Best Moving Container Companies (2024)
Get your free moving estimate in minutes.
We recommend 1-800-Pack-Rat as the best moving container company because of its all-inclusive services and the fact it has the best value overall. The company offers a variety of add-on services, moving protection, weather-protected units, and many moving resources making them the best self-service mover.
A moving container company is an affordable alternative to traditional full-service movers. With moving containers, you book and schedule your move, and the company drops off your moving container at your home. You then load your belongings into the container within the time frame provided. Once your belongings are loaded, you notify the company to pick up your containers and transport them to your new home.
We’ve researched and ranked the best moving companies across the country to see which is best for different types of movers. We’ve rated these as the best moving container companies if you prefer a self-service move.
5 Best Moving Container Companies
Using our rigorous methodology paired with in-depth research, we found the following moving container companies to be the best in the industry:
- 1-800-PACK-RAT: Best Self-Service Mover
- U-Pack: Most Affordable
- PODS: Most Convenient
- Zippy Shell: Best for Quick Moves
- SmartBox: Most Convenient Pricing
Compare Moving Container Companies
See the scores we gave each moving company and how they compared on price and shipment tracking services.
*Quotes are for a three-bedroom move using a 16-foot truck moving from Tampa, Florida, to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Prices are subject to change.
**Smartbox scored comparatively low with us because it has poorer overall customer reviews and doesn’t offer as many add-on services. However, we still recommend it due to its transparent online pricing and price-matching offering.
1-800-PACK-RAT: Best Self-Service Mover
We chose 1-800-PACK-RAT as our top recommendation due to its all-inclusive customer offerings. In short, we think it’s the best value overall. The company offers competitive pricing, durable moving containers, add-on services, moving resources, and insurance coverage.
Pros and Cons
✔ Includes $10,000 moving protection for long-distance moves
✔ Offers a price-matching policy for PODS
✔ Provides weatherproof, sturdy, and well-protected mobile storage units
✘ Is operable in only 33 states
✘ Has no online booking option
✘ Outsources international moves
Like the other moving companies on this list, 1-800-PACK-RAT delivers portable storage units to your home. A move with 1-800-PACK-RAT includes 30 days worth of rental, but if you need more time for loading and unloading, you can extend the rental for another 30 days for an additional cost.
1-800-PACK-RAT offers three rental container sizes:
- 8 feet (suitable for 1–2 rooms)
- 12 feet (2–3 rooms)
- 16 feet (3–4 rooms)
Each of the company’s containers are high-quality, sturdy, and weatherproof. In fact, 1-800-PACK-RAT is the only portable storage company with all-steel containers.
In addition to its self-service moving service, 1-800-PACK-RAT offers various other useful services, such as assistance with loading and unloading or packing and unpacking through Hire-A-Helper. The company offers long-term and short-term storage solutions at one of its many storage facilities.
1-800-PACK-RAT offers two different plans for contents protection. Its Basic Plan acts as a damage waiver plan that covers damage to the container when it’s in your possession. This means you’re not responsible for any damage to the container itself, but it does not protect your belongings. This plan costs $9.99.
Its second plan, The Silver Plan, combines the Basic Plan with protection on your belongings within the container. Customers can have up to $75,000 of protection on their household goods and personal effects while their container is in 1-800-PACK-RAT’s possession or at their home. There is a $100 deductible for all losses.*
*There is a $2,500 deductible for losses caused by named storms, such as hurricanes.
Cost of 1-800-PACK-RAT
We received a moving quote from 1-800-PACK-RAT for a three-bedroom home moving from Tampa, Florida, to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, using a 16-foot container for $3,678.68. This quote includes two 16-foot rental containers, a no-cut security lock, all transportation, delivery, and pickup, and $10,000 in contents protection.
We suggest you get a more accurate idea of what 1-800-PACK-RAT moving container costs by filling out this online survey.
1-800-PACK-RAT easily offers its services in Washington, D.C., and the following states:
Arizona, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Virginia, Washington, and Wisconsin.
Learn More: 1-800-PACK-RAT Review
U-Pack: Most Affordable
U-Pack functions in a similar manner to 1-800-PACK-RAT and PODS, but it focuses exclusively on long-distance moving. If your move is less than 150 miles away, you should look to another moving container company.
The company has fewer size options for its moving containers, but it offers a unique pay-for-what-you-use policy for moving trailers. This policy allows you to adjust space used according to your moving budget. In fact, we found that U-Pack can be as much as 60% cheaper than other moving container companies.
