Of all the apps I have on my phone (and I have A LOT), I think the ones that have been most useful to me are the pay-by-phone parking apps. I say “ones” because there are multiple apps available and you need to find the ones that are accepted at meters you use the most. The two I use in my area are Parkmobile and MobileNOW!
I love them because I almost never have change on me anymore. I pay for so much with credit or debit cards that the few times I do use cash and get change back, I tend to either leave it in a tip jar or just empty it out of my wallet when I get home to reduce the weight. Also, I like that the apps alert you when they’re about to expire and give you a chance to extend your session without worrying about running back to feed the meter.
How To Use a Parking App
When you install the app, you’ll need to enter some information about your car and some form of payment—either a credit card number or online payment service like PayPal, Apple Pay or Google Wallet.
When you park at a meter that accepts the app, simply enter the number posted on the meter or scan a QR code (that weird 2D barcode that looks like an optical illusion test…), then set how long you want to park there. As I said before, you can set it to notify you before it expires and extend the time to the maximum allowed if necessary.
A few notes:
- Technically, when you pay with coins at a meter, you’re not supposed to feed it when the time runs out, but of course everyone does it. However, with an app you don’t have that option as it won’t let you extend it beyond the maximum time posted.
- The apps charge a small admin fee on top of the parking cost and often charge it again when you extend the time. So you need to consider that when deciding how long you want to set for the duration.
- Some apps by default set the duration to the maximum time until you manually stop it when you’re ready to leave. In that case, you need to either set your own duration or make sure you remember to do that or you will be charged through to the end of the session.
- The time won’t change on the parking meter display. Parking attendants have their own electronic systems for checking if your session is still active.
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