Overall opinion: SMARTBOX Moving and Storage and PODS are both solid portable moving container companies, but we’re going with PODS for the win in this case. We’re confident in their great national coverage and extensive industry experience.
And while SMARTBOX has competitive prices and great customer service, PODS has sturdier containers and allows you more flexibility as you plan your move. This was a close one, but in this head-to-head, PODS has the edge.
Be sure to check out our list of the best moving container companies for a side-by-side comparison between a number of different portable storage and container moving solutions.
And while you’re at it, use our moving cost calculator to find out what your move will cost you
A moving container company smackdown
In one corner, we have PODS, the literal pioneer of the portable storage and moving container industry that’s been in business since 1998. In the other, we have SMARTBOX Moving and Storage, a smaller company based out of Richmond, VA that’s earned a reputation for competitive pricing models and great customer service.
Overall, this smackdown was a lot closer than we expected it to be, and we believe both companies are well worth your consideration when choosing a moving company. We encourage you to seek out personalized quotes from both of them before making a decision on who to hire to handle your move.
Read on for comparisons between services, availability, containers, prices, and more. We’ve got all the details to help you decide whether SMARTBOX or PODS is a better fit for your move.
Smartbox vs PODS: Pros and Cons
To get an overview of what both companies have to offer, let’s dive right into the pros and cons of each.
Smartbox Pros and Cons
What we love: If you’re trying to make your move on a budget, Smartbox is definitely a company you’ll want to get in touch with. They’re super transparent about their prices, and offer price matching if you find a better deal on the same service elsewhere. We also love their customer service, which is always friendly and helpful.
What we hate: Smartbox has a couple of big downsides that would make us hesitate to book a move with them. Their website is pretty buggy, and while it offers instant online quotes, the tool often doesn’t work correctly. Some reviews have also reported discrepancies between what customer service representatives tell them on the phone and what’s actually written in their contract. If you do book with Smartbox, make sure everything they promise you makes it into writing so you can back it up later if there’s any confusion.
PODS Pros and Cons
What we love: One of the best things about PODS is how flexible your reservation can be, which helps relieve a lot of stress during a move. Reservations are a minimum of 30 days, so you can really take your time packing and unpacking — you’re allowed to keep the moving PODS on your property as long as you want to. You can store your stuff onsite or at a storage facility. And if you need to change or cancel your reservation, you can do so up until the day before your containers are scheduled to be dropped off and still get a full refund.
What we hate: Since we love PODS’ service, our least favorite thing about this company is how hard it can be to use it. PODS doesn’t have locations in all 50 states, and since the company is so popular, its containers tend to be booked out pretty far in advance — as much as six months out for peak times of the year. Unless you have a ton of lead time and are really on the ball planning your move, you may not even be able to score a reservation with PODS.
Smartbox vs PODS: Services
SMARTBOX and PODS are both portable container moving and storage companies, which means at a basic level, their offerings are very similar. Perfect for college students and do-it-yourself movers, they also make for great self-storage options. Here’s how it works:
- You place your order for the container(s) to be dropped off at your old address.
- You pack and load the containers yourself and schedule a date and time for them to be picked up.
- The containers will be put in a storage unit or kept on your property as portable storage until you’re ready to move into your new address.
- The company ships the containers to your new home so you can unload them.
- Once you’re done unloading, you call to have the containers retrieved.
Container moving companies have been around since the late ‘90s, when PODS first started out. Since then, they’ve become an extremely popular way to move, since they offer prices fairly comparable to those of DIY moves without you having to haul a trailer or drive a large rented truck.
Both offer additional services such as moving supplies and networks of professional movers. PODS even has additional networks on their website for car shipping and utility setup.
SMARTBOX Portable Storage and PODS definitely have some similarities in their services, but check out our direct comparison below to see how their offerings stack up.
|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 in some areas
|Available as an add-on service in some areas
|Limited Time to Pack Containers
|Keep as long as you need (monthly billing)
|Shipment of Containers to New Address
|Insurance Available to Purchase
|Additional coverage available for purchase if the included insurance is insufficient
|Free Cancelation or Modification
(Up to three business days before your move)
(Up to the day before your move)
Smartbox vs PODS: Availability
While PODS has locations in most states, their availability can be limited because of their tendency to sell out far in advance.
