4 free mobile apps for finding parking

Tired of circling the block? Here are four ways to find a spot quickly

Frustrated by spending too much time searching for parking? I've got four free apps to help cut the frustration and find you a spot fast.

Keep in mind that not all of these apps are available everywhere you want to go, although they often add new locations. So it's a good idea to check their descriptions to see what areas they cover. And as I point out in my article, some cities like Boston and San Francisco have started banning some of them. And even in cities where they're not banned, you won't always find a spot. Still, they're worth a try.

Haystack

Here's a way not just to find a metered parking spot, but to make money when you leave one. Search for a parking spot, and you'll find a list of any nearby metered spots, if they're becoming available. The person leaving a spot essentially charges you for it, so you'll have to pay for the meter as well as pay the person. Not uncommonly you pay $5 to the person. Keep in mind, though, that you can then try to sell the spot when you leave.

This app has proven to be controversial -- the Boston City Council recently pass an ordinance that bans it and any other similar parking apps in the city.

Spot

Rather than focus on metered parking, this app lets you find parking spots owned by people -- for example, a driveway, or a vacant spot for an apartment or condo. And if you own a parking spot, you can rent it out as well. Spots can be rented by the hour, day, week, or month.

SpotHero

This app focuses on parking garages rather than metered spaces or individual spots. It points you to nearby lots with vacancies, you pay for them, and you're then guaranteed a space. You can even reserve a space for an event days or weeks ahead of time so that you're guaranteed parking.

MonkeyParking

This app works a bit like Haystack. Look on a map and you see those with the app who may be leaving their spots soon, send out an alert that says you want a parking spot, and say how much you're willing to pay, and then pay if you find someone interested. You, of course, can do the same when leaving your spot.

This app has also proven to be controversial, particularly in San Francisco, where the bidding part of the app has been turned off.

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