Pros and Cons
✔ Has less expensive rates than competitors
✔ Runs a pay-for-what-you-use policy that provides flexibility in pricing and space
✔ Is available in all 50 states
✘ Has a 150-mile minimum for moves
✘ Doesn’t offer on-site storage
✘ Only allows three days to load and three to unload
Like other moving container companies, U-Pack drops off either its shipping containers or a moving trailer at your original home when you request it. U-Pack’s ReloCubes come in only one size, a 70” x 82” x 93” container. You then have three business days to pack the container with your belongings. This window is shorter than both PODS and 1-800-PACK-RAT’s 30 days for loading.
U-Pack offers customers the option to purchase Guaranteed Delivery, which gives access to U-Pack’s 100% Customer Satisfaction Guarantee. This guarantee states that if your shipment doesn’t arrive on the guaranteed date, U-Pack reduces your transportation charges by up to 100%.
A standout feature of the company is its pay-for-what-you-use policy. This allows customers to pay per footage of a moving trailer from ABF Freights. This feature is useful if you’re uncertain about how much space you require for your belongings.
Cost of U-Pack
We received an estimate from U-Pack for two ReloCubes going from Tampa, Florida, to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, in roughly a month for $2,713. This quote is all-inclusive and features no hidden fees.
For a better idea of what U-Pack might cost you, get an instant quote by completing this online form.
U-Pack helps long-distance moves in all 50 states, as well as Puerto Rico. However, U-Pack requires a minimum mileage of 150 miles to provide its services. Make sure your overall distance is 150 miles or more if you want U-Pack’s help.
Learn More: U-Pack Review
PODS: Most Convenient
We think PODS offers some of the most convenient time frames for moving when compared to other moving container companies. PODS also features top-tier storage facilities with features like climate-controlled storage units. The company also features the largest number of storage facilities compared to other companies on this list.
Pros and Cons
✔ Offers climate-controlled storage facilities
✔ Features transparent pricing online and throughout the quote process
✔ Provides a variety of insurance options
✘ Requires bookings be finalized over the phone
✘ Must book in advance to ensure container availability the day of your move
✘ Offers packing sources but not handled in-house
PODS differentiates itself from other moving container companies by giving customers a generous 30-day window to load and unload their belongings from their containers. Extending your PODS rental for an additional 30 days is roughly $100 cheaper than 1-800-PACK-RAT, making the units great for both moving and short-term or long-term storage.
Similar to 1-800-PACK-RAT, PODS offers three sizes of moving containers: eight feet, 12 feet, and 16 feet. These weather-resistant containers feature roll-up doors that don’t require as much space to open in your driveway, as well as ramp-free loading.
Cost of PODS
PODS provided a quote for moving a three-bedroom home going from Tampa, Florida, to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, using two 16-foot rental containers for $4,301. This quote includes taxes, gas, mileage, and $10,000 in contents protection. PODS is also a pay-as-you-go service, so this cost is not due all at once.
PODS calculates the value of your belongings when you place an order with the company. When you book with PODS, you can increase or lower the amount of coverage or remove it entirely. Often, PODS includes $10,000 in contents protection in your quote. Each contents protection plan has a $100 deductible.
The company also offers its Container Only Option. This option would be significantly cheaper according to the amount of containers you order, and it covers any loss or damage to your PODS container. It does not cover any damage to your belongings.
PODS has locations in 46 states and Washington, D.C. PODS doesn’t have a physical branch in the following states:
- North Dakota
Learn More: PODS Review
Zippy Shell: Best for Quick Moves
Zippy Shell is owned by the same company as 1-800-PACK-RAT and provides portable storage container moves with a unique container that features tie-downs every few inches. This container design allows for ample opportunity to secure your boxes and items to minimize shifting during transport.
Pros and Cons
✔ Allows customer to stagger multiple container deliveries over time
✔ Has containers with an all-steel design that helps with tie-downs
✔ Offers 30 days of free storage with long-distance moves
✘ Doesn’t have an online quote option
✘ Is only available in 34 states
✘ Has some negative customer reviews citing poor communication and delays
Zippy Shell follows the same service model as other providers on this list. However, it offers only 10-foot and 15-foot containers. The larger containers are 7 feet high, 7 feet wide and 15 feet long with 105 square feet of space. They can comfortably hold up to 4,500 pounds worth of belongings, or 2-3 furnished rooms of furniture and boxes.
