How Much Does a U-Haul Really Cost? We Found Out. - Moving Advice from HireAHelper (2024)

Table of Contents
Table of Contents What are U-Haul prices and costs? How much did it cost for us to rent a U-Haul for a day? How much do the bigger U-Haul trucks cost? Can you rent a U-Haul for more than a day? “Paying for a U-Haul in cash? We were told customers paying in cash need to put down a $100 deposit, or the estimated rental charges, whichever is more…(t)his would eventually be reimbursed – minus our total cost – upon return of the vehicle.” How much does U-Haul charge for mileage? How do U-Haul gas fees work? “If returned with less than 1/4 tank, I agree to pay a $30.00 service fee.” How much mileage (MPG) does a U-Haul truck get? Long-Distance/One-Way U-Haul Rentals What are the mileage rates for a long-distance/one-way U-Haul rental? “To get your actual U-Haul cost, you need to add up all of their other fees that come with renting a U-Haul.” Do U-Hauls have unlimited miles? Trailers and Hitches 101 Types of trailers: What’s the difference between the three different U-Haul trailers? Here’s $25 Off Movers Option #1: U-Haul Cargo Trailers How much does it cost to get a U-Haul hitch installed on my vehicle? Here’s $25 Off Movers How much does a U-Haul Cargo Trailer cost? Option #2: U-Haul Utility Trailers Option #3: U-Haul Vehicle Trailer “…(W)e had to reproduce the same or another form of payment in person, regardless of what we used online to reserve (a vehicle). Makes sense, but it might be a stumbling block for some people.” U-Haul U-Box Containers How much do U-Haul U-Box containers cost? “There are no formal military, senior, or student discounts at U-Haul. However, it’s up to the discretion of the U-Haul store you’re renting at if they offer it for asking.” Do I have to buy insurance with my U-Haul? Here’s $25 Off Movers Bonus Insurance: SafeTow U-Haul Equipment Average* U-Haul equipment purchase prices: How Much Does Moving Labor Cost? “The difference between a move that takes you all day, breaks your back and your friendships, and keeps your stuff out of the hands of amateurs could be as little as $200 … Movers may be the most value you can get from any single add-on.” Are movers actually worth it? What actually happens at the U-Haul store after you reserve online or over the phone? Paying for a U-Haul in cash? Haggling and U-Haul coupons How old do you have to be to rent a U-Haul? The Cheapest We Were Able To Get Our U-Haul The Bottom Line
Pricing Updated and Confirmed as of July 2024

We’ve all seen it: that $19.95 per day deal that’s advertised on the side of seemingly every U-Haul truck and van across the country. And that price looks mighty nice.

A little too nice, you might say. And indeed, you’d be right. Just like renting a truck is only one small part of your move, that $19.95 U-Haul rate is likely to end up being just a fraction of your final bill. We know, because we set out to rent a U-Haul with one question in mind: how much does a U-Haul really cost?

Here’s everything we learned.

Table of Contents

  1. How Much Does a U-Haul Truck Rental Cost? (Local, In-Town Moves)
  2. How U-Haul Mileage and Gas Fees Work
  3. Long-Distance/One-Way U-Haul Rentals 101
  4. Trailers and Hitches 101
  5. U-Haul’s U-Box Containers
  6. U-Haul Insurance 101
  7. U-Haul Equipment
  8. U-Haul Moving Labor
  9. Other Things To Know About Your U-Haul Quote
  10. The Cheapest We Were Able To Get Our U-Haul
  11. The Bottom Line

What are U-Haul prices and costs?

After trying to rent a truck on their website, we found out the $19.95 price point refers to local moves only, not a “one-way” move, where you drop off at a different location – aka a long-distance move (more on those prices later).

And most importantly, the $19.95 only accounts for U-Haul’s “rental truck fee.” And while this price is consistent for local moves, mileage rate and taxes can vary based on location.

