PODs Competitors: 4 Alternatives to PODs with Reviews

Considering PODS? Don’t book until you’ve also checked out these 4 PODS alternatives: U-Pack, U-Box, Zippy Shell, and 1-800-PACK-RAT to ensure you’re getting the best deal.

Most people assume portable storage containers are all the same.

Expert tip: this couldn’t be further from the truth!

Every portable storage company has different size containers, different service options, and most importantly, different pricing.

In fact, it’s not uncommon for long-distance moving quotes between storage container companies to differ by thousands of dollars.

While PODS is one of the biggest and best moving container companies out there. You should always compare them to other major storage container competitors.

Not to worry, here we’ll walk you through the top 4 PODS competitors including everything you need to know to compare the companies.

And if you just want to jump right in and start getting quotes, head to our 7 best moving container companies page to quickly get started.

Otherwise, read on to learn about four of PODS’ biggest competitors: U-Pack, Zippy Shell, 1-800-Pack-Rat and U-Haul U-Box.

PODS Alternatives: Meet the Competition

The companies we’re going to look at as alternatives to PODS are all reputable, nationwide moving companies, so you may have already heard of some or all of them. Our alternatives (with reviews) will include:

ABF U-Pack: Long Distance Moves With Seriously Competitive Pricing

U-Pack     4.0 out of 5.0 stars

Read our comprehensive review of U-Pack here.

What we love: U-Pack definitely tries to give you the best bang for your buck. It offers the largest containers out of all the companies on this list (27-foot tractor-trailers), but allows you to rent one and only pay for the space you use. No more guessing how many containers it’ll take to fit your stuff or overpaying by getting too many.

What we hate: U-Pack only does moves of 100 miles or more. If you’re moving locally, you’ll have to use another company. That’s particularly disappointing because we rated U-Pack top on our list of the best container moving companies.

U-Pack Pros U-Pack Cons
  • Generally less expensive than a full-service move
  • Super transparent pricing
  • No-hidden-fees guarantee
  • Instant online quotes
  • Some of the fastest delivery times in the industry, with an online tracker
  • Many add-on services available to customize your move
  • Multiple container sizes available, and pay-for-the-space-you-use policy for the largest containers
  • Someone else does the driving
  • Excellent national coverage, even in rural areas
  • Less flexible cancelation policy than some companies, which means canceling within a week of your move could mean steep fees
  • No local moves
  • Trailers can be tough to park and pack because of how big they are
  • No long term storing containers on your property
  • You only get up to three business days to pack and unpack

Zippy Shell: Tons of Add-Ons At Bare Bones Prices

Zippy Shell     3.5 out of 5.0 stars

Read our comprehensive review of Zippy Shell here.

What we love: Zippy Shell makes it easy to add packing and unpacking help to your move, and more often than not, is running a promotion that allows you to add one of those services at no extra cost. You get something a little closer to a full-service move at a container price, and that’s a great deal.

What we hate: Zippy Shell’s website is outdated, uninformative, and unhelpful. It’s missing some of the vital information that potential customers might want to know about the company (like container dimensions and its cancelation policy). And there are no online quotes, so you have to call in to get a price estimate.

Zippy Shell Pros Zippy Shell Cons
  • Generally less expensive than a full-service move
  • 30 days of free storage included with every move
  • It’s easy to add extra services like packing and unpacking help to your order, often at no extra cost because of Zippy’s frequent promotions
  • Someone else does the driving
  • The containers are great for apartment and city dwellers, since they’re designed to be legal to park in the street or in parking lots where other containers may not fit
  • Outdated, unhelpful website, so you’ll have to call in for a quote and some crucial information
  • You can’t store your belongings in the containers on your own property
  • You only have up to three business days to pack and unpack your containers
  • You can only order one container at a time
  • Less availability than many other companies—Zippy Shell only operates in 28 states, and the container sizes they have available vary by location

1-800-PACK-RAT: Container Moves Designed to Fit Your Budget

1-800-Pack-Rat     3.5 out of 5.0 stars

Read our comprehensive review of Pack Rat here.

What we love: 1-800-Pack-Rat already generally offers competitive pricing in its quotes, but it’s also one of the only moving company’s we’ve found that will allow you to haggle your price down even further, which means if you’re moving on a tight budget, Pack Rat might fit into it.

What we hate: That’s only if Pack Rat is available in your area—the company only operates in 29 states. If there’s no location near you, they still might be able to serve your move, but it’ll cost you more because of the higher cost of transporting the containers a greater distance, which might just cancel out the great prices they offer.

