Penske is well known for its race car expertise, but the moving arm of Penske has made tracks of its own.
Why use Penske to move? Compared to other moving truck rental companies, they have refreshingly knowledgeable customer service that's always willing to help, not to mention great discounts. A thorough website that anticipates consumer questions and provides more info than you'll ever need to know about the company don't hurt either.
Penske has more than 2,200 locations in the United States, 26 locations in Canada and over 200,000 vehicles. The average age of rental trucks for personal use is 24 months. What makes up for its relatively small size compared to others (only 2,200+ locations, compared to 20,000+ U-Haul locations) is a more personable rental experience, not to mention a couple of solid perks.
Under 50 mi.
Under 50 mi.
Miles Per Gallon (up to)
|High-Roof Cargo Van||11'11" X 4'6" X6'9"||Up to 1 room||404 cu. ft.||Up to 12 mpg|
|12 ft.||12' X 6'6" X 6'1"||1 to 2 rooms||450 cu. ft.||Up to 12 mpg|
|16 ft.||16' X 7'7" X6'6"||2 to 3 rooms||800 cu. ft.||Up to 12 mpg|
|22 ft.||21'11" X 8'1" X8'1"||3 to 5 rooms||1,200 cu. ft.||Up to 13 mpg|
|26 ft.||25'11" X 8'1" X8'1"||5 to 7 rooms||1,700 cu. ft.||Up to 13 mpg|
Author: Francesca Di Meglio
Updated: Wednesday, October 16th 2019
Like everything else nowadays, you will begin your journey on the company's website. Head to the personal rental page, not their commercial rental page. (Remember, a large chunk of Penske's business is based on commercial truck rentals, so don't get lost.)
Next, use Penske's Truck Wizard tool to determine which size vehicle you should rent. Once you have an idea of how big of a truck you'll need for your move, fill out the form, get a quote, and afterwards you get to pick up the vehicle on the day you chose. (On the flip side, Penske actually automatically determines the drop off date for you based on your move details.)
Penske guarantees your location and selected time once you have your reservation, which is a perk compared to other rental truck companies.
For a local move, you should strive to pick the same location for both to lower overall cost. Just beware that your desired location might not end up being the one you're given in the final quote, due to supply. (I had chosen Hackensack, New Jersey, for example, but I was instead booked for a Manhattan location, which required me to drive over the George Washington Bridge and pay tolls.)
In addition, you'll be asked to tack on rental supplies. You can say no if you have your own furniture protectors and the like. The last step in getting a quote requires you to choose the kind of insurance if you want to get any.
After that, you're off to the races! You get the rental truck at your scheduled time, drive the truck to your first destination and load it up with your stuff. Then, you'll drive the vehicle to the next destination and unload it before finally dropping it off where and when Penske tells you to drop it off.
Good news: Penske works virtually the same way for both local moves and long-distance moves.
Determine the size vehicle you want to rent and when you are going to pick it up on their site. Then, you travel to the agreed upon Penske location to get the vehicle and pack up your stuff and bring it to your final destination. Penske will automatically determine your drop-off date based on the distance you have to travel. Your estimate will be based on that distance, and obviously the shorter the distance, the cheaper the price.
Penske guarantees your location and selected time once you have your reservation, which is a perk compared to other rental truck companies. U-Haul, for instance, can change it out from under you. (The only exception is if you book a mere 24 hours in advance, in which case Penske might give you a larger truck or alternative pick-up location.)
A couple of things to keep in mind: First, the calculated mileage ratings listed on your estimate are not guaranteed. (After all, this document is called an estimate.) Fuel mileage may also vary depending on load, terrain, weather, and driving speed, according to Penske's fine-print.
While getting the quote for my local move, I chatted with a customer representative. My estimate suggested I would pay $0.99 per mile from the starting point of the trip, which would have been the Penske location in North Bergen, New Jersey on a weekend in September. However, the rep asked me if I wanted to pay a lower mileage rate. Duh.
During the live online chat, the representative offered me a discount of $70 per day for the truck rental and $0.87 per mile driven, compared to the original price of $79.99 for the truck and $.99 per mile. However, the caveat is that if you get offered a lower price than the online estimate, you only have the duration of the chat or phone call to take advantage of it. There are no guarantees you can get the same price again after you talk it over with your spouse, for instance. Sure, it's a way to get you to book, but not a terrible one.
You can probably do this in person as well, or over the phone. The point is that Penske agents are given a relative number to bargain with, so take advantage.
Planning a long-distance (or one-way) move requires virtually the same process as the local one. The biggest difference with the long-distance move is that you'll be picking up and dropping off in two different Penske locations. (And yeah, obviously it generally costs more.) You head to the website for a quote, find out how much it costs, and sign up for a certain-sized truck.
The other major difference is that everyone is offered free unlimited mileage for a long-distance move, as opposed to the $0.99 per mile quote from the local move estimate. This really makes you feel like an adult, and less like you're being monitored or nickled and dimed.
Once you schedule your pick-up date, you will automatically be told your drop-off date, which again, you don't get to pick. (Just as you would with the local move, take note of the locations you are assigned.) But Penske guarantees you get to keep your pickup reservation day and time.
Prices vary depending on the size of the truck, the distance you will be traveling, and the length of time you'll have the vehicle. Also, Penske prides itself on its discounts. Here is a list of their basic ones, but they always have some sort of deal going on, depending on the season.
|US military||10% off all truck rentals|
|Students||10% off all truck rentals|
|AAA||12% off all truck rentals|
|New customers||20% off first rental|
The local move is quite affordable, even before I was offered the discount during the chat. A 26 foot rental truck - with enough space to move a 3-bedroom home with a basement and garage from Fort Lee, New Jersey to Ridgefield Park, New Jersey - was $129.44. The breakdown:
This comes to a total of $129.44 for the truck. Penske automatically added the limited damage waiver (LDW) coverage for $40.