Here are the U-Haul fees that make up a U-Haul bill:

  • Rental truck fee ($19.95/day — subject to availability!)
  • Mileage fee: This rate varies by regional location and distance driven (doesn’t apply to trailers)
  • Damage protection fees (aka insurance)
  • Fuel costs (doesn’t apply to trailers)
  • Environmental fees (doesn’t apply to trailers)
  • Equipment rentals
  • Miscellaneous fees (e.g., cleaning, toll, damage, parking, convenience, drop-off fees)
  • Taxes

The famous $19.95 price point is also exclusive to any one of their three smallest options:

  • 8’ U-Haul pickup truck
  • 9’ U-Haul cargo van
  • 10’ U-Haul Rental truck (what we rented)

How Much Does a U-Haul Really Cost? We Found Out. - Moving Advice from HireAHelper (1)

How Much Does a U-Haul Really Cost? We Found Out. - Moving Advice from HireAHelper (2)Damages and cleaning fees

Of course, if you pay damage protection fees in the form of insurance, you won’t have to worry about paying damage fees. But note that if you leave some kind of a noticeable mess, they will charge you up to $25. Maybe don’t eat while you drive … or transport hay.

How much did it cost for us to rent a U-Haul for a day?

Our final cost was $52.40 for the most bare-bones rental imaginable. We’ll break down how we got to that number, s well as all the costs you could possibly run into throughout the rest of the article.

How much do the bigger U-Haul trucks cost?

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It’s not possible to pinpoint the exact cost of a specific truck size because mileage and tax rates vary, but local U-Haul truck costs are consistent everywhere. There are sites that ballpark individual truck size costs, but if you want an estimate based on user-reported, real-time prices for U-Haul moves, click on the graph below.

Can you rent a U-Haul for more than a day?

Yes, you can (usually) extend your rental at the same daily rate if you need it longer than 24 hours (for a local move). All we had to do was call before the truck was due back and ask the store for an extension.

There’s also no limit to the number of days we could extend our rental. The only exception would be if our truck was reserved for the days we wanted. That’s why it’s best to extend your rental when you make your original reservation. Otherwise, you have to return your truck and get a new rental truck that isn’t reserved for the additional days you want.

“Paying for a U-Haul in cash? We were told customers paying in cash need to put down a $100 deposit, or the estimated rental charges, whichever is more…(t)his would eventually be reimbursed – minus our total cost – upon return of the vehicle.”

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If you wanted to extend your rental to multiple days and there were no rental trucks available, U-Haul would likely sell you on one of their moving containers as an alternative, if those are available in your area.

For long-distance moves, depending on the distance, U-Haul assigns a minimum number of days with your truck. This might just be a single day for a shorter distance, like 150 miles or less. We asked and yes, you can add days to your long-distance rental — but only with advance coordination with your local U-Haul store, and only as long as your truck is still available.

Beware: U-Haul tacks on an ADDITIONAL $40 fee to every day you keep your truck after five days.

Here are the daily U-Haul rates for adding days to a U-Haul long-distance truck rental:

  • U-Haul trucks – $40 per day
  • U-Haul trailers – $20 per day
  • U-Haul towing devices – $20 per day

By the way, there are no discounts for returning the moving truck earlier than the minimum assigned number of days, but you still can return it earlier. Virtually the only advantages would be that it would reduce the likelihood of anything happening to the truck while in your care, and to get it off your to-do list.

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As you can gather, one of the biggest variables that will determine how much your final U-Haul price is the mileage fee. (Not to mention, your mileage will ultimately impact how much gas you need to pay for.)

How much does U-Haul charge for mileage?

In general, the price per mile is region-specific. Mileage rates are also higher for local moves.

For a local MOVING TRUCK rental:

Our quote for our local Florida move was $0.99/mile on a Tuesday. On a Saturday, the quote we got was $1.19/mile for all truck sizes.

To give you an idea of the range you can see, we requested some more quotes from U-Haul and found the following mileage rates:

Los Angeles:

  • Weekday quote: $1.09/mile on a Tuesday for all truck sizes
  • Weekend quote: $1.39/mile on a Saturday for all truck sizes

Midwest (Columbus, OH):

  • Weekday quote: $0.79/mile on a Tuesday for all truck sizes
  • Weekend quote: $0.99/mile on a Saturday for all truck size

For local PICK-UP TRUCK and VAN rentals:

Meanwhile, for our Florida move, the mileage rate for either a U-Haul rental pick-up truck or U-Haul vans was $.89/mile on a weekday and $0.99/mile on a weekend.

