How To Avoid Hotel Parking Fees: Complete Guide

Hotels can be notoriously sneaky when it comes to hidden fees. Many of them are not very obvious on their websites regarding on-site parking fees, which leads to upset guests at check-in after finding out how much they’ll have to pay to park their car.

Here’s how to avoid hotel parking fees:

  1. Don’t bring a car.
  2. Research public parking alternatives.
  3. See if your elite status can help.
  4. Look for packages that include parking.
  5. Call ahead of time and speak to a manager.
  6. Rent a car at the hotel.
  7. Use parking apps to find cheaper off-site parking.

Hotels can take advantage of the fact that on-site parking is the most convenient option for guests. However, you don’t have to be coerced by the hotel to pay outrageous prices for parking by following these simple tips. Keep reading this guide to become a savvy hotel guest who never pays for on-site parking.

1. Don’t Bring a Car

This might be a very obvious way to avoid hotel parking fees, but it’s definitely worth considering. Even if you’re the type of person to always bring your car with you or rent a car any time you travel, you might be surprised to see how convenient traveling without a car has become over the past few years.

There are many ways to avoid bringing a car while you’re away from home, be it on a business trip or on vacation with your family.

Follow some of these useful tips to avoid worrying about parking altogether, so keep reading.

Use Public Transit

Public transit is much faster than driving in dense cities like New York City, Chicago, Washington DC, Boston, and San Francisco. If you’re visiting any one of these cities, you will likely be better off using public transit instead of driving a car.

English Conversation About Hotel

Using public transit on your trip will not only help you save on hotel parking fees but off-site parking as well. Finding parking in urban cities can be notoriously difficult and, once you manage to find a space, you will spend several dollars on the parking meter.

Even if you’re not traveling in any of these dense cities, you may find that you’re only driving around touristy neighborhoods where public transit tends to be pretty good. Most downtown areas in the United States are very well connected with light rail and frequent bus services.

These transit options can be pretty good for someone who will be visiting the top tourist attractions.

If you’re traveling for work, see if there is a convenient public transit option between your hotel and wherever you need to go. Chances are that business districts and conference centers will be well-linked to hotel hotspots.

Use Rideshare Apps

Ridesharing apps like Uber and Lyft have revolutionized the way we move around cities.

If you’re the type of person to enjoy the privacy and comfort of using a car as transport, one of these apps can be just what you need when you don’t have your car with you.

With either of these apps, you can have a car with a driver ready to take you wherever you need to go in just a few minutes. This is a great way to get from the airport to the hotel, move around town, and back to the hotel.

Even if you need to visit a neighboring town, taking an Uber might not be as expensive as you may think. An Uber from Los Angeles to Anaheim can cost as little as $31. Miami to Palm Beach can cost $82 on an UberX.

Ridesharing apps can be a great option for your trip regardless of your travel needs.

Ask a Colleague for a Ride

If you’re traveling for a business conference, you might know people from your city who will also be making the drive to the conference. Not only is carpooling great for the environment, but you can also save on hotel parking by not bringing your car with you.

Carpooling with friends or colleagues can also make the drive more enjoyable.

Besides keeping you entertained, driving along with passengers can be safer as they can help you find your freeway exits and spot any issues on the road.

Use Hotel Shuttles

Many hotels offer shuttles beyond the typical airport shuttle.

If you’re traveling to a popular conference destination like Las Vegas, Orlando, Miami, or San Diego, you may be able to find hotels that offer shuttles to both the airport and the conference center.

If you’re attending a popular conference, you might want to call the hotel and ask if they offer shuttles to the conference. Even if they’re not planning on it, mention that you’re attending a particular conference and other guests might be too.

Many hotels choose to repurpose the airport shuttle to make a few trips to the conference center if they notice that many of their guests are attending the conference. If you have any work friends who are also staying at the hotel, make sure to mention them when asking the hotel about conference shuttles.

Popular tourist destination hotels also tend to offer free shuttles to the local attractions.

Hotels in and near Anaheim, CA, tend to offer free shuttles to Disneyland Resort, while hotels in Orlando tend to offer shuttles to Walt Disney World.

If you’re staying at a popular cruise departure port, like Miami or Port Canaveral, your hotel might also offer a complimentary shuttle to the departure port. Make sure to review the hotel’s website before booking and see what transportation amenities they offer.

2. Research Public Parking Alternatives

If bringing a car is absolutely necessary, then you should do some parking research to avoid paying outrageous hotel fees. Search for any nearby parking garages on Google Maps where you might be able to park your car for a fraction of the cost.

