Overall opinion: In this article, we’ll be taking a look at three major players in the container moving landscape. All of them are high-quality, trustworthy companies with good customer reviews, but if we had to pick just one, we’d go with U-Pack.
U-Pack reviews are consistently great. In addition, the company’s great national coverage, convenient container options, and transparent pricing made it our top pick as the best moving container company. While you should get a quote from all three of these companies when planning a move to a new home, our favorite is U-Pack.
Portable storage container companies at a glance
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 moving truck rental.
It’s the perfect “middle ground” moving experience between DIY and full-service professional movers — and it’s no wonder people are confused about which provider to go with. Dozens of these companies have popped up since portable storage containers became a thing in the late ‘90s.
Regardless of the company you use, most follow a similar business model. You order the number of containers you need for your move. The company will drop off the containers at home, after which you’ll generally have a set number of business days to load everything up. Once you’ve packed your containers, the company will pick them up and transport them to your destination.
Some of these companies also offer short and long-term storage options, such as climate-controlled storage facilities where you can keep your container until you’re ready to move into your new place. This way, you don’t have to unload everything into a storage unit as part of your move!
Because of this, moving containers are sometimes used as residential storage containers, as some companies allow you to rent your containers indefinitely for onsite storage. Storage services vary depending on the company.
In this showdown, we’ll take a closer look at 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 moving service offerings, availability, containers, prices, and more, so you should be equipped with way more information to help you choose the right moving company for you.
Let’s meet our competitors, in alphabetical order.
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 in. These are some of the biggest factors we think you should consider when choosing between these moving container companies.
ABF U-Pack: Long distance moves at the best prices
89% of users select this mover
What we love:U-Pack (not to be confused with U-Haul) 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. While U-Pack ReloCubes are only available in one container size, you can order as many as you need for your move. A 27-foot moving trailer is also available. To help you get the most bang for your buck, you only pay for the space you actually use.What we don’t:U-Pack doesn’t do any local moves. If your move is over 100 miles, you’re in luck — otherwise, U-Pack services won’t be an option for you.
|U-Pack Pros||U-Pack Cons|
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PODS: The container moving and storage industry pioneer
89% of users select this mover
What we love:PODS has the most experience out of any company in this industry. PODS practically 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. They also have multiple container size options, including 8-foot, 12-foot, and 16-foot containers.
What we don’t: BecausePODS is so popular, its containers tend to sell out. In fact, during peak moving times like spring and summer, PODS containers 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|
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1-800-PACK-RAT: Container moves for the seriously budget-minded
89% of users select this mover
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 when getting a quote over the phone, which means you might be able to lock in a price even lower than your initial quote. Three different sizes of containers (8, 12, and 16 feet) give added flexibility for your packing needs.
What we don’t:Pack Rat only operates in 29 states, which means almost half the country doesn’t have 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 pick up if the driver has to travel a long way from a Pack Rat location.
|1-800-PACK-RAT Pros||1-800-PACK-RAT Cons|
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Learn more in our comprehensive review of Pack Rat.
PODS vs Pack Rat vs U-Pack: all the services offered
While PODS, Pack Rat, and U-Pack all follow the same basic moving and storage company business model, there are some differences in their services that you’ll want to consider. Here’s an overview of how their services compare.
|Storage at a Facility||✔||✔||✔|
|Storage on Your Property||✔||✔||No|
|Storage Between Destinations During a Move||✔||✔||✔|
|Delivery and Pickup of Containers||✔||✔||✔|
|You Pack the Containers||✔||✔||✔|
|Professionals Pack the Containers||Available as an add-on with contractors||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||No||✔ for long-distance moves only||✔|
|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 is that PODS and Pack Rat both offer onsite storage, while U-Pack only offers storage at its facilities. PODS and Pack Rat 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 on every booking. U-Pack is also the only company to offer its unique pricing plan, where you only pay for the space that you actually use.
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, that company is off the table for you. You’ll have to head to each company’s website 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 of the United States and has no international presence. PODS operates in most states and Canada, as well as Australia. 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 offerings. They all offer multiple container sizes, and they’re all made of sturdy, weather-resistant steel frames. For the winner in this category, it all comes down to convenience. Here’s how they stack up.
|How many container sizes available?||3||3||2|
|What are the container sizes?||8-foot |
|7-foot Relocube |
27-foot trailer (only pay for the space you use)
|Storage available for all container sizes?||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Cubic footage available?||402-835 cf||404-830 cf||308-1,944 cf|
Once again, the winner is U-Pack. Its ReloCubes are great for small moves, and if you have a larger home, the 27-foot trailer ensures you’ll have enough room for everything. Most importantly, 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 cost 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, your move date, and the size of your home are just some of the factors that will be taken into consideration. Every move is different, so make sure to get a personalized quote from each company you’re considering.
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 doing 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. 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, preferred moving process, and budget. We may like U-Pack best out of these three options, but all three are great choices and we recommend getting free quotes from all of them before you book anything.
In fact, before you choose a moving company, you should compare moving quotes and offerings from as many companies as possible. By fully understanding your available options between container companies, full-service movers, and DIY companies, you can make the best choice for your family’s move.
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