4 Top U-Box Competitors: The Best Container Moving Alternatives to U-Box

Considering U-Haul U-Box for your container move? Before you book, compare these 4 U-Box alternatives: U-Pack, PODS, Zippy Shell, & 1-800-PACK-RAT.

If you haven’t yet, be sure to check out our list of the best moving container companies to see how we rate a number of different container moving solutions.

Now, if you’re considering moving, you’ve surely considered U-Haul and have probably seen their new U-Box moving container option.

U-Box is U-Haul’s take on the container moving and storage industry, a subset of the moving industry that allows people to semi-DIY their moves. Most container companies have the same basic model: They deliver portable storage containers to you, you pack them yourself, a professional driver delivers them to your final destination, and you unpack and have them picked up.

It’s still cheaper than a full-service move, but takes away one of the most intimidating parts of a DIY move: Hauling a trailer or driving a huge truck.

But if you’re looking into moving with a container company, U-Box is far from your only choice. Sure, it’s got the U-Haul brand behind it. But there are other big names in the container industry, and they’re worth your consideration, too.

Before you book a mover, you should know with confidence that you’re getting the company that has the services, moving containers, prices, and more that best fit your moving needs. That’s where our reviews come in. Read on to learn about the four biggest U-Box alternatives, and why they’re worth checking out, too.

U-Box Alternatives: Meet the Competition

None of these companies are fly-by-night organizations. We’re comparing some of the biggest names in the moving industry, so you’ve likely already heard of them, or come across them in your search for a moving company. We’re going to compare:

But first, let’s quickly talk about U-Haul’s U-Box.

U-Haul U-Box: Customizable Moves From a Budget-Friendly Company You Can Trust

U-Haul U-Box     3.5 out of 5.0 stars

Read our comprehensive review of U-Haul U-Box here.

What we love: U-Box provides a truly customizable experience, with tons of optional add-ons you can choose from to make your move as DIY or full-service as you want it to be. All the add-ons can be booked online with transparent pricing so you know exactly how much everything costs.

What we hate: When it comes to the containers themselves, U-Box falls far short of the competition. Only one container size (small) is available, and in an industry where the standard is sturdy metal containers, U-Box’s are made of treated plywood, which makes them less weatherproof and less durable.

U-Box Pros U-Box Cons
  • You can haul the containers yourself with a trailer, but you don’t have to
  • U-Haul is one of the largest, most established, most trusted brands in moving
  • You can order as many containers as you think you need, but you only pay for the ones you actually use
  • You can skip delivery costs by packing and unpacking at a U-Haul facility
  • Website makes it easy to get a quote online
  • Generally less expensive than a full-service move
  • U-Box will ship your containers to almost any international port
  • There’s just one container size available, and it’s small
  • The containers are made of wood instead of metal, so they’re not as weatherproof or as durable as the competition
  • Some online customer service options aren’t well maintained, so if you have a question or need help, you’ll probably have to make a phone call

ABF U-Pack: Long Distance Moves at Great Prices

U-Pack     4.0 out of 5.0 stars

Read our comprehensive review of U-Pack or get a quote from U-Pack.

What we love: While U-Pack doesn’t offer the widest range of container sizes, it has a pay-only-for-the-space-you-use policy for its 27-foot containers, which actually gives you more flexibility than the sizing from any other company.

What we hate: U-Pack doesn’t do local moves. You can only book their services if you’re moving more than 100 miles, which is a bummer, since they were our top container moving company for 2019.

U-Pack Pros U-Pack Cons
  • Usually less expensive than professional movers
  • Transparent pricing with no hidden fees, guaranteed
  • Simple, clean website that offers instant quotes
  • Fast delivery times with online tracker
  • Add-on services available at booking
  • Multiple container sizes, and you only pay for the packing space you actually use if you choose the largest size
  • Someone else handles transportation
  • Great national coverage, even in rural areas
  • Less flexible cancelation than the competition. If you cancel within a week of your move, the fees could be steep
  • No local moves
  • Largest trailers can be hard to park and pack because of their size
  • No onsite storage
  • You only get three days to pack and unpack

PODS: Moving and Storage From the Most Experienced Container Mover Out There

PODS Moving Services     4.0 out of 5.0 stars

Read our comprehensive review of PODS or get a quote from PODS.

What we love: PODS pioneered the container moving and storage business, beginning in 1998, so they have the experience they need to earn your trust. We also love their 30-day minimum rentals that allow you to take your time packing and unpacking, or store your belongings, either at a facility or on your property.

What we hate: PODS is so popular, it can be tough to get a booking unless you’re planning your move far ahead of time, which isn’t super common, especially for renters. During peak moving times especially, PODS can be sold out for up to six months ahead of time.

