Check out where U-Box ranks on our 2019 best moving container companies rankings.
The company was founded after WWII, when soldiers returning home were ready to start new lives, and needed a way to move all their belongings to new cities and states.
U-Box is U-Haul’s answer to the growing market for container moves. It’s one of U-Haul’s newer offerings, but you can trust anything coming from the company with the huge fleet of instantly recognizable orange-and-white trucks, right?
Like any moving company, U-Box has its pros and cons. U-Box is a container moving and storage service that has the experience of U-Haul behind it. You can rent containers for as long as you want, and you only get charged for the ones you use.
You have the option of adding services all along the way, or you can truly DIY your move to keep costs low. There’s just a lot of options and a lot of flexibility, and we love that.
However, one of the biggest complaints we saw online about U-Box had to do with the quality of the containers. Multiple people reported that they broke in transit, and we’re not convinced they’ll protect their contents from the elements. If you can’t trust that your stuff will arrive safe and sound at its destination, what’s the point of hiring a moving company?
Overall, we rated U-Box 3.5 out of 5 stars. Read on for our full, comprehensive review.
U-Haul U-Box Review: What We Love, and What We Don’t
U-Haul has decades of DIY moving experience. But how does its container moving service, U-Box, hold up to the larger company’s reputation? And how does it stack up against other container moving services? Here are the pros and cons you should consider before moving with U-Box.
The Good: Plenty of Flexibility Without Increased Costs
One of the things we love about U-Box is how much flexibility it offers. In a move, plans can change often and fast, and U-Box won’t penalize you for that–you can modify or even cancel your reservation up to the day the containers are scheduled to be dropped off, and still get a full refund. The company asks that you try to call at least 24 hours in advance, but you’re still eligible for a refund even if you miss that window.
The other flexibility U-Box offers that we’re big fans of is the ability to order as many containers as you want, but only get charged for the ones you use. If you end up with too many, U-Box will pick up the unused containers, and you don’t have to pay for them. That’s a huge help for people who aren’t sure exactly how much space they’ll need for everything they plan to move.
The Bad: U-Box Containers Don’t Stack Up
Compared to other container moving services, U-Box doesn’t offer as much variety. It has only one size of container available: U-Box dimensions are 8 x 5 x 7 feet, which is only big enough to fit a king-sized bed. Compare that to PODS, for example, which offers containers in three sizes up to 16 feet long.
But the size isn’t the only problem with U-Box’s containers. Unlike other container options, which are made of weather-proof materials, U-Box containers are made of treated plywood and come with a weatherproof cover — basically a tarp designed to fit over the box. That doesn’t offer the best possible protection from the elements, and in a long-distance move, we’d worry about rain or snow damaging our belongings.
Several users who have reviewed U-Box have noted that the boxes are not great quality, and described experiences in which they broke in transit. Overall, U-Box containers don’t offer the variety of options that other container movers have, or peace of mind that your stuff will stay safe inside the container.
U-Haul U-Box Review: Other Pros and Cons
Here’s our full breakdown of the pros and cons you might want to consider before choosing U-Box.
|U-Box Pros||U-Box Cons|
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The 3 U-Box Services
While the name U-Haul is practically synonymous with moving, that’s not the only service U-Box offers. You can use these containers for moving, storage, or both.
Option 1: U-Box for Moving
You can either have your containers delivered to pack onsite, or you can transport your belongings to a U-Haul facility and pack the containers there.
The minimum reservation is 30 days, so you can take as much time as you need to pack the containers–either do it immediately or over time as you prepare for you move.
Then, you can have the containers shipped by U-Haul, or you can transport them yourself with a U-Haul U-Box trailer. Once they arrive at their destination, you unpack them (again, taking as much time as you need to do so).
If they get delivered to a U-Haul facility, you unpack them and you’re done! If they get delivered to your new home, you unpack them there and either transport them to the U-Haul facility where they’re scheduled to be dropped off, or schedule a day to have a driver pick them up for you.
Option 2: U-Box for Storage
While U-Box containers are great for shipping items to your new home, they can also be used simply to store your belongings.
The process is pretty similar to the one above, for moving. You order as many U-Box containers as you need. You can pick them up, have them delivered, or head to a U-Haul facility and pack them there. Then, they’re stored–either on your property or in a U-Haul storage center–until you’re ready to unpack your stuff. You pay a monthly fee ($90 per month per container) and can use the containers for storage for as long as you need them.
Option 3: U-Box for Moving and Storage
Moving, but haven’t quite found a place in the new city yet? Need a little time between closing on your old house and moving into the new one? U-Box has a great solution for any situation like these: You can seamlessly combine the moving and storage options.
Simply follow the moving process above. Pack your containers, and store them at your place or in a U-Haul facility. When you’re ready to move in and unpack your new place, have the containers delivered there, whether it’s one month or six months later. You just pay monthly for as long as you need your containers for storage.
U-Box Sizes and Availability
U-Box containers only come in one size: 8 x 5 x 7 feet, or big enough to fit a king-size bed. This is a downside compared to the competition–many container companies offer multiple sizes. The small size of the U-Box containers might make it hard to fit some large pieces of furniture, like pianos or large wardrobes.
