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How to Find the Best Moving Truck Rental for Your Needs

Long-Distance Moves

by Sofia Rivera Posted on January 2, 2024

When you’re on a tight budget and planning a DIY move, finding the best moving truck rental for your needs is one of the most important steps. You’ll need to figure out the right size truck to fit all your stuff and consider all the other factors that will affect the total cost — including the distance, amount of time, insurance, and whether you need to transport your own vehicle. You’ll also want to compare U-Haul truck rentals with other moving truck rentals near you. And finally, when you add everything up, you may even want to consider other moving options — especially if you’re relocating cross-country or will need storage as part of your move. Ready to get going? Read on to find what you need to know before deciding on a moving truck rental.

How Far Away Are You Moving?

The distance of your move will significantly affect your overall cost. Local same-day moving truck rentals are the most affordable, with some companies offering options as low as $39.95 plus mileage for a 20-foot truck. Typically, the moving truck rental rate increases based on the size — unless the company happens to be offering a deal during the slower fall and winter seasons. If you need a one-way truck rental for a long distance, the costs will be significantly higher. You’ll have to pay a flat rate for each day you need the truck, and often for each mile driven. You'll also be paying for lodging, meals, and fuel along the way.

What Size Moving Truck Rental Do You Need?

There are a few factors to consider when you’re deciding on a moving truck size, from how much space you need for your items to how difficult it is to drive and navigate through the areas where you’re moving to and from. Here’s a handy list estimating the size truck you’ll need, depending on the size of your home* (plus some quick tips to help you decide the size rental truck you need):

  • Small Studio Apartment (less than 400 square feet) 
    Cargo van or 10-ft truck
  • Studio/1-Bedroom Apartment (600 square feet)
    10-ft, 15-ft, or 16-ft truck
  • 1- to 2-Bedroom Apartment/House (800-1,000 square feet)
    15-ft or 16-ft truck
  • 2- to 3-Bedroom Apartment/House (1,200 square feet)
    15-ft, 16-ft, or 18-ft truck
  • 3-Bedroom Apartment/House (1,600 square feet)
    20-ft, 22-ft, or 26-ft truck
  • 4-Bedroom House (2,000 square feet)
    26-ft truck (may take multiple trips)
  • 4+ Bedroom House (over 2,000 square feet)
    Multiple trips or other moving options

*This size guide is an estimate only. Larger items and how efficiently the truck is loaded will significantly impact the required size.

Don’t underestimate how much space you’ll need. It’s better to have a little wiggle room in the truck (and space for bubble cushioning roll, padding, hand trucks, etc.) than to run out when you’re not done loading.

Also, consider how you’ll maneuver the truck in your current and new neighborhood. In some tight spaces, a larger truck may not fit at all! If you’re in an urban location or on a narrow street, it might be better to do multiple trips with a smaller truck or look into other urban moving options.

And make sure to reserve your ideal truck size well in advance, especially if you’re moving on a popular day like a weekend, holiday weekend, or any time in the summer!

Do You Need Any Special Features?

Trucks may have different features, depending on the size truck and rental company you use. Trucks larger than 12 feet, for example, tend to have a pull-out ramp for getting into the truck, which will make loading and unloading a little easier. If you think you may be on the verge of filling up a smaller 10-foot truck, it might be worth it to size up for the more convenient ramp. Most trucks also have rings on the interior walls you can use with straps to secure items from shifting around once you start driving, which is especially important for tall furniture pieces or piles of boxes.

To make loading heavy items easier, you can also rent a hand truck at the same time you get the truck, if you go to one of the main U-Haul or Penske locations instead of one of the partner locations. The main locations will have other moving supplies on hand, as well, such as boxes, quilted furniture pads, packing tape, and other essentials.

