If you use CashKey to pay for parking in Montgomery County,  you need to start thinking about an alternative.

The county is discontinuing the system that allows customers to add money to a key and use it to pay for parking at electronic meters in county-owned garages, lots and on-street locations.

CashKey maker, Duncan Solutions, recently announced it will stop manufacturing the keys and developing the supporting software and hardware, Montgomery County officials said.

The payment system has been around since 2000, and tens of thousands of keys were sold.  It is unclear how many are still active. County officials say CashKey holders can continue to use their keys until they run out of money. CashKey users can return the keys to parking sales stores in Bethesda and Silver Spring to receive their $15 refunds for the keys. They also will  receive any balances left in their accounts.

County spokeswoman Esther Bowring said the county’s parking division is looking at other payment options for customers.

The manufacturer’s decision to stop producing Cashkeys is affecting jurisdictions across the country. Although the system was popular, more people are now using other payment methods, including pay-by-phone systems; a new generation of parking meters that take credit cards also has become popular.

Montgomery County also has replaced conventional meters with “smart meters” in Bethesda.  The new meters take  credit or debit cards and a solar-powered battery screen displays the remaining time paid. They don’t accept cashkeys.  Bowring said the county hopes to install the new meters in Silver Spring this year and eventually in all county parking.

To return your CashKey go to:

Bethesda Parking Sales Store, 4720 Cheltenham Dr. (inside the Cheltenham Garage 42)

Silver Spring Parking Sales Store, 809 Ellsworth Ave. (inside Town Square Garage 61)