Effective Ways to Save Money on an Airport Parking

Houston‘s George Bush Intercontinental Airport (IAH) charges $24 – $28 per day for parking in the garages around the terminals. The pricing depends on whether you use self- or valet parking.

Some airports in high-priced cities, such as Chicago‘s O’Hare International Airport (ORD), will make you spend even more, with valet parking ringing in at $64 per day. If you spend $20, $30, or a phenomenal $64 per day on airport parking, your family will quickly owe hundreds of dollars even before starting your vacation.

Spending high fees for long-term parking can be a critical stressor for anyone who gets on a plane. But, ensuring that your car is safe while you’re away doesn’t have to take a big bite out of your wallet. 

Let’s learn how to save so you can purchase an extra souvenir on your next trip. 

Airport Parking 101

When you are required to hop on a flight for a business trip, it’s easy to adhere to the same routine every time you steer to the airport. But you may be able to lower expenses by driving to the airport rather than grabbing a taxi or ride-sharing service. It doesn’t have to add a lot of time to your trip. Here’s what you need to learn when it comes to airport parking: 

Airport Parking for Business: Ride-sharing vs. Driving

If you’re taking Uber or Lyft to the airport, it may be more inexpensive to drive and park at the airport instead. 

There are three main aspects to consider: which airport you’re flying out of, the distance from your home to the airport, and how long you will be away. At several airports around the country, you can save money by driving and parking it at the airport. For example, you can save money 80 percent when you drive and park at LAX instead of using a ride-sharing service.

Types of Airport Parking

If you’ve infrequently or never parked at the airport before, you may assume there’s just day-to-day terminal parking and economy lots available. However, there are a few ranges of options to consider. It leans on what matters most to you: Comfort, proximity to the airport, affordability, or conveniences. Here’s a complete breakdown of the basics when it gets to the five most common types of airport parking: 

Valet

  • Cost: $$$$
  • Valet is commonly the most pricey airport parking option. But it might be worth it if comfort is your top priority or if you want a covered, protected surrounding. Visit your airport’s parking website to learn if they offer valet options. 
  • Perks: Airport valet services may furnish other services, such as car wash, oil changes, and more.

Daily

  • Cost: $$$
  • Daily terminal parking is highly convenient and usually a covered parking garage. But it can be expensive if you park long-term. Check your airport’s terminal parking fees before engaging in parking for your entire trip.
  • Perks: Daily parking is normally covered and only takes a short walk from the terminal entrance. Also, there are airport terminal garages/lots that now offer car charging stations for electric vehicles.

Economy

  • Cost: $$
  • Economic parking will be the least pricey “on-airport” option, pointing out it’s on airport property. You won’t be as packed as daily terminal parking, and you’ll likely keep an uncovered parking spot. But the daily fees are reasonably low, helping you lower expenses. It’s a suitable option if you’re going on a more extended trip.
  • Perks: In addition to being inexpensive, economy parking garages/lots provide free transit to the airport on a bus or shuttle.

Off-airport

  • Cost: $
  • Off-airport parking is one of the most affordable airports parking options. They are not affiliated with the airport, but these parking services enable you to reserve parking in advance, and they provide free shuttle service to and from the terminals. There will usually be many options and amenities, like covered or uncovered parking, lots with 24/7 surveillance, etc. You can compare the rates, locations, and extras with parking apps like SpotHero.
  • Perks: Many off-airport parking garages/lots offer the same amenities like the airport valet. Plus, shuttles may even be more reliable and comfortable than economy lots since these off-airport facilities compete for your business. By researching, you may even find a spot closer to the on-airport economy lot.

Hotel

  • Cost: $
  • Hotels near airports offer inexpensive long-term parking with a free shuttle service. With apps like SpotHero, you can even book your parking without staying at the hotel. But assume that you have an early morning flight and choose to stay at a hotel the night before. In that case, you can visit sites like ParkSleepFly to reserve a hotel room and parking package, which typically includes a hotel near the airport, free shuttle service to and from the terminal, and parking for your entire trip.
  • Perks: Hotel parking will likely be your most reasonable airport parking choice. Potentially a bit further away from the airport and generally only open-lot parking, it’s still very convenient.

Whether you are focused on convenience or shaving expenses, airport parking could be worth considering for your next business trip. 

Remember, your business parking expenses are potentially deductible at the end of the year if you keep contemporaneous records.

Long-Term vs. Short-Term Parking at Airports

Prices and locations range for long-term and short-term parking at airports, so it’s important to understand the difference. 

Short-Term Parking

Short-term parking lots are generally situated near the terminals at most major airports. These sites provide more convenient yet higher-priced slots to leave your vehicle while you travel. 

Short-term parking lots aren’t created to leave your car overnight. Instead, they are designed for dropping off and picking up passengers. 

Long-Term Parking 

Long-term parking lots or “satellite” lots are normally located some distance from airport terminals. From one of these spots, it will take you longer to get from your vehicle to your terminal, but you will spend less to park here. 

