Parking at the airport always seems to be a bit more expensive than most of us would like. The good news is there are ways you can score savings on airport parking, and many of those options involve earning rewards points and using travel credit cards you may already have in your wallet.
Plus, it’s an expense many of us forget to factor into the cost of our trip.
Parking at the airport always seems to be a bit more expensive than most of us would like. Yet it’s less risky than hoping you’ll get an Uber on time for your flight, and it takes less time than catching a shuttle full of other travelers getting on and off at various stops.
“When you drive yourself and park, you don’t have to worry about your ride being late, getting lost or not showing up at all,” said Kimberly Stirdivant Wason, director of marketing for TravelCar, a site that helps travelers find and book the cheapest parking near the airport.
The good news is there are ways you can score savings on airport parking, and many of those options involve earning rewards points and using travel credit cards you may already have in your wallet.
How to save on airport parking
Pay with the right card
Many cards will allow you to earn extra miles or points for travel purchases, and surprisingly, parking lots are included in many cards’ “travel” category.
For example, Chase considers “parking lots and garages” a travel expense, which means you can earn double or triple points on those purchases if you use the Chase Sapphire cards.
Citi also includes parking as a travel expense for its Citi Premier Card*, which allows you to earn triple points on those purchases.
Earn airline miles or points
Several airlines allow you to earn loyalty points by reserving airport parking when you start at their online shopping portals.
For example, on the Southwest Rapid Rewards shopping portal, you can earn 90 points with Airport Parking Reservations, which allows you to book discounted airport parking online, or 2 points per dollar for purchases through Looking4Parking.
If you want to book with Park N’ Fly, a chain of parking lots near airports, start at American’s AAdvantage eShopping portal to earn 3 miles per dollar or earn 100 miles with Airport Parking Reservations.
What’s more, if you pay with your associated airline credit card, you can earn even more points on top of those earned in the portal for future free travel.
See related: Best credit cards for airport lounge access
Take advantage of card offers and other discounts
“You create an account with Park N’ Fly and link your American Express card to your account,” Althiser says.
Discounts may be offers such as $15 off a $75 spend with the lot.
Althiser also recommends heading to Costco for heavily-discounted Park N’ Fly passes. Some airports even offer online coupons for parking in their lots, like George Bush Intercontinental in Houston, which has a 20% off online coupon.
Use a loyalty program
Many airport parking lots have their own loyalty programs.
For example, Indianapolis International has its parkIND rewards program for frequent parkers that allows them to earn points toward free parking and have a credit card on file that is charged without having to stop at a pay station. Oakland International has a similar program where parkers can earn a free day of parking.
The Parking Spot, which owns lots around the country near airports, has its own Spot Club program that is similar to an airline rewards program.
“However, instead of just earning and redeeming points for their stay, Spot Club members can also use points on other services, like valet upgrades and car washes,” Lauren Rocklin, senior vice president of marketing for The Parking Spot, explains.
Leave it at a hotel
Althiser also uses a service called Global Airport Parking to reserve a spot at a local hotel that offers airport shuttle service.
“You are basically using the hotel’s shuttle service and just paying to park at the hotel,” she says. “I paid $4 per day to park five minutes away from my local airport (RDU) compared to $17 per day at the airport!”
Additionally, Marriott offers Park Here, Fly There packages at some of its hotels that include in the rate up to 14 days of parking at their hotels after a stay of just one night. It may be cost-effective to book that night to cover the cost of 14 days of parking even if you don’t stay at the hotel.
Many airport hotels will let you do the same, and a great site to help start your search is ParkSleepFly.com. Plus, remember to pay with your hotel credit card or a card that earns more points on travel to extra rewards for your spend.
See related: Airport lounge access guide
Use a comparison service
Services like TravelCar let you see the best available parking spots near an airport and the cost for each, so you can compare to find the best deal and book the spot right on the site. TravelCar also lets you read reviews from past customers and see the options on a map.
Additionally, users can sign up for emails from TravelCar, which often contain coupons and discounts, to save even further.
As with most things, it usually pays to book early when it comes to airport parking.
“Airport parking has long been an afterthought to travel … the last part of your trip booked a few days in advance of departure,” Rocklin says. “In reality, the optimal time to receive the best deal is when you book your flight and hotel. The further in advance you reserve, the better the savings.”
*Information about the Citi Premier Card has been collected independently by CreditCards.com. The issuer did not provide the details, nor is it responsible for their accuracy.