Which One Should You Choose in 2023?

U-Haul vs. Home Depot

Photo: bobvila.com

The cost of moving can be expensive—there’s no getting around it. And it’s not just long-distance moves that can cause sticker shock, either; finding affordable moving trucks for a local move can be much more expensive than expected, especially if the closing dates on the old and new homes don’t line up and folks have to figure out what to do with all their stuff in the interim. DIY moves are almost always less costly than hiring a full-service moving company. U-Haul is a ubiquitous name with which most people are familiar, but while many people have seen The Home Depot’s rental trucks in a parking lot or on the road, most don’t realize these trucks can be rented for more than transporting the plywood or a bulky new grill that didn’t fit into their sedan. Through their direct rentals and their partnership with Penske (one of the best moving truck rental companies in the industry), The Home Depot offers a full fleet of flatbeds, pickups, vans, and moving trucks that provide strong competition for U-Haul’s grip on the DIY marketplace. During a stressful move, saving money is important, but hiring cheap moving vans from random companies with no history isn’t ideal. For those who do choose to rent a van, moving with a company they know and trust goes a long way toward making the moving experience less chaotic.

Both companies offer some excellent services and prices, but each has its own strengths and weaknesses. Whether researching how to move across the country or just across town, customers can compare U-Haul vs. Home Depot truck rental to help them make the right decision for their move.

How We Compared U-Haul vs. Home Depot Truck Rental:

U-Haul vs. Home Depot

Photo: istockphoto.com

  • Locations: Inexpensive rates don’t matter much if the nearest pickup and drop-off locations are hours away from the origin and destination. We compared the density of locations for both companies nationwide.
  • Vehicle options: “Moving truck” can mean many things—sometimes a pickup is all that’s needed, while other times a full-size 26-foot truck might feel snug. We compared the companies’ fleets.
  • Reservation and pickup process: As this is sometimes one of the most stressful points in a move, understanding the process of making a reservation, picking up the vehicle, and returning the vehicle can make the choice between companies easier.
  • Pricing and fees: Pricing a full-service move is notoriously difficult, but luckily with rental trucks it’s a little more clear-cut. We compared the pricing structures for various time frames and vehicle sizes.
  • Guarantees: During a move (or any time one might need a rental truck), uncertainty can be frustrating. We examined each company’s guarantees of service.
  • Additional services: Whether it’s for a big move or just hauling trash to the local transfer station, additional services and products can streamline the process. We considered the options offered by each company.
  • Customer service: It’s best to know if a company’s customer service will be spot on or totally useless long before there’s a problem that needs to be solved. We looked at what both companies have to offer.

U-Haul vs. Home Depot Truck Rental: Locations

Location is a key component for customers to consider when renting a truck, regardless of whether it’s being rented for a move or for furniture pickup, dump runs, or storage unit management. The Home Depot has over 2,300 locations in the United States, Canada, and Mexico, with at least one store in every state. It’s not a balanced spread, however. Some large states in the Upper Midwest have only a handful of stores, while smaller states in the Midwest and along the East and West Coasts have far more. For those who live in a state with many locations, The Home Depot is a great option. However, U-Haul, with its 20,000-plus locations nationwide, easily overwhelms The Home Depot’s presence: With some individual cities boasting more than 100 U-Haul locations, it’s almost certain there’s a convenient U-Haul location near most customers. In addition to convenience, the many locations mean it’s likely that if the vehicle a customer is seeking isn’t available at their nearest location, it may still be in close proximity, so the likelihood of finding the desired rental is higher.

Verdict: Both U-Haul and The Home Depot have a nationwide footprint; however, U-Haul has more than 20,000 locations across North America compared with The Home Depot’s 2,300, making U-Haul the more accessible option.

Winner: U-Haul

U-Haul vs. Home Depot Truck Rental: Vehicle Options

U-Haul has a full range of truck sizes at its immediate disposal, which are rentable from any location (though availability varies daily at individual locations). The breadth of options makes it possible for customers to select as much space as they need without paying for extra space that they don’t.

