Moving Containers vs Truck Rentals (PODS vs U-Haul): Which is Best?

Not everyone feels the need to hire a moving company to help them with their move. For those who prefer to save money and do the work themselves, the choice then becomes whether to rent a moving truck or a portable storage container. When it comes to comparing these options, most people will focus on the two biggest brands: PODS vs U-Haul.

PODS is a moving container company, though the term is often now universally moved for this type of move (like Kleenex is for tissues). It’s a similar case with U-Haul and moving truck companies. Both options are more budget-friendly than professional movers. In fact, PODS is one of our top picks for cheapest moving containers. But there’s more to consider than just cost. Here’s a closer look at what to consider when choosing between these moving options.

Quick Overview: PODS vs Rental Trucks

First, let’s do a broad comparison between the two options.

PODS Rental Truck
Driving PODS does all the driving door-to-door You drive the rental truck
Pricing PODS includes gas and tolls in their base price You pay gas, tolls, mileage, etc. in addition to the base price
Storage 30 days of storage included in base price with options for long term storage No storage options except unloading into a storage unit on your own
Sizing PODS has 3 sizes: 10′, 12′, & 16′ containers U-Haul has pickup trucks as well as 10′, 15′, 20′, and 26′ trucks
Moving Labor Can hire loaders separately Can hire loaders separately
Delivery Delivery scheduling is required; PODS has weekend restrictions You control when your items arrive
Car PODS allow motorcycles to be shipped inside the container; larger vehicles aren’t allowed Rental trucks usually offer car towing options
Parking PODS can be challenging to park Rental trucks are street legal almost everywhere

PODS vs Moving Truck Rental: How Much Do They Cost?

Estimating exactly what a move can cost is tricky because every move is different.

Here are a few factors that can affect the cost of your move:

  • How much stuff you have
  • How far you’re moving
  • Your starting and ending ZIP codes
  • The day of the week and time of year of your move

With container moving companies, your quote will include drop-off and pickup fees, transportation fees, storage fees (when applicable), and sometimes fuel surcharges or per-mile fees.

With truck rental companies, there are often base day rates, mileage fees, gas fees, environmental fees, and late-return fees if your move takes longer than you expect.

Generally speaking, however, PODS is usually more expensive than a U-Haul truck rental because of their delivery and transportation services.

The bottom line? You won’t know how much your move will cost until you get a personalized quote. The good news is that most companies offer free quotes to give you an idea of what you’ll pay.

While renting a truck is generally more affordable than booking a container company, this isn’t always the case. It’s important to carefully compare all the different factors at play in your move when comparing prices.

For example, the time it’ll take you to drive a moving truck could add to the cost significantly if you have to take several days off work or spend a lot of money on food and accommodations. If mileage isn’t included in your price quote, that could be a huge added cost if you’re moving a long way, whereas, with container moves, the mileage is almost always included in the estimate.

Keep all that in mind when you’re looking at these price averages for both services, and get your own quotes from multiple companies to get an accurate estimate for your move.

Cost for a Local Move

Container Company Rental Truck
1 bedroom $150 – $600 $20 – $200 (plus per-mile rate)
2-3 bedrooms $200 – $700 $20 – $50 (plus per-mile rate)
4-5 bedrooms $300 – $800 $40 – $100 (plus per-mile rate)

Cost for a Move < 250 Miles

Container Company Rental Truck
1 bedroom $450 – $1,300 $289 – $350 plus fuel costs
2-3 bedrooms $660 – $2,000 $289 – $350 plus fuel costs
4-5 bedrooms $800 – $3,400 $300 – $600 plus fuel costs

Cost for a Cross-Country Move

Container Company Rental Truck
1 bedroom $1,200 – $4,000 $800 – $1,900 plus fuel costs
2-3 bedrooms $2,400 – $4,900 $1,200 – $2,850 plus fuel costs
4-5 bedrooms $3,500 – $7,600 $1,800 – $3,100 plus fuel costs

Our moving estimate calculator can give you a better idea of other expenses you’ll want to plan for as you prepare for your move.

PODS vs Moving Truck Rental: How Each Service Works

Understanding the basics of using PODS vs U-Haul can help you determine which option is best for your move.

Here’s how using a PODS container generally works:

  • You book your move and schedule a date and time to have your containers dropped off at your old address. You do all the packing and loading into the containers yourself. You get to decide how much time you need to pack the container.
  • Once your container is packed, the container company sends a professional driver to pick up the container and transport it to your new address. You’ll also have the option to leave it at a storage facility if needed.
  • After your container is dropped off at your new home, you do all the unloading and unpacking. You’ll also schedule a date and time to have the company pick up the empty container.

Truck rentals are similar, but with one big, key difference in services: You have to do all the driving and/or towing yourself.

  • You book your move and schedule a date and time to pick up your rental truck, which you then drive to your home yourself. You’ll also typically schedule your drop off date during the booking process as well.
  • You do all the packing and loading. Then you have to drive to your new home, do all the unloading and unpacking, and drive the rental truck to an agency to return it.