Depending on the city, you might be able to use street parking as well.

If you’ve already booked your hotel, google street parking regulations in the specific neighborhood that you’ll be staying in. Parking on your hotel’s street might be prohibited, but adjacent streets may allow free overnight parking.

3. See if Your Elite Status Can Help

Attaining elite status with one of the major hotel rewards programs comes with many perks, and free on-site parking may be one of them. Some programs, like M Life Rewards and World of Hyatt, guarantee free parking for members who reach a certain status tier.

Even if your elite tier does not advertise free parking as a guaranteed perk, many properties may be willing to waive parking fees for guests with elite status.

All you have to do is ask at check-in and see if they will waive the fee for you.

Mention your elite status and ask if there is anything they offer their frequent travelers in terms of parking. Many hotels will be eager to please their most valuable guests even if it means forfeiting a parking fee.

You might even be able to get away with scoring complimentary parking simply by being a member of the rewards program. Even if you haven’t achieved elite status, you can ask the check-in receptionist if they will waive parking fees for members of the hotel’s rewards program.

4. Look for Packages That Include Parking

Technically, you’re still going to pay for parking if you book a package that includes it.

However, the price of the packaged deal can sometimes be the same or just a couple of dollars more than the standard rate.

When booking, make sure to look through the hotel’s website (as opposed to a travel aggregator, like Expedia or Orbitz) and see if they offer any packages that include parking. Even if you have to pay more per night, the package may come with extra perks like free breakfast or late checkout.

5. Call Ahead of Time and Speak to a Manager

The saying, “The doors will be opened to those who are bold enough to knock” applies here. You never know what fees a particular property will be able to waive just by asking politely.

A good strategy to request waived parking fees during your stay is to call the hotel before you actually book with them. Ask to speak with a manager and tell them that you are considering booking a room with them but are concerned about the steep parking fees.

You might be able to negotiate a deal with the manager that includes free parking with your stay, or you might be able to score a lower room fee that will offset the parking fees.

It can’t hurt to ask politely and see if there is anything they can offer.

6. Rent a Car at the Hotel

If you’re going to be renting a car while you travel, you might be able to work out a way to not have to pay for parking for your rental. Many hotels with on-site car rental services waive parking fees to guests who rent a car directly through the hotel.

Call the hotel or the rental company and ask if on-site overnight parking is provided for hotel guests. Otherwise, you might be able to rent a car for one day every morning and return it in the evening.

This way, you will be returning the car every night and not have to worry about overnight parking fees for the rental.

If you choose to pursue this strategy, you can make individual bookings online for every day that you will need your car. You may find that you won’t need a car every single day of your trip, so you could even save money by only renting the car for the days when you will need it instead of the duration of the entire trip.

7. Use Parking Apps To Find Cheaper Off-Site Parking

There really is an app for everything these days, including parking. By using a parking app to find parking, you can ensure that you’ll get a better rate than you would by parking at the hotel, finding nearby parking, and resting easy knowing that your car won’t be towed.

Some of the best parking apps that you should look into are:

  • Spot Hero: This app has over 5,000 parking spaces across dozens of cities in the United States and Canada. Just download the app, find parking near the hotel, and reserve your spot before you even check in at the hotel.
  • ParkWhiz: This app allows you to book parking directly through the app. When you reserve a spot through ParkWhiz, you won’t have to worry about parking meters or reading any parking guidelines. Just get your mobile parking pass, and you will be all set.
  • Smooth Parking: This app will be your best friend when it comes to street parking guidelines. Available all over the United States, this app will show you a map that will easily let you know where and when you can park on the street. The best part is that it is completely free to use.
  • WePark: This app was designed to allow people to rent out their empty driveways, parking garages, and any other type of unused parking spot. If your hotel is near a residential zone, you might be able to find great deals on nearby overnight parking.

These apps can be extremely helpful for finding alternatives to overpriced hotel parking.

Final Thoughts

Hotel parking can be expensive. Even if you’re traveling for business and not paying yourself, a hefty parking fee could quickly eat into your per diems. Luckily, there are many ways to avoid paying hotel parking fees.

Follow these great tips to avoid paying for expensive hotel parking:

  • Avoid bringing a car altogether.
  • Use public parking near the hotel.
  • Elite status with the hotel may include parking.
  • Book room packages that include parking.
  • Negotiate the parking fee into your room fee.
  • Rent a car at the hotel instead of bringing yours.
  • Use parking apps to find cheaper parking.


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