Parking hasn’t been all that difficult in most areas for the past year. With businesses closed and people working from home, areas with lots of office buildings are almost empty. So street and garage parking has been uncharacteristically plentiful.
But as things start to open back up, parking is sure to become as scarce a commodity as toilet paper was during the peak of the pandemic.
The good news is that when it comes to parking, mobile apps can be a huge help. They can save you from driving around hoping to find someone leaving a spot. They can also prevent the stress of wondering whether a parking garage will have a space for you.
Some of these apps work by telling you where the open spots are, and others even allow you to reserve one in advance. Here’s our rundown of the best parking apps available:
SpotHero allows you to find and reserve a parking spot in advance, so you can arrive and park right away. Parking garages and lots (as well as valet services) submit spaces, so that SpotHero users can book what works for them.
Another advantage of SpotHero is that it partners with several commuter benefits services that can allow you to use pre-tax dollars for parking when you commute to work.
Like SpotHero, ParkMobile allows you to book a spot in advance. Where it’s different is that it is also a contactless solution for parking meters. Lots of metro areas have compatible electronic meters, and in those service areas you can use your phone to pay the meter, and the app will alert you when you’re running out of time. You can even re-up your time without having to go out to feed the meter.
ParkWhiz is focused on helping you find a convenient spot at the best price, and making the whole thing fast and easy. In the cities where it operates, you simply find and book your spot in advance, and then drive in and park in your spot. You can use a scannable mobile parking pass on your phone, so you don’t even have to go to an attendant kiosk.
SpotAngels doesn’t show you available spots in real-time or allow you to reserve spots (with the exception of the ability to rent certain spots on a longer-term basis via the app). As a result it is able to show you basically all the parking options—including free street parking—and what’s likely to be available in your area of interest.
Hopefully, before we know it, cities will return to their normal bustle and parking spaces will be hard to come by once again. When that happens, one of these apps is likely to be a very useful shortcut to help you save time and money when you need to drive and park in a city. In the meantime, if all the time out of practice has left you rusty, you can brush up on your skills with a parking simulator app (parking is actually a very popular game category for smartphone apps!).