1-800-PACK-RAT Pros 1-800-PACK-RAT Cons
  • Generally less expensive than a full-service move
  • Flexible change and cancelation policy allows you to make changes or cancel with a full refund up to 48 hours before your move
  • 30-day minimum rentals, so you can take your time packing and unpacking
  • Multiple container sizes available
  • Someone else does the driving
  • Moving supplies are available to add on, and are free for some long-distance moves
  • An insurance plan is included in every booking, and you can increase your coverage by paying a little more
  • OK website that doesn’t have all the crucial information you might need
  • No online quotes or bookings
  • Patchy national coverage, and no international coverage at all
  • Long-distance moves come with a fuel surcharge that will increase the cost, and some reviewers have said they weren’t told about the surcharge upfront so they got a surprise with the bill
  • No pickups or deliveries on Sundays

U-Haul U-Box: Customizable, Budget-Friendly Moves

U-Haul U-Box     3.5 out of 5.0 stars

Read our comprehensive review of U-Haul U-Box here.

What we love: U-Box makes the container moving process a little more DIY, giving you a customizable experience where you can add on extra services until you’ve designed the perfect move for your needs—all with transparent pricing so you know exactly what each add-on adds to the cost.

What we hate: Our big hangup about U-Box is the containers themselves. While most of the big players in the industry use metal containers, U-Box’s are made of treated plywood. They’re not as sturdy, as evidenced by reviews from users who say they’ve broken and fallen apart during transit. We also have concerns about how weatherproof they would be.

U-Box Pros U-Box Cons
  • You can haul the containers yourself with a trailer, or you can let a professional do the driving
  • U-Box is U-Haul pods, which is one of the biggest, most trusted brands in moving
  • You can order as many containers as you want, but only pay for the ones you end up using
  • You can pack or unpack at a U-Haul facility instead of having the containers delivered, which shaves money off the total cost
  • Clean, easy-to-use website that offers instant online quotes
  • Usually less expensive than a full-service move
  • One of the only container companies that offers international moves
  • Only one container size available, and it’s smaller than what’s offered by most of the competition
  • Containers made out of plywood, which raises serious concerns about how strong and weatherproof they are
  • For customer service, you’ll probably have to call in — their online options for getting in touch with an agent weren’t great in our experience

Lastly, let’s talk about PODS.

PODS: Moving and Storage From the Industry Pioneer

PODS Moving Services     4.0 out of 5.0 stars

Read our comprehensive review of PODS here.

What we love: As you already know, PODS invented container moving. It has the experience of a pioneer after helping millions of people move since the company was founded in 1998. With that much experience, you know you’re getting a moving company that understands the industry and all the challenges that can arise during a move, and is ready to meet them.

What we hate: PODS is one of the most popular container moving companies in the country, but that means its availability can be limited. Particularly during peak moving season (spring and summer), moving pods can be sold out up to six months in advance. That means you need a fair amount of lead time to book a move with PODS.

PODS Pros PODS Cons
  • Generally less expensive than a full-service move
  • Flexible change and cancelation policy allows you to get a full refund if you have to change your plans, even last minute
  • Minimum rental time is 30 days, so you can take your time packing and unpacking
  • You can store the containers at a facility or on your own property
  • Multiple container sizes available
  • Someone else does the driving
  • Good nationwide coverage, and some international coverage
  • Not a lot of info is available on their website
  • No online quotes or booking for interstate moves, so you’ll have to call in
  • PODS are often sold out, which means if you’re planning your move without a lot of advance notice, it may be tough to get a booking

PODS Alternatives: What Services Top Container Movers Offer

You’re probably already familiar with the basic business model most container moving and storage companies follow.

Basically, you rent portable storage units/shipping containers from them. They’ll generally deliver the containers to your old address, where you pack your belongings and load them in the containers yourself. Then, the company has a professional driver ship them to your new address, with the option to drop them in a storage facility along the way, if you need some extra time. When they’re delivered to your new address, you unpack them and the company picks them back up.

It’s a popular moving style because it’s a much more affordable option than a full-service move, but removes one of the most intimidating parts of DIY moving: hauling a trailer or driving a big rented truck.

While all of the companies on this list offer that basic business model outlined above, there are small differences in the services they offer. Let’s take a look.

PODS U-Box U-Pack Zippy Shell Pack Rat
Moving
Storage at a Facility
Storage on Your Property
Storage Between Destinations During a Move
Delivery and Pickup of Containers
You Pack the Containers Available as an add-on service
Professionals Pack the Containers Available as an add-on service Available as an add-on service Available as an add-on service, sometimes at no extra charge Available as an add-on service
Limited Time to Pack Containers

(Up to three business days)

(Up to three business days)

Shipment of Containers to New Address
Insurance Included
Insurance Available to Purchase
Free Cancelation or Modification

(Up to the day before your move)

(Up to the day of your move)


(Up to 48 hours before your move)

Availability of PODS Alternatives: Which Companies Are Near Me?

