Container moving companies are popular for a reason. They take the affordability of a DIY move — where you rent a truck or trailer and do the whole thing yourself — and remove the scariest part: Having to haul a trailer or drive a giant truck.
It’s the perfect middle ground between DIY and full-service moving, and it’s no wonder people are confused about which provider to go with since dozens of them have popped up since moving pods became a thing in the late ‘90s.
Another popular use for moving containers is as residential storage containers since many of these companies will allow you to keep your containers indefinitely for onsite storage (though not all of them offer this, as you’ll find out below).
In this showdown, we have PODS, 1-800-PACK-RAT, and U-Pack — three extremely established and well-known companies in the container moving landscape. Any of these three would be a solid choice for your move, but if you’re looking for the perfect match for your moving needs, you’ve come to the right place.
In this article, we’ll compare their service offerings, availability, containers, prices, and more, so by the end of the page, you should be equipped with way more information to help you choose the right moving company for you.
Let’s meet our competitors.
Each of these companies has its own set of pros and cons, so let’s dive right on in.
PODS: The Container Moving and Storage Industry Pioneer
What we love: PODS Moving and Storage has the most experience out of any company in this industry. It created container moving when it incorporated in 1998, and has since helped millions of families successfully move. Moving is stressful, and knowing you have PODS’ decades of experience can be a great peace of mind.
What we don’t love: Because PODS is so popular, its containers tend to sell out. In fact, during peak moving times like spring and summer, their moving pods can be sold out up to six months in advance. Not everyone is able to plan a move with that much lead time, so if you’re moving without a ton of notice, PODS may not even be available for you.
|PODS Pros||PODS Cons|
| || |
1-800-PACK-RAT: Container Moves For the Seriously Budget-Minded
What we love: Pack Rat puts a real focus on having some of the most competitive pricing in the industry. Not only are its quotes generally very competitive, but the company allows haggling, which means you might be able to lock in a price even lower than your initial quote.
What we don’t love: Pack Rat only operates in 29 states, which means for almost half the country, there won’t be a location nearby. Pack Rat storage locations can also be a little limited. That doesn’t necessarily mean you can’t use a Pack Rat rental for your move, but you’ll likely have to pay more for container delivery and pickup if the driver has to travel a long way from a Pack Rat location.
|1-800-PACK-RAT Pros||1-800-PACK-RAT Cons|
| || |
ABF U-Pack: Long Distance Moves At the Best Prices
What we love: U-Pack is the container moving branch of shipping company ABF, which means there’s a lot of experience behind your move. The company offers great prices for long-distance moves, and an excellent selection of container sizes that help you get the most bang for your buck, like the 27-foot trailer where you only pay for the space you actually use.
What we don’t love: U-Pack doesn’t do any local moves. If your move is over 100 miles, you’re in luck — otherwise, U-Pack won’t be an option for you.
|U-Pack Pros||U-Pack Cons|
| || |
While PODS, Pack Rat, and U-Pack all follow the same basic business model that’s common for container moving and storage companies, there are small differences in the services they offer that you’ll probably want to take into consideration. Before you book your move, here’s how all their services compare.
|Storage at a Facility||✔||✔||✔|
|Storage on Your Property||✔||✔|
|Storage Between Destinations During a Move||✔||✔||✔|
|Delivery and Pickup of Containers||✔||✔||✔|
|You Pack the Containers||✔||✔||✔|
|Professionals Pack the Containers||Available as an add-on service||Available as an add-on service|
|Limited Time to Pack Containers||✔ |
(Up to three business days)
|Shipment of Containers to New Address||✔||✔||✔|
|Insurance Available to Purchase||✔||✔||✔|
|Free Cancelation or Modification||✔ |
(Up to the day before your move)
(Up to 48 hours before your move)
One of the most notable differences in services offered is that PODS and Pack Rat both offer onsite storage, while with U-Pack, storage is limited to its facilities. PODS and Pack Rat both also have more flexible cancelation policies and allow unlimited time for packing and unpacking.
However, U-Pack is the only company out of these three to include insurance with every booking. U-Pack and Pack Rat also offer the option to add-on loading and unloading help when you book your move, while PODS does not.
PODS vs 1-800-PACK-RAT vs U-Pack: Are You In Their Service Area?
If the starting and ending zip codes for your move aren’t in a service area for a specific moving company, well, that company is off the table for you. You’ll have to head to each of these companies’ websites to check specific zip codes, but here are the general places you can work with PODS, Pack Rat, and U-Pack.
|Available in the U.S.?||In 44 states||In 29 states||All 50 states and Puerto Rico|
|Available in Canada?||Yes||No||Yes|
|Available internationally?||Yes, in Australia||No||No|
In this category, U-Pack is the clear winner (unless you’re Australian). Pack Rat only operates in just over half the states and no other countries. PODS operates in most states and Canada. U-Pack operates in all 50 states, plus Puerto Rico and Canada.
In this case, all three of our competitors have very similar containers. They all offer multiple sizes, and they’re all made of sturdy, weathproof metal. For the winner in this category, it’ll all come down to convenience. Here’s how they stack up.
|How many container sizes available?||3||3||2|
|What are the container sizes?||7-foot |
|5’10” “Relocube |
27’ trailers (only pay for the space you use)
|Storage available for all container sizes?||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Cubic footage available?||390-1,008 cf||404-830 cf||305-1,800 cf|
Once again, the winner is U-Pack. Its small cubes are great for small moves, and if you have a larger home, the 27-foot trailer ensures you’ll have enough room for everything, but you won’t overestimate or overpay, since you only pay for the space you use.
We know that prices are a major consideration for most people when they choose a moving company. But before we get into the average prices for these three companies, just a reminder that these are just that: averages.
Tons of factors affect the cost of a move. Your starting and ending zip codes, the time of year, weather, fuel prices, and the size of your home are just some of the factors that will be taken into consideration. Every move is different, so before you seriously compare different companies by their prices, make sure to get a personalized quote from each.
Cost for a Local Move
|1 bedroom||$200 – $400||$150 – $500||Not Available for Local Moves|
|2-3 bedrooms||$300 – $650||$200 – $630||Not Available for Local Moves|
|4-5 bedrooms||$300 – $800||$340 – $790||Not Available for Local Moves|
Cost for a Move < 250 Miles
|1 bedroom||$450 – $800||$465 – $910||$900 – $1,300|
|2-3 bedrooms||$750 – $1,900||$660 – $1,900||$1,100 – $1,700|
|4-5 bedrooms||$900 – $2,100||$1,000 – $3,400||$1,200 – $1,900|
Cost for a Cross-Country Move
|1 bedroom||$2,000 – $4,000||$1,200 – $3,800||$1,500 – $2,500|
|2-3 bedrooms||$3,000 – $4,900||$2,400 – $4,600||$2,400 – $3,900|
|4-5 bedrooms||$5,500 – $7,600||$5,100 – $6,900||$3,500 – $6,600|
Once again, U-Pack wins. As long as you’re making a long-distance move, U-Pack tends to have the best prices out of these three. But remember, that may not be the case for your particular move. Make sure you get customized quotes before you make any decisions based on price.
Ultimately, only you can decide which company best fits your needs and your budget. We may like U-Pack best out of these three options, but all three are great choices and we recommend gettings quotes from all of them before you book anything.
In fact, before you choose a moving company, you should compare quotes and offerings from as many companies as possible. To compare container companies with full-service movers, DIY companies, and everything in between, moveBuddha has the tools you need.