PODS vs 1-800-PACK-RAT vs U-Pack: A Three-Way Showdown

Three of the biggest, best-known container moving companies go head-to-head. PODS vs 1-800-PACK-RAT vs U-Pack: Which one will you choose?

Overall opinion: Here we have three major players in the container moving landscape. All of them are high-quality, trustworthy companies, but if we had to pick, we’d go with U-Pack. U-Pack reviews are consistently great, plus the company’s great national coverage, convenient container options, and transparent pricing made it our top pick for container moving companies in 2019. You should get quotes from all three of these companies, but our favorite is U-Pack.

PODS vs 1-800-PACK-RAT vs U-pack: Winner

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.

PODS vs 1-800-PACK-RAT vs U-Pack: What We Love and What We Don’t

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

PODS Moving Services     4.0 out of 5.0 stars

Read our comprehensive review of PODS here.

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
  • Usually less expensive than a full-service move
  • Tons of flexibility to cancel or change your plans up to the day before your move with full refunds available
  • Minimum rental time is 30 days, so you can take as much time as you need to pack and unpack
  • Onsite or facility storage available
  • Multiple container sizes available
  • You pack, someone else drives
  • Good nationwide coverage, and some international coverage
  • Website is missing some important information
  • You can’t get a quote or book online for most moves, which means you’ll probably spend some time on the phone
  • Often sold out months in advance

1-800-PACK-RAT: Container Moves For the Seriously Budget-Minded

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

Read our comprehensive review of Pack Rat here.

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
  • Usually less expensive than a full-service move
  • Flexible policies that allow cancelation or changes up to 48 hours before your scheduled move with full refunds
  • 30-day minimum rentals, so you can take all the time you need to pack and unpack
  • Multiple container sizes available
  • You pack, someone else drives
  • Offers moving supplies to add on, and they’re included for free for some long-distance moves
  • Insurance is included with every booking, and you can pay a little more for increased coverage
  • Website is just OK — some important information is missing
  • You can’t get a quote or book online
  • U.S. service areas aren’t great, and international moves aren’t offered at all
  • Long-distance moves sometimes come with fuel surcharges that some users say they weren’t warned about upfront, meaning they got a surprise bigger bill at the end of their move
  • No pickups or deliveries on Sundays

ABF U-Pack: Long Distance Moves At the Best Prices

U-Pack     4.0 out of 5.0 stars

Read our comprehensive review of U-Pack here.

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
  • Usually less expensive than a full-service move
  • Super transparent pricing with no-hidden-fees guarantee
  • Instant online quotes available
  • Some of the fastest delivery times we’ve seen, with an online tracker so you can follow your stuff
  • Add-on services available to customize your move
  • Multiple container sizes available
  • Pay-for-the-space-you-use policy for large containers
  • You pack, someone else drives
  • Some of the best national coverage, which is great for people who live in rural areas
  • Not as flexible as some other companies; canceling within a week of your scheduled move could result in steep fees
  • No local moves
  • Larger trailers can be difficult to park and pack because of their size
  • No onsite storage available
  • Only up to three business days for packing and unpacking your containers

PODS vs Pack Rat vs U-Pack: All the Services Offered

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.

PODS Pack Rat U-Pack
Moving
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 Included
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.

PODS Pack Rat 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.

PODS vs 1-800-PACK-RAT vs U-Pack: Who Has the Best Containers?

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.

PODS Pack Rat U-Pack
How many container sizes available? 3 3 2
What are the container sizes? 7-foot

12-foot

16-foot

8-foot

12-foot< 16-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
Container material? Metal Metal Metal

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.

PODS vs 1-800-PACK-RAT vs U-Pack: How Much Does a Container Move Cost?

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.

With that said, here’s how PODS, Pack Rat, and U-Pack compare when it comes to average prices for different kinds of moves.

Cost for a Local Move

PODS Pack Rat U-Pack
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

PODS Pack Rat U-Pack
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

PODS Pack Rat U-Pack
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.

PODS vs 1-800-PACK-RAT vs U-Pack: Which Container Moving Company Is Right For You?

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.

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