PODS Pros PODS Cons
  • Usually less expensive than full-service movers
  • Flexible change and cancelation policy so you can usually get a refund if your plans change, even last minute
  • 30-day minimum rentals so you can take your time packing and unpacking
  • On-site storage available
  • Multiple container sizes available
  • Someone else handles transportation
  • Good nationwide coverage, and some international availability
  • Website can be lacking in information, and most quotes require you to call in
  • Some bookings can’t be made online, which means even more time spent on the phone
  • Availability can be extremely limited, especially during peak moving times when PODS tend to be sold out months ahead of time

Zippy Shell: As Close to Full Service As You Can Get on a Container Move Budget

Zippy Shell     3.5 out of 5.0 stars

Read our comprehensive review of Zippy Shell or get a quote

What we love: With most shipping container moving companies, the tradeoff for the affordable pricing is that you have to do all the packing and unpacking yourself. Zippy Shell, on the other hand, makes it easy to add local helpers for packing and unpacking to your order, and often runs promotions that allow you to add some extra hands to your move for free.

What we hate: Zippy Shell’s website is outdated and pretty unhelpful. In 2019, when we expect to be able to do more and more online, Zippy Shell’s website is missing some crucial information, like cancelation policies and container dimensions. You can’t get a Zippy Shell quote online, either—even if you enter information about your move online, you’ll still have to call and repeat that information to get a price estimate.

 

Zippy Shell Pros Zippy Shell Cons
  • Usually less expensive than full-service movers
  • 30 days of free storage with every move
  • You can add packing and unpacking services to your order, sometimes at no extra charge thanks to frequent promotions
  • Someone else handles transporting the containers
  • Containers are sized so they’re legal to park on the street and in parking lots, making them great for city and apartment dwellers
  • Website is outdated and unhelpful, so you can expect to spend a lot of time on the phone getting information and a quote
  • No on-site storage
  • Only three days to pack and unpack
  • You can only order one container at a time
  • Cancelation policy that’s less flexible than other container companies, so if your plans change, you’ll probably have to pay
  • Availability isn’t great — Zippy Shell only operates in 28 states and essentially offers one container size.

1-800-PACK-RAT: Container Moves On Just About Any Budget

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

Read our comprehensive review of Pack Rat or get a Pack Rat quote.

What we love: Pack Rat is probably the most budget-friendly company on this list. Their pricing starts out competitive, but they’re one of very few moving companies that will allow you to haggle your quoted price down even lower.

What we hate: Pack Rat is only available in 29 states, which means they may not be an option depending on the starting and ending zip codes for your move. If there’s not a Pack Rat location near you, they may still be able to help you move, but the cost will be higher to cover the cost of delivering containers further away.

1-800-PACK-RAT Pros 1-800-PACK-RAT Cons
  • Usually less expensive than full-service movers
  • Flexible change and cancelation policy means you can get a full refund if your plans change (up to 48 hours before your move)
  • 30-day minimum rentals allow you to take your time packing and unpacking
  • Multiple container sizes available
  • Someone else handles the transportation
  • Offers moving supplies (and they’re free for some long-distance moves)
  • Insurance is included for every move, with the option to increase your coverage for an extra fee
  • Some information isn’t available online, and you have to call for quotes and bookings
  • Pack Rat locations are only in 29 states, and there’s no international coverage here
  • Long-distance moves come with a fuel surcharge that not only increases the cost of the move, but that some reviewers have said wasn’t disclosedm up front
  • No deliveries or pickups on Sundays

U-Box Alternatives: What Services Top Container Movers Offer

While the basics of what container moving companies do stay pretty consistent across the industry, there are a lot of small differences in the services and terms from company to company.

Here’s how services compare for U-Box, U-Pack, PODS, Zippy Shell, and Pack Rat.

U-Box U-Pack PODS Zippy Shell Pack Rat
Moving
Storage at a Facility
Storage on Your Property
Storage Between Destinations During a Move
Delivery and Pickup of Containers
You Pack the Containers Available as an add-on service
Professionals Pack the Containers Available as an add-on service Available as an add-on service Available as an add-on service, sometimes at no extra charge Available as an add-on service
Limited Time to Pack Containers

(Up to three business days)

(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 of your move)

(Up to the day before your move)


(Up to 48 hours before your move)

Availability of U-Box Alternatives: Which Companies Are Near Me?

Of course, nothing—not services, not cost, not add ons—matters if a company isn’t available in your area. Not sure if you’ll be able to book your move with U-Box or its alternatives? Here’s how availability for U-Box, U-Pack, PODS, Zippy Shell, and Pack Rat stacks up.