Another important thing to consider before getting your heart set on a moving company is whether its service area includes your move — both your starting point and your final destination. Here’s where PODS, U-Box, U-Pack, Zippy Shell, and Pack Rat are available.

PODS U-Box U-Pack Zippy Shell Pack Rat
Available in the U.S.? In 44 states All 50 states All 50 states and Puerto Rico In 29 states In 29 states
Available in Canada? Yes Yes Yes No No
Available internationally? Yes, in Australia Yes – you can ship a U-Box to almost any international port No No No

PODS vs the Alternatives: How the Containers Stack Up

We’ve already mentioned that the biggest downside for one of these companies is that its containers themselves don’t stack up to the competition. It’s important to look into the pods to rent — their sizes, materials, whether you can park them at your place, whether their size will make them harder to pack — and take all that into consideration. Here’s how the containers for PODS, U-Box, U-Pack, Zippy Shell, and Pack Rat stack up.

PODS U-Box U-Pack Zippy Shell Pack Rat
How many container sizes available? 3 1 2 Officially, 2. But in practice, just 1* 3
What are the container sizes? 7-foot

12-foot

16-foot

8-foot 5’10” “Relocube
27’ trailers(only pay for the space you use)
10-foot*
15-foot
8-foot

12-foot

16-foot

Storage available for all container sizes? Yes Yes Yes No, just 15-foot Yes
Cubic footage available? 390-1,008 cf 280 cf 305-1,800 cf 385-625 cf 404-830 cf
Container material? Metal Treated plywood Metal Metal cage Metal

*According to Zippy Shell’s marketing and website, it offers two container sizes. But our research showed that that’s rarely the case. The 10-foot containers are only available at a few locations, so for most people who move with Zippy Shell, they won’t be an option. You’ll have to call your nearest Zippy Shell location to see if they have 10-foot containers available, but definitely, don’t count on it.

PODS Alternatives: How Much Do Container Moves Cost?

Here it is. We know one of your biggest questions is how much PODS cost compared to the alternatives. Moving is expensive, there’s no denying that. We know the price tag will be a major factor in your choice.

However, you should rarely hire the cheapest pod moving company based on its prices alone. You should carefully consider all the services in addition to the cost to make sure you’re getting a good deal from a moving company you trust to take care of your belongings.

With that said, we gathered some average prices for different types of moves for each of these companies. Keep in mind that these are just averages, and because of all the individual factors that can affect the cost of a move, you should request a personalized quote from each of these companies before you judge them based on their cost. Consider these averages to be a starting point, but keep in mind you cost might be very different from what’s listed here.

Also, have a look at our moving estimate calculator for a better idea on pricing.

Cost for a Local Move

PODS U-Box U-Pack Zippy Shell Pack Rat
1 bedroom $200 – $400 $150 – $600 Not Available for Local Moves $190 – $240 $150 – $500
2-3 bedrooms $300 – $650 $300 – $700 Not Available for Local Moves $300 – $630 $200 – $630
4-5 bedrooms $300 – $800 $300 – $800 Not Available for Local Moves $350 – $750 $340 – $790

Cost for a Move < 250 Miles

PODS U-Box U-Pack Zippy Shell Pack Rat
1 bedroom $450 – $800 $450 – $1,000 $900 – $1,300 $500 – $920 $465 – $910
2-3 bedrooms $750 – $1,900 $700 – $2,000 $1,100 – $1,700 $730 – $1,600 $660 – $1,900
4-5 bedrooms $900 – $2,100 $800 – $3,000 $1,200 – $1,900 $1,100 – $3,100 $1,000 – $3,400

Cost for a Cross-Country Move

PODS U-Box U-Pack Zippy Shell Pack Rat
1 bedroom $2,000 – $4,000 $1,200 – $3,500 $1,500 – $2,500 $1,800 – $3,900 $1,200 – $3,800
2-3 bedrooms $3,000 – $4,900 $2,500 – $4,500 $2,400 – $3,900 $2,800 – $4,500 $2,400 – $4,600
4-5 bedrooms $5,500 – $7,600 $4,000 – $7,000 $3,500 – $6,600 $5,200 – $7,000 $5,100 – $6,900

PODS vs the Competition: Which Moving Company Is Right For You?

We hope this comparison is helpful, but at the end of the day, we can’t tell you which of these companies (if any of them!) is right for your move. Every move is unique, and it’s up to you to find the moving company that best matches your own needs.

To start, how about comparing prices from a bunch of different moving companies you can trust, all in one place? moveBuddha can help with instant quotes from full-service, container, and DIY movers all at once.

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