When you are planning a move, one big decision you’ll need to make is whether you want to hire a company that can handle all the heavy lifting or if you’d rather handle packing, loading, unloading, and unpacking on your own.
If you decide on the latter, the next important choice is whether to hire a portable storage container service or rent a moving truck.
To help you decide which option is best for you, we have reviewed two major self-service moving companies based on a number of key factors, including cost, offerings, and customer service. Our PODS vs. U-Haul comparison will highlight the benefits and potential downsides of both companies and methods of moving.
PODS vs. U-Haul: Our Take
PODS is a popular alternative to traditional full-service moving that allows for convenient drop-off, pick-up, and transport of portable steel containers in three sizes that can be loaded at your convenience.
U-Haul offers similar containers, in addition to moving vans and trucks of varying sizes. However, U-Haul’s containers come in only one size and hold less than two rooms of belongings.
While PODS is available in most states, U-Haul is the most widely available moving vehicle rental company in the country. U-Haul is the more experienced of the two companies and maintains a much higher Better Business Bureau (BBB) rating than PODS, whose lower rating is due to the total number of customer complaints, including complaints that remain unresolved.
* Better Business Bureau (BBB) ratings accurate as of February 2022
PODS vs. U-Haul: Services
PODS specializes in the drop-off, pick-up, transport, and storage of portable steel moving containers. The company may be attractive to DIY movers who want assistance with some parts of the process—such as transport and delivery—but prefer to handle packing and loading on their own. It’s also a good fit for anyone who will need short- or long-term storage options before, during, or after their relocation. PODS can provide third-party moving crews at an added cost for those who want assistance with loading and unloading.
Similarly, U-Haul has portable containers available for rent through its U-Box division. Like PODS, U-Haul will handle drop-off, pick-up, transport, and delivery of its U-Box containers. But U-Haul’s Moving Help package allows customers to create a full-service experience—including loading, unloading, driving, and unpacking—at a lower cost than most major moving companies.
Both companies offer short- and long-term storage options. U-Haul’s indoor storage facilities are climate-controlled, a feature that varies for PODS facilities depending on location. PODS and U-Haul can each accommodate vehicle storage. PODS outsources its vehicle storage while U-Haul is a direct provider.
PODS has steel-framed containers, rented by the month, in three sizes: 8 feet, 12 feet, and 16 feet. For reference, a 16-foot container will usually accommodate homes up to 1,200 square feet or roughly the equivalent of three to four rooms’ worth of furniture and household items. Containers are delivered directly to your driveway or parking lot at ground level for easy loading. Once your items are loaded, you can schedule a time for PODS to retrieve your container and transport it to your new residence.
PODS serves 46 states and Washington, D.C. It is not available in Alaska, Montana, North Dakota, or Wyoming.
While the company does not offer any full-service moving options, it can recommend and connect you with professional moving partners who are familiar with PODS containers to assist with packing and unpacking and loading and unloading.
PODS’ standout feature is its City Service, specifically designed to meet the unique challenges of relocating within major metropolitan areas. PODS drivers will remain with your container as you load and unload it to prevent tickets, theft, or other issues and, in most cases, will handle parking and any permits or homeowner’s association (HOA) requirements for you. City Service is available in the following major cities: Boston, Chicago, Denver, Los Angeles, New York, Philadelphia, San Francisco, Seattle, Toronto, Canada, and Washington, D.C.
PODS services include:
- Local moving
- Long-distance moving
- International moving
- Vehicle transport
- Optional liability coverage
- Moving supplies and blankets
- Container moving kits
- City Service
- Optional third-party moving crews
- Short- and long-term storage
- Online moving and storage calculators
- Moving checklist
U-Haul provides rental moving vehicles, including pickups, cargo vans, and trucks. Trucks are available in the following sizes: 10 feet, 15 feet, 17 feet, 20 feet, and 26 feet. A 10-foot truck is suitable for moving a one-bedroom or studio apartment, while a 26-foot truck is large enough for most three- to four-bedroom homes. All trucks come equipped with rub rails on three interior walls for tying down furniture.