How does that measure up to other parts of the country? Here’s what we found:

Los Angeles:

  • Weekday quote: $0.79/mile on a Tuesday
  • Weekend quote :$0.89/mile on a Saturday

Midwest (Columbus, OH):

  • Weekday quote: $0.69/mile on a Tuesday
  • Weekend quote: $0.79/mile on Saturday

Adding up the mileage:

In Florida, we drove our U-Haul truck all of eight miles from and back to the U-Haul store to take pictures. For this, we were charged $0.99/mile, for a total of $7.92.

Imagine, now, how much your mileage fee will stack if you drive your rental 20, 50, maybe even 100 or more miles to and from the rental location? No wonder why some call this pricing structure “consumer-unfriendly.“ (Let’s hope there are U-Haul coupons out there somewhere.)

How do U-Haul gas fees work?

Simply put, you will pay for any gas you use. You’ve gotta bring it back with at least as much gas as it started with.

The U-Haul clerk marked down the exact mileage and gave us their daily rate for gasoline. We had the choice of filling up what we used ourselves out in the wild, or paying U-Haul $6.25 a gallon (!) to do it for us after we returned it as a “convenience fee.”

“If returned with less than 1/4 tank, I agree to pay a $30.00 service fee.”

-U-Haul customer agreement receipt

And heed this warning straight from our receipt: “If returned with less than 1/4 tank, I agree to pay a $30.00 service fee.”

We spoke with a U-Haul rep who told us there’s no universal rule at U-Haul for this convenience fee, so this may be location-specific. (Oh, and in case you were wondering, U-Haul usually won’t reimburse you if you return the truck with more gas than you had to start with, so easy does it at the gas pump.)

Pro Tip: Here’s how to save money on your rental truck’s gas

How much mileage (MPG) does a U-Haul truck get?

A 10′ U-Haul truck should get in the neighborhood of about 7–10 mpg, although this can vary depending on what size truck you rent.

The 15′ trucks and bigger are equipped with a fuel economy meter on the dashboard that shows you whether or not you’re getting the “Best MPG” in real-time. Our 10-footer had one too.

Pro Tip: Normally, U-Haul is supposed to give you a truck with a full tank, but the tank can have less than this, and you’re only required to replace the gas you use. (We were given a truck with 5/16 of a tank of gas.) Make sure your truck’s tank is full when you take it off the lot. And by full, we mean FULL! (The fuel tank capacity for the 10′ truck is 33 gallons, according to the equipment contract.)

When you pick up your truck, your U-Haul rep might think “full” means the needle on the gas gauge is more or less at full. But when you drop it off, that same rep will likely insist it isn’t full if there isn’t gas splashing out from under the gas cap.

Long-Distance/One-Way U-Haul Rentals

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What about when you’re renting your U-Haul for a long-distance or out-of-state move? In This case, U-Haul truck rentals work a bit differently.

What are the mileage rates for a long-distance/one-way U-Haul rental?

If you’re moving long-distance, a certain number of miles is accounted for and rolled into your final rate. There are technically no mileage limits, but if you drive more than the number you agree to, you’ll be charged $1.00/mile, which seems to be consistent for long-distance rentals regardless of location.

“To get your actual U-Haul cost, you need to add up all of their other fees that come with renting a U-Haul.”

Remember, a one-way/long-distance to U-Haul simply means dropping it off at a different location than the one you rented it from. Technically, this could mean as near as a town over.

But while mileage is cheaper for long-distance moves, other fees are way, way more expensive, so make sure you stick to local (in-town) rates, if possible, and return your U-Haul to where you got it from.

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Do U-Hauls have unlimited miles?

With U-Haul, for both local and long-distance moves there’s no limit to the number of miles you are allowed to drive.

But remember, for local, in-town rentals, miles are never included in the advertised day rate — you’re charged per mile separately. For long-distance moves, you’ll be charged $1.00/mile for anything beyond the expected mileage that U-Haul declares is necessary for your move.

If you do need to put on some extra miles, you’re better off looking at Penske or Budget. This area is where the $19.95 price promise really falls apart, unless you’re moving something across the street from your U-Haul store.

Trailers and Hitches 101

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We didn’t rent a trailer with our truck, but we got all the info straight from U-Haul.