  • Pickup trucks: U-Haul pickup trucks feature an 8-foot bed and can carry a max load of 2,280 pounds and tow up to 6,000 pounds. They’re ideal for local moving jobs, transporting goods from stores to home, or towing a boat or trailer for a weekend away.
  • Cargo vans: U-Haul offers a 9-foot cargo van that can carry a maximum of 4,030 pounds. This U-Haul van size can accommodate a queen-size mattress and box spring and the contents of a small apartment or studio. The enclosed space and grab bars for easy-in and easy-out make it convenient for transporting goods that can’t be exposed to the weather.
  • 10-foot moving truck: The 10-foot truck holds a maximum of 2,850 pounds and can tow up to 6,000 pounds. It’s ideal for moving a small apartment to a 1-bedroom home, and it can accommodate a king-size bed with box spring and frame.
  • 15-foot moving truck: Commonly used to move 2-bedroom apartments or small homes, the 15-foot truck can carry up to 6,385 pounds and tow up to 10,000 pounds.
  • 17-foot moving truck: Capable of toting two king-size bed sets, a living room set, a dining set, and occasional tables and chairs, this size truck can be loaded with up to 6,160 pounds and can tow up to 10,000 pounds.
  • 20-foot moving truck: Aimed at growing families, this large U-Haul is ideal for moving larger homes or apartments. It can carry up to 5,700 pounds in its 1,016 cubic feet of space and tow up to 7,500 pounds.
  • 26-foot moving truck: The largest of the U-Haul large trucks, this beast can hold the contents of a large 3- to 5-bedroom house in its capacious 1,682-cubic-foot interior while towing up to 10,000 pounds—so if more space is needed, a trailer can be attached.

All U-Haul moving trucks have the signature “Mom’s Attic,” an extended area above the cab that’s ideal for storing and strapping down fragile or valuable items, along with low decks and ramps for easy loading.

U-Haul also offers a range of cargo trailers, utility trailers, and vehicle trailers for rent either in addition to or independently from the truck rentals.

The Home Depot has two categories of truck rental available. The first is the Load ’N Go Rentals, which are available for rent on the spot at The Home Depot locations. These are largely intended for local usage—hauling supplies home from the store or garden center, moving furniture, taking mulch deliveries, or handling small local moves. The second category is available through The Home Depot’s partnership with Penske. These traditional moving trucks have to be reserved in advance through The Home Depot’s website, but they will be picked up and returned to The Home Depot location selected by the user.

Load ’N Go Options

  • F250 flatbed truck: This sturdy flatbed can carry up to 3,000 pounds and has an exterior cargo volume of 77.3 cubic feet. While it’s listed as a flatbed, it’s worth noting that there are safety and tie-down edges on the back of the truck. This truck may include a tow hitch, but towing is only permitted if the user is renting a towable item from The Home Depot.
  • T250 flatbed truck: This slightly heftier truck has an exterior cargo volume of 200 cubic feet and can carry up to 3,000 pounds. Like the smaller flatbed, this truck can be fitted with a tow hitch only if the user is renting towable equipment from The Home Depot.
  • Cargo van: Capable of carrying up to 3,000 pounds in its 277.7 cubic feet of interior space, the cargo van features interior cargo tie-downs and an interior light to facilitate easy and organized loading.
  • The Home Depot moving box truck: This standard 10-foot box truck can accommodate 515 cubic feet of cargo and carry up to 3,850 pounds. It is suitable for moving one or two rooms of furniture. The truck has cargo tie rails and an aluminum loading ramp. The tow hitch is only available if the user is renting towable equipment or a trailer from The Home Depot.

Penske Partnership Rentals

  • 12-foot moving truck: This standard Penske truck offers 450 cubic feet of loading space and a 3,100 pound load capacity. Ideal for moving a dorm or small apartment, this truck also features a translucent roof and interior light to avoid the “cave effect” and make it easier to load in a safe and organized way. The truck is not towing compatible.
  • 16-foot moving truck: The 16-foot Penske truck offers 800 cubic feet of space and can accommodate 4,300 pounds of cargo. It’s ideal for moving two or three rooms, and it can tow up to 1,000 pounds. It is not subject to the tow restrictions placed on the Load ’N Go truck rentals.
  • 22-foot moving truck: Recommended for moving three to five rooms, this larger Penske truck includes 1,200 cubic feet of loading space and a 10,000-pound load capacity. It also has a 1,000-pound capacity loading ramp and can seat three adults in the front bench seat.
  • 26-foot moving truck: The largest Home Depot truck rental size through Penske, this 26-foot truck has 1,700 cubic feet of cargo space and a 10,000-pound load capacity.

The Home Depot also offers three types of trailers for rent: a lawn and garden trailer, a channel frame trailer, and a solid wall trailer. These are open trailers, not boxes, so they offer towing capacity but not security.

Verdict: U-Haul and The Home Depot both offer a variety of vehicle options, including flatbed and pickup trucks, cargo vans, and moving trucks of various sizes.

Winner: Tie

U-Haul vs. Home Depot

Photo: istockphoto.com

U-Haul vs. Home Depot Truck Rental: Reservation and Pickup Process 

Both U-Haul and The Home Depot offer easy pricing and quotes online.