There are pros and cons to both types of services, so let’s take a look at those.

Moving With a Container Company: Pros and Cons

What we love about container companies:

You don’t have to tow a trailer or drive a giant moving truck — one of the most stressful parts of moving for many people.

A professional driver transports the container with your belongings, so you know they’re in safe hands from Point A to Point B. This can be especially helpful for long-distance moves.

Filling a container with furniture and other bulky items can be easier thanks to ground-level loading.

What we don’t love about container companies:

Many areas don’t allow you to leave a large container on the street. If you don’t have a big enough driveway, you might not have anywhere to put the container.

PODS costs are typically higher than what you’d have to pay for a truck rental — though MoveBuddha customers can get a 10% discount. New customers are also eligible for several markdowns. For local moving, PODS gives new customers 10% off their initial delivery and 10% off first month’s rental. For long-distance moving, they offer new customers 10% off initial delivery, 10% off first month’s rental, and 10% off long-distance transit. For returning customers, PODS still runs a number of promotions throughout the year. So it is crucial to check call and speak to a representative to ensure the best possible price.

Container companies’ prices are pretty variable, so you’ll want to do a lot of research on different companies and get online quotes from each of PODS competitors. For example, U-Haul has its own moving container program called U-Box. Compare U-Haul U-Box with PODS here.

There are several moving container companies, and we’ve compared several of the best moving container companies to help you make the right selection for your needs.

Container Company Pros Container Company Cons
  • A professional does all the driving
  • Many companies give you a minimum 30-day rental period, so you can take your time with your move
  • Temporary storage is often included, with no unloading required
  • Most companies offer multiple sizes of containers
  • Widely available in the U.S. and Canada
  • Generally more expensive than getting a rental truck
  • Prices really vary from company to company
  • Large containers can be tough to park on or near your property, especially if you live in an urban area

Moving With a Rental Truck: Pros and Cons

What we love about rental truck companies: This is hands-down the most affordable way to move. If you’re on a tight budget, you’ll almost certainly be able to find a rental truck company that can accommodate your move for less than most other types of movers.

What we don’t love about rental truck companies: Some rental truck companies have several hidden fees in their bills. You have to read all the fine print so you don’t get hit with surprise costs at the end of your move. You’ll also have to do all the work of packing and transporting your items on your own. Moving heavy and bulky items up a ramp can be tricky and even dangerous.

Truck Rental Pros Truck Rental Cons
  • More affordable than a full-service move and most container companies
  • Storage is sometimes included
  • Most companies offer multiple sizes of trucks
  • Widely available in the U.S. and Canada
  • You have to do all the driving
  • You’ll have to load and unload the truck multiple times if you temporarily need a storage unit
  • Look out for hidden fees!
  • What’s included in your quote varies a ton from company to company

PODS vs Moving Truck Rental: Availability

One factor that can determine whether PODS or a U-Haul is better for you is the type of property you’re moving to or from. If you’re in an urban setting or somewhere that only has street parking, a larger moving container, or rental truck may have difficulty navigating that space. But both container companies and rental truck companies generally offer smaller vehicles to help with that problem.

The situation where one option may be better than the other is if you live somewhere extremely rural. It may be costly or impossible to have a container delivered to a rural location, but as long as you can pick up a moving truck and drive it, you can theoretically take it anywhere. That being said, mileage fees for a moving truck can also add up if you have to go a long way from the rental agency.

PODS vs Moving Truck Rental: Can You Fit All Your Stuff?

The short answer? Yes.

While it ultimately depends on the company what options you’ll have, both container companies and moving truck rental agencies generally offer a variety of sizes so you can choose what will work best for you.

We show you how to choose the right container for your move in our article on PODS sizes.

Among container companies, the average company offers 2-3 container sizes, and you can book more than one container if you need it. PODS offers 8-foot, 12-foot, and 16-foot size containers, which it says are comparable to 10, 15, and 20-foot moving trucks. This largest size is considered ideal for a home or apartment of up to 1,200 square feet — though if you’re a real pack-rat, you might need to rent an additional container to fit everything.

Most truck rental agencies have several truck sizes available. For example, U-Haul has options ranging from pickup trucks all the way to 26-foot moving trucks. These varied vehicle sizes can be used for moving spaces ranging from a small studio apartment to a 3-4 bedroom home.

Of course, some companies have more limited size selections than others. Offerings can also vary by location, so make sure to check with local companies near you to see what’s available.

PODS vs U-Haul: Which is better

If cost is the most important factor for you, going with a fully DIY move by renting a moving truck like U-Haul is better, since it’s almost always cheaper than a container company. If you don’t want to drive or tow anything, a container company like PODS is better.

The right moving services for your move ultimately come down to pricing and what type of service will work best for your needs. By comparing the costs and how much work you are willing to put into your move, you can find the right solution for your needs.

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