Truck Rental Guide

Is rental truck moving right for me?

Rental trucks are the goto option for anyone moving on a budget. Just about everyone has had the experience of sitting sweaty and exhausted behind the wheel of a rental truck praying for their move to finally be over. It may not be the most convenient or glamorous way to move but truck rentals have been affordably moving Americans for decades.

But not everyone enjoys the whirlwind of emotion that comes with renting a truck. While rental trucks are usually the cheapest way to move, freight trailers and portable storage containers have gained in popularity as affordable alternatives that don’t require any driving.

Rental trucks are usually cheaper than freight trailers but once you add in fuel and travel expenses the two options often come out fairly close in total cost. Moving containers tend to be a little pricier than rentals trucks but if you need temporary storage containers can be a really great option.

It can be hard to determine if renting a truck is the best way to move especially if you’re moving long distance. You’ll need to look at the total cost of renting a truck (and the cost of your sanity) and compare it to the alternatives.

Luckily, we put together this truck rental moving guide to help you make the right decision. And if you don’t feel like reading. Use our moving calculator to get instant guidance on the best way to move.

Learn all about rental truck moving

Quick Snapshot

Truck Rental Pros

  • Typically most affordable (not always)
  • Complete control over the move
  • Easy to also tow a car

Truck Rental Cons

  • Driving is a major hassle
  • Fuel and tolls not included
  • Insurance is limited
  • Labor not included

How Moving Truck Rental Works

Renting a truck is pretty straightforward. For local moves you pay for the mileage and number of days you use the truck. For long distance moves rental truck companies will quote you a total cost which includes a fixed number of rental days and allowable mileage to complete your move. Labor isn’t included with the rental truck but it’s not hard to hire some loading help if needed. And if you’re moving a car you can rent a car dolly to tow behind the truck as well.

Top Rental Truck Companies

Which truck rental company is the best? Penske®, UHaul® and Budget® are the three largest, national truck rental companies. As with most things moving, "the best" depends on what you need. Each company has its strengths and weaknesses.

U-Haul Budget Rental Trucks Penske
Price
Customer Service
Reliability
National Coverage
Discounts Free storage, box buy-back Military, AARP, Student & More Internet, AAA, Military, Student
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Moving Rental Truck Company Pricing

Despite the advertisements for, “Just $19.99 a day!” plastered all over rental trucks, it’s unlikely you’ll actually end up paying that much. Even for small local moves, fuel, mileage fees, insurance and any other add-ons typically add up to at least $50-$60 in total. Keep in mind that’s just for the truck, no labor included.

For long distance or one way moves rental truck pricing is calculated differently. Rental truck companies will quote a flat rate which includes a set mileage allowance and fixed number of rental days.

For example, if you’re moving from New York City to San Francisco the rental truck company may quote you around $3,000. That price will typically include up to 9 days of use for you to complete the 3,000 mile drive. It will also include a mileage allotment of roughly 3,300 miles. The extra 300 miles is just in case you do some sightseeing or take a detour- how kind.

If you need extra days or extra mileage that will come at an additional cost. You’ll also need to factor fuel costs into the equation. Considering most trucks get 8-10 miles per gallon when fully loaded, gassing up along the way can add a lot to your overall cost.

Another thing to consider when comparing a rental truck to other options is the cost of hotels and food. 9 days of hotels can get rather pricey. You’ll want to map out your trip carefully to find deals on hotels.

To get a general idea on truck pricing, check out the table below. Be sure to factor in all your other expenses when comparing rental trucks to other options

1 Bedroom 2-3 Bedroom 4-5 Bedroom
<50 miles $49 - $140 $55 - $145 $60 - $175
250 miles $320 - $432 $320 - $432 $450 - $625
1000 miles $890 - $1,250 $920 - $1,246 $1,250 - $1,700
2500 miles $1,950 - $2,450 $2,041 - $2,578 $2,850 - $3,600

Note: a lot of variables such as time of year and location can affect pricing. These are very rough estimates.

Compare Rental Truck Companies

Here’s some additional info to compare the major rental truck companies.

U-Haul Budget Rental Trucks Penske
Truck Sizes 10', 14', 17', 20', 24', 26' 12', 16', 24' 12', 16', 22', 26'
Car Tow Car Dolly, Car Carrier Car Dolly, Car Carrier Car Dolly, Car Carrier
Trailers Open and enclosed tow trailers None None
U-Haul Budget Rental Trucks Penske
Mileage $.40/mile beyond alotted mileage $.70/mile beyond alotted mileage, $.85/mile if not requested before move Unlimited
Extra Rental Day Fee $40/day if requested before pickup $70/day $50/day if requested before pickup
Late Return Fee $50/day $80/day $100/day if requested after pickup
Truck Cleaning Fee $25 Ask dealer Assessed at return
Additional Driver None $10/day or $29 for 8+ days $10/driver (Family is free)
Gas Return Fee $30 + $5/gallon Ask dealer $8/gallon
U-Haul Budget Rental Trucks Penske
Payment Types Credit card, cash Credit card, cash, check Credit card, cash, check
Deposit No deposit w/ credit card, $100 deposit if cash Refundable deposit required at pickup, amount varies No deposit w/ credit card, $100 deposit if cash/check
U-Haul Budget Rental Trucks Penske
Pick Up Location Subject to change Subject to change Guaranteed
Locations 15,000+ (Corporate + Franchises) 2,800+ (Corporate + Dealers) 2,000+ (Corporate + Partners)
Average Truck Age Truck age can vary greatly 30 Months 24 Months
Rental Requirements Valid Drivers License, 18+ Varies by location, $25 fee for drivers under 23 Valid Drivers License, 18+
Same Day Rental Yes Yes Yes

Top 10 Rental Truck Tips

Take notes, these rental truck tips could save you time and money

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Get online quotes first

Start your search by getting quotes online. Rental rates are typically quoted lower online than over the phone.

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Get multiple quotes

Rates can fluctuate based on demand so get quotes from all 3 companies.

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Take advantage of price matching

Most of the time companies will beat or match their competitor's quote to earn your business

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Understand fees

Truck clean out fee, mileage fees, equipment use fees, return fuel fee, etc. Check out our fees section for more info.

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Avoid peak moving times

Avoid renting on weekends, holidays and at the beginning/end of the month if possible. Prices tend to be lower mid-week and mid-month when demand is lower.

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Location reviews

Budget® & UHaul® both have partner networks. Rental policies and overall customer service can vary by location so make sure to check reviews on specific locations.

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Call day before

You should book 2 weeks in advance, but make sure to call the day before to ensure your truck is still available.

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Newest truck

Make sure to ask for the newest truck on the lot. Newer trucks are less likely to have maintenance issues and get the best gas mileage.

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Get insurance

It's unlikely that your regular auto insurance will cover rental truck accidents. All companies offer affordable and decent insurance options.

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Plan for the worst

Your reservation may get canceled at the last minute or the truck could break down mid-move. Have a plan and emergency funds set asisde ahead of time just in case something unexpected happens.

Instantly compare prices on moving containers!

Just like major travel sites, we compare moving rates and services to help you move.

  • Get instant pricing for your move
  • Discover alternative options for moving long distance
  • Get connected with the best companies for your move

Save an average of $400 by using our moving cost calculator for your move!