You are also only able to request one of their containers at a time. This allows you to stagger out the delivery of containers, so you are able to manage how many boxes and items are on your property more easily.
Zippy Shell offers additional storage services with facilities that are equipped with climate control and security. However, this option appears to only be available for short-term storage for the period of time you require a Zippy Shell container.
The company offers help with loading and unloading services, but it partners with local companies to offer these services. This means pricing and availability will vary according to location.
Cost of Zippy Shell
Zippy Shell quoted us to move a three-bedroom home from Tampa, Florida, to Philadelphia using two of its 16-foot units for a total of $3,839. This includes a month’s rental time, eight to 10 business days of transportation, a no-cut security lock, $10,000 in contents protection, and taxes. This provides three days to load per container (six days total) and two hours to unload per container (four hours total).
The company has locations in the following 34 states and Washington, D.C.:
Alabama, Arizona, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Virginia, Washington, and Wisconsin.
Smartbox: Most Convenient Pricing
Smartbox is another great moving container company for those concerned about affordability and transparency. Similar to U-Pack, the company provides all-inclusive quotes free of hidden fees. Smartbox provides its containers for both local and long-distance moves.
Pros and Cons
✔ Doesn’t come with hidden fees
✔ Includes 30 days of free storage
✔ Offers discounts for college students and military members
✘ Requires bookings to be completed over the phone
✘ Has wood containers instead of steel
✘ Doesn’t offer liability coverage for local moves
Smartbox offers a single container size, 8’x7’x5’. You order Smartbox’s containers one at a time. Online customer reviews we read claim that Smartbox is more convenient than any other mover they’d ever used. Customers liked that they could rent as many containers as they wanted but only had to pay for the ones they used, taking the guesswork out of picking container sizes. Smartbox doesn’t provide many optional moving services, such as packing assistance, but we like that its services are transparently priced and can be price-matched.
Cost of Smartbox
Smartbox estimated that we would need three of its containers to transport a three-bedroom home from Miami* to Philadelphia and quoted us $3,811 door-to-door.
To add loading help in Miami, it would cost an extra $372–$446 for two helpers for two hours. To add unloading assistance in Philadelphia it would cost $372–$1,231 for two helpers for two hours.
*Smartbox does not have a location in Tampa.
Smartbox is in 23 states and Washington D.C. It features locations in major metropolitan areas in the following states:
Alabama, Arizona, California, Colorado, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Louisiana, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Oregon, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia, and Washington
What Impacts Moving Container Cost
Most moving container companies have the same factors that affect the overall cost. Here are some of the major factors that impact the cost of renting a moving container:
- Additional services you purchase
- Date and time of your move
- Number of moving containers you use
- Overall size and weight of containers used
- Protection coverage
- Where you’re moving from and to and overall distance
Moving Container Moves vs. Full-Service Moves
Moving Container Moves
A moving container company can add more affordability, flexibility, and control over your move. Though you can save money by packing and loading on your own, a moving container company will handle the transportation for you, allowing you to avoid driving a rental truck. In short, a moving container company can be a happy medium for the moving experience.
Often, a moving container company can hold your belongings at a local storage facility until you request it to deliver them to your new home. This allows you to prepare the new house for your belongings. You then unload the container(s) at your own pace.
A full-service moving company can handle every aspect of your move for you. This includes furniture disassembly, wrapping, packing, loading, transportation, unloading, unpacking, and reassembly.
If this hands-free approach interests you, check out some of our top suggestions for full-service movers below.
International Van Lines
We found International Van Lines to have the best overall service offerings, making it the ideal company to choose if you need a full-service mover. The company provides industry-standard full-service options like disassembly and reassembly, packing and unpacking, and loading and unloading services. International Van Lines also supplies specialty services for difficult items like pianos and antiques. If you require help with transporting a recreational vehicle or one of your cars, International Van Lines supplies car shipping services.
The estimated cost for moving a three-bedroom home from Tampa to Philadelphia with International Van Lines is $4,200–$6,150.
We suggest you get more details on how International Van Lines can make your move more stress-free by completing this short questionnaire.
American Van Lines
If you’re concerned about fluctuating pricing, then American Van Lines is a great choice for you. American Van Lines offers fixed rates at the end of its quote process. This means no matter what happens during your move, you pay the price quoted to you.
