How to cut your car park costs

Updated on 17 July 2014

Heading into town for a long shopping session? Follow these tips and you won't pay through the nose for your parking!

Park at the station

You don’t have to travel there by train, but if the town you’re heading for has a station car park, check its charges. Many have discounted rates at weekends compared with their weekday ‘commuter’ rate. And unlike the town centre multi-storey version, it’s unlikely you’ll have to queue to get in. 

Head for the supermarket

You don’t actually have to shop there, but if there’s one within walking distance of the town centre you can often get up to three hours of free parking. And you can always pop in and pick up a pint of milk on your way back if you feel you’re taking advantage of their goodwill.

But do be sure to check parking restrictions at each location as some outlets may have different time limits or in some cases may insist you do some shopping in the store. And keep an eye on your watch as you can get a parking ticket if you run over your time slot.

Park and ride

This may not prove practical if you just want to pop in for an hour, but it’s good value for all day trips.

With some park and ride schemes you’ll pay a small charge for parking, but get the bus ride free, while with others it’s free parking but you pay for the bus.

On the downside this may not be cost effective if there’s a car load of you as depending on the bus fare charged versus car park costs it could work out cheaper taking the car as far as you can.

Check for details of schemes across the country.

Free parking

If you’re in an area you don’t know it can be tricky to track down free spaces which are often in residential roads or on the outskirts of town.   And unless you want a tour of the one way system it’s often easier to head into the nearest car park. 

Take a look at for heaps of free parking spaces across the country. Just pop in a location and it comes up with a list of options and then you can set your sat nav for the street.  Most spaces are within a short walk of the main stations, shops and town centre facilities. 

Rent a space

Don’t go parking in private driveways without permission, but if you book in advance you can rent one for the day through Plus you’ve much less chance of finding your car scraped by crowds of shoppers!     

Changes to clamping rules

Changes to the law mean wheel clamping (and towing cars away) is now banned in car parks on private land. The only caveat is if local by-laws give landowners the right to clamp or tow away vehicles which could be in areas like stations, ports or airports.

And if you get a ticket for parking on private land, (say a supermarket car park), there’s now a new independent appeals service you can take your case too. It’s funded by the British Parking Association and providing you get a ticket from a company that’s a member of the BPA approved operator scheme, then you can use its free service.

More on cars:

How to find cheaper diesel and petrol

Driving in Europe: what you need to know

Car finance options: credit, loans, HP and leasing

Driving in Europe: How to find the cheapest places for petrol and diesel



Be the first to comment

Do you want to comment on this article? You need to be signed in for this feature

Copyright © All rights reserved.