Getting a U-Haul? You may have a lot of questions about how it all works. And hey, if you’re a rental truck rookie and want to know what to expect, we probably have an extremely detailed answer for you over here.
But if you just want to learn about some ways to save money on your U-Haul bill, here are some protips we’ve learned after moving people for over a decade.
Pay by debit card, if possible
You may be pleased to hear that U-Haul does not require a deposit when you pick up your vehicle. Instead – and sorry to burst your bubble – if you are paying by credit card, you’ll be charged the full estimated amount before you get your keys. And if paying by cash, you’ll be forking over that full estimated amount plus an extra $100, regardless of whether you are moving in-town or cross-country.
Also, bring your card with you to the store on arrival. U-Haul will typically make you reproduce your payment method, even if you already booked it online or over the phone.
Note the gas gauge level (in writing)
Make sure your gas tank is full before you put your vehicle in drive. If it isn’t, have your U-Haul person make a note of it on your paperwork. Tell them to be specific as to where the needle on the gas gauge is resting. Likewise, double-check that odometer reading. U-Haul employees won’t think twice about being vague to you, then demand specifics when you go to drop it off.
Always fill out the damage-sheet before you take it off the lot
Be thorough when you inspect your vehicle for damage, which you will likely do right alongside your U-Haul person. Pay particular attention to nicks in the paint job and cracks in the windshield. Don’t take “Don’t worry about that” for an answer. Just mark it on the existing damage sheet and you’re done.
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Running late? Call ahead to the store!
Without breaking any traffic laws, do your best to avoid returning your vehicle late. Some U-Haul reps can be lenient with the clock, but play it safe and hand those keys over on time. If you happen to fall behind schedule, call ahead. Your U-Haul person knowing you’ll be late is better than him or her wondering if you’ll be showing up at all and hitting you with a massive fee.
Ask to do U-Haul a favor, get a break
If you are moving long-distance, ask if U-Haul needs your truck in a location other than the one closest to where you are going. Individual stores have been to known to occasionally give you a bit of a break if you agree to drop it off there for them.
If you’re flexible, avoid weekends and the end of the month
Avoid peak rental periods, generally weekends and the end of the month when rates tend to be higher. This may not jive with the timing demands of your move, but U-Haul does offer, in some cases, one free month of self-storage at the beginning or at the end of your move. (Then again, moving your stuff into and then out of storage may mean an extra in-town rental, which nets them more money.)
Play around with your moving schedule because the date will heavily impact your U-Haul bill.
Ask if you can pick up your U-Haul truck the night before your move
Pick up your vehicle the night before your move, a half hour or so before they close, if your local store will allow it. This will increase your chances of getting the vehicle you want while avoiding the typical morning crush when – far too often – people find out they won’t be getting any truck at all, or are told they need to drive to a different location to find one.
If time is money, then picking up at night instead of in the morning can be a money-saver.
Coast, coast, coast
Take it easy on that gas pedal. Some U-Haul trucks have a fuel economy gauge to tell you what kind of mileage you are getting as you growl around town and on down the highway. Going easy on the acceleration and coasting rather than racing up to the next red light will make a difference in your gas expenses over the long haul.
Pay your U-Haul bill immediately
It is not uncommon for U-Haul to hit customers with additional charges at the time of drop-off. It is common for U-Haul to put customers who aren’t prepared to pay those extra charges on a promissory note, refer them to a collections agency if that doesn’t work, and in either case put their names on “e-alert”, which bars them from renting again until all outstanding payments are settled.
If you feel you have a legitimate dispute, bring it up forthright. But don’t just walk away. U-Haul does not tolerate being ignored.
The Bottom Line
Nope, nobody ever just pays $19.95 plus tax. U-Haul has way too many fees and add-ons for that. If you want to know how much you could be spending on your U-Haul, check out Moving101 for real-time prices and reviews from people who’ve already moved with U-Haul.