How Much Does a U-Haul Really Cost? We Found Out.

Posted in: I'm Moving, Money Saving, Moving Trucks

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.

But 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 went out to rent a U-Haul with one question in mind: how much does a U-Haul really cost? 

Here’s absolutely everything we learned.


The Big U-Haul Cost Breakdown

How much does a U-Haul truck rental cost?

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.)

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)

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

And most importantly, the $19.95 only accounts for U-Haul’s “rental truck fee”. (It’s also technically subject to availability and might be higher, even for the smallest ones.)

Here are the U-Haul fees that make up one (1) U-Haul bill

  • Rental truck fee (+ ~$40 per additional day, when applicable)
  • Mileage fee | Rate varies by regional location/distance driven
  • Damage protection fees
  • Fuel costs
  • Environmental fees
  • Equipment rentals
  • Miscellaneous fees (e.g., Cleaning, toll, damage, parking, convenience, drop off fees)
  • Taxes

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

Our final cost was $55.76 for the most bare-bones rental imaginable.

Below we break down how U-Haul gets their prices, what else we could have bought instead, as well as what we had to do to get our quotes.

How much do the bigger U-Haul trucks cost?

How Much Does a U-Haul Cost?
Photo source: Uhaul.com

It’s not possible to pinpoint the exact cost of a specific truck size because truck prices vary by supply and demand and U-Haul location, and are subject to change. 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.

How Much Does a U-Haul Cost?
Moving101 Real-Time Pricing Page

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

We could not rent our U-Haul for any longer than 24 hours for a local move rate.

Almost any U-Haul location around the country won’t let you add days for a U-Haul you’ll be returning to the same store, but our store did say that there were some U-Haul locations that still might allow it in rare situations. But in most cases, U-Haul will instead try and sell you on one of their moving containers if those are available in your area.

“Paying for a U-Haul in cash? We were told cash payments need to give a $100 deposit (yes, seriously), which would eventually be reimbursed – minus our total cost – upon return of the vehicle.”

For long-distance moves, you get five days with your truck. We asked and yes, you can add days to your rental – but only with advance coordination with your local U-Haul store.

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

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

How much does a U-Haul cost?
Middletownstorage.com

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

There are three types of trailers U-Haul offers:

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

For smaller loads or something super fragile (or heck, even quarantined), U-Haul offers trailers that hitch to cars and trucks, pending location availability. U-Haul likes to say they’re perfect for moving a dorm room.

Like U-Haul trucks, they advertise these being as cheap as “$14.95”, and just like the trucks, that quote is only for the smallest versions of them if AND if you are moving locally. You generally get up to seven days to use a U-Haul trailer for long-distance moves.

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?

How Much Does a U-Haul Cost?
tacomaworld.com

All types of trailers require a proper hitch and lighting to hook to your vehicle, which you either need to prove to U-Haul meets their standard requirements, or make an appointment to have them install them onto your vehicle for a fee roughly around $100 and greater.

For the heck of it, we asked how much it would cost to get one of our cars modded for towing a trailer, and for pieces and installation. We were quoted $428.24.

  • Product subtotal: $269.75
  • Installation fee: $138.75
  • Tax: $19.74
  • Total: $428.24

Not exactly a steal, given that doesn’t even include the rental. (But at least you’ll be good to go for the future.) You will be buying all the pieces you need, but expect to get up-charged versus if you found the pieces elsewhere.

Technically, you could also rent a trailer for your U-Haul truck rental, which already has a hitch and lighting hook up on it if you for some reason needed a little additional space.

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

There are actually three different kinds of trailers you can typically rent.

U-Haul Cargo Trailers

subaruoutback.org

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

How Much Does a U-Haul Cost?
Photo source: Uhaul.com

The smallest model and a couple other models do not come built with the U-Haul “EZ Ramp”, so prepare for that.

How much does a U-Haul Cargo Trailer cost?

For local moves, U-Haul trailer rentals generally cost as little as $14.95 before fees, and as much as $29.95 for the biggest size, after fees.