I made a reservation For a move of a 3-bedroom house with a basement and garage from northern New Jersey to central Florida. I was charged $2,089.05, which includes:
This cost puts Penske right in line with those offered by Budget® and U-Haul®. Talking to an agent and making your reservation online might lower the price, if you qualify for any promos or things like military discounts. Penske has a lot of those!
...(E)veryone is offered free unlimited mileage for a long-distance move, as opposed to the $0.99 per mile quote from the local move estimate.
You get unlimited mileage free, but you have to pay if you go over the agreed-upon number of travel days. Pick-up and drop-off are at the same time, so you have to return the vehicle when agreed upon or risk being charged for an extra day. If you add extra days to your trip before pick-up, you will pay $50 more per day. If you add them after pick-up, you will be charged $100 per day. Oh, and if you complete your move and drop off the truck before the agreed upon date, you don't receive a refund, except on protection plans and insurance. Of course, you'll be charged if you return a dirty truck, so sweep out the cargo areas and make sure to remove all trash and personal belongings.
There is no charge for changing or canceling your reservation, as long as you do it at least 48 hours before the scheduled date and time. But you will be charged $100 if you fail to notify Penske of changes or cancellations within that time frame, so be extra careful.
Penske offers a few options for coverage, however the company suggests you look at your own car and homeowner's policies first about renting a truck that will be more than 10,000 pounds.
As for Penske's own coverage options, this is what they offer:
Penske prices aren't always going to look as appealing as other rental trucks on sight, and that's because prices will vary based on your approach and because some of the discounts are secrets.
For example, the price gets lower if you make your reservation through the website, and this is the case for many truck rental companies. Still, it's not advertised, so you need to know ahead of time. A web reservation saved me $215.30! Lesson learned. Secondly, I received an additional discount of $193.77 for going through the HireAHelper site.
Just as you need to be aware of discounts, you have to be on the lookout for hidden or unknown fees. I repeatedly asked about any fees associated with cancellations. When quoting me the price initially, the customer service agent told me reservations are free to cancel and free to change the dates. Turns out, that absolutely isn't true.
Ask a customer service rep if he or she can help find the lowest possible quote. Initially, I was impressed with the long-distance $1,743.93 price for the truck alone. But I had some questions about coverage, so I clicked on the live chat button that appears when you start getting a quote. The agent offered to give me a quote herself and see if she could lower the rate. Indeed, she managed to get the price for the truck down to $1,614.75. That's an additional savings of $129.18, which I wouldn't have gotten had I booked without talking to an agent. She wrote that the rate was only good during our live chat and that she was able to offer this price based on availability.
The focus on truck features and driving safety was refreshing. I learned the truck I was planning to rent had an automatic transmission with cruise control, anti-lock brakes for safer stops, dual-faced mirrors for better vision, and power steering. My concerns about being able to load the truck melted away when I read about the easy-to-operate 1,000-pound capacity loading ramp and rear roll-up door. There's a translucent roof with interior lighting, so I could feasibly load and unload in the dark. All of this is far different than the competition's approach, which is usually far more centered around sticker prices.
I received an additional discount of $193.77 for going through the HireAHelper site.
Additional perks, such as air conditioning, cargo-tie rails, and 3-person bench seating were nice to know about, as was the diesel power, which was estimated to save me $58.70 on fuel. Knowing the average truck was no more than 24 months old was the cherry on top. Also, as long as I called the district office in my area, I could even test drive the truck before pick up.
Penske will keep you warm and fuzzy in the cold, so don't worry if you're moving in the winter or other times when there are poor conditions: "If conditions are dangerous, your rental may be extended without charge. And, if you add windshield washer fluid, oil, or antifreeze, save your receipts and Penske will refund you." Sounds like a company that cares!
Free roadside assistance will help you 24/7. Some companies make you pay extra for access to roadside assistance should your truck break down or malfunction. Penske, however, offers an SOS number to all renters of its trucks should the unthinkable happen. When you're worried about driving one of these big boys, this sure could put your worries to rest.
Same-day rental is possible. As long as the truck and equipment you need is available, you can reserve and pick up a truck in the same day.
If you are someone who cares about safety and are willing to do the necessary research for the best quote, try Penske. In fact, from my experience renting rental trucks, the biggest reason someone should consider Penske over other truck rental companies is for the ability to find discounts and even sometimes negotiate, as opposed to just chasing sticker prices.
The free unlimited mileage for a long-distance move is also a big perk worth noting. The ease of using the website and online chat for customer service is another benefit of opting for Penke, and their trucks are just sturdier and safer. I really fear driving those big trucks, so information about the safety features is always welcome. The fact that 24-hour roadside assistance is automatically part of your order also sets Penske apart from other truck rental companies.
The truck check-out process was very smooth, the guy even gave me a free padlock! Driving a truck for the first time on city streets was harrowing but it worked out. I ran into some mechanical issues getting the truck out of the city (turns out I was just overreacting), and the 24/7 help service was fantastic. They have a ton of empathy, they care and make followup calls and check in on you, even the onsite tech who'd been on duty for 12 hours at that point was chatty and took the vehicle for a spin around the neighborhood to suss out what was going on. I felt super well taken care-of, and that doesn't happen much (especially in the moving business!). I can't see me ever trying a different truck rental company.
I had significant problems with the 26 foot truck I rented from Penske, (one headlight was out, no air conditioning, a cab door that did not lock) but when I returned the vehicle they gave me a significant refund so barring their not inspecting the truck before pick-up I would use them again. Just make sure they have inspected the truck.
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