Ah, rental trucks. The quintessential part of a traditional D.I.Y. move. Many friends and family, including you and me, have gone through what's almost become an American rite of passage: sweating bullets while carrying your couch down some precarious stairs and into that hot box known as a rental truck.
But this is a new generation! And the good news is moving trucks can now become part of a less-sweat-inducing Hybrid™ move when you hire movers to load that couch for you instead. You'll still have to drive that ginormous beast, but at least you and your co-pilot will smell prettier for the ride. If you don't want to drive, you might want to compare a rental truck to a portable storage container or some space in a freight trailer instead. What's that? Ice Road Truckers ain't got nothin' on your drivin' skills? Then read on, and let's help you figure out which truck rental company is best for you and your move.
As you probably already know, truck rental companies allow customers to rent a large vehicle in which they can schlep the entire contents of their home or apartment from one place to another. You pick up the truck from a nearby facility, load up the truck on your own or with hired help, drive it yourself to your new place, unload it yourself or with hired help, and then return it to another facility (or the same one if you moved nearby). You can move locally or long distance, but a long-distance one way truck rental will, of course, cost you more both in time and money. You will pay, on average, around $155 for a local move, $225 for a short move, and $971 for a long-distance move. In the rest of this handy guide, you can see average prices for each type of move, as well as get a quick intro to the truck rental companies, learn the best moving tips for using a rental truck, and figure out what size truck you might need using our truck size guide.
'We reserved the truck online. The requested size wasn't available at pickup, so they gave us a larger one.' - T.M.
'The truck had problems (engine shut down) and I wasn't given a hand cart that I had rented.' - J.B.
'Booked via phone, no problems and quick, service was very knowledgable.' - M.B.
'Went to pick up the truck it was not there. Had to drive 50mi. to pickup the replacement.' - R.C.
'Fair price; process explained; immediately greeted.' - P.J.
'Truck was initially dirty & check engine light was on the whole time - They told me to ignore it!!' - M.G.
U-Haul ®, Budget ®, and Penske ® are the major players in moving truck rental. In general, a customer calls one of these companies or goes to their website, determines how big a vehicle is needed (the trucks range in size from pickups to 26-footers), and schedules the rental. Generally, pickups and small vans are appropriate for those renting out a room or small apartment and the larger trucks are best for those who need to haul the belongings of a family moving from one large home to another. On the day of your scheduled delivery, you head to the nearest truck rental center, sign the relevant paperwork, and pick up the vehicle. Then, you are set to make like a truck driver and move your stuff. You can rent hand trucks and furniture pads, too. Tows for your car are also available. In addition, you can purchase other moving supplies, such as boxes, through most truck rental companies. But you might be able to find these items cheaper at the local hardware store or even the dollar store, so keep that in mind.
U-Haul ® created the DIY move and squashes the competition, thanks to its experience and size. With more than 15,000 locations in the United States and Canada, no other truck rental company comes close to having the same volume. Just about everyone has driven a U-Haul truck or knows someone who has. Still, no company is perfect. While you can pick up just about anything you need for your move at the local U-Haul center, you might be hoodwinked into buying stuff when making your reservation online because quantities of products for purchase are already input for you. In fact, the online system is pretty frustrating, and you’re better off talking to a customer service representative by phone as opposed to online. Keep in mind that your preferred pick-up location might not be the one to which you end up traveling. The good news is that if U-Haul changes things up on you, it will pay you $50 for the inconvenience. For more detailed information on U-Haul visit its profile page.
Penske’s ® logistics and commercial businesses overshadow its consumer rental truck arm. But it’s worth a second look because its small size makes for more personalized service and a better overall customer service experience. The price is somewhat negotiable or at least agents are open to helping you find discounts to lower the cost. One warning: You have to be willing to speak up and ask questions, both to make sure you get the best price possible and to insure you don’t end up with extra, unnecessary costs. On the other hand, there’s lots of safety info on the Web site and roadside assistance is available 24/7, which are nice perks for anyone who is the slightest bit intimidated by driving a ginormous truck. For more information on Penske visit its profile page.
Maybe you have used Budget ® for its car rental service and didn’t even know it had a truck rental arm. Well, it does. Of course, with nearly 1,700 locations in the United States, it’s significantly smaller than U-Haul. The best news about Budget’s truck rentals is that there are lots of discounts available to bring down your costs. If you’re the type who doesn’t like to ask for directions, you can also rent a GPS to boot. But your experience will only be as good as your local Budget dealer because they really run the show as individual entities. There are also limitations for modifying your reservation online. Although everyone was kind as can be, customer service representatives at the national level often refer you to the local dealer for answers. Who wants to dwell on the negative though? One of the differentiating factors here is that Budget practically guarantees your preferred pick-up location, which can really help you plan your move more efficiently. For more information on Budget visit its profile page.
Each company has its own positives and negatives, but there are some tips that are universal when dealing with the truck rental companies. We've learned the ins and outs from booking to drop off, so take note so you'll be prepared when you rent your next moving truck.
You are likely to pay more if you insist on moving on a weekend because everyone wants to move then. The spring and summer, peak moving seasons, also tend to bring with them higher prices. Weekdays in the off season could mean getting to move at bargain prices.
You’ll find weekends and the busy season also mean less access to the vehicle size you need and your preferred pick-up location. Some consumers have reported getting a smaller truck than they ordered, which can be problematic if you have a lot of stuff to haul. Starting your journey at another pick-up location might mean going out of your way before your move even begins.
