Top 10 tips to save money on airport parking

Youโ€™ve booked the flights and hotel, but have you sorted out where youโ€™ll park your car while you take off for the sun? Follow our simple tips to stop the cost of airport parking spoiling your holiday

Words ByClaire Evans

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If youโ€™re jetting off on holiday this summer you wonโ€™t want to waste money on airport parking. Our tips should help keep the cost of parking down so you have more money to spend while youโ€™re away

1. Sign up to newsletters

You can do this long before youโ€™re ready to book your parking. Itโ€™s a great, easy way of finding out about the latest deals and offers without having to trawl the internet.

2. Book in advance

Even if youโ€™re able to book only 24 or 48 hours ahead of your trip, itโ€™s still worth doing this - the difference in cost of booking advance instead of simply turning up at a long stay car park could be more than ยฃ100.

We checked prices at London Gatwickโ€™s Long Stay car park โ€“ book in advance for a weekโ€™s parking and youโ€™ll pay ยฃ89 instead of the standard rate of ยฃ125. The saving youโ€™ll make at London Heathrow is even bigger โ€“ book in advance and itโ€™s ยฃ95 for a week, donโ€™t book and youโ€™ll pay ยฃ178 โ€“ thatโ€™s ยฃ83 more.

3. Book early to get the best deals

Car parks are keen to get you to book early, so often offer the cheapest deals for those who book more than a month in advance. So, book your parking as soon as youโ€™ve booked your flights.

4. Check official parking and price comparison sites

The best price may not appear on a companyโ€™s own website, so itโ€™s worth cross-checking on one or two comparison sites so you donโ€™t pay over the odds.

Itโ€™s also well worth looking further afield than the main airport car parking websites โ€“ online agents such as holidayextras.co.uk and parkbcp.co.uk have a wider range choices, and comparison sites such as gosimply.com, parking4less.com and travelsupermarket.com have even more off-airport companies offering cheap deals.

5. Choose a reputable company with good customer reviews

Donโ€™t just go for the cheapest deal you can find. Check that the car park operator belongs to the British Parking Association and that the car park has been awarded a Park Mark so youโ€™ll know itโ€™s been vetted by the police and has measures in place to create a safe environment.

Also read online reviews from previous customers to ensure youโ€™re picking a parking operator who has a good reputation to uphold so will look after you and your car properly.

6. Do you want โ€œmeet and greetโ€ parking?

This option lets you drive up to the Departures building or short stay car park and hand your keys to a waiting driver who will drive your car to a car park; your car will be brought back to the drop-off point when you return to the airport.

It used to be a far more expensive option than off-airport parking, but as more companies have begun to offer it prices have fallen, and if you can find a good deal it may cost little more than off-airport alternatives.

Again the same caveat applies โ€“ check the credentials of the company and read online reviews to ensure they are reputable.

Itโ€™s also important to ensure that your car will be kept in a locked compound with security so you can be sure it will be there when you come back.

7. Save by booking a hotel and parking deal

You can add a night in a hotel to your car parking deal for less than ยฃ50, which is far cheaper than booking both things separately. Check if thereโ€™s a fee for using the hotelโ€™s airport minibus โ€“ theyโ€™re usually less than ยฃ5 each way.

8. Look for price guarantees and booking incentives

Some online agents, such as holidayextras.com, operate a price match guarantee, so if you find the same parking deal cheaper elsewhere it will match that price. Others will send you discount vouchers if you register for email newsletters with them.

9. Does the deal let you get a refund if your trip is cancelled?

Itโ€™s bad enough if circumstances force you to cancel your holiday, so you wonโ€™t want added expense of having to pay for car parking you can no longer use. So check the terms and conditions to see if you can cancel and get a full refund if you have to cancel, and note if there is a cut-off date after which you canโ€™t cancel.

10. Donโ€™t pay to drop off

If youโ€™re just dropping a friend or relative off at an airport check the cost of parking in the long stay car park for a short time. At Gatwick you can park in its long stay car park for up to two hours for free โ€“ park in the short stay car park for the same time and youโ€™ll pay ยฃ12. Some airports even charge you simply to drive into the drop-off/pick-up area.

Read more โ€“ Top 10 pre-holiday car checks

Read more โ€“ Whatโ€™s the best breakdown cover for your car?

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