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That awesome rate you got on your hotel room by using our booking strategies becomes less awesome if you have to pay more than $60 per day to park in the hotel’s outrageously priced garage.

Several websites and apps offer to help you find a good spot by providing pricing for garages and lots located in and around the downtown areas of more than 100 U.S. cities and most major U.S. airports. Simply pick a city or airport, enter an address or select a neighborhood, indicate when you plan to arrive and depart, and these sites map out for you the total prices for most public lots and garages in the vicinity. Most of these apps and sites also lists prices for monthly contracts, hours of operation, and whether facilities accept credit cards.

parking garage signHow much can you save?

Quite a bit, actually. We often use these resources and almost always find differences of $10 or more per day among garages located only a few blocks apart. Although we typically see less variation among garages for monthly rates, in several cities we often find differences of $75 per month or more among garages located close to one another.

The savings are bigger in some cities than others. When we shopped for a parking spot within a three-block radius in New York’s Theater District for the same six-hour time period on a Saturday evening, BestParking spit out prices ranging from $18 to more than $50. But you'll find that the more modest savings outside Gotham are still considerable.

The trick to saving often involves snagging a discounted rate available only to the app's users. The hitch is that these are prepaid rates: You indicate the times you'll arrive and leave and reserve your spot by paying in advance for it, and then the company emails or texts you a barcode, which you scan to enter and exit the garage. If you change your mind or can't make it, the best sites let you cancel your reservation and get a refund, so long as you do so before your start time begins.

Which site works best?

We test drove all of the parking sites and apps we could find; here are our favorites, based on prices offered, selection of garages, ease of use, and friendly cancelation policies:

BestParking

  • Easy to use; very clear instructions and pics to help you find your garage and access it
  • Offers lower prepaid/special rates
  • Can cancel for a full refund up until the arrival time on your reservation
  • Often offers free extentions to finish times
     

SpotHero

  • Easy to use; singles out the best nearby rate and offers clear instructions and pics to help you find your garage and access it
  • Offers lower prepaid/special rates
  • Can cancel for a full refund up until the arrival time on your reservation
     

Parking Panda (for special events)

  • Owned by SpotHero, this option specializes in event parking
  • Easy to use; enter your event's info and it estimates the length of the game, play, concert, or whatever, and spits out modified rates of nearby lots and garages
  • Offers lower prepaid/special rates
  • Can cancel for a full refund up until the arrival time on your reservation