You have to find out about the insurance options available to you because most credit card companies and auto insurance firms will not cover such a large vehicle. Let’s face it, you’re not usually driving a truck like this, so it’s easy to make mistakes that could cost you. This is NOT the place to save money. In this case, insurance is really an investment that could save you in the long run.
If you’re trying to stay on a budget, make sure you weigh in the cost of gas when making your plans. Lots of DIY movers, who go the truck rental route, forget about the fuel fees and end up spending way more than they expected when all is said and moved. A hybrid Prius these big boys are not. They get a paltry 6 - 8 MPG, and with the average gas price around $3.30 / gallon, your fuel cost can add up fast. U-Pack has a really handy calculator that you can use to calculate your gas cost.
I have to admit that even I, someone with a soft spot for all environmentally sound efforts, found it hard to accept that each of these truck rental options charges an environmental fee. The problem I had is that it’s unclear exactly how this extra money - coming out of my pocket - was benefitting the environment. Yet, the companies are allowed to charge this fee and they do. So, you have to pay it and move on. If it will help, say a little prayer that it actually is helping the planet.
Ask questions about the pricing. You can even come out and ask, “Are there any hidden costs?” Ask if the price you’re given at reservation time is likely to change and how it might change. For goodness sake, for long-distance moves, get the low down on whether you’ll get money back if you finish the trip in less time than the company is estimating. Find out how much more you’ll be charged if you end up returning the truck later than estimated. Do whatever you can to make sure there are no surprises on that bill in the end. That’s not the kind of surprise anyone wants.
Make sure you sweep out the interior, move out all your stuff, and don’t leave any trash or belongings in the truck. Most of the truck rental companies will charge you more if you don’t bring back the truck in the same condition as you received it. And the cleaning gods will smile down on you to boot.
The truck was packed and towing a car from CA to OH and I made it across the country safely. Because the loaded truck and car were heavy, it required a lot of gas, so it was quite expensive. The 20 ft truck was also expensive (including insurance) at $3,500.00 (not including gas).
Excellent customer service. Very friendly staff. Affordable prices. U-haul is willing to match Budget's rates for the same travel distance. A 26-foot truck fit everything from our house. Brand new truck, comfortable seats with good back support. Drives very smoothly. Always have trusted U-haul and will continue to trust them.
I always use Budget because their trucks are clean and well maintained. The online booking is quick and easy with no money due until you pick up the truck. They also have moving supplies (appliance dolly, furniture pads) that are reasonably priced. Another plus is the discounts that they offer for AARP members and one-way rentals.
Great bang for the buck, as long as you don't have issues during the trip. The truck cab had excessive vibrations that transferred to the side mirrors.
Equipment was clean and had furniture pads and a handtruck stored in the truck. Came in handy. They had a seal, break it you pay kind of like the hotel mini bar.
Good, except that ramp was damaged and took the movers some time to figure out how to make it work. Had ordered furniture pads, but was notified they were out the morning of truck rental. My wife had to scramble and drive to UHaul to rent 4 dozen pads.
Truck was there and waiting for pickup. Vehicle in great working condition. No hassle on return after hours, just parked in the lot and put the keys in the lockbox. Thank- you U Haul !
Penske will get our business during our next move. We originally were going with U-Haul and then we thought about looking at Penske for a comparison. Boy were we glad we did. Penske had clean trucks, allowed us to rent blankets to wrap our furniture in, and the all around experience with them was great!
The 24’ moving truck I rented from Budget was exactly the right size for my household move. I planned on making two, 4-mile trips between houses and the actual volume was about what I had estimated for a 3 bedroom house. The truck was in good condition despite the long gouge the previous renter had made along the passenger side of the truck, but the damage was well documented by Budget before I took possession. The main reason I chose Budget was because they rented trucks (non-commercial) that had lift gates. I was most surprised and happy to see that the vehicle also had an operational ramp that saved me hours of moving time because I only used the lift gate for my heavy items. The second reason I used this particular location was because of the proximity to my houses; only about 10 miles round-trip. I especially liked the thorough operational walkthrough that Budget gave me when I picked up the truck. They even went so far as to direct me to the nearest gas station that sold the special diesel fuel I would need upon return of the vehicle. The only problem encountered during pick-up and drop-off was the extremely long wait time for their antiquated computer system to locate and print out the contract and receipt, but I enjoyed talking with the employees while I waited for the computer to respond. Overall, I felt that Budget provided an excellent service and product and I would definitely use them again as well as recommend them to anyone who needs a moving truck!
Penske did great job of meeting my needs. However, their 3rd party site for truck pickup (Got Storage in Layton, Utah) was AWFUL. They were supposed to open at 9:00 a.m. but never arrived. At 9:10 I called Penske's 1-800 number and they couldn't contact anyone at the company either. Penske found me a replacement truck 20 miles away. An inconvenience but they made things right. Trust Penske but stay away from Got Storage.
They had the truck when I arrived. They received it when I returned it. All charges were as expected. I got a good AARP discount. I was able to drop the truck in Reno (from my Lake Tahoe end location - not too far. Better than driving it back to the Bay Area!
Had my unit ready and waiting for me at 7:00 a.m. Moving van ran well and gave me no trouble at all. I have used Budget before and I certainly would use them again Wayne
U-Haul ® is a registered trademark of U-Haul International, Inc. Budget Truck Rental ®, LLC is a registered trademark of Budget Truck Rental, LLC. Penske Truck Leasing Co., L.P.® is a trademark of Penske System, Inc.