If you’re moving long-distance, comfort in the cabin area is definitely a factor, as well. Keep in mind that most moving trucks only have room for two people: the driver and one passenger. It’s also important to consider who will be driving the truck. If you’re on the shorter side, some truck dashboards can be oversized and difficult to see over. You might also want a truck with comfortable perks, like air conditioning, a radio, or a USB port for charging your phone.

Do You Need Insurance for your Moving Truck Rental?

Insurance on rental cars and trucks may seem like a waste of money, but it can certainly be worth it if something unexpected happens. Most car insurance policies don’t provide coverage for rental trucks, and if they do, the coverage is very limited. Considering that your rental truck may easily cost $45,000 or more to replace, you sure don’t want to turn your budget move into a financial disaster. It’s better to play it safe and purchase the insurance for the truck rental, so you have one less thing to worry about during your move. 

You’ll just need to decide how much protection you want to pay for, and whether you want to cover just the rental truck or if you want to include your belongings and liability. If you’re set on saving the money, check in with your car insurance company first to see if you’re covered in the event of an accident while driving a moving truck. Some credit card companies also offer coverage, if you use the card to pay for the rental, but read the fine print to make sure it offers meaningful protection.

How To Find the Cheapest Moving Truck Rental

Try to go with a smaller truck to save on both miles per gallon and the rental rate — just measure your stuff carefully! With a handful of major companies now offering truck rentals to consumers, in addition to portable container services, it’s worth it to get multiple quotes. Here are four quick tips on finding the best prices for rental moving trucks for your move:

  • Make sure to refill the tank before you return the truck to avoid being charged premium fuel rates by the company.
  • Don’t be afraid to ask for a better rate by phone. The customer service rep probably won’t offer up specials, so specifically ask if there are any discounts or promotions that could reduce your rate.
  • Move in the off-season months from September through April or May so you can take advantage of lower rates and special deals.
  • Add up all the costs involved — auto transport, hotel, gas, and storage, if you need it. For long-distance moves and those requiring storage, a portable container may be around the same cost or even cheaper. 
Q: What is the cheapest company for moving truck rentals?
A:
It’s a good idea to request a quote from multiple moving truck rental companies, as the price can vary based on location and mileage — and be sure to ask whether the quoted price is locked in, or if there are any hidden fees. Generally, U-Haul and Budget offer competitive pricing, and for local-only moves, Enterprise can be an affordable option.

Comparing Moving Truck Rental Companies

When you’re moving thousands of miles, the total price can add up quickly. Long-distance truck rentals cost $971, on average, according to HireAHelper, a mover comparison and referral tool  — and that doesn’t include gas, lodging, or vehicle transport. But how can you find a moving truck, about how much can you expect to pay, what are the best moving truck rental companies, and what are the pros and cons of each? Here’s a quick summary of the companies with the best moving trucks.

U-Haul International, Inc.

Cost: $137 avg. for local moves; $298 avg. for medium distance; $1,132 for long distance

If you’ve driven on a highway, you’ve likely seen a U-Haul. That’s because the truck rental provider is pretty prolific, with more than 23,000 locations in North America, meaning it shouldn’t be hard to find a center with trucks near you. You’ve probably also seen the “now only $19.95” tagline on those recognizable trucks, and while that is the baseline rental truck fee for a local move, that doesn’t mean that’s the final price when you slide your card. U-Hauls can come with various hidden fees, from insurance and fuel costs to mileage fees and environmental fees.

Pros:

  • Easy to find a U-Haul rental center near you — there are over 23,000 U-Haul locations in North America
  • Online quotes and reservations
  • They offer roadside assistance services
  • They offer a variety of truck sizes, from pickups to 26-foot trucks 

Cons:

  • There can be some hidden fees
  • Charges per mile
  • Customer service can be inconsistent because of the company's size

Penske

Cost: Average of about $130 to $1,200 per day, depending on truck size and location

Though you may know Penske as a commercial truck brand, they also offer personal truck rentals, which anyone over 18 with a driver’s license can operate. Because their fleet is smaller than U-Haul’s, their prices can be higher, but customers love the discounts they offer — like percentages off for students, veterans, and AAA members. And though they charge per mile for round-trip moves, they offer a flat fee for one-way moves (meaning you leave the truck in your destination), which can provide some serious peace of mind when doing a stressful long-distance move, where you’re worried about the miles adding up.