The company is also a great option if you have challenging or difficult items that you are worried about having handled. This is because American Van Lines provides full-time employees, as opposed to contract workers, that hold on average 10 years of moving experience. This means you receive knowledgeable and consistent moving labor with American Van Lines
American Van Lines estimates that a move from Miami to New York City for a three-bedroom home (or 10,000 pounds) would cost around $8,182. This is the average cost of previous conducted for this move, so this would include a collection of services like packing and loading.
We suggest you get a better understanding of what fixed-price American Van Lines can give you by filling out this short survey.
What To Look For in a Moving Container Company
We recommend considering the following to determine which moving container company would be best for you:
- Availability: The first thing to look for is whether the company you’re considering even operates in your area and where you’re moving to. That’s a quick way to narrow down your choices.
- Container choices and quality: Some companies offer different container sizes and weight limits, so look to see if there’s an option that meets your needs. Also, look to see how durable the containers are. We recommend a metal container over wood.
- Customer reviews: Always read customer reviews on sites such as the BBB and Trustpilot to gauge a company’s customer service.
- Discounts: Many companies offer discounts for seniors, students, military members, and other groups. Take a look online or ask about these over the phone.
- Price: Look for a competitive price, but don’t let the number be your ultimate decider. Look at the value provided for the price and prioritize quality service and shipment protection. Companies with transparent online pricing, price-matching, or bonded estimates add convenience and ease to your move.
- Storage options: Look at what type of storage is available. Is security on-site? Is there surveillance? How long can you store your belongings? Keep in mind that some companies offer a certain amount of free storage.
How To Prepare for a Move
It can be a challenge to keep everything in order leading up to moving day. There are many important steps to take when going through a move of any size or distance. To help you keep in mind some major steps, we’ve listed some in detail below:
1. Determine Which Type of Move You Need
Though you are researching moving container companies, you want to consider if a self-service or full-service move appeals to you more. If you have plenty of help from friends and family, want to save money, and prefer doing things from a DIY approach, then a self-service moving company might be better for you.
2. Cut Down Your Inventory
Moving is a great moment to get rid of any underused or unwanted belongings. To do so efficiently, we suggest you create two piles of items as you pack and organize for the move. You should create one pile for items to donate and one pile of items to throw away. A few days before moving day, take some time to take these piles to their respective drop-off locations.
3. Tell People Who Need to Know About It
You are most likely telling your friends and family about your move, but there are some other significant individuals and organizations you need to notify. Inform insurance companies, tax agencies, utility companies, the post office, the Social Security administration, and your Internet service provider about your move.
4. Check That Your Moving Company Is Licensed and Insured
All of our recommended moving container companies listed above are licensed, bonded, and insured. However, if you decide to use another moving company, you might want to make sure they are properly licensed and insured. To do so, you obtain the company’s USDOT number and visit the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s website to search for them.
5. Create a Detailed Inventory
Many moving companies can help with this step. Some companies will provide a tool to help create an inventory of your belongings. When you create an inventory, make note of the condition of your items and take pictures of them. These photos and notes will come in handy if you have to file a damage claim for reimbursement.
Each company on our list has advantages, but we recommend 1-800-PACK-RAT for its all-inclusive services and U-Pack for its affordability. We suggest checking availability in your area, reading customer reviews, and getting a quote from at least three companies before deciding. Remember to prioritize great service and protection coverage.
FAQ About Moving Container Companies
What is the cheapest container company?
Based on our research, we found U-Pack offers the most affordable pricing for moving container moves.
Is 1-800-PACK-RAT or PODS cheaper?
We got estimates for moving from Tampa, Florida, to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, and found that 1-800-PACK-RAT is cheaper than PODS. 1-800-PACK-RAT quoted us $3,678, while PODS provided an estimate of $4,301.
What are PODS’ competitors?
Popular moving container companies aside from PODS include U-Pack, 1-800-PACK-RAT, Zippy Shell, and Smartbox.
Our Rating Methodology
The This Old House Reviews Team backs up our moving company ratings and recommendations with a detailed rating methodology to objectively score each company. We conduct research by reading through the company websites, analyzing customer reviews, conducting consumer surveys, requesting quotes, and speaking with customer representatives. We then score each moving company against our review standards for services, contents coverage, scheduling options, additional benefits and custom service options, and reputation among customers to arrive at a final score on a 5-point rating scale.
To share feedback or ask a question about this article, send a note to our Reviews Team at firstname.lastname@example.org.