How to Get a Better Deal on a Moving Truck With a Simple Trick

Like any sort of vehicle rental, the pricing for moving trucks isn’t always what it seems. You’ll see a great deal—“Moves from $19.95!” or “Reserve for just $20!”—but inevitably, when you call to actually make that reservation, it turns out the cost is often twice that much, maybe more. When you start looking for a more extended trip, like cross-country, the price differences get even larger. As frustrating as this is, there is a way to improve your chances of getting a better price.

The problem with pricing

I ran into this problem myself several years ago when I was pricing out moving trucks for a cross country move. U-haul quoted me at $1,400. Penske was about $900, and Budget was considerably cheaper at $600. The price difference was large enough that I decided to figure out why. So, I called U-haul with my Budget quote in hand, and asked for a deal. The U-Haul representative couldn’t do it, and it turns out, it was mostly because the dates I’d picked were popular days. The U-Haul representative helpfully explained that it was all about supply, and the dates I’d requested were high traffic weekends. MarketWatch confirms this pricing model:

What gives? Like airlines and hotels, truck-rental companies have adopted complex algorithms that help them manage inventory. While that means more efficient use of vehicles — savings which can theoretically be passed on to customers — it adds a lot of complexity.

Rental companies say in-town and cross-country trips are priced differently for a variety of reasons. Customers do tend to pay higher rates for one-way rentals, according to Budget, because of the extra costs involved in getting trucks to and from popular pickup locations and to compensate for additional wear and tear.

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The U-Haul representative also told me I’d also just picked a crappy week to move. It as the end of the month, which apparently is when everyone needs a truck. Combine that with the fact it was also right around Labor Day weekend and that means they could charge me whatever they wanted because they knew I needed the truck.

Essentially, an algorithm chooses the price of a truck. The lower the demand, the cheaper the truck. And when there’s more of a demand, the more expensive the truck becomes. It has nothing to do with rate quotes in ads, and like an airline ticket, it’s entirely possible you’ll pay a different price for the same company in the same city at different times of the year. It’s obvious when you think about it, but how often do any of us actually think about it?

So, why was Budget so much cheaper? It turns out, it’s likely because I was doing them a favor. They had a lot of stock in Denver, not that much in Seattle where I was taking it. That means I move their inventory for them, someone else gets to use the truck in Seattle, and we all win.

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Shop around for savings

The tip here is simple: when you’re shopping for a moving truck, compare prices at every rental truck provider and play around with the dates. From there, also try changing different pick up and drop off locations in your city because different locations offer different prices. Your previous experience doesn’t really affect who is going to have the cheaper price. If you can, avoid moving during summer, especially between Memorial Day and Labor Day.

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Getting a deal on a moving truck is a lot like getting a deal on airline tickets, which means shopping around a lot. Unfortunately, there’s no exact equivalent of a site like Kayak that would compare moving truck rentals from the major companies. For now, the next best thing is a site called Unpakt, which compares and offers instant quotes for a variety of local moving companies near you. There is also Moving101, which offers a variety of price comparisons for different types of moves.

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The bottom line is that you need to do your homework before renting a moving truck, thinking of it like booking airplane tickets. Moving is a major expense, so putting in a little extra time could result in some pretty big savings.

This story was originally published on 8/12/13 and was updated on 10/25/19 to provide more thorough and current information.

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Darknet  Lifehacker

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