U-Haul vs. Penske: Which Mover Should I Choose?

published Jan 27, 2021
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Ready for a fresh start? If you’ve found an amazing new place, then your next big challenge is the move. It’s a smart idea to get an early start on planning, especially if you’re renting a truck. There are a handful of options depending on where you live but U-Haul and Penske are two of the most popular companies. Here you’ll find a breakdown of each service, and why you might prefer one over the other.


Pricing: It depends on what you need and your location, but U-Haul prices are pretty budget friendly. A truck rental for half a day could be as low as $50. A 10-foot truck, the smallest option, is a solid fit for studios or one-bedrooms starting at a flat fee of $19.95, plus a per-mile charge. The largest option to rent, a 26-foot truck, starts at $39.95 plus mileage. Overall, there are about six different size trucks you can rent for hours or days at a time. You’ll also have to add in the cost of insurance and any other equipment you’d like to rent such as a dolly or furniture pads. U-Haul also charges for distance, which is around 69 to 79 cents per mile. Basic insurance costs about $14.

Availability: U-Haul is available in all 50 states, plus Canada with more than 21,000 locations. There’s counter service and mobile-only pick up so that you’ll be able to get your rental when it’s most convenient, too. 

Features: What’s great about U-Haul is that you’ll be able to build your own move with exactly the services you need. When you go through the booking process, you’ll have the option to add-on services like hiring moving labor to load up boxes, purchasing moving supplies, and renting out storage units. 

Cancellation: If you need to cancel your reservation, U-Haul doesn’t charge any extra fees but does ask for a 24-hour notice. Though U-Haul offers a reservation guarantee, what that actually means is that the company will offer you $50 if your truck isn’t ready in time.

Discounts: Right now, U-Haul is offering students with a valid ID 30 days of free storage. Plus, hitches and trailers are discounted for a one-way rental from the southeast to the northeast — those deals are automatically applied during the reservation. AAA members also receive 12 percent off rentals.

Bottom line: U-Haul has an abundance of locations that make securing a rental last minute less of a hassle. Plus if you want to add-on moving labor or extra supplies, it’s easy to do so during the reservation. If a decent price and simplicity is your priority, U-Haul is a good option. 


Price: Penske is more affordable than hiring a team of movers, but you’ll want to shop around for the best rate, which can change depending on your location and season. To rent a 12-foot truck that’ll fit a one- to two-bedroom apartment, you’re looking at a starting cost of $39 per day with the addition of insurance and other minor fees. For one-way rentals, the base cost is closer to $200 per day, but that price can vary depending on your location and the season. In Pittsburgh and Austin, rates start at about $200 for one-way rentals, but in Chicago, it’s closer to $500. The rental includes a full day and unlimited mileage which is a great perk if you’re moving to a new city or across state lines. Basic insurance costs about $19.

Availability: Penske has about 4,000 locations and it’s in 49 states (sorry, Alaska) plus availability at retailers like Home Depot. In most cases, you’ll need to pick up during business hours but you’ll be able to drop off your rental in the designated area anytime.

Features: Similar to other rental companies, Penske offers a couple of add-ons like moving supplies and carts. However, if you need equipment like a dolly to transport appliances or someone to help load up the truck, you’ll need to find those services elsewhere. It’s also worth noting that they do not offer moving trailers or car carriers, so keep that in mind when selecting your truck. The good news is that many Home Depot stores rent out Penske trucks so you’ll be able to snag any last minute supplies.

Cancellation: You can cancel your reservation or change the date without facing additional fees or charges. It’s also important to know that after your pick-up, Penske doesn’t reimburse for any unused days on the reservation.

Discounts: AAA members get 12 percent off rentals. Plus, if you’re moving to certain states such as Illinois or California, then you’ve got a better chance at a lower rate. There are also seasonal discounts, like, for example, getting an extra free day on your rental or saving 10 percent on your total price.

Bottom Line: If you know exactly what you want, and it doesn’t include any extra frills, then Penske might be the right fit for your move. There’s a chance you’ll be able to score a deal depending on when you rent and you’ll be able to conveniently pick up from a Home Depot location if you need to.