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My tips to help you pay less for parking your car.

It was a nightmare week on the tube last week, with delay after delay. Worst was Wednesday when half the Central Line was closed, stopping me and Becky getting into town.

I had a presenting gig for a bank brand (just a Facebook live, but good experience) and Becky really needed to be at work. A taxi would have been extortionate, so we decided to drive to Walthamstow and get the Victoria Line. We’d need to park, but a quick search found the prices for nearby car parks. The station’s NCP would only cost us £3.80, so we headed off.

When we arrived there was just one parking space, and I ran off to pay. I don’t normally have much change on me but I’d just swapped a fiver for some new £1 coins. Sorted. Except it wasn’t sorted. The machine hadn’t been adapted to take the new coins!

The alternative was to pay by card. Fine. But the sign displayed a confusing list of options, but no clear instructions. I called the number listed: “It will take five minutes to register the first time you use this service”. Nightmare. I was already going to be late.

I hung up and looked at the list of other options. Would they all also require registration? I opted for the website, and it actually only took a couple of minutes, but it was still a faff.

How to save on parking

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.

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. However, the app only has the data for 11 towns so it won’t be for everyone.

Find the cheapest car parks

I used the app Parktopia to pick our car park last week, but there’s also a website you can use. Simply type in the area or postcode you want to park and it’ll display all the local car parks, prices and other conditions.

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 4% or so back on advance NCP bookings.

>> Not already signed up? See the latest new member offers at Quidco and TopCashback

Have the exact change

Though the machine on Wednesday wouldn’t take the new £1 coins, the small print on the sign showed I wouldn’t have got any change anyway. 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

On Wednesday we were in a rush and needed to get on the tube ASAP, so the station car park was perfect. But if we had more time and we willing to walk for a bit, then we might have got cheaper parking a little further away. This is especially true if you’re in a big city 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.

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