Parking, especially in major metropolitan areas, can be one of the most frustrating parts of car travel. Even in small towns, finding legal parking—reading all of the signs correctly, not parking in a private lot—can be a headache. Enter smartphone apps. Below, we round up the best apps for finding a spot, keeping track of where you parked, and ensuring you’ve read all the street signs correctly.
The best app to help you remember where you parked your car, easily and accurately.
- Simple to use: just open the app and touch “Save”—that’s it! (GPS does the rest)
- Alarm for spots with time restrictions
- Pins for your current location and your car
- No directions for getting from where you are to your car
From the app’s description: “Like Wikipedia, but for cars!” This app aims to list every single parking spot in the world—and they’re up to 38 million spots in 52 countries, so far.
- Free for the basic app
- Clear directions from where you are to the spot
- Includes open garage spots with prices
- Narrows parking choices with easy-to-use filters (e.g. accepts credit cards, free parking, covered parking)
- Easy to compare different garages
- Premium upgrade doesn’t make it clear where the limited real-time space availability applies before purchase
Smooth Parking helps you find open spots on city streets and makes street signs (no parking, parking after 10 a.m., metered parking) easy to understand.
- Basic app is free
- Easy-to-understand color-coded system shows where you can legally park on every street (currently in 4 US cities, with more on the way)
- Includes open garage spots
- Upgrade showing real-time open spots is available for a monthly fee, but it doesn’t work reliably, and the app doesn’t make clear which areas are included before the upgrade is purchased.
From Apple, “Parker shows you where open parking spaces are right now in more than 30 cities and universities in the US and the UK, while also giving you access to information for over 24,000 parking lots and garages. Simply select a street with available spots or garage on the map and get turn-by-turn voice navigation. You’ll also get instant access to prices, payment options, and hours.”
- Find open parking spots in over 30 cities and universities in the US and the UK
- Find available spots in parking garages
- Turn-by-turn voice navigation
- Lists price, payment options, and hours
- Not always up-to-date, according to users
Currently available in 40 North American cities, including Canada, Parking Panda helps you easily find, reserve, and pay for parking ahead of time for savings of up to 70%. Parking Panda also partners with events, venues, and professionals sports teams to offer drivers exclusive discounts.
- Real-time parking lot, garage, and valet comparison to help you find the best price
- PandaScan access control to participating locations, giving you the ability to scan in and out
- Online discounts (look for the green) that are cheaper than the drive-up rate
- Exclusive partnerships with national events, venues, and professional sports teams, offering drivers discounted parking
- All reservations on Parking Panda are 100% guaranteed.
- Booking a spot for multiple days may have enter-exit restrictions, so check ahead of time
A spot-finding app for garages, Spot Hero has exclusive deals with garages for savings of up to 50% the drive-up rate. Spot Hero is already in 12 major US cities and is expanding as we speak.
- Reserve a spot ahead of time
- Exclusive deals
- Customer service team to solve any troubles
- Pay ahead means no hassle or waiting in the garage
- Direct-access parking pass (right on your phone) makes parking a snap
- If you enter a garage earlier than your “estimated arrival time” you may be charged an additional fee (but if you overestimate your arrival time, you won’t be charged)
With this app, you can pre-purchase a reserved airport parking spot at a discount of up to 70%–what could be better?
- Available in most US and UK cities
- Paperless reservations are available through your phone
- Easily compare prices
- Coupons available
- The app guarantees parking, but if you arrive the lot you’ve booked might still be full, in which case you’ll receive a refund from APR (and have to find another spot someplace else)
Did we miss any parking apps you can’t live without? Tell us in the comments!