Types of trailers: What’s the difference between the three different U-Haul trailers?

For smaller loads or something super fragile (or heck, even quarantined), U-Haul offers trailers that hitch to cars and trucks (depending on location availability). There are actually three different kinds of trailers you can typically rent.

Here are the three (3) types of trailers U-Haul offers:

  • Cargo
  • Utility
  • Car carrier (Available only at some locations)

Here’s what you should know about each kind:

  1. Cargo trailers: As cargo trailers are enclosed, these are generally used for moving household items and furniture that you don’t want exposed to the elements. U-Haul likes to say they’re perfect for moving a dorm room.
  2. Utility trailers: The open trailers are ideal for transporting bulky or awkwardly shaped items that can withstand some exposure to the elements. You’ll often see them on the backs of pick-up trucks hauling landscaping equipment or construction waste.
  3. Auto transport/vehicle trailers: You can haul your car on U-Haul’s vehicle trailers, which come equipped with a loading ramp, security chains, and ratchet-operated tire straps. (They also offer a tow dolly, which is a two-wheeler that lifts just the front wheels of the car off the ground. This can be a good choice for front-wheel-drive cars.)

For local moves, U-Haul trailer rentals generally cost as little as $14.95 and as much as $34.95 for the biggest size, before taxes and fees. And obviously, unlike with U-Haul’s moving trucks, you don’t have to worry about a mileage fee because there’s no speedometer.

Here’s $25 Off Movers

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Option #1: U-Haul Cargo Trailers

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How exactly does renting a U-Haul cargo trailer work?

U-Haul cargo trailers officially come in three different sizes and come with a built-in, lockable latch, so they’re secure.

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Word of warning: None of them generally come built with the U-Haul “EZ Ramp,” so be prepared for some extra lifting, or consider hiring moving labor.

Like their trucks, U-Haul advertises these as being as cheap as $14.95 (not including tax), and just like the trucks, that quote is only for the smallest versions of them AND only if you’re moving locally.

There’s no limit to the number of days you can keep them, as long as availability permits. You generally get between two and five days to use a U-Haul trailer for long-distance moves. Your quote will be based on your start and end locations.

All trailers are subject to regular U-Haul fees (minus gas and mileage) and — most importantly — come with an installation fee if you don’t have the proper hitch.

How much does it cost to get a U-Haul hitch installed on my vehicle?

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All types of U-Haul trailers REQUIRE a proper hitch and lighting to hook to your vehicle.

You can use your own hitch if it’s compatible — a Class 2 or Class 3 with a 2-inch hitch ball (a Class 1 is kinda like a bike rack hitch, in case you’re curious).

If you don’t have a proper hitch, or if the above sounds Greek to you, you must have one installed. You can either get that done on your own, or make an appointment with U-Haul to have them install a hitch for an installation fee of roughly around $100 or greater. (This is the fee to install and does NOT include the cost of the hitch itself, or anything else!)

But note that U-Haul won’t install third-party hitches.

For the heck of it, we asked U-Haul how much it would cost to get one of our cars modded for towing a trailer, and for pieces and installation. We were quoted $540.68 online to mod my 2001 Toyota 4-Runner.

  • Hitch: $200.95
  • Hitch lifetime warranty: $5
  • Ball mount $25.50
  • Hitch ball $12.95
  • Pine & clip: $3.95
  • Wiring: $43.95
  • Power wiring: $19.95
  • 2-year wiring service plan: $10 / Product Subtotal
  • Installation fee: $100
  • Taxes: $41.93
  • Total after taxes: $540.68

The U-Haul rep I spoke with about hitches told me that the cost of installation depends on the complexity of the work involved. Installation tends to be cheaper on older cars because the electrical wiring is simpler than with more expensive, newer cars.

(Fun fact: We were actually quoted a better price over the phone — $411.85 — so you may want to give U-Haul a call as well as run an online quote for the hitch, and pick the best price.)

Here’s $25 Off Movers

How Much Does a U-Haul Really Cost? We Found Out. - Moving Advice from HireAHelper (14)

Either way, this isn’t exactly a steal, given that it doesn’t even include the rental. But at least you’ll be good to go for the future. You’ll be buying all the pieces you need, but be prepared to get up-charged versus if you found the pieces elsewhere.