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.

For a long-distance move, that quote goes out the window. Our quote for the smallest trailer (4’x8′), minus taxes and miscellaneous fees and for up to seven days was $239.00, and the largest cargo trailer (6’x12′) was for a whopping $562.00! 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 couple hundred, at minimum.

U-Haul Utility Trailers

How Much Does a U-Haul Cost?
Photo source: Uhaul.com

Utility trailers are needed for 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.

How Much Does a U-Haul Cost?
Photo source: Uhaul.com

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?

For local moves, prices generally begin at $14.95 and range to $29.95 at the biggest, but vary by availability and demand.

It was hard to get a quote for a long-distance move with a Utility Trailer because so few of the largest options were available anywhere we looked – even in heavily populated areas. (You’ve been warned!) However, for a 5′ x 9′ Utility Trailer with a ramp, we received a quote for $356.00, minus fees.

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

U-Haul Vehicle Trailer

How Much Does a U-Haul Cost?
corvetteforum.com

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.

How Much Does a U-Haul Cost?
Photo source: Uhaul.com

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?

For our local move, U-Haul trailer rental rates for a tow dolly for a front-wheel drive vehicle started at $45.99 and an auto transport trailer started at $54.99.

To get an idea for a hypothetical long-distance move, we came prepared with two far away ZIP Codes. Before fees, our quote from the west coast to the midwest was quoted as $478 for a tow dolly and $962 for an auto transport trailer. Not cheap, but potentially cheaper than other options, but only if you were up for driving it yourself.

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

Keep in mind hitch installation, taxes and other fees are not 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 55mph with any of this stuff attached to your vehicle.

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

How Much Does a U-Haul Cost?
Photo source: Uhaul.com

We also didn’t rent a storage container but were told they are available for long-distance moves. According to Moving101’s real-time, user reported prices, the average price for a U-Box move is $2,755.

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.

How U-Haul Fees Work

How much does U-Haul charge for mileage?

How Much Does a U-Haul Cost?

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

For a rental truck:

  • Our quote was $0.89 a mile in Southern California. You might see it go higher
  • In the midwest, it’s more common to find price points of $0.79 or $0.69 a mile
  • Meanwhile, the mileage rate for either U-Haul rental pick-up trucks or U-Haul vans are typically $0.59 a mile

We drove the U-Haul all of eight miles from and back to the U-Haul store to take pictures. For this, we were charged $0.89 a mile, for a total of $8.90.

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? That’s why some call it “consumer-unfriendly“. Let’s hope there are U-Haul coupons out there somewhere.

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

U-Haul customer agreement receipt

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

If you are moving long-distance, you receive a calculated amount of miles you have to stay under (which might be a little stingy), and your U-Haul mileage rate is typically around $0.40 a mile.

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. Keep this in mind when typing in “U-Haul near me” into Google and deciding between multiple nearby stores.

Also, mileage is cheaper for long-distance moves, but other fees are way, way more expensive, so make sure you stick to in-town rates, if possible.

Do U-Hauls have unlimited miles?

No, U-Hauls do not have unlimited miles.

For that, 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.

How do U-Haul gas fees work?

How Much Does a U-Haul Cost?

Simply put, you will pay for any gas you use. You 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 $5.25 a gallon (!) to do it for us after we returned it as a “convenience fee”.

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.”

How Much Does a U-Haul Cost?
U-Haul mileage gauge

Your U-Haul truck can get as little as 7 mpg, but it might be in the neighborhood of 10-12, depending on what size truck you rent. They often have this little module on the dashboard so you can see in real-time.

Protip: Make sure your truck’s tank is full when you take it off the lot. And by full, we mean full! 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.

U-Haul Insurance

What are my U-Haul insurance options?

U-Haul has two (2) main kinds of insurance. They’re called Safemove and Savemofe Plus. Just like everything else, the added cost scales dramatically for local and long-distance moves.

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.