Additionally, U-Haul rents cargo and utility trailers. Cargo trailers are enclosed and are available in four-by-eight feet, five-by-eight feet, and six-by-12 feet. The larger utility trailers have an open top, making them ideal for large or oddly shaped items that are difficult to load in a truck. All trailers come with security locks.
U-Haul’s portable containers, U-Box, come in one size and can typically accommodate about 1.5 rooms’ worth of furniture and belongings.
A notable service is Moving Help, an online marketplace—searchable by customer rating, cost, and services—that connects customers with local moving companies. Through Moving Help, customers can design a full-service move or add specific services such as packing, unpacking, and cleaning to their DIY relocation.
U-Haul also stands out for its multiple coverage plans. SmartMove and SafeTrip plans provide protection against most accidents while driving a U-Haul vehicle or towing a trailer, as well as coverage for items damaged due to collision, fire, windstorm, or overturned truck, and medical coverage for drivers and passengers. SmartMove Plus provides the items listed above with an additional $1 million supplemental coverage plan and extended accident protection.
Customers can also opt for supplemental roadside protection, which includes: battery jump-starts; locksmith, lost key, and fuel services; assistance with vehicles stuck in snow or mud; and help with trailer hook-up issues.
U-Haul services include:
- One-way truck and trailer rentals
- In-town truck and trailer rentals
- U-Box portable moving containers
- Climate-controlled (indoor) storage
- Ground-level drive-up (outdoor) storage
- Car, boat, and RV storage
- Standard van and truck rentals
- Standard trailer rentals
- Moving supplies
- Hitches and accessories
- Optional third-party hourly labor
PODS vs. U-Haul: Cost
The cost to move with PODS depends on a number of factors, including the number and sizes of containers needed, the distance you are moving, and any add-on options you select such as short- or long-term storage and third-party moving assistance.
U-Haul’s pricing can be impacted by the size of the truck you choose and distance of your move, as well as any additional supplies and services like Moving Help that you purchase.
PODS only provides online quotes for local relocations. You must call the company to receive your free quote for long-distance moves. However, we received an approximate estimate of $2,850 to rent a 16-foot container for one month and have it transported from Charleston, South Carolina, to Dallas, Texas.
PODS operates on a flat monthly rental fee schedule, so you won’t receive a prorated amount for using your container for less than 30 days. The company also offers discounts, such as free delivery and up to 15% off rent with the purchase of at least three months of storage for customers who are moving locally (less than 50 miles).
Local moves are charged one day before the delivery of your container. If you opt for short- or long-term storage—or decide to keep your container at your home for longer than one month—those charges will be processed each month on the same date as your initial payment. Long-distance orders are processed one week prior to your scheduled service and include the drop-off and first month’s rent on your container as well as transit and delivery to your new address.
PODS regularly offers discounts, such as free delivery and up to 15% off rent with the purchase of at least three months of storage for customers who are moving locally (less than 50 miles). Active and retired military receive a 10% discount on the total cost of their move year-round through a promo code on the company’s website.
U-Haul provides instant online quotes for all its vehicles and trailers. Estimates are based on the size and type of vehicle you choose, as well as a specified rental timeframe and mileage limit that varies depending on the distance between your pick-up location and destination.
For example, according to U-Haul’s online calculator, it would cost approximately $914 to rent a 26-foot truck for a move from Charleston, South Carolina, to Dallas, Texas. Renting a 6x12-foot trailer for the same move would cost about $238. Both rental estimates include five days of use and up to 1,305 miles. For reference, the distance from Charleston to Dallas is approximately 1,080 miles.
Using U-Haul’s online estimating tool, pricing for U-Box container rental for the Charleston-to-Dallas relocation would start at $1,674. That price is based on the rental of four containers—the number U-Haul recommends for the contents of a three-bedroom home.