(Another fun fact: Let it be known that technically, you can actually rent a trailer for your U-Haul truck rental —which already has a hitch and lighting hook up on it — if for whatever reason you needed a little additional space.)

How much does a U-Haul Cargo Trailer cost?

Local moves

Without any hitch installation and for single-day use, the smallest cargo trailer (4’x8′) with no ramp was quoted to us at exactly $14.95, before taxes or miscellaneous fees.

For their biggest cargo trailer (6’x12′), it was $29.95 under the same stipulations.

Long-distance moves

For a long-distance move, that quote goes out the window. Our quote from Clearwater, Florida to Gainesville, Florida for the smallest trailer (4′x8′), minus the taxes and miscellaneous fees and for up to five days (and unlimited miles), was $217 plus tax. And the largest cargo trailer (6′x12′) was $508 plus tax! This is exactly how your U-Haul price can skyrocket fast.

Don’t forget the hitch installation charges if you need it, which adds another few hundred, at minimum, depending on the year/make/model of your car.

Option #2: U-Haul Utility Trailers

How Much Does a U-Haul Really Cost? We Found Out. - Moving Advice from HireAHelper (15)UHaul.com

Utility trailers are needed when you have to transport something tall or oddly shaped. So when you move your arcade cabinet (okay, probably a refrigerator), you can strap it to this and haul it behind your vehicle.

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Bring your own ramp, though, because only the 5′ x 9′ and 6′ x 12′ utility trailers come with U-Haul’s fold-out “EZ ramps.” (Careful, they rent a 6′ x 12′ trailer without a ramp, too.)

How much does a U-Haul Utility Trailer cost?

Local moves

For local moves, prices generally begin at $14.95 and go up to $34.95 for the biggest size. The daily local rates don’t vary.

Long-distance moves

We were only able to get a quote for a long-distance move for a 5′ x 9′ Utility Trailer because it turns out the 4′ x7′, 5′ x 8′, and 6′ x12′ Utility Trailers are only available for local and roundtrip moves. Our quote was $291 plus the rental fee and taxes for five (5) days from Clearwater, FL to Arlington, TX. (Keep in mind this doesn’t include optional damage coverage or if you need to have a hitch installed.)

You can expect both larger and smaller utility trailers to scale roughly the same in cost as U-Haul Cargo Trailers.

You can expect both larger and smaller utility trailers to scale roughly the same in cost as U-Haul Cargo Trailers.

Option #3: U-Haul Vehicle Trailer

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Finally, if you need to tow a vehicle and aren’t looking to ship your car, check U-Haul’s car towing site, and maybe also call ahead to see if the U-Haul near you has any car and motorcycle trailers available.

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This type of move can definitely save you some cash compared to normal car shipping, but keep in mind that do-it-yourself car transport is not for moving rookies and requires a lot of time and some skill.

How much does a U-Haul Vehicle Trailer cost?

Local moves

For our local move, U-Haul trailer rental rates for a tow dolly for a front-wheel drive vehicle started at $44.95/day and an auto transport trailer started at $54.95/day.

Long-distance moves

To get an idea for a hypothetical long-distance move, we came prepared with two faraway ZIP Codes. Before taxes, our move from Clearwater, Florida to Gainesville, Florida was quoted as $207 for a tow dolly (for a two-wheel drive vehicle) and $237 for an auto transport trailer (for a 4-wheel drive vehicle). This was for a 2-day, or 48-hour rental. We were told by the customer service rep that there’s usually a difference of about $100 between the tow dolly and auto transport rental fees, so you may not get two quotes as close as ours were!

“…(W)e had to reproduce the same or another form of payment in person, regardless of what we used online to reserve (a vehicle). Makes sense, but it might be a stumbling block for some people.”

They actually said my 2001 Toyota 4-Runner wasn’t heavy enough to transport the car we wanted, so I would need to rent a U-Haul truck to tow it — an additional potential cost to keep in mind.

Please note that hitch installation, taxes, and other fees aren’t included in this quote, which as you can see, can add hundreds more to this cost.

Oh, by the way, the rep told us U-Haul won’t let you rent any trailer of any kind if your vehicle doesn’t have a hardtop, SUV and Jeep included. They also strongly recommend you not exceed 55 mph with any of this stuff attached to your vehicle.