Long-term parking lots are designed for passengers who plan to park at the airport for the rest of their trip. Off-airport parking is an even better choice, enabling you to leverage long-term parking with sizable cost savings. 

The Business of Airport Parking

Only 56% of the entire airport revenue is aeronautical, according to a 2019 Statement from the Airport Council International. And 39.4% of that revenue comes from non-aeronautical assistance at the airport, including retail and parking services. Parking makes 20% of that non-aeronautical revenue, making an earning of about $12–13 billion annually.

Private vehicles only make a smaller percentage of ground access transportation at numerous airports than a decade ago. The percentage allocation of rental cars, taxis, limos, ride-share, shuttles, and transit has increased. However, there has also been an overall boost in passengers. Airports are working on more congestion, and the demand for parking has not declined.

When designing lots and lot sizes, airports must keep in mind peak occupancy and how the congestion into and out of the various types of lots will impact traffic flow. If there are one or two major traffic routes serving an airport, the capability of cars to clear the space becomes crucial.

A substantial lot is considered full in numerous places when 85%-95% occupied. Cars that are driven slowly to discover a space produce congestion. This span will be lower if the lot is designed poorly. If only one or two major entrance lanes or cars are slow to leave the facility, it will be more challenging for incoming cars.

To determine needed capacity, an airport must select passenger levels on its most hectic day. What transportation modes are coming up are essential to consider. Pricing may motivate people to come to the airport by taxi or transit. Yet these days, the airport also evaluates the implication of non-passenger customers coming to use airport luxuries.

Tested and Proven Ways to Save on Parking at Airports

If you live in Hawaii and drive an electric car, you might have a chance to park for free. For everyone else, we’ve come up with this list. If you’re ready to save, analyze these ideas to discover how you can save on long-term parking during your entire air travel. 

Compare prices of Uber, taxis, car services, and public transportation alternatives.

Before determining that parking is the best action approach, be sure to price out using Uber, Lyft, a taxi, or a car service.

Depending on the distance from where you live to the airport and how long you will be gone, one of these services may make you spend less than parking at the airport. Even if the expense savings are not there, going through one of these options could be less stressful, particularly when traveling with a family.

If you live in a city with adequate public transportation to the airport, don’t forget to add that mode of transportation to your options. A subway or metro ride for a considerable number of people is often quite less than you’d spend on on-site parking. Just be sure you allow plenty of time for this option, particularly if you need to transfer lines during your journey.

Try to acquire airport parking coupons through third-party websites

There are almost always coupons that you could get for some of the economy and off-airport parking lots at most airports. It is particularly confirmed if you are traveling for a weekend or more than a couple of days.

Start typing it on Google search: “discount parking coupons at”, then add your specific airport notes to see what options may be available. Additionally, check Groupon to discover airport parking coupons and discounts, as the site often provides a selection of deals.

Check the airport website for discounted parking and limited-time deals.

In addition to conducting a generic search for discounted airport parking alternatives, check directly with your airport’s website to discover if there are any available discounts.

For instance, at Houston’s IAH, you can shave your expense up to 33% on terminal parking when you spend for parking in advance on the airport website. That tells you could pay $16 per day (a daily savings of $8) rather than $24 per day.

Paying in advance can also provide you with the added advantage of securing your spot, which can be extremely helpful as travel demand surges.

Some major airports, such as Dallas Fort Worth International Airport (DFW), occasionally bestow free parking for several vehicles during peak seasons like Thanksgiving.

Add an airport hotel stay with your extended parking

If you are staying close to the airport either at the start or end of your travel, you can park your car at the hotel and take a shuttle to the airport for a lower cost of parking at the terminal.

There’s nothing strange about asking if you can park your car for free. While this may not be allowed, several hotels nowadays offer “park and fly” packages. While they typically cost more than the lowest rate for just the hotel room, the additional charge is usually minimal.

For example, if you stay at the Hyatt Place Houston-North property by IAH (previously known as Hyatt Place Houston/Bush Airport), there was an alternative to booking the Park Stay Fly package, which only cost $19. You may spend more than the basic cost of a hotel night, but it includes up to 14 days of parking. In other words, you will just pay $1.35 per day on parking for a 14-day trip.

You may discover the most excellent savings by booking with airport hotels directly. Still, you can also utilize sites like ParkSleepFly to uncover parking deals at airport hotels that don’t need booking a room.

The official costs to park at Newark Liberty International Airport (EWR), for example, are $10.50 to $44 per day (depending on the lot). Still, you can encounter an offer through the ParkSleepFly website that would allow you to park at the Hilton Newark Airport for just $16.95 per day.

Use a parking app or website to discover cheap airport parking.

Apps and websites can assist you in securing discounted parking spots at and away from the airport.

To maximize your savings, inspect several sites and compare their prices. Some discounted parking deal websites include SpotHero, BestParking, ParkWhiz, and Cheap Airport Parking.

Get paid to park your car with TravelCar.

If you’re willing to avoid any parking costs when you travel and are OK with strangers driving your vehicle while you are away, consider TravelCar.

