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Best one-way truck rentals

Should you go for U-Haul, Budget or Penske?

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    Whether you’re renting a truck for a local, interstate or cross-country move, you want a reliable vehicle from a company with a solid history and good customer reviews.

    We compiled a list of well-known one-way truck companies, including only those that focus solely on moving truck rentals. Of these, we chose the companies with the lowest rates, highest availability and good reviews on ConsumerAffairs.com as our favorites.

    Our picks

    U-HaulPenske Truck RentalBudget Truck Rental
    Sample local move cost $91 $138 $145
    Sample 500-mile move cost $927 $1,090 $1,424
    Availability 50 states 49 states 48 states
    Truck options 5 sizes 4 sizes 3 sizes
    Guaranteed pickup No Yes No
    Moving costs come directly from company quotes and include full coverage, a moving dolly and one dozen furniture pads for a move in June. Costs like fuel, insurance and moving supplies vary based on the nature of the move and consumer preferences.

    Our top picks for one-way truck rentals

    Our top picks for one-way truck rentals are U-Haul, Budget Truck Rental and Penske Truck Rental. Though U-Haul is our top pick overall, Penske might be the best choice for long-distance moves, and Budget is known for its frequent discounts.

    Our top pick overall U-Haul
    • Sample 500-mile move quote: $927
    • Guaranteed pickup: No
    • Good for: Flexible moves, low costs and wide availability

    U-Haul wins in many of the categories we compared. It has the most truck sizes, is available nationwide and offered the cheapest quotes for each of the three types of moves we compared. The company has five different moving truck sizes available for rent.

    Nationwide, you can rent a 10-foot, 15-foot, 17-foot, 20-foot or 26-foot truck. The 10-foot trucks work well for studios, and the 26-foot truck is suitable for four-bedroom homes. It also offers trucks for $19.95 a day if you’re moving locally. Keep in mind additional costs, though: environmental fees, taxes, mileage and gas.
    U-Haul calls the day before the rental to confirm the details, but customers don’t always get the truck they asked for. It also has its fair share of fees, so make sure you fully understand your quote before signing up.
    Many reviewers on our site who’ve rated U-Haul highly mention the quality of customer service — like Courtney of Oregon, who said, “I have had to rent a few hauls over the past two months for work, and each representative I've spoken with has been wonderful. They've helped me move drop-off locations and pickup times, easily changed from one to two trucks, and every time it's been quick and seamless.”
    Our pick for long-distance moves Penske Truck Rental
    • Sample 500-mile move quote: $1,090
    • Guaranteed pickup: Yes
    • Good for: Reliable trucks, guaranteed reservations and clear quotes

    Penske Truck Rental is a good option for those with higher budgets looking for reliable trucks and a guaranteed reservation. Unlike U-Haul and Budget, Penske guarantees the type of truck you pick up on moving day. This alone makes Penske worth considering.

    Penske Truck Rental generally has newer 12-foot, 16-foot, 22-foot and 26-foot trucks, so they’re less likely to break down on cross-country moves. The 22-foot and 26-foot trucks have a weight limit of 10,000 pounds. Penske is also upfront with its prices, and it’s easy to secure a quote online that includes all charges.
    Penske sometimes requires a deposit, and its long-distance rental costs can be hefty. It does require personal information before offering a quote. Its local and 500-mile move costs were slightly more expensive than U-Haul’s but cheaper than Budget’s, and its long-distance truck rental was the most expensive of the three.
    Happy reviewers on ConsumerAffairs mention the quality of Penske’s trucks and employees. Steve of Florida had this to say about a rental experience: “Penske trucks are clean, have cruise control, power windows and mirrors. The tank was full when I picked it up. It is actually 16 feet of floor space. ... Penske employees and customer service were great, unlike the other company.”
    Our pick for discounts Budget Truck Rental
    • Sample 500-mile move quote: $1,424
    • Guaranteed pickup: No
    • Good for: Discounts and long-distance moves

    Budget Truck Rental isn’t the cheapest truck rental company, but its discounts help some customers slash costs significantly. The company doesn’t have as many pickup and drop-off locations as U-Haul — if you’re having trouble finding a location, you might try U-Haul instead.

    Budget has 12-foot, 16-foot and 26-foot trucks. The 12-foot trucks work well for studios or one-bedroom apartments, and the 26-foot truck can fit many larger homes. The company has discounts for students, military members, first responders and AARP, Motor Club of America and American Bar Association members.
    Budget wasn’t the cheapest or most reliable truck rental company we found. It also has fewer truck options than our other top choices. Like U-Haul, Budget doesn’t have guaranteed pickup, which means the truck promised on the reservation might not be the truck that’s available on moving day.
    Customers who’ve given Budget high ratings on ConsumerAffairs mention the ease of working with the company. Pat of Pennsylvania wrote:  “It was almost $1,000 cheaper than another company so I took a chance. Picking up the truck was no problem. The truck only had like 7,000 miles so there were no issues.”

    How to load a moving truck

    Packing a moving truck can be labor-intensive, but we have some packing tips to simplify the process. Most importantly, make sure you get a truck that’s big enough for all your stuff.

    According to Mike Glanz, the moving division general manager for Porch Group: “The taller the item, the more interesting the packing becomes. We've seen people wrap these items — such as a tall vase or grandfather clock — in a rug, or buffer them with a combination of blankets and duct tape. A better solution is to take two boxes and create one suitably sized and easily packed carton.”

    To do this, he says: “Simply tape together (a) a dish pack and a 3.0 carton or (b) two 3.0 cartons — one on top of the other, like a clamshell. Place the breakable item within the clamshell and fill it with paper stuffing. Remember to pad the bottom and top of your shell well and pack it so everything inside sits firmly.”

    We recommend starting with the heaviest items when you load — and make sure to put anything you’ll need immediately upon arrival (or for stops along the way) at the very back of the truck for easy access. It’s also smart to go ahead and empty dresser drawers before loading, especially if the dresser is flimsy or unstable.

    Blankets, moving pads, moving straps and plastic wrap are good to have on hand for wrapping furniture and other fragile items in the truck — and keeping them still.

    » MORE: How to pack a moving truck

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      Alternatives to moving truck rentals

      Renting a moving truck is one way to save money and have more control over a move. Sometimes, though, it’s not as cheap as expected or worth the effort — there are benefits to working with professional movers.

      Professional moving companies can handle the difficult parts of moving, including packing and unpacking, and household chores like cleaning, furniture assembly and appliance installation. For those who still want to do some of the work of moving but not the driving, moving containers are a viable option.

      » COMPARE: Moving yourself vs. hiring movers

      Bottom line

      Whether you choose U-Haul for its low cost, Penske for its reliability or Budget for its discounts, make sure you understand the quote in its entirety.

      Some people aren’t happy with the cost of renting a one-way moving truck — prices are often higher than you might expect for a do-it-yourself move. If that’s the case and you can afford other options, consider hiring a full-service moving company or using a moving container service.

      » LEARN: What to know about moving quotes

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