The best free parking apps

The best free parking apps
The best free parking apps

Which of these should be on your smartphone?

Parking – in films the hero just rolls up to a convenient empty space right near where he needs to be. In reality you’re scouring the area for a free space while muttering ‘I’m not paying that’ as you pass the board with the costs for the nearest NCP building.

Parking apps can make this whole process so much easier, giving permit regulations, cost per hour and much more information. And many of these apps are free. We’ve tested them to find out which is the best, but first a friendly reminder.

Don’t drive along looking for a parking space while looking at your smartphone. Pull in and stop and then bring up the app. Where are you going to pull in? Ah, that’s another question.

AppyParking (4 stars)

Let’s just get the apologies out of the way early for the cringe-inducing names of some of these apps. They’re free, you’re not paying for ad agency hours to come up with a brilliant title. Good.

So, the AppyParking app covers 12 UK cities including London. It’s a practical information hub that covers the main demands: Where and when can I park, and how much will it cost? The interactive, searchable map may look like overload but actually it’s great once you’ve got your eye in.

There’s a deep level of detail here making it very useful indeed if you’re in one of the 12 cities – less useful if you’re not.

Parkmobile (3 stars)

You’ve probably seen the name from pay-and-display machines and this is best viewed as a very convenient mechanism for payment for parking rather than as a great resource for actually finding those errant spaces. It’s useful and allows you to pay in very short or defined timescales.

JustPark (3 stars)

This is a broader offering than most because you can put in the postcode and it brings up not only parking bays and regulations, but also private spaces that you can park in. It allows you to reserve and pay for the spot before you get there, which removes some tension from proceedings. However you can’t pay for normal pay-and-display spaces through the app and the database of such spaces is limited.

RingGo (4 stars)

Could RingGo be the star app? Drum roll. It’s certainly the biggest mobile phone parking company in Britain right now. The app is easy to use – unlike some of the automated phone numbers the company runs on many pay-and-display machines. The home screen shows you spaces near either where you are or a destination you feed in, and there’s a handy map view so long as you’re good with Apple Maps. Easy to use, easy to pay.

Parkopedia (4 stars)

With over 8000 cities around the world covered, this is the sort of opposite to Appy Parking and its 12 cities covered in depth. There is less information here and you can’t pay for parking via the app, but it does show information clearly and it certainly has a wide range.

PayByPhone (2 stars)

You can’t feed in a generic postcode with this app, you have to have the exact code, which isn’t always going to happen. However, if you have found a space, have the code and want to park then this is easy to use for payment.

Verdict

1. AppyParking
2. Parkopedia
3. RingGo

AppyParking wins because it is the best all-round app tested here. It is limited by the number of cities, but if you’re in one of them then this gives you all the information you need. Parkopedia comes a good second, but it would be better if you could actually pay through the app, while RingGo comes in at No 3 in the charts due to its slick cashless payment system.

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