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

  • Damage waiver
  • Limited coverage for the stuff in the vehicle (cargo coverage)
  • Life coverage for the people in the vehicle

You’ll have to look to your own insurance if you hit someone else. And your stuff inside is only covered if you get hit, there’s a fire, a windstorm, or if your truck literally overturns.

“The rep let it leak that anywhere between 10-15% discount is what they’re allowed to apply to an order, if they decide.”

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

  • Damage waiver
  • Limited coverage for the stuff in the vehicle (cargo coverage)
  • Life coverage for the people in the vehicle
  • $1,000,000 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.) 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 $14. SafeMove Plus would have cost us $48.

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.

Here’s the thing though. 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
  • You are responsible to pay U-Haul for “lost rental revenue” while the truck is being fixed, whatever U-Haul deems that cost to be
  • You have to pay U-Haul the exact moment you return the vehicle for any and all damages, then deal with insurance later – it’s not billed

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

U-Haul also offers “Safetow” for $5 extra, 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.

Damages and cleaning fees

How Much Does a U-Haul Cost?

Also, 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.

U-Haul Equipment

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

How Much Does a U-Haul Cost?
U-Haul stores give you a wide range of boxes and equipment to choose from online, and in person.

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: $5-15
  • Stretch wrap: $6.
  • Boxes: $1-25 (Wide varieties available)
  • Tie Down Tope: $3
  • Straps: $9.95
  • Roll of packing tape: $3
  • Furniture dolly: $19.95
  • Hand dolly: $39.95
  • Furniture pads: $4 each

Keep in mind that you can rent some equipment versus buying it. U-Haul has furniture pads for $5 per half dozen, as well as furniture dollies for $7-10 and appliance dollies between $10-12.

*Prices may vary by location.

How much does moving labor cost?

How Much Does a U-Haul Cost?

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 advertisements for moving labor all over them.

How much are U-Haul movers? Movers 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. Movers cost as little as $200 to as much as $5,000, which is why you need to get your own quote.

The way U-Haul movers work is that they contract a local business to go out and do the job, and U-Haul takes a cut of the quote you get from them. But if anything goes wrong or gets broken, it’s basically a civil matter between you and that small business. Most people agree that it’s better to contract movers on sites with customer service who hold that business accountable, which you can do simply by ignoring U-Haul’s tacky ads and looking for yourself.

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.

Other Factors That Affect Your U-Haul Cost

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

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. 

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

It seems counter-intuitive, but given equipment costs and time constraints of U-Haul’s local moves, getting movers might realistically end up saving you the most money.

After that, U-Haul put a hold our bank account upfront for the total fees, minus the costs of future mileage and (hopefully no) miscellaneous fees.

When we returned with the vehicle, we dropped off the keys and the truck and 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 cash payments need to give a $100 deposit (yes, seriously), which 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:

A credit or debit card is required to reserve a truck online (no deposit is required). If you don’t have a credit card or prefer to use cash, you can reserve the truck in person. In-town rentals need a deposit of $100 or the estimated charges (whichever is greater). One-way moves require $100 plus the rental rate. The total estimated charges will be due when you pick up the equipment, whether paying by cash, debit or credit.

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 decide.

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. No 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 for $55.76.

  • Rental Fee: $19.95
  • Mileage Charge: $7.12
  • SafeMove Insurance: $14.00
  • Environmental Fee: $1
  • 2 Gallons of Gas from U-Haul: $10.50
  • Tax on Rental: $3.19
  • Total: $55.76

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, $55.76 isn’t a bad deal, depending on what you need it for. The problem is that if you needed only a quick lift to pick something up, $50+ can render a lot of good deals useless.

How Much Does a U-Haul Cost?
The $19.95 truck has raised wheel wells inside the vehicle, which takes up some serious space in your rental truck.

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.

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 $500-1,000, or greater. And that is assuming you don’t need a hitch installed.

The Bottom Line

Nobody pays $19.95 plus tax. How much you finally shell out will depend on your circumstances, 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!

Comments

  1. Michael O’Keeffe

    Does U-Haul provide snow chains for truck rentals in winter months or cross country moves, for safety sake?

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