U-Haul U-Box Containers

How Much Does a U-Haul Really Cost? We Found Out. - Moving Advice from HireAHelper (20)UHaul.com

How much do U-Haul U-Box containers cost?

We also didn’t actually rent a storage container, but were told they are available for long-distance moves. Here was our quote, though:

My U-Box Container Quote for Clearwater, FL to Arlington, TX

  • U-Box Container that fits about 1.5 rooms (+1-month use): $99.95
  • 2-dozen furniture pads: FREE
  • Gentle ride shipping (guaranteed delivery 9 days after pickup): $1,074
  • One-way transit fuel cost: FREE
  • Truck delivery: $115
  • Subtotal (before taxes): $1,288.95

However, according to Moving101’s real-time, user-reported prices, the average price for a U-Box move is $3,074.

For a complete breakdown on all U-Box moving container costs before you make your U-Haul U-Box reservation, check out the Moving101 U-Box page.

What are my U-Haul insurance options?

U-Haul has two main kinds of insurance. They’re called SafeMove and SafeMove Plus. Just like everything else, the added cost varies depending on whether your move is local or long-distance.

Keep in mind that absolutely no U-Haul insurance covers damages due to “…improper packing, normal shifting of cargo in transit or theft of cargo.“ When in doubt, U-Haul will probably win out.

Here are the differences between their two insurances:

Option #1: SafeMove

SafeMove is basically coverage for if someone hits your truck. It gives you:

  • Damage waiver: Covers most accident damage to the rental equipment (doesn’t include collision with an overhead object)
  • Cargo protection: For loss or damage to the stuff in the vehicle (cargo)
  • Medical/life protection: Life coverage for the people in the cab of a U-Haul rental truck

You’ll have to look to your own insurance if you hit someone else, or get Safemove Plus, which covers you against damage done to another vehicle. And your stuff inside is only covered if you get hit, there’s a fire, a windstorm, or if your truck literally overturns.

Option #2: SafeMove Plus

SafeMove Plus is basically coverage for if you were to cause an accident:

  • Coverage for accidental damage of any kind
  • Limited coverage for the stuff in the vehicle (cargo coverage)
  • Life coverage for the people in the vehicle
  • Supplemental liability coverage

It covers overhead damage, like the kind you see on YouTube where people slam their trucks into low clearances, as well as tire protection. (You know, the two most likely things to go wrong if anything were to go wrong.)

“There are no formal military, senior, or student discounts at U-Haul. However, it’s up to the discretion of the U-Haul store you’re renting at if they offer it for asking.”

And as a “safeguard” to your personal insurance, if you were to cause an accident or mess up their equipment somehow, this covers up the first million dollars (literally) of losses.

For our tiny little “move,” we were scared by U-Haul customer service into picking up U-Haul’s regular SafeMove coverage for $15. SafeMove Plus would have cost us $28.

Do I have to buy insurance with my U-Haul?

No, you don’t have to buy insurance of any kind to rent a U-Haul.

But should you?

Here’s the thing: While you’re statistically in the clear, U-Haul’s policies are perfectly crafted to screw you if absolutely anything were to go wrong.

  • Your personal auto insurance policy most likely does not cover damages to rental trucks.
  • Your credit card likely does not cover any damages to rental trucks.
  • You are responsible for damages even if it’s not your fault, including things like vandalism.
  • Some stores told us you have to pay U-Haul the exact moment you return the vehicle for any and all damages, while others told us it goes through insurance — so, uh, probably ask.

Keep in mind that U-Haul only offers SafeMove for their rental trucks. Pick-up trucks and vans have their own type of insurance they call Collision Damage Waiver (CDW).

U-Haul also offers SafeTrip for $5 extra per day, which means if you need roadside assistance they’ll send someone out to help. Kind of sad that you have to pay extra for this, but the option is there.

Here’s $25 Off Movers

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Bonus Insurance: SafeTow

SafeTow is U-Haul’s coverage for trailers, tow dollies, and auto transports. It’s available for $15 to $75, depending on coverage levels and how far you’re driving. Here’s what it covers:

  • Damage to the rental trailer or towing device
  • Damage to your cargo or vehicle while being transported with a U-Haul rental trailer, auto transport or tow dolly
  • Medical and life protection for you in case of an accident (passengers are covered only if they’re riding in the passenger area)

U-Haul Equipment

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We didn’t rent any equipment or buy any boxes or supplies, but we definitely had the option!

