How much does a moving truck cost?

From under $100 for a local move to several thousand for a big cross-country move

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Where are you moving to?

Allied Van Lines and Bellhop
moving truck parked outside of a home

Moving can be expensive, even if you’re just relocating across town. One way to save is to rent a truck and do it yourself — but this can still get pricey. To help estimate the expense of moving yourself, we took a look at how much it costs to rent a truck for both local and long-distance moves.

If you’re just moving across town, you could spend as little as $20 per day plus mileage for a cargo van or small box truck suitable for one or two people, or about $450 for a professional 26-foot box truck with a power liftgate to move a family of three or four. Long-distance moves are considerably more: A 9-foot cargo van will cost about $2,500 for a move from California to North Carolina, while a 26-foot box truck will cost more than $6,500, according to our estimates.


Key insights

A cargo van or small box truck may cost as little as $20 per day plus mileage for a local move.

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A 26-foot moving truck, big enough for a family’s cross-country move, can cost more than $5,500 to rent.

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The cost of fuel can add significantly to the expense of moving, especially for a long-distance move.

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It can cost more to rent a moving truck in summer when demand is higher.

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Moving truck costs by distance

How much you spend on a moving truck will depend on a couple of factors, namely how large a vehicle you need and whether it’s a local or long-distance move. How long you need the truck may also influence the cost if it’s an in-town move and you’re renting by the hour or the day.

Not every moving truck rental company offers the same vehicles, so making an apples-to-apples comparison can be a challenge. For example, U-Haul offers 10- and 15-foot trucks, while the smallest vehicles you can rent from Penske or Budget are 12- and 16-foot trucks.

In a recent ConsumerAffairs survey, about 73% of respondents said their recent move was more expensive than they thought it’d be. About 54% said it was more stressful than they expected. A do-it-yourself move can save you some money (versus hiring movers), but it might not save on stress.

Sample in-town moving rates

We calculated the cost of renting a truck for a local move in Austin, Texas, picking up May 13 and returning the following morning at 8 a.m. to the same rental office. Cost will vary depending on your location, truck size, and rental duration. Estimates do not include taxes, fees, insurance or fuel.

*150 free miles; 29 cents/mile thereafter

Sample cross-country moving rates

We calculated the cost of renting a moving truck for a cross-country move from Anaheim, California, to Charlotte, North Carolina, starting on May 13. All prices are rounded to the nearest dollar, and all estimates come with unlimited free mileage. Cost will vary depending on your location, truck size and rental duration. Enterprise does not offer long-distance moving truck rentals.  Estimates do not include taxes, fees, insurance or fuel.

What other factors go into the price?

Unfortunately, the cost of moving involves more than just the rental rate for the truck. The final price you pay will be affected by a number of factors, from sales tax to how many boxes you use. Below are some of the most common factors that go into the price of renting a moving truck.

Truck size

Moving trucks are measured by how long their cargo deck is. If you reserve a 10-foot moving truck, for instance, you’ll get one that has an interior cargo space that is approximately 10 feet long or deep. The width of that cargo space will be about 6 and a half feet, depending on the make and model of the vehicle.

Not sure what size truck you need? When in doubt, choose the larger vehicle, say experts.

“People often make the mistake of underestimating how big of a truck they need, which can lead to extra trips or things not fitting properly,” Alex Ravich, owner of Cross Country Moving Company, told us.

Based on a review of the U-Haul, Budget, and Penske truck rental websites, the most common moving trucks include the following:

Fuel

Most rental moving trucks run on unleaded gasoline, but some -- particularly large cube trucks -- use diesel fuel instead. Given the poor fuel economy of most trucks and vans, even an in-town move can be costly if you’re making a lot of back-and-forth trips in traffic and only getting 12 mpg. It’s a good idea to estimate the number of miles your move will require and plan your fuel expenses accordingly.

Taxes and fees

Depending on where you live, your rental probably will be subject to some combination of city, county or state taxes. The state of Pennsylvania, for example, imposes a 2% vehicle rental tax on all car and truck rentals in the state.

You will also likely be charged what’s known as an environmental fee, which U-Haul describes as being allocated to “support and foster the development and maintenance of sustainable… business operations.”

If you don’t return the moving truck in the same condition it was in when you rented it —or if you don’t return it with the same amount of fuel it had when you drove off the lot — you may also find a fee tacked on to your bill.

Insurance

Before you rent a moving truck, the Insurance Information Institute, a U.S. industry association, recommends checking with your car insurance and home insurance companies to see what is and is not covered under your existing policies.

Many car insurance companies won’t extend coverage to rental trucks that exceed a certain weight or size, meaning you’ll either have to purchase a temporary rider from your insurer or a policy from the truck rental company if you want protection.

Moving supplies

Boxes, tape, packing supplies like newsprint or foam peanuts, moving blankets and the like can add up quickly. You will also want to consider a heavy-duty security padlock to lock the truck’s cargo bay. Many moving van rental companies sell such items, as do big-box stores and online vendors.

And, experts say, don’t overlook a utility dolly or hand truck to make moving heavy items easier. A furniture dolly — essentially a platform with wheels — can be rented for about $20 at U-Haul, for example, while a hand truck may cost $120 or so.

