My tips to help you pay less for parking your car.
As someone who generally gets around on foot or public transport, I rarely have to deal with car parks, but when I do, it’s usually more hassle than they need to be.
For instance, last year on a weekend trip to central London we had a nightmare where the car park’s automatic number plate recognition thought I was still on one pre-booked visit rather than another. So it forced me to pay again in order to exit. Of course, me being me I complained and got my £25 back.
I’ve been to car parks that refuse coins, and others than only accept coins. And increasingly I’ve had to phone up, download apps and browse webpages – which usually come with confusing options or even complete lack of instructions!
So getting parking isn’t as simple as it used to be – and it’s also not as cheap. So here are a few ways to bring down the cost.
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Use free parking
Obvious I know, but side roads are often free, even if there are yellow lines – though watch out for restrictions. I’ve got the app AppyParking, also a website, which shows where you can park for free and how long.
Find the cheapest car parks
Similar to AppyParking is Parktopia. Simply type in the area or postcode you want to park and it’ll display all the local car parks, prices and other conditions. I tend to use both of these.
Rent someone’s drive
You can use Just Park to hire someone’s drive (or even rent out your own). Again, enter a postcode and it’ll throw up options.
Book in advance
There’s often a discount for booking in advance, especially with airport parking. HolidayExtras has a good comparison site for airports.
Look for cashback
Cashback is a must for airport parking, but you can also get around 4% or so back on advance NCP bookings.
Have the exact change
Though more and more won’t take coins, the small print for those that do often say you won’t get any change. So if you can keep a few 50p and 20ps in your glove compartment (never on show), then it’ll help if you are paying cash.
Buy a season ticket
If you’re commuting to work by car most days then hunt around for a car park which offers a season ticket reduction.
Park further away from your destination
If you have the time and are able to walk, then you should be able to get cheaper parking a little further away from prime locations such as train stations or shopping centers. This is especially true if you’re in a big city centre – and if you’re on a trip down to somewhere like London there’s no reason why you can’t park out in Zone 4 or 5, and get the tube into the centre.
Use Park & Ride
Taking the last point to an extreme, many towns will offer Park & Ride where you get a bus the last part of your journey. Again, parking here will be a lot cheaper than heading into town, where space might be limited.
Watch more of my tips on cheap Airport parking from Shop Smart Save Money (May 2019)