U-Haul offers various discounts and specials throughout the year. Current promotions include a no-deposit relocation that includes one free month of storage at participating locations.
PODS vs. U-Haul: Customer Service
Both PODS and U-Haul offer convenient online tools like customer portals, moving tips, checklists, and other helpful resources. Customers can also purchase moving supplies directly from both companies’ websites. However, U-Haul also has a user-friendly mobile app, something PODS does not offer.
PODS is not BBB-accredited and has a B+ rating on the BBB website. Comparatively, U-Haul, which is accredited through the BBB, has an A+ rating. Ratings for both companies are accurate as of February 2022.
We analyzed customer reviews on the BBB website and TrustPilot and found that they’re mixed for both companies. A majority of the negative feedback from PODS customers is related to damage to belongings, difficulty and/or delays with the claims process, and poor communication throughout the moving process. Positive reviews often note the simplicity and convenience of moving with PODS as well as a streamlined delivery and pick-up process and strong customer service.
The most frequent complaint from U-Haul customers, according to online reviews, is last-minute rental cancellations, changes, and delays. Positive feedback often refers to U-Haul’s quality customer service and assistance with unexpected issues.
PODS Customer Service
PODS only gives local moving quotes online, meaning you must call the company’s customer service line to get a long-distance estimate.
The company’s online portal, MyPODS, allows customers to schedule pick-ups and deliveries easily, but any changes to those scheduled dates must be made by phone. PODS offers 24/7 support for existing customers through a chat function in MyPODS.
What Customers Are Saying:
The reps are extremely helpful and professional. I had to make several date changes for my PODS deliveries and pick-ups due to the uncertain date of the closing on our house 1,250 miles away, as well as the dynamic of moving over the holidays. Everything went very well and [was] timed perfectly once our house closing date was firmed up. This was our second time using PODS and [it] is a very convenient method of moving…. You can take your time loading and unloading and not just do that in one or two days, plus [you have the] flexibility of being able to change dates based on your situation.
—Donald C., 2021, via TrustPilot
My experience with PODS pick up and delivery was fine. The problem was that they did some damage to my property when they delivered the POD—about $1,800 worth. I filed a claim and they asked me to send photos and an estimate, which I did… four times. Corresponding with the claims agent was impossible. He never answers the phone and [is] bad [at] answering emails. He finally emailed and said he was waiting for someone from the local office to get back to him. [More than] five weeks later, no payment….
—Larry L., 2021, via BBB
U-Haul Customer Service
U-Haul’s website includes a convenient moving calculator that allows you to view pricing for all vehicles and trailer sizes, as well as containers, in one search. The online tool will recommend how many U-Box containers you will likely need depending on your home size. Vehicles and containers can be scheduled and paid for through the company’s website.
U-Haul offers 24/7 customer assistance via phone and online chat. The company provides an online portal for existing customers to schedule or change rentals, track orders, and make payments. Customers can also perform the same tasks using U-Haul’s mobile app.
What Customers Are Saying:
I recently rented a U-Haul truck. I chatted online and talked to… a live chat agent. She was very helpful. She solved my problem. I recommend using U-Haul services and using their online chat feature if you encounter any problems.
—Andrei K., 2021, BBB
They have decent equipment and when they have what you need, it’s great. On the other hand, I had reserved a 6x12 covered trailer at a local dealer a couple weeks in advance. When it was time for them to make the phone call to confirm the reservation, they informed me that the local location no longer had the equipment I had reserved. Now, I was being told I would have to drive over 50 miles away to pick up my desired equipment. That is not at all convenient and defeats the whole concept of making a “reservation.” The only way that their $50 reservation guarantee comes into play is if they don’t have what you [want] available anywhere. I don’t know how far they would be willing to send the customer to get the equipment to “honor the reservation.” Not to mention, I had spent a small fortune over the last month renting a small trailer for a couple [of] days here [and a] couple [of] days there hauling stuff to storage and the landfill prepping for my move, and that gained no customer appreciation from them. I just wish that there were more companies out there that rent out trailers.
