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Best parking app for your phone: 2018 group test

You can use your phone to find a space and then pay for it, but which parking app is the best? We find out…

Brits waste hours every year trying to find a parking space in increasingly busy urban centres. Drivers on the lookout for empty bays are also responsible for causing traffic jams as they cruise slowly along in the hope a space will appear.

But the parking misery doesn’t end there. After finding an empty bay, you need to know how to pay; do you have the correct change, will the machine accept cards and how long can you stay for?

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Fortunately, in the smartphone era, parking is becoming easier, with a host of apps available to guide you to an empty spot and pay remotely. And all these apps are free. We downloaded eight.

How we tested them

Since we last tested these apps, many of our favourites now do it all – from helping you find a space and giving you information on parking regulations to providing a payment method. We’ve tested each function and ranked their individual strengths to see which package gives the best overall experience.

Bonus points were awarded to the apps that were slick to use, plus those that showed live availability or gave the option of navigating to the car park or street via a mapping app.

Verdict

Past champ AppyParking wins again; it’s slick and easy to use. But much-improved Parkopedia is a close second. And JustPark has made huge strides.

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  1. 1. AppyParking
  2. 2. Parkopedia
  3. 3. JustPark

Reviews 

AppyParking

Available for: iOS, AndroidRating: 5 stars

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Our back-to-back test winner is the easiest to use, with a slick and intuitive interface. You can search for on-street and off-street parking and even find electric charging bays. The map is blocked off into zones so you know the parking regulations in every nearby road. Prices are displayed clearly, with the option to automatically find the cheapest, along with real-time availability. Navigation is included, as is a walking route to find your way back to the car. You can even pay by card or phone via the app.

Parkopedia

Available for: iOS, AndroidRating: 4 stars

Parkopedia delivers the most detailed information on parking spaces in our test, and it’s easy to sign up. The interface is simple and straightforward, with colour coding and icons showing pricing and type of parking. A £4.99 premium upgrade unlocks live availability of bays, plus the option to reserve parking spaces in advance. We’ve criticised this in the past for not letting you pay for parking through the app, but with premium that’s an option. Navigation is via one of your other installed mapping apps.           

JustPark

Available for: iOS, AndroidRating: 4 stars 

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Our biggest improver this year is JustPark, which has really upped its game. It provides a good range of parking options and you can search by location easily. A live availability function has been added and is a welcome addition, while icons also show if parking is on or off-street. You can select time and pay directly through the app, and developers have even added a nav option that runs through your chosen software. An added bonus is the ability to register your own driveway or parking spot to make some extra money.

RingGo Parking

Available for: iOS, AndroidRating: 4 stars

This app is probably number one when it comes to simply paying for parking. You enter your registration and card details, and then you can immediately pay for the time needed. Many car parks use RingGo as their chosen method of paying, and you’ll find a code mounted on a sign that you can enter into the app. If you want to search on a map for available bays, the RingGo app isn’t quite as good as some rivals, although it does offer colour-coded live availability, as well as navigation.

Your Parking Space

Available for: iOS, AndroidRating: 3.5 stars

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A new entry this year is Your Parking Space, which focuses on spaces listed by private owners rather than main car parks. The search by location is a bit slower than rivals’, but the interface is clean and looks professional. It’s also not an app to use on the go; this is all about booking in advance. You can set arrival and departure times and it’ll find a spot, plus give you an instant quote. Each space has reviews and pictures so you know what you’re booking. A great way to find a longer-term spot. You can also list your own space.

ParkMe

Available for: iOS, AndroidRating: 3.5 stars

You don’t get as many parking options with ParkMe as with rivals, but what is there is good. The interface is slick and there are some handy filtering options on the screen to find a space to suit you. When you select a bay it shows you price, distance, a Google Street View image and an estimate of how busy it is. Look a little deeper and it’ll provide a high level of detail including hourly rates, how you can pay and even height restrictions. Sadly there’s no option to pay via the app, but you can mark your car and set a timer to keep tabs on your parking.

PayByPhone

Available for: iOS, AndroidRating: 3 stars 

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If you want to hunt for a parking space then look elsewhere; this app is just about paying for parking when you arrive at a car park or on-street bay. You can’t search by location; instead you enter the code that’s listed to notify the app where you are. What is good is that rather than be overcharged by paying for longer than you need at a parking meter, you can set as little as one minute on the app and pay a minimum amount. You can save your card so that when you arrive you can settle up in a matter of seconds. This is the best app here for making payments. 

ParkRight

Available for: iOS, AndroidRating: 3 stars

Parkright is a good app, but is sadly only limited to London. Still, that’s pretty handy in a city famed for its clogged-up roads and tight parking spaces. The app has a capable search function and there were plenty of options with on and off-street variations. There is live availability, but during our test many of the sites came up with N/A, which was a little disappointing. You can pay through the app using a similar code-based system to RingGo or PayByPhone, and it also offers a navigation function, running through your chosen mapping app.

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