U-Box U-Pack PODS Zippy Shell Pack Rat
Available in the U.S.? All 50 states All 50 states and Puerto Rico In 44 states In 29 states In 29 states
Available in Canada? Yes Yes Yes No No
Available internationally? Yes – you can ship a U-Box to almost any international port No Yes, in Australia No No

U-Box vs the Alternatives: How the Containers Stack Up

One important factor to take into consideration when you’re comparing container companies is the containers themselves.

In this case, we’re comparing container moving and storage industry leaders, who almost all follow best practices as far as having sturdy, metal containers that will keep your belongings secure and out of the elements (with the exception of U-Box).

Since these U-Box alternative companies have containers that are constructed in similar ways, you should look at how many sizes are available and what those sizes are to determine which company is the best fit for your moving needs.

For U-Box, U-Pack, PODS, Zippy Shell, and Pack Rat, here’s how the containers themselves compare.

U-Box U-Pack PODS Zippy Shell Pack Rat
How many container sizes available? 1 2 3 Officially, 2. But in practice, just 1* 3
What are the container sizes? 8-foot 5’10” “Relocube
27’ trailers(only pay for the space you use)
7-foot

12-foot

16-foot

10-foot*
15-foot
8-foot

12-foot

16-foot

Storage available for all container sizes? Yes Yes Yes No, just 15-foot Yes
Cubic footage available? 280 cf 305-1,800 cf 390-1,008 cf 385-625 cf 404-830 cf
Container material? Treated plywood Metal Metal Metal cage Metal

*Officially, Zippy Shell offers two container sizes. But when we tried to find out information about the 10-foot containers, a representative on the phone told us they don’t have them. When we pressed her further, she said they’re only available at such a limited number of Zippy Shell locations, it’s easier to just tell customers they don’t have them at all. You’ll have to call your local Zippy Shell to see what your options are, but it sounds like you shouldn’t count on having 10-foot containers available.

U-Box Alternatives: How Much Do Container Moves Cost?

We get that when you’re researching moving companies, cost is one of the biggest (if not the biggest) factors you’ll take into consideration. So we’ve compiled some average costs for U-Box and its alternatives, so you can have a ballpark idea of how much a move with each company might cost.

We have to point out, though, that these are just averages. There are so many factors that go into pricing a move—the distance, starting and ending locations, fuel prices, how much stuff you have, whether you add on extra services, what time of year it is, etc.— that the only way to know how much a moving company will charge you is to work with them to get a personalized quote. Before choosing a moving company, we recommend getting your own quote from every company you’re considering.

With that said, here are what we found to be average prices for different types of moves with U-Box, U-Pack, PODS, Zippy Shell, and Pack Rat.

Cost for a Local Move

U-Box U-Pack PODS Zippy Shell Pack Rat
1 bedroom $150 – $600 Not Available for Local Moves $200 – $400 $190 – $240 $150 – $500
2-3 bedrooms $300 – $700 Not Available for Local Moves $300 – $650 $300 – $630 $200 – $630
4-5 bedrooms $300 – $800 Not Available for Local Moves $300 – $800 $350 – $750 $340 – $790

Cost for a Move < 250 Miles

U-Box U-Pack PODS Zippy Shell Pack Rat
1 bedroom $450 – $1,000 $900 – $1,300 $450 – $800 $500 – $920 $465 – $910
2-3 bedrooms $700 – $2,000 $1,100 – $1,700 $750 – $1,900 $730 – $1,600 $660 – $1,900
4-5 bedrooms $800 – $3,000 $1,200 – $1,900 $900 – $2,100 $1,100 – $3,100 $1,000 – $3,400

Cost for a Cross-Country Move

U-Box U-Pack PODS Zippy Shell Pack Rat
1 bedroom $1,200 – $3,500 $1,500 – $2,500 $2,000 – $4,000 $1,800 – $3,900 $1,200 – $3,800
2-3 bedrooms $2,500 – $4,500 $2,400 – $3,900 $3,000 – $4,900 $2,800 – $4,500 $2,400 – $4,600
4-5 bedrooms $4,000 – $7,000 $3,500 – $6,600 $5,500 – $7,600 $5,200 – $7,000 $5,100 – $6,900

U-Box vs the Competition: Which Moving Company Is Right For You?

Every move is unique, and every person or family should pick the moving company that can give them the best service at a price point that works for them. That’s why we haven’t picked a winner here—these are all companies worth considering, and you should get a quote from each of them before choosing a moving company to hire.

Before booking anything, you should compare as many companies and prices as possible, and not just container movers. moveBuddha can help by giving you instant price quotes for multiple movers—container, DIY, and full service—you can trust.

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