Parking in Chicago can be very expensive.
Depending on where and when you park in Chicago, the cost and hours of operation vary. Please see the rate map here. Meters in the Loop are $7.00 per hour, $4.50 in the Central Business District and $2 outside the Loop and Central Business District. Finding street parking can be a nightmare and if the signs where you’re parking aren’t clear don’t park there. A parking ticket or worse a tow will negate anything you saved by parking at a meter.
If you are planning on using a meter you should download the ParkChicago app which allows you to pay for parking with your phone and sometimes you can extend your time remotely all on your phone. Look for the Pay at Pay Box sign. You can check specific block rates by downloading ParkChicagoMap, entering the 6-digit number into the ParkChicago app and pressing the information button or pressing the rates and hours button on the pay box screen. Each block and opposite sides of the street may have different parking restrictions and hours of operation or length of stay so use the right code. FAQ
The key to saving money when parking downtown is
(taking the train or bus) planning ahead. If you’re going to a specific restaurant, theater, store or mall call ahead and check online to see if they offer any valet or parking garage deals.
If you know which garage you want to park in call the garage and check online. Some garages have early bird or later afternoon specials.
Check parking apps for garages
There are several apps that offer a substantial discount to the drive up rates. Using apps you may find lots that you may not have known were open to the public, let alone cheap. Since the
- Know where the garage is before you buy. In testing all the apps most came up with close in garages but some didn’t. You may not want to walk several blocks round trip to the garage especially at night.
- If the first rate you pull up looks expensive check another app.
- If the rate comes up as Not guaranteed call the garage.
- When selecting your time-frame, leave a buffer in case of delay at your appointment or a delay getting out of the garage particularly at rush hour. Most of the time you’ll notice adding a few hours of padding doesn’t affect the rate at all.
- Some apps charge more for larger vehicles. Be aware.
Here in Chicago we have access to several apps
Enter an address, and it tells you where the closest lots are and how much they charge.
Best Parking app, free for iPhone and Android. Some apps list free parking and meters.
ParkWhiz app, free for iPhone and Android.
Spot hero app, free for iPhone and Android.
Spotangel app, free for iPhone and Android. SpotAngels is the world’s largest community-based parking app. It lists garages as well as street parking. The prices for meters do no reflect the Jan 1 2020 price increase.
ParkMobile app, free for iPhone and Android. Like SpotAngel it lists garages, free parking and street parking. I couldn’t check prices without creating an account but beware that the prices for meters may not reflect the Jan 1 2020 price increase.