How to save money on car parking… Ka-ching!

Save money with help from Logbook Loans!

As lockdown began to ease in July, some public car parking became free of charge in many areas. This was to encourage people to get back to the High Street and help to boost the local economy. And we began to get used to it, enjoying the freedom not to have to pay for our car parking.

But in most places, parking charges are now back again. Which got us thinking, how can we save money on parking? It was great not having to pay, and it does save us a lot of money. It also means a lot less hassle, once you start thinking about all the different types of car park ticket machines. Some accept coins only (and often don’t give change), others don’t take coins at all, and then there are all the ones where  you either have to phone up or download an app. 

All in all it seems there must be a better, quicker and cheaper way of doing things! 

So what can we do to either park for free or greatly reduce the cost of parking? Here are seven easy steps to cheaper parking for you!

 

Park further away

One solution is to decide to park a bit further away from where you want to go. If you are prepared to walk for a few minutes (which is good exercise after all) then in most towns you will probably be able to find free parking. You may find that the end of a road near to the main street has either yellow lines or meters, but the other end is free to park. Just make sure you check signs for any restrictions or permits needed etc so that you don’t return to the unwelcome surprise of a parking ticket.. 

For larger cities it can be a good idea to park on the outskirts then walk or get a bus or tube to the centre. There may also be park and ride schemes, which can end up being quicker and cheaper than sitting in traffic jams, spending ages trying to find a space and then having to pay a small fortune for it. You can also avoid any congestion charge if applicable. 

 

Find the cheapest car parks

If you do want to park closer to your destination then there are various websites and apps that can help you to identify possible car parks. One of the most popular is Parkopedia. You can type in the postcode of where you want to park, and will then see information about different car parks, prices and opening hours, enabling you to find the cheapest car park convenient for your destination.

 

Book in advance

As well as finding a car park before you head off, it’s also a good idea to book in advance if it offers this facility. You can often pay a much cheaper rate by doing this. One obvious category for this is airport parking, but it also works for various other situations. For example NCP car parks offer discounted advance booking prices for many cities, with up to 20% off. And not only do you save money, but you are guaranteed a car parking space too.

 

Phone a friend

Another great idea for parking is to use someone’s driveway. There are websites that can help you do this – for example Just Park or yourparkingspace.co.uk – by linking you up with someone who is prepared to hire out their driveway at a small cost while they are not using it themselves. 

But why not also use your social network to do this? Ask around to see if friends have other friends who might be able to help. Or post on social media, for example on your own profile and also a community page for the area where you want to go. You could end up not just using someone’s driveway but also making new friends!

 

Buy a season ticket or membership

If you need to park in the same place regularly, for example commuting to work by car, then it is definitely worth looking into buying a season ticket. This can be a big reduction in cost, and also saves the time and hassle of having to pay every time you use the car park. 

Another option would be to see if there is any organisation close to where you need to park that you could become a member of and benefit from free parking. Have a look at gyms, social clubs, historical or cultural organisations (eg National Trust or English Heritage) just to see if there is anything feasible near where you need to be.

 

Cash matters

We referred to car park ticket machines earlier. If you are likely to be using one that takes cash only, then do make sure that you have plenty of change. Many do not give change, so you could end up putting in an extra £1 coin for just an extra few minutes. 

If you are issued a paper car parking ticket, check whether it has a tear off slip. Some tickets do, and you can then be refunded for the cost of your parking ticket when you shop at certain stores eg supermarkets. So make sure you take the tear off slip with you, as it could entitle you to free parking.

 

Buy the right car

If you do a lot of driving, one way you can really cut your car parking costs is by thinking carefully about the type of car you buy. So if you are planning to change your car in the near future, parking costs could be a factor to bear in mind. 

If you buy an electric car, you can save a lot of money on parking. Many car parks enable you to benefit from free parking whilst your car is being recharged, and some offer free parking for electric cars even if you are not recharging. 

The government also recently announced that it is rolling out green number plates from this autumn. These will apply to zero emission cars and will feature a green flash on the left hand side. They will entitle owners to a range of benefits, which are likely to include cheaper parking and free entry into zero-emission zones.

Also keep an eye on the development of connected cars, ie cars with Internet connection. More and more  cars will gradually begin to feature embedded computing capability and will be able to process data from external sources. So in parallel with the cars, there are also likely to be a host of apps becoming available that could enable you to identify the best car parks and locate available parking spaces.

 

So there are many things that you can do now to find cheaper parking, and also more things to look forward to in the future, as technology unfolds further. We hope that our seven steps enable you to save money on parking, and make a difference to your finances.

Check back here soon for more motoring, lifestyle and financial tips from Logbook Loans.