Is It Cheaper to Rent a U-Haul Than a Car? A Cost Comparison

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It is being estimated that the number of ‘car rental’ users will increase by three million (+6.25%) between 2023 and 2027.

Consequently, with this increase in number of users, an outcome is obvious. Hike in rental car prices.

With that said, if you are planning a trip with your family, this is not good news for you.

We understand nobody wants to spend half of their planned money for the trip on renting a car for it. We want to save the maximum amount so we can spend it on enjoying our vacation there.

Here we’ve brought a complete comparison between rental cars and another budget-friendly alternative, U-Haul, to make choosing your rental for your next trip easy. So you can calculate all the costs for your move beforehand and make it a less stressful move.

We will take you through all the factors contributing to the cost and compare which option is best for you.

Factors you should consider before opting for U-Haul or rental cars:

1. Rental purpose.

U-Haul rentals are typically used for moving purposes. However now, with the fluctuations in rental car prices, they are also being utilized for the same purpose as rental cars.

On the contrary, car rentals are used for transportation purposes, including road trips, vacations, and in-town rides.

2. Distance to be covered.

The longer the distance, the more it will impact the daily cost. As for U-Haul and car rentals, you also have to cover mileage charges.

3. Size of vehicle.

The prices will vary according to the size and type of vehicle used, either for U-Haul rentals or rental cars.

U-Haul trucks and trailers are available in multiple sizes. Also, rental cars are available in different sizes and models.

Each one of them has their own prices according to the features of the rental.

4. Fuel charges.

Calculating the Miles per Gallon (mpg) is essential in determining the cost before your move.

On average, U-Haul rentals go for 10 mpg. At the same time, rental cars have an average of more than double that of U-Haul. Roughly having 35 mpg or more, depending on the car type.

This is a rough estimation, and other factors might affect the fuel efficiency, such as driving style, road condition, and vehicle load.

5. Additional charges.

Both U-Haul and rental cars give an option for optional insurance charges that suffice if you have an accident.

Besides that, there would be tax and mileage charges for both cases.

Some rental car companies have different policies, so there might be additional charges such as a young or senior driver or upgraded features fee.

6. Offers and deals.

U-Haul trucks and trailers are generally available at low prices, so they are rarely discounted.

Unfortunately, U-Haul typically doesn’t offer discounts or coupons for military members and AAA (American Automobile Association).

But it would be best to keep an eye on their offers; there might be a lucky day when you can book your U-Haul rental at a meagre price.

If you have an AAA or AARP membership, you will likely get a discount on some rental car companies, such as Hertz and Thrifty Car Rentals.

Lastly, also look for their discount and offers in different seasons.

7. Age limit.

For U-Haul, the age limit is around 16 years, and you cannot drive the rental before it. But, there are no additional fees for it.

As for the car rentals’ the minimum age should be 21 years, but they have a pretty weird charging policy of additional fees for younger drivers (<25) and senior drivers (>65).

U-Haul rental cost breakdown – including all the expenses

How did you get to know about U-Haul for the first time?

Was it like most people who learned about U-Haul’s existence after seeing their famous advertisement on their trucks for only $19.95 per day?

 And doesn’t it sound too good to be true? Yup, it is indigestible.

Here’s everything you need to know about U-Haul rental costs. Moreover, U-Haul rental costs include the following expenses.

1. Base rental charges.

It is different for trucks and trailers of various sizes.

For trucks:

  • 10′ truck = $19.95
  • 15′ truck = $29.95
  • 17′ truck = $39.95
  • 20′ truck = $39.95
  • 26′ truck = $39.95

For trailers:

  • 4’x8′ cargo and 4’x7′ utility trailer = $14.95
  • 5’x8′ cargo and utility trailers = $18.95
  • 5’x10′ and 6’x12′ cargo trailers = $29.95
  • 5’x9′ utility trailer with ramp = $24.95
  • 6’x12′ utility trailer = $29.95
  • 6’x12′ utility trailer with ramp =$34.95

Note: These charges are taken from the U-Haul website, and these charges may fluctuate with time.

2. Mileage charges.

Applied for truck rentals only. There is usually no mileage limitation.

($0.99 per mile. If you exceed the allowed miles, it’ll be $1.00)

3. Insurance charges (optional)

U-Haul offers Safe Move and Safe Move plus insurance in case of any accidents and damage. This is optional, but most people pay for it for peace of mind.

4. Fuel charges

U-Haul asks to return the rental with the same amount of fuel as it was when it left the U-Haul office location. Otherwise, there would be additional admin fees that the customer has to pay.

5. Equipment charges

U-Haul offers the service of using their dollies and furniture pads at all of their locations.

U-Haul dollies are used for lifting luggage and boxes. It is available for three purposes.

  • Hand truck/dolly. 2-wheel dolly, Ideal for moving boxes and other appliances, usually to apartments.

Charges: $7 = in-town rentals

$12 = one-way rentals

  • Furniture dolly. 4-wheel dolly used to move furniture and large boxes.

