hi all — Princeton Council member here — thank you PP for providing info and holding the swap!

    Minor point of clarification — Smart Cards can be used in the garage until the end of April, after which the municipality will give refunds — however we’re considering extending that deadline if necessary.

    In the meantime, we’re working on being able to eventually transfer Smart Card balances to the new app. In part because the technology is so old, that is proving complicated.

    Transferring Smart Card balances to the app will likely incur a service fee and cash refunds will result in a slight loss because when the smart card was purchased, there was a bonus added to the card, so we can’t give money back that we never received payment for.

    That’s why we’re encouraging Smart Card holders to use up their balances in the garage. The bottom line is that if you want to get the full value from your card (if you can’t swap it), it’s better to use up the balance in the garage.

    In coming up with the Smart Card refund policy, we’re trying to be responsible to taxpayers while minimizing inconvenience to Smart Card holders.

    When we get over the initial period of adjustment and all is said and done, I think our parking system will be more convenient for everyone!

    1. Thank you for the information. Does the new system offer refunds for overestimating time at the meter, as the Smart Card system did?

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