How to Save on Big City Hotel Parking

Big city hotel parking comes with a hefty price tag. In San Francisco or New York City, you can expect to pay between $55-$85 a night for popular three to five-star hotels. Street parking comes with risks of car break-ins or parking tickets. Here are some ideas to help you save money next time you drive to an urban adventure.

Find a Nearby Garage by Asking the Hotel Staff

Hotels that don’t have their own parking facilities simply take your car to a nearby garage. You are charged a combined fee of the public garage, the hotel charges, and the valet tip. Eliminate the hotel middleman and self-park at the same garage.

To find which garage the hotel uses, you can ask the hotel staff. Additionally, you can ask the concierge for help finding cheaper, secure off-site parking. Check-in and drop off your bags at the hotel lobby, then proceed to self-park at the same garage. You will save about $20 a night.

Use a Parking App

Your smartphone is the best tool for finding affordable parking while staying in the city. Parking apps let you reserve and pre-pay for spots, as well as get deep discounts and earn free parking through referrals. Some popular parking apps are:

These apps come with many features. They can show you what garages are sold out, book in advance, and alert you to in and out privileges. You can compare the rates of your hotel parking to the public garages nearby to find the best deal.

Self Park at the Hotel Rather Than Use the Valet

Some hotels allow you to self-park in their garages or lots. Other big city hotels offer only valet services. When there is an option, self-parking is always cheaper. The savings may not be huge, but you won’t need to tip the valet. Tips add up if you take your car in and out several times. Self-parking spots usually require a bit longer of a walk to your room. One convenience of self-parking is you do not have to wait for the valet to fetch your car.

Drive a Smaller Car

Hotel parking garages charge more for SUVs and oversize trucks because they don’t have many spots for them. Charges range from $10-20 more in addition for larger vehicles. If you have the option to choose what to drive from your family or friends’ vehicles, choose the smaller car. You will get better gas mileage too!

Do You Need In and Out Privileges?

City parking, whether at a public garage or hotel, will come with or without in and out privileges. If you plan to use public transporation or taxi services during your stay, you can save money by parking without in and privileges. In and out privileges mean you can use your car as much as you want and not be charged each time it leaves the garage.

Without in and out privileges, you pay every time you leave a garage. Your rate starts over when you return. For example, rates are cheaper to park for six hours than to pay for two parking periods of three hours. Short parking periods add up. Book a hotel or public garage with in and out privileges, unless you plan to leave your car the entire stay.

Choose a Distant Hotel and Use Public Transportation

Metropolitan areas have great public transportation systems. Figuring them out and riding with residents is an excellent way to experience a city. The farther you get from the heart of the city, the cheaper the hotels. Often these hotels come with free or greatly reduced parking. Not only will you save on your room and parking, you will get to experience the city first hand.

Check Trip Advisor

Trip Advisor is a great resource for travelers. The Trip Advisor Forum is full of great ideas from experienced locals and visitors.  You can search for specific parking suggestions for the city you plan to visit or the hotel you have booked. From Chicago to Los Angeles, you can search for hotels with free parking or read advice from other people.

Follow these tips on your next vacation or business trip to a city. Remember to remove your personal possessions from your no matter where you park. Keep your car safe, avoid parking violations, and make the most of your urban adventure.