Parking apps in review
RACQ reviewed the top eight most popular parking apps in Australia.
Parking can be a big inconvenience for motorists as it chews up time, petrol, and money as you search for an affordable spot to leave your car – not to mention the added stress of parking time restrictions.
RACQ set out to help members find the best apps for your smartphone to find affordable parking, get to the spot, and pay.
We reviewed the top eight most popular parking Apps in Australia including Cheap Parking, Parkopedia, Parkhound, ParkMe Parking (INRIX), Kerb, PayByPhone, PayStay and CellOPark and accessed them against 10 key criteria. These included:
- Area coverage – inner city, outer city, suburban and regional areas.
- Types of parking – Council, commercial multi-storeys, on-street, and other non-commercial.
- Accuracy of parking location and availability.
- Ease of use and functionality.
- App price.
- Ability to book parking through the app.
- Parking discounts.
- Navigation feature.
- iPhone/Android compatibility.
- International compatibility.
Best all-rounder in Brisbane – ParkMe Parking (INRIX)
ParkMe Parking is the only app to include on-street, commercial multi-storey, council, and monthly parking. The on-street and commercial parking areas show both prices and reasonably accurate live availability in Brisbane City. And best of all – the app is free.
Unfortunately, ParkMe lost points as the interface is a little clunky to use, the location search function can be inaccurate, and there is limited on-street data outside of Brisbane city centre even in other busy areas like the Gold Coast – if you need to park there we suggest using the Parkopedia app to find cheap street parking. And while you can see commercial parking rates in ParkMe, you unfortunately can’t book through the app.
Best for finding cheap street parking (in most cities) – Parkopedia
Parkopedia is a free app that is similar to ParkMe Parking, but has a nicer user interface and better on-street coverage – you’ll be able to find on-street and some private parking in most large cities around the world with Parkopedia.
It’s quick and easy to use with no signup required unlike some other apps, inbuilt navigation link to GoogleMaps and Apple maps, and has a wide range of filters to apply like disabled spaces, electric vehicle chargers, credit card acceptance, and free parking too.
Parkopedia has a few downfalls such as limited parking data in suburban and regional areas, no live availability, no inclusion of private commercial parking like Secure or Wilsons, and you can’t pay through this app either.
Best for monthly or daily commuter parking – Parkhound
Parkhound is a free app that’s been described as the Air BnB for parking – where people who have a parking space post their space for rent, and those who need a parking space regularly can book and pay through the app on a monthly or daily basis. Most parking in the app is located in city centres, around busy working/shopping areas, or public transport hubs where free or on-street cheaper parking can be difficult to find regularly.
With a range of owner-set price points and an app feature to ‘make an offer’ you can find something to suit your budget and save money compared to commercial or on-street all-day parking rates. Just ensure the person you are leasing from has permission to lease the space out from property owners or body corporates to ensure you don’t get a fine or towed. Unfortunately, for the average user looking to park for a few hours in street or commercial multi-storey parking, this app doesn’t include this information.
Best for metered street-parking payment – CellOPark (Brisbane) and PayStay (Gold Coast)
CellOPark and PayStay are free apps that can be used to pay for metred parking in the Brisbane City Council area (CellOPark) or Gold Coast (PayStay) – which has a big convenience factor that you don’t need to pull out your coins or credit card and tediously punch your vehicle details into the meter every time. Plus, you can see how long you’ve been parked (so you can avoid a fine for going over the time limit) and parking is charged by the minute instead of the increments in the meter, so you save money by only paying for the exact time you used the space.
The apps have some downsides though – there is a long signup required including vehicle and payment details. The interfaces are also not particularly user friendly and it’s easy to accidentally hit the wrong button and start being charged for using a meter even if you’re not parked there. They both also have limited coverage with CellOPark only for Brisbane City Council on-street meters and PayStay for the Gold Coast and a few cities interstate. PayStay does give an indication of parking availability, but CellOPark does not.
Need to book commercial parking? RACQ has partnered with Secure Parking to offer members discounted parking at many car parks throughout Queensland.