—Shawn C., 2021, BBB
If you prefer to handle the bulk of the moving process on your own and/or are looking for more cost-effective alternatives to full-service companies, U-Haul might be the most attractive option due to its variety of products, competitive pricing, and nationwide availability.
However, PODS might be a good fit for those who need large containers or prefer professional transport of their belongings. With any move, it’s best to research and request multiple quotes to get a good comparison of cost and services with any move. We do not recommend scheduling service or signing a contract with a moving company without first getting quotes from at least three providers.
Frequently Asked Questions About PODS vs. U-Haul
What time of day will my container arrive?
Delivery and pick-up times vary, but PODS will notify customers via email, phone, and the online customer dashboard of an estimated time the evening before your containers are scheduled to arrive or be removed.
Deliveries typically begin at 7 a.m. Monday through Saturday. Deliveries and pick-ups are not available on Sundays. You do not need to be present for delivery or pick-up of your PODS container.
Does U-Haul require a deposit to rent a moving vehicle, trailer, and/or container?
Regardless of product, deposit requirements depend on your method of payment. U-Haul does not require deposits if you pay with a major credit card.
U-Haul accepts cash payments but requires a $100 deposit in addition to the quoted rate on all one-way vehicle rentals. You must make an up-front payment of either $100 or the total estimated cost for in-town rentals, whichever is greater.
You must use a credit card to reserve a cargo van or pickup truck. U-Haul will not accept cash deposits on these vehicles. The company will allow you to pay for van and pickup rentals with cash, but you must also present a valid credit card or debit card with a major credit card logo in your name at the time of payment.
What kinds of items can’t be loaded into a PODS storage container?
PODS containers are suitable for most household items, excluding lawn mowers and motorized vehicles. The company also recommends keeping irreplaceable items like family heirlooms as well as important documents (deeds, legal notices, etc.) out of the container as an added precaution.
Hazardous materials, such as toxic chemicals, gas, and illegal items, cannot be stored and transported in a PODS container. Human or animal habitation is also specifically prohibited.
How many passengers can ride in a U-Haul truck?
Larger U-Haul truck sizes (15, 17, 20, and 26 feet) seat up to three passengers. The company’s 10-foot box trucks and cargo vans can only accommodate one passenger.
Do I need to put gas in my U-Haul truck before I return it?
U-Haul will check the gas tank level of your rental vehicle at the time of pick-up. The amount of gas will be noted in your contract. U-Haul requires the vehicle to be returned with that level of gas.
U-Haul vehicles typically take unleaded gasoline. Specifics on each vehicle type and size are available on the Truck Sizes page of the company’s website. Details listed online for each of U-Haul’s vehicles include dimensions, towing capacity, fuel type, and miles per gallon.
The This Old House Reviews Team is committed to providing comprehensive and unbiased reviews to our readers. This means earning your trust through transparent reviews and having the data to back up our ratings and recommendations. Our rating system for moving service providers is on a 100-point scale based on 7 factors:
- Moving Services (30): Does the company offer its services for local, long-distance, and/or international moves?
- Additional Services (29): What additional services does the company provide, such as packing and unpacking or loading and unloading?
- Coverage (10): Does the company offer any additional insurance plans, such as full-value coverage?
- Scheduling (7): Are customers able to schedule online, over the phone, or on both platforms?
- Trailers/Containers (7): How many trailer or container sizes does the company offer?
- Additional Benefits (12): What additional benefits does the company provide, such as storage options, moving truck rentals, and financing?
- Reputation (5): What rating does the company feature on popular review sites like the Better Business Bureau (BBB)?
To share feedback or ask a question about this article, send a note to our Reviews team at email@example.com.