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Rental trucks

Rental trucks are the go-to option for anyone moving on a budget. It may not be the most convenient or glamorous way to move but truck rentals have been affordably moving Americans for decades.

On this page:
The Basics

What is a rental 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 terms of total cost.

Moving containers tend to be a little pricier than rentals trucks but if you need temporary storage containers they 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, including 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.

If you don’t feel like reading, use our moving calculator to get instant guidance on the best way to move.

Rental Truck Pros
  • Typically most affordable (not always)
  • Complete control over the move
  • Easy to also tow a car
Rental Truck Cons
  • Driving is a major hassle
  • Fuel and tolls not included
  • Insurance is limited
  • Labor not included
Weighing the costs

How much does a rental truck cost?

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.

Sample Pricing Table
1 bedroom 2 – 3 bedrooms 4 – 5 bedrooms
250 miles $900 – $1,400 $1,100 – $1,700 $1,800 – $2,700
1,000 miles $1,300 – $1,800 $1,800 – $2,700 $3,200 – $4,100
2,500 miles $1,800 – $2,700 $1,900 – $2,900 $4,500 – $5,800

Top 10 rental truck tips

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

Get online quotes first

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

Take advantage of price matching

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

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.

Call the day before

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

Get insurance

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

Get multiple quotes

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

Understand fees

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

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.

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.

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.

What you get

What’s included with a rental truck?

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.

If you’re moving a car you can rent a car dolly to tow behind the truck as well.

  • Taxes
  • Loading ramp
Not included
  • Fuel and tolls
  • Help loading or unloading (hire moving labor)
  • Parking permits, if necessary
  • Pads, straps, or blankets (available to rent)
  • Dolly or hand-truck (available to rent)
  • Insurance (coverage varies by company)
  • Packing supplies such as boxes, bubble wrap, etc.
Best truck rental companies of 2018

How do I find a great truck rental deal?

We did the research and created a list of the best truck rental companies in 2018.

Find a truck rental company

How does a rental truck work?

You rent a truck for the number of days that you expect the trip to take with a day or two padded on each end. You’re responsible for loading and unloading the truck but you can always hire extra help. Most importantly, you’re the one doing all of the driving!

45 days out

Hire some help

If you don’t want to be the one loading the rental truck now is the time to hire professional moving labor.

Don’t wait much longer or you may end up paying more!

7 days out

One week before the big move

Make sure you have gathered, bought, or rented all of the moving supplies that you’ll need such as blankets, pads, straps, and moving boxes.

You don’t want to be left empty handed on moving day!

The big day

Moving day

Make sure you have enough room to park the truck so that you can minimize the distance from your residence to the loading ramp.

On your way

In transit

It’s up to you to drive the truck to your destination. If you have trouble with the truck, you’ll have to wait until a mechanic can reach you.

You made it

Welcome home!

You made it your destination and have to get everything unloaded. Don’t forget that you can hire moving labor for this part as well.

Make sure to clean the truck completely before returning it to avoid cleaning fees!

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Truck rental cost calculator

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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
Customer Service
National Coverage
Discounts Free storage, box buy-back Military, AARP, Student & More Internet, AAA, Military, Student
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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

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