Sure, it’s possible to move without renting (or buying) any special equipment. But even if you hire a crew of movers to come in with all their hand trucks and dollies to load (and unload) your truck, you’ll at minimum still need your own blankets to protect your belongings.

Here’s how much the stuff cost for us.

Average* U-Haul equipment purchase prices:

  • Padlock: $4.95 to $16.95 (Best value is a 4-pack for $10) unless you want to get really fancy with a $49.95 braided steel cable lock
  • Stretch plastic wrap: $10.50 to $27.95
  • Boxes: $1.63 to $3.47 per box for regular boxes (They offer tons of specialty boxes and you’ll pay a pretty penny for them, like $2095 for a large wardrobe box)
  • Tie Down Rope: $3.95
  • Straps: $9.95 (for one) up to $39.99 (for a set)
  • Roll of packing tape: $3.99
  • Furniture dolly: $19.95

It used to be that you could purchase hand dollies and furniture pads online, but that no longer appears to be the case. However, they are available to rent.

Speaking of which, keep in mind that you save money by renting some equipment versus buying it. U-Haul has furniture pads for $5 per half dozen, as well as furniture dollies ($7 for local and $12 for one-way/long-distance moves) and appliance dollies ($10 for local and $15 for one-way/long-distance moves).

*These prices came from U-Haul’s website and may vary by location. You may want to check your local store first before buying online in case their prices are cheaper.

How Much Does Moving Labor Cost?

How Much Does a U-Haul Really Cost? We Found Out. - Moving Advice from HireAHelper (23)

When you go to a U-Haul shop, it’s likely they’ll try and sell you on movers. Even the inside of their trucks have advertisem*nts for moving labor all over them.

How much are U-Haul movers? Mover prices will vary dramatically, depending on the number of hours booked, how many movers you book, whether they are doing a load, unload, or both, and how soon you need them.

The difference between a move that takes you all day, breaks your back and your friendships, and keeps your stuff out of the hands of amateurs could be as little as $200 … Movers may be the most value you can get from any single add-on.”

U-Haul’s rate is for two helpers, and there’s a two-hour minimum per location (your starting point and end point). But if both locations are near each other, you may be able to combine the loading and unloading at both locations into one two-hour block.

Movers through U-Haul cost as little as $200 to as much as $5,000, which is why you need to get your own moving quote to compare against theirs.

How Much Does a U-Haul Really Cost? We Found Out. - Moving Advice from HireAHelper (24)

See prices for movers by the hour – instantly.

Read real customer reviews.

Easily book your help online.

How Much Does a U-Haul Really Cost? We Found Out. - Moving Advice from HireAHelper (25)

The way U-Haul’s movers work is that they have a network of local move helpers that sign up to receive job requests via their marketplace.

But unlike HireAHelper’s $1,000 guarantee if anything goes wrong or gets broken during a mover, with U-Haul you’re mostly taking your chances. They’ll connect you with movers, but it’s between you and them after that.

We found this part of their terms a little unsettling:

“Furthermore, the Moving Help request and its acceptance and if applicable, any resulting provision of Services, are solely between You and the Moving Helper. Therefore, when and where there are any claims, demands, liabilities, damages or losses incurred as a result of the same, You, your heirs, successors and assigns, do hereby waive and release Us (Our officers, directors, agents, parent, subsidiaries, affiliated companies and employees) from any such claims, demands, liabilities, damages or losses.

You acknowledge and agree that both You and the Moving Helper each have the right to pursue a claim against one another in a Court of competent jurisdiction or in another similar forum of dispute resolution.”

This, compared to cheap movers through HireAHelper, which provides some insurance for free (and that $1,000 service guarantee if anything goes wrong), plus additional insurance starting at $12.

And in case you were wondering, for us to add movers to our made-up, on-the-spot move, U-Haul quoted us $312.

Are movers actually worth it?

The difference between a move that takes you all day, breaks your back and your friendships, and keeps your stuff out of the hands of amateurs could be as little as $200, depending on how much stuff you have. Movers may be the most value you can get from any single add-on.