Pros:

  • Offers unlimited mileage for one-way rentals
  • Roadside assistance available 24/7
  • They offer a variety of discounts, including 10% off for college students and 15% off for veterans 
  • High marks for easy online booking and customer service
  • More than 2,500 locations

Cons:

  • Rates can be higher than U-Haul because there’s less supply

Budget Truck Rental

Cost: $157 avg. for local moves; $289 avg. for medium distance; $1,092 for long distance

Given its name, it makes sense that Budget offers competitive rates for truck rentals at the more than 2,800 locations they have throughout the U.S. Not to mention they offer an array of promotions for people with different affiliations, from AARP members to military members to police officers, firefighters, and EMTs. And if you need to rent a car (maybe to get around in your first few days living in a new city), Budget is well known for its car rental services, too.

Pros:

  • Offers unlimited miles for long-distance moving trucks
  • Competitive pricing, particularly for local moves
  • Substantial discounts available for military members, AARP members, EMTs, and more 
  • Also offers car rentals

Cons:

  • There can be some hidden fees that hike up the total cost

Enterprise Truck Rental

Cost: $209 avg. for local moves; $272 avg. for medium distance; $748 for long distance

Given its policy that you have to return your truck rental to the same place you picked it up, Enterprise is only really a viable option for local moves. For any cross-country moving truck rentals (or even out-of-state moving truck rentals), it simply wouldn’t be worth the mileage to drive it back. If you’re looking for a convenient option for your DIY move around the block, though, Enterprise could be a great company to use. Just keep in mind that with around 460 locations in the U.S., their centers aren’t as ubiquitous as, say, U-Haul, so you should use their online reservation tool to see if there’s one near you.

Pros:

  • Offers a wide variety of types of moving trucks, from pickup trucks and cargo vans to box trucks and stakebed trucks, making it a flexible option for a DIY move
  • Affordable rates for local moves

Cons:

  • Must return your rental to the same place you got it (not viable for long-distance moving truck rentals)
Q: What is the best company to rent a moving truck from?
A:
If you’re looking at sheer volume, U-Haul is one of the best moving truck rental companies, as it has over 23,000 locations in North America — so there’s no need to worry about finding one near your old home or new one. Penske is another great option, receiving the highest rental truck company rating from Forbes.

Moving Truck Rentals vs. Portable Moving Containers

If you still have to transport your own vehicle, and you’d rather not tow it behind the truck, you may want to consider using a moving and storage container service, which can be a cost-effective option once you factor in all the costs involved in renting a truck. Here’s a quick look at the pros of going with a portable moving container service, rather than using a moving truck.

  • You can drive your own car. Since the container is delivered to your door and then picked up and transported to your new location, this frees you up to drive your own vehicle. Yep. That means you don’t have to deal with driving a humongous truck across the country.
  • No racing the clock. You also get the flexibility to take your time with both loading and unloading, so you won't have to race the clock to avoid hefty late fees on a truck rental.
  • Built-in flexibility. PODS portable container service starts with a full-month rental, giving you built-in storage with easy access to your belongings — which can come in handy if your moving dates need to change.

When it comes down to it, renting a moving truck isn’t that complicated. As long as you pay attention to a few details, you’ll be able to find an affordable moving truck or other option that meets your needs. Time to get started on packing? These tips will help you pack like a pro.

Sofia Rivera is a Boston-based lifestyle editor and frequent contributor to the PODS Blog. Her work has appeared in Boston magazine, Apartment Therapy, and more. You can most often find her redecorating her apartment, trying out a new recipe, or trekking all over the city. 

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