“These will make it much easier to move big, heavy items like dressers and bookshelves,” Nick Valentino, vice president of market operations of Bellhop, told us. “Your back will definitely thank you.”

Towing

Budget, Penske and U-Haul also rent tow dollies and car carriers so you can transport your personal vehicle when you move. Tow dollies are sufficient for front-wheel-drive cars and trucks, while car carriers are recommended for front-, rear- and all-wheel-drive vehicles.

Hiring movers

Moving is hard work. If you need help with a DIY move, Budget, Penske and U-Haul all offer third-party moving assistance services, including packing, loading, unloading and even driving the truck. Price and availability vary depending on location.

When to rent a moving truck vs. hiring movers

Renting a moving truck and doing it yourself versus hiring professional movers comes down to cost and convenience. If you’re doing an in-town move and don’t have a large amount of belongings, a DIY move could be the better choice if you’re comfortable driving a cargo van or box truck, according to Ravich of Cross Country Moving Company.

“For small- to medium-sized moves, it is a cheap option,” Ravich said.

For long-distance moves — or if you have a lot of stuff or just need a hand — the added expense of hiring professional movers may be the better choice. “Professionals take care of the planning, driving, and heavy lifting, which can make your move a lot easier and less stressful,” Ravich said.

Regardless of your destination, if you do choose to rent a moving van and drive it yourself, take some time to get used to operating it before you load it up and hit the road.

“Moving trucks can be tricky to drive, and especially to park, for novice drivers,” Valentino told us. “While you can drive them with a standard license, it still takes some practice to get used to using your mirrors, figuring out your turning radius, and minding the height of the box.”

Comparing estimates

Experts recommend getting at least three different estimates before you rent a moving truck. If you’re making a local move, be sure to factor in the cost of the mileage surcharge. Be sure to account for fuel expenses too.

Where are you moving to?

FAQ

What types of items can go into a moving truck?

Clothing, furniture, consumer electronics, rugs, wall hangings and appliances all go into a moving truck, provided they’re securely packed. However, there are some things you should never store or transport in a moving truck, including flammable or combustible materials, like nail polish remover, lighter fluid or propane tanks. Also, don’t tote firearms, ammunition or anything perishable like plants or food.

Do I need insurance for a moving truck?

It depends. Most standard car insurance companies will not cover moving trucks above a certain size or weight, while home insurance policies may not cover your belongings while in transit or storage. Check with your insurer to see what additional coverage, if any, you may need. Both insurance companies and moving truck rental companies offer short-term moving truck insurance coverage.

How long can you rent a moving truck?

Each of the major truck rental companies has its own rules regarding how long you can rent a moving truck for. Budget Truck Rental, for example, offers long-term rentals starting at three months through their commercial rentals division. U-Haul also offers extended-term rentals through its business division.

Do you need a special license to drive a moving truck?

No, in most cases, all you need is a valid standard driver’s license to rent a moving truck.

How big of a truck do I need to move?

Most moving truck rental company websites will list the estimated capacities of the vehicles they rent, though experts caution these are only estimates. If you live in a studio or small one-bedroom apartment, or if you’re just moving a few large items across town, a cargo van or 10-foot box truck may be sufficient. But if you live in a three-bedroom house or own a lot of bulky items, you may need to go big with a 26-foot truck.

Why is it more expensive to rent a moving truck in the summer?

In a word: demand. The weather is mild, school is out, rental leases are ending, and home sales traditionally increase. All of these factors result in increased demand for moving trucks, experts say. Demand also tends to peak on weekends and at the end of the month.


Article sources
ConsumerAffairs writers primarily rely on government data, industry experts and original research from other reputable publications to inform their work. Specific sources for this article include:
  1. HomeBay, “2024 Data: Half of Americans Are Surprised by How Much It Costs to Move.” Accessed April 12, 2024.
  2. MoveBuddha, “Where are People Moving to in 2024?” Accessed April 15, 2024.
  3. U-Haul, “Truck Rental.” Accessed April 15, 2024.
  4. Budget Truck Rental, “Moving Trucks and Accessories.” Accessed April 15, 2024.
  5. Penske Truck Rental, “Moving Truck Sizes and Features.” Accessed April 15, 2024.
  6. Hertz, “Car Rental Tax and Fees in the U.S.” Accessed April 16, 2024.
  7. Penske Truck Rental, “Important Rental Information.” Accessed April 16, 2024.
  8. Insurance Information Institute, “Getting the right insurance coverage for moving.”  Accessed April 16, 2024.
  9. Nationwide, “Does Car Insurance Cover a Moving Truck?”  Accessed April 16, 2024.
  10. Readers Digest, “12 Things That Should Never Be Put on a Moving Truck.”  Accessed April 16, 2024.
  11. North American Van Lines, “A Guide For What Can’t Be Moved.” Accessed April 16, 2024.
  12. Progressive, “How Does Insurance Cover Moving And Storage Units?” Accessed April 16, 2024.
  13. Allied Van Lines, “When Is the Best Time of Year to Move?” Accessed April 16, 2024.
  14. Moving.com, “Why Summer Is The Most Expensive Time to Move?” Accessed April 16, 2024.
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