What U-Box lacks in sizing options, it makes up for in widespread availability. U-Box containers are available from more than 20,000 U-Haul locations in all 50 U.S. states and across Canada.
But here’s where U-Box really stands out from the competition: The containers can be shipped internationally. U-Haul will create a custom shipping itinerary to get your containers to almost any port in the world. Once there, if it’s a place where U-Haul trucks and trailers are available, they might even be able to transport your containers to your final destination. Otherwise, it’s on you to unpack your belongings at the port so the containers can be sent back to North America.
How Much Does Moving With U-Box Cost?
U-Box makes it easy to get an estimated quote for your move online.
Costs will vary based on a variety of different factors, like:
- How far you’re moving
- The state or region you live in/are moving to
- How long you need to keep the containers
U-Box also offers a ton of ways to customize your reservation and bring the cost down, like:
- Packing and unpacking at a U-Haul location, rather than at your home
- Picking up the containers yourself instead of having them delivered
- Hauling the containers yourself instead of having U-Haul ship them
To get an idea of what moving with U-Box costs, we requested online quotes for a local move (within 50 miles) and a long-distance, interstate move (from Idaho to Illinois). For reference, these quotes are for a 2-bedroom apartment, which U-Box estimates would require around three containers. Keep in mind that because of all the customizations and factors that help determine the cost, your move may cost more or less than this example.
The local move was estimated at 1,088.85, plus the cost of delivery, which is optional (you can pick up the containers yourself or pack them at the U-Haul location).
The long-distance move came out to $3,620.85, plus the optional cost of delivery.
Each estimate includes the cost of shipping the containers from the old address to the new one, one month of container rental, and 24 furniture pads per container.
International moves are a little more complex. If you need to ship your containers overseas, U-Haul will create a custom itinerary and quote, so you can’t get a quick quote online.
|Moving Distance||Cost to move 2-bedroom apartment||Cost to move 4-bedroom house|
|Local (under 50 miles)||1,088.85 + delivery||$1,847.70 + delivery|
|Long-distance||$3,620.85 + delivery||$5,111.70 + delivery|
|International||Call U-Haul for quote||Call U-Haul for quote|
If you choose to pack and unpack the containers at a U-Haul location, that’s it. The quote is the full cost of your move.
If you choose to haul the containers yourself, U-Haul will provide a trailer tailor made to fit a U-Box container for as low as $5 per day. You’ll need a vehicle that can tow at least 3,000 pounds.
If you want your containers delivered to your first address and picked up from your second address after they’re unpacked, it’ll add at least $79, up to a few hundred to your reservation, depending on your location and how many containers you need.
U-Haul also offers the option of adding full-service delivery and loading. With this option, U-Haul contracts with a local moving company who deliver the containers and pack them for you. For our hypothetical 2-bedroom apartment, this would add about $350 to the reservation.
|Pack/unpack at a U-Haul facility||Free|
|Pick up containers at a U-Haul facility||$5 per day for trailer rental|
|Have containers delivered to your old address and picked up from your new one||Starts at $79|
Need Insurance for U-Box?
Some homeowner’s or renter’s insurance policies cover your belongings while they’re being moved or stored in a container like a U-Box. Check into that first, but if you don’t already have coverage or want to add additional coverage, U-Box insurance offers coverage for up to $20,000 of your belongings.
U-Box Reviews: Are They Reputable?
U-Haul has more than 20,000 locations, and each local location has its own pages for Google, Yelp and TripAdvisor reviews. That means there’s not a central place to find an online rating for U-Box or U-Haul as a whole. But after looking at several locations’ Google business pages, we found reviews to be largely positive, and ratings for individual locations to typically average around four stars.
We didn’t find that U-Haul tends to respond to reviews, either positive or negative.
U-Haul has been in operation since 1945, and they’re one of the most established and trusted brands in moving. But with that said, some branches are likely more reputable or of a higher quality than others. It can’t hurt to search for your local branch and read reviews before making a U-Box reservation.
One other customer experience we felt we should note: When we contacted U-Haul via its online chat to ask a few questions about U-Box, it took 22 minutes for a representative to respond. Then, when we didn’t answer within three minute (because we weren’t watching the chat window that closely after more than 20 minutes of waiting), the representative disconnected the chat. If you need to reach U-Haul customer service, the phone might be a better option than live chat on their website.
Is U-Box Right for Your Move?
U-Box is a great choice for anyone with a smaller home and not a lot of huge pieces of furniture who needs to move on a budget. There are so many options U-Box offers that can lower the price, so you can truly customize the experience to fit your needs and what you can afford.
Like any container company, U-Box is also great for people who need to store their belongings mid-move, since storage can be seamlessly built into the cost of a move with U-Box. U-Box’s $90-per-month storage costs are very reasonable, compared to the rest of the market.
Overall, U-Box is a good budget option that offers a few services you can’t find with the competition (like overseas shipping).
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