U-Haul permits users to reserve any vehicle (including trailers) on its website. The site asks customers to select their desired location for pickup and drop-off, along with the date and duration of the rental, then displays the available vehicles for the chosen location on the selected date. If the customer attempts to reserve a vehicle that isn’t available or can’t be available for the selected duration, a message pops up indicating there’s a problem, and the customer cannot proceed until they have clicked their understanding of the conflict.

Reservations can also be made on U-Haul’s app. Pickup and return can be done in person during business hours or at any time of day using a mobile phone. At pickup, customers can choose whether they prefer to prepay for EZ-Fuel service so there’s no need to worry about refueling the truck before it’s returned, or they can opt to refuel the vehicle themselves before returning it. Customers must be a minimum of 16 years old to rent a trailer and 18 to rent a truck, and all customers must produce government-issued identification. At the time of the reservation, a major credit card must be used to hold the reservation, and at pickup a hold of a percentage of the total cost will be placed on the credit card. Customers can choose to pay in cash or by check at return, at which point the hold on the card will be administratively cleared after 3 to 5 days.

The Home Depot does not accept reservations for Load ’N Go trucks, so customers can’t be certain the truck they need will be available when they want to use it. In some ways this adds convenience—shoppers at a Home Depot know that if the half-sheet of plywood they thought would fit into their van won’t, or if the 30 bags of mulch they bought are bottoming out their sedan, they can pop inside, rent a truck for about $20, and bring their items home with no need to worry about a reservation. On the upside, The Home Depot has live availability inventory on its website, so users can choose their nearest locations and check to see how many of each vehicle is currently available. Then they can call with a credit card to start the rental process immediately before heading over for pickup. Load ’N Go customers must be at least 21 years old and must show proof of insurance, and payment must be made with a valid credit card. A debit card or cash may also be used but will require a $150 deposit, and vehicles must be refueled before they are returned. A final restriction: Trucks rented through the Load ’N Go program must be returned to the location from which they were rented—one-way rentals aren’t an option.

Penske trucks via The Home Depot must be reserved in advance on The Home Depot website. Similar to U-Haul’s interface, the user will select the type of vehicle, the duration of the rental, the pickup date, and the pickup and drop-off locations. The site will generate a quote, including the duration of the rental period and the cost, and reservations can be made directly from the quote page. Penske rentals require the customer to be at least 18.

One drawback to both Load ’N Go and The Home Depot Penske truck rentals: Home Depot truck rental hours are limited to the operating hours of The Home Depot location selected for pickup and drop-off. Those hours will vary based on the day and location, but it’s important to consider the hours of the location prior to planning the rental period.

Verdict: Customers can reserve any type of U-Haul vehicle online and can choose counter pickup during business hours or mobile pickup at any time of the day or night. The Home Depot doesn’t offer online reservations for its vehicles, and pickup is only offered during business hours.

Winner: U-Haul

U-Haul vs. Home Depot Truck Rental: Pricing and Fees

U-Haul and The Home Depot have different pricing models. For round-trip or local rentals, U-Haul rental pricing is based on a flat fee determined by the vehicle size and the duration of the rental, then a per-mile charge is added on top of that fee. U-Haul long-distance moving rentals are charged a flat fee based on the distance and approximated mileage, but additional charges can be added if the mileage goes over the estimate. U-Haul also offers coupons to help customers reduce moving costs. The Home Depot/Penske charges a flat fee based on the size of the vehicle and the duration of the rental, but unlimited mileage is included for all trips.

U-Haul Local Rental Costs

Up to 24 Hours 2 Days 3 Days 1 Week
8-foot pickup truck $19.95 $39.90 $59.85 $139.65
9-foot cargo van $19.95 $39.90 $59.85 $139.65
10-foot truck $19.95 $39.90 $59.85 $139.65
15-foot truck $29.95 $59.90 $89.85 $209.65
17-foot truck $39.95 $79.90 $119.85 $279.65
20-foot truck $39.95 $79.90 $119.85 $279.65
26-foot truck $39.95 $79.90 $119.85 $279.65

These base costs may vary slightly by location, but the big variation is in the per-mile charge that is added on top of the base fee. Ranging from approximately $0.69 to $1.39, the per-mile charge can add up quickly.