Charges are the same as hand trucks.

  • Appliance dolly. Ideal to use when moving heavy appliances.

Charges: $10 = in-town rentals

$15 = one-way rentals

Furniture pads. Used to protect your luggage.

Furthermore, charges begin at $5 and vary accordingly.

Moving boxes. Their prices will vary according to the size of the boxes ranging from $1.35 – $3.15 (small-XL).

Note: These charges may vary with time.

Breaking down the Car rental costs

Whether you are planning a road trip for these summer vacations or planning your honeymoon, it always includes a question What is it?

How to find a reasonable one since the spike in rental car prices after COVID-19?

Here we will unpack all the expenses you have to bear while renting a car.

Car rental prices vary due to the type of vehicle, the Rental Company you choose to rent, your location, and your destination.

Typically car rentals include the following expenses:

1. Base rate per day.

Car rental charges per day vary according to the vehicle type, size, and Rental Company.

Rental car rates according to the vehicle type and size:

  • Economy cars. Least expensive and accommodates 2 adults alongside their luggage.

Least average price/day = $18

  • Compact cars. Accommodates for 4 adults and half of their luggage.

The exact cost is economy cars.

  • Standard cars. Suitable choice for families as it can allow up to 5 adults with considerable luggage.

Least average price/day = $23

  • Luxury premium cars. Includes SUVs to minivans.

Least average price/day = $27-35

The rates may also vary due to seasonal demand, city, and distance.

Your pick-up location in the same city can also impact the rental car rates. Prices would always be different for high-end places like airports and other areas.

2. Mileage limitation.

Some car rental companies provide a mileage limit, and you have to pay per mile after exceeding that limit.

On average, $0.10 is charged per mile.

While some car rental companies like Enterprise provide unlimited mileage.

3. Add-ons.

Car rental’s additional charges can include the following costs.

  • Insurance charges (optional). An average of $15-30 is charged daily for damage protection.
  • Fuel policy. Different rental car companies have varying fuel policies.

By far, the most commonly used is ‘full to full.’ We consider it one of the best as you have to return the car with the same fuel gauge as it was at the pick-up time.

Otherwise, you have to pay additional costs for it.

  • GPS rental charges (optional).

If you are new to that place, you might request additional GPS for your reservation.

The average price per day is around $10.00.

  • Young and senior driver fee (under 25 and over 65).

Most rental companies work on the policy to charge add-ons if the age is not according to their criteria.

U-Haul vs car rentals: A cost comparison

If you are still unsure about choosing the rental for your move or trip.

Let’s take you through a moving scenario and compare all the costs for both rentals.

Consider we are moving from Harrisburg to New York City with our belongings for the 1-room furnished apartment in NYC.

Firstly, we are going to calculate this move with U-Haul.

U-Haul truck rental:

Truck = 10′

Distance = around 180 miles

Charges = $187.0/day + $0.99/mile + $30

Approximate charges = $410.00 (might vary)

Intermediate Car rental:

Car = Toyota Corolla

Distance = around 180 miles

Charges = $130.0/day + 0.10/mile + $23.50 + $70

Approximate charges = $ 270.50 (might vary)

Cost factors: The cost difference is due to vehicle rental type and size, mileage, and duration, insurance coverage, equipment needed, and GPS charges.

Note: These charges may vary, as this is just a rough estimation.

In which situations U-Haul is a better and cheaper option?

As for now, we are aware of all the factors that impact choosing a rental. But here’s what you need to know. Both have their pros and cons.

Here are the situations when opting for a U-Haul could be a cheaper option.

Cross-country move.

When you are making any move besides local (less than 400 miles).

Whether you need to transport furniture or large household appliances, this is your go-to-go budget-friendly option.

Group trips.

Car rentals are never a good option if you plan something for a large group, as they never accommodate their belongings.

U-Haul rentals are your cheapest rental option if you are sharing the expanses.

When are car rentals a cheaper option in your pocket?

There are scenarios like the one mentioned earlier when U-Haul could cost twice than car rentals. So when should you go to rent a car?

Family road trips.

Compact and intermediate cars are a cost-effective option when you are planning a small family vacation with minimal belongings.

Making a local move.

You should opt for going to rental cars if you need to move a few belongings and small appliances.

Making the decision

You should always consider your budget, needs distance, and duration before deciding on a rental choice.

Always plan ahead, considering all the essentials, and make the best choice between U-Haul rentals or car rentals.


Planning a move or trip is already quite stressful. In addition to this, renting a vehicle becomes the cherry on top due to the rising inflation.

We have explained to our best the factors that influence the cost of your vehicle. We hope it shouldn’t take you much effort to consider the cost-effective rental according to your needs and considering the scenarios we have explained.

Lastly, all the charges that we have mentioned can vary according to seasonal demand and time of rental.

Get your best rental with U-Haul or rental cars and enjoy your move!

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