It is a car-sharing service where you can park your car for free when it’s not in use by renters. You’ll also get paid 7 to 21 cents for each mile renters drive your car when your vehicle is being used. They will also wash your car while in TravelCar’s possession, and you can earn up to $1 million in liability insurance to cover any theft or physical damage.

Your car must be less than seven years old from the moment you bought it and have no more than 95,000 miles on its odometer for you to partake in this offer.

Consider monthly airport parking alternatives if you fly often

Spending on a monthly parking membership may make sense if you often fly. Not all airports or parking lots offer this type of service, but you won’t know until you ask.

For instance, San Antonio International Airport (SAT) carries a monthly parking program for short- and long-term parking lots that can even be transferred with family members or coworkers.

Book Long-Term Parking Ahead of Time

A mystery that no one knows is that you can sometimes save on long-term parking when you book in advance. So, contact your parking lot attendant and ask about last-minute vs. booked pricing fees. At The Parking Spot, reservations are always less pricey than drive-up costs, so reserve a spot online in advance before you fly.

Some parking lots may charge a cancellation fee if you cancel your flight. So, if you prefer this method, find out if this is a risk and plan carefully. 

Opt for a smaller regional airport.

There is no such thing as free parking at major airports, but you can still encounter it with scheduled passenger service at smaller airports.

For example, Virginia’s Shenandoah Valley Regional Airport (SHD) provides flyers complimentary parking, operated by United Express. You can also try parking for free at Central Illinois Regional Airport (BMI), a smaller airport in Bloomington, Illinois, that presents flights from Allegiant Air, American Airlines, Delta Air Lines, and Frontier Airlines.

Also, a free parking option may be available from a fixed-base operator if you are flying on a chartered or private plane.

Analyze your current memberships

Inspect all of your credit cards, insurance, phone company, credit union, and other memberships to know if you can access any deals on travel, transportation, or parking at airports that you’re not acquainted with. For instance, AAA members can save a ton of money by parking at The Parking Spot

Many individuals don’t even know the perks they’re not leveraging because they don’t spend a tiny amount of time reading the fine print when signing up for services and memberships. So, there’s a possibility that you can access exclusive discounts that you don’t even know about. 

Spend with a credit card that cites airport parking.

Assuming you have to spend something on your airport parking, be sure you maximize that expense. Some parking lots and programs give points or even regular plane passenger miles for your parking.

When it reaches bill payment, use a credit card to provide you with a bonus on parking charges.

The Chase Sapphire Reserve and the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card normally reward three or two points per dollar paid on parking, respectively. The Citi Premier® Card also grants 3 points per dollar spent on several parking costs under its travel category. Further, the Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express gives 3% cashback on parking.

Travel Outside of Peak Seasons

During peak seasons, such as holidays, parking and other travel-related expenditures can be higher. Furthermore, discounts may be more challenging to come by. So, if you are traveling during off-peak seasons of the year or month, you are more likely to discover cost savings. 

Depending on your location in the world, peak seasons may vary. Indeed, during the winter holidays and Spring Break, air travels are likely the busiest times of year (avoid these times if you’re looking for deals). 

Get dropped off directly at the airport.

You may roll your eyes at this unmistakable tip, but getting dropped off by a friend or family member directly at the airport is the easiest and most practical way to save money on airport parking. If you are flying with your family, no one can exaggerate the importance of being dropped off curbside at the airport.

Grabbing a ride to the airport will keep you from spending on airport parking, but it will also allow you to save time and avoid the hassle of transporting car seats, luggage, and more onto shuttle buses to carry you to your terminal. 

If you fly so often, you won’t bother family members for rides to the airport each time you travel, but on longer trips, which usually swap chauffeur roles with someone in your family, taking turns dropping each other off at the airport.

Airports and Parking Liability

Liability is a critical consideration in selecting a parking design.

When a valet parks a car, the establishment is more likely to be found liable for the damage. However, if the driver parks their car and leaves, taking their keys with them, the lot is only responsible for its negligence. Care and thoughtful design are crucial.

Supervision requires good lighting, paved and structural surfaces, and unmistakable pedestrian information maintenance. Design requires incorporating vehicle and pedestrian needs. For instance, wheel stops can be an important and useful tool for cautioning a driver against driving too far forward and hitting a wall. However, when established improperly, they can also be a tripping risk. 

Everyone must follow good practices. Good lighting, well-marked crosswalks, a clear sign of traffic direction, and safety bollards to protect pedestrian spaces are all modes an airport can offer proper maintenance and good design in lots.

Final Thoughts

Airport parking costs are never fun, but they don’t have to be unreasonable. If you only know how and where to find discounts and alternatives, you can avoid spending through the nose to park at the terminal.

Whether you travel frequently or only a few times a year, a little additional research before you go can help you save a significant amount the next time you need airport parking.

Hopefully, you found some recommendations here that you can utilize to save on parking at airports. If there’s a tip we skipped, let us know how so everyone will be able to save money when traveling by air. 

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