SMARTBOX currently has a coverage area of 23 states (plus Washington, D.C.) and a number of metro locations listed on its website, although they say they’re “continuing to open new locations across the country.”
|Available in the U.S.?
|23 states (plus Washington, D.C.)
|44 states (plus Washington, D.C.)
|Available in Canada?
|Yes, in Australia and the United Kingdom
*SMARTBOX partners with local moving companies to increase its coverage area, so the availability of international moves can vary by location — some local partners offer international moves, and some don’t. To see what’s available in your area, you’ll have to contact your nearest SMARTBOX location directly.
Smartbox vs PODS: Who Has Better Containers?
The actual portable storage containers a company uses are another important factor to consider. After all, that’s where your stuff will be physically packed, stored, and transported, so you have to feel confident that the containers will keep it safe along the journey.
The containers are where we start to see PODS really pull ahead of SMARTBOX. The industry standard is for moving and shipping containers to be made of metal — the most durable and weatherproof material available. This will help to put your mind at ease, especially if you use them as an outdoor temporary storage solution.
Like PODS, most companies in the industry use metal containers, but SMARTBOX containers are an exception: They’re wooden with canvas covers to protect them from the elements.
Plus, PODS offers multiple container sizes that can individually handle up to a two-bedroom home. Smartbox just offers one container size: 8’ x 7’ x 5’, which can hold 1 to 1.5 rooms of furniture — suitable for packing a one-bedroom or studio apartment. You’ll have to order additional containers for anything larger.
Here’s how the containers compare and why we think PODS is the clear winner in this category.
|How many container sizes available?
|What are the container sizes?
|Storage available for all container sizes?
|Cubic footage available?
|Wood with a canvas cover
Smartbox vs PODS: Cost
It’s difficult to compare the costs of any moving company unless you get your own personalized quote, because so many variable factors — distance, starting and ending zip codes, gas prices, time of year, how much stuff you have to move, etc. — go into pricing a move. Finding the cheapest container moving company can be tricky, and you shouldn’t choose your mover based on price alone, anyway.
In regards to SMARTBOX prices, we found that their quotes can vary widely — more so than with most moving companies. Your exact cost with them will depend heavily on the particulars of your move. However, they do offer price matching, so you may be able to save money if another company gives you a better deal.
We did our best to gather some average prices for different types of moves so you can get an idea of what they might cost. Both companies offer free quotes, but you may find yourself calling them on the phone for more information even after filling out their online forms.
Keep in mind that these prices don’t reflect the specifics of what you might pay for your own move: The quote you receive might fall within these ranges, or it might not. You should never compare moving companies on the basis of cost until you’ve received personalized quotes from all of them.
As always, we suggest using our moving cost calculator to get a better idea of pricing for your specific move.
Cost for a Local Move
|$200 – $400
|$200 – $400
|$300 – $700
|$300 – $650
|$400 – $1,000
|$300 – $800
Cost for a Move < 250 Miles
|$400 – $1,000
|$450 – $800
|$650 – $2,000
|$750 – $1,900
|$1,000 – $2,500
|$900 – $2,100
Cost for a Cross-Country Move
|$2,500 – $5,000
|$2,000 – $4,000
|$3,000 – $6,000
|$3,000 – $4,900
|$4,000 – $8,000
|$5,500 – $7,600
It’s important to note that getting a moving quote is different than getting a storage quote. Both companies charge a delivery and moving fee, which is separate from the rental fee of the pod itself. So again, depending on your starting zip code and your destination, these prices can vary widely.
Smartbox vs PODS: Which container moving company is right for you?
Just because we think PODS is the winner in this head-to-head comparison doesn’t necessarily mean it’ll be the right choice for your move.
It’s important to note that every move has unique needs, so only you can decide which company can best meet yours at a price point you’re comfortable with. But we hope we’ve helped you feel more confident to make that choice.
Before booking any moving company, you should compare as many as possible. You can take a look at four other PODS alternatives here.
And with moveBuddha, you can get instant quotes for multiple trustworthy moving companies all in one place via our moving cost calculator.
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