What actually happens at the U-Haul store after you reserve online or over the phone?

How Much Does a U-Haul Really Cost? We Found Out. - Moving Advice from HireAHelper (26)

We went online and used a credit card to book a 10′ rental truck, and we thought the booking was all paid up. But it wasn’t — our card was just used to make the reservation.

While our vehicle was reserved online (thank goodness), we had to reproduce the same or another form of payment in person (cash was acceptable as well), regardless of what we used online to reserve it. Makes sense, but might be a stumbling block for some people.

After that, U-Haul put a hold on our bank account upfront for all the estimated costs (i.e., rental fee, environmental fee, tax, and mileage). They asked us how many miles they thought we’d drive for our local move and added that to the total cost for the hold. If you end up driving less, they’ll charge you less in the end. If you end up driving more, they’ll charge more. Plus they’ll add any applicable miscellaneous fees.

When we returned with the vehicle, they checked out the truck before charging us to verify gas level and mileage (and probably to check for damages). We were given a paper receipt with the total costs. Because we used a debit card already on file, no further action was needed.

Paying for a U-Haul in cash?

We were told customers paying in cash need to put down a $100 deposit, or the estimated rental charges, whichever is more. (Yes, seriously.) This would eventually be reimbursed — minus our total cost — upon return of the vehicle.

Here’s how the cash payment breakdown works, straight from their website:

“If you’re paying with cash, the following is due when you pick up your equipment:*

Local/in-town truck: $100 or estimated rental charges (whichever is greater)

One-way truck: $100 plus rental rate

*Cargo vans and pickup trucks must be reserved with a credit card. Deposits cannot be made in cash.

The total estimated charges for your rental are due when you pick up your equipment regardless of your method of payment. Payment can be made by credit card, debit card or cash.

Cash is accepted for pickup and van rentals. However, a valid credit or debit card with a major credit card logo will also need to be presented in the name of the renter.”

Haggling and U-Haul coupons

There are no formal military, senior, or student discounts at U-Haul. However, it’s up to the discretion of the U-Haul store you’re renting at if they offer it for asking. The rep let it leak that anywhere between 10–15% discount is what they’re allowed to apply to an order if they’re so inclined.

How old do you have to be to rent a U-Haul?

Wanting to test the age limits, we sent one of our 20-year-old team members to officially do the honors of picking up the vehicle. It didn’t matter, as U-Haul says you need only be 18 years old with a valid driver’s license, and just 16 years old to rent a trailer attachment.

The Cheapest We Were Able To Get Our U-Haul

Our final cost for our U-Haul was $52.40.

  • Rental Fee: $19.95
  • Mileage Charge: $7.92
  • SafeMove Insurance: $14.00
  • Environmental Fee: $1
  • 1.6 Gallons of Gas from U-Haul: $7.51
  • Tax on Rental: $2.02

Total: $52.40

We got a 10′ truck, U-Haul’s smallest with no ramp, and drove it a “colossal” eight miles. We bought the cheapest insurance, absolutely zero equipment and zero labor, and got hit with no other fees (since we didn’t actually put anything in the truck).

Our bill was still almost three times the advertised price.

Of course, $52.40 isn’t a bad deal, depending on what you need it for. The problem is that if you only need a quick lift to pick something up, $50+ can render a lot of good deals useless.

On the other hand, if you were seriously moving, odds are great you’d drive many more miles, and your mileage would probably be way higher, given you probably aren’t hauling air. And if it’s during the busy moving season, the rental rate will likely be greater than $19.95.

The Bottom Line

Nobody pays $19.95 plus tax on a U-Haul rental.

An extremely conservative estimate for a very small, local move is probably closer to around $125 for the rental. You’ll realistically need one of the larger trucks for a real move.

And that is strictly local. For long-distance moves, even a small load will be much closer to $1,000 or more. And that’s assuming you don’t need a hitch installed.

How much you finally shell out will depend on your circ*mstances, your preferences and your requirements. Keep the above in mind as you plan out your move. You’ll probably save at least enough for some extra coffee on the drive to your new home!

How Much Does a U-Haul Really Cost? We Found Out. - Moving Advice from HireAHelper (2024)
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