For one-way long-distance moves, U-Haul provides instant quotes on its website. The distance determines the length of the rental and the number of miles included (Maryland to Connecticut is allotted 3 days and 405 miles, while Maryland to California is allotted 9 days and 3,132 miles). U-Haul prices out quotes for all sizes of vehicle that are available for the length and dates of the move, and it includes an option to include a car-towing trailer in the quote. Reservations can be made directly from the quote page. U-Haul does not require customers to purchase insurance for its rental trucks, but it does offer several levels of coverage:

  • SafeMove coverage includes a damage waiver, cargo protection in case of an overturned vehicle, and medical/life coverage.
  • SafeMove Plus adds supplemental liability coverage and removes the deductible for all claims.
  • Those renting pickup trucks and cargo vans can choose to add a collision damage waiver (which covers the truck or van itself but not the renter’s personal property), while those renting a trailer may opt to purchase Safetow insurance, which includes a damage waiver, towed property protection, and medical/life protection.
  • Finally, while all U-Haul rentals include roadside assistance, Safetrip Supplemental Roadside Protection provides additional coverage for jump starts, lockout service, lost keys, fuel service, and trailer hook-up problems.

U-Haul insurance costs vary based on the vehicle and rental duration, but it’s something renters may want to consider, especially for longer rentals—many private auto insurance companies exclude rental trucks from their coverage.

U-Haul does charge an environmental fee. The company indicates that this fee goes toward the development of sustainable business operations, permeable ground cover, HVAC and lighting improvements that reduce energy consumption, and other sustainability improvements.

The Home Depot Load ’N Go Truck Rentals

75 Minutes 1 Day 1 Week
Ford F-250 flatbed $19 $129 $903
Ford T-250 flatbed $19 $129 $903
Cargo van $19 $129 $903
Moving box truck $29 $139 $973

The Home Depot truck rental costs for Load ’N Go are a flat fee determined by the size of the truck and the length of the rental. The Home Depot also offers standard moving box trucks through its partnership with Penske. These rentals require a $150 deposit or credit card hold. The Home Depot website provides an instant quote for Penske rental cost based on the move. The distance determines the number of days included in the cost: for example, Maryland to Connecticut defaults to a 4-day rental with up to 4 additional days available, while Maryland to California defaults to a 10-day rental with up to 3 additional days available.

The quote doesn’t require sign-in or membership, and it includes a map of the various Home Depot locations near the departure site where the truck can be picked up on the desired day. Reservations can be completed from the quote page and require a cash or debit deposit of 50 percent of the total rental with a minimum of $150 or a credit card deposit of $150. One-way rentals require a $100 cash or debit deposit at the time of reservation, or a credit card with no deposit. While The Home Depot does not permit one-way rentals of Load ’N Go Rentals, trucks reserved at Penske through The Home Depot can be dropped off at a predetermined location at the destination; unlimited mileage is included in all rentals. Environmental fees may apply for all vehicle rentals, and some of those fees are state-based.

Penske offers insurance coverage for moving trucks rented through The Home Depot. Offered in packages of increasing coverage, the options include the following:

  • Basic: Covers Penske equipment damage
  • Standard: Adds third-party damage and injury claims
  • Value: Adds cargo accident damage
  • Plus: Adds personal injury coverage

Rates are based on the size of the vehicle and the length of the trip, and like U-Haul, Penske reminds customers that private auto insurance may not cover rental trucks, especially the larger-size vehicles.

Some U-Haul branches offer a free month of storage with a truck rental. In addition, U-Haul offers discounts when customers stay with its corporate partners at Wyndham and Choice Hotels. The Home Depot/Penske offers a 10 percent discount for military members and college students, and it offers a 12 percent discount off truck rentals and moving supply purchases for members of AAA.

Verdict: Both companies have comparable base rates for truck rental, require a deposit or hold amount, and charge an environmental fee. However, The Home Depot offers unlimited mileage on its truck rentals, whereas U-Haul customers will pay an additional per-mile rate. 

Winner: The Home Depot

U-Haul vs. Home Depot

Photo: istockphoto.com

U-Haul vs. Home Depot Truck Rental: Guarantees

Guarantees are tricky in the world of rental vehicles of all kinds, because having the correct vehicles on-site at the right time can be dependent on other customers returning vehicles on time in rentable condition, and things can go wrong. U-Haul has gained some notoriety over recent years for not having vehicles in stock that had been reserved ahead of time. To combat that reputation, U-Haul offers a $50 Reservation Guarantee: In the event that U-Haul cannot meet the time, place, or equipment size that the customer requested, the company will continue to try to fill the reservation and will reimburse the customer $50. This is a good effort and a fine gesture because the absence of the correct truck will certainly inconvenience the customer. It’s critical to note, however, that this guarantee does not actually mean the customer will get the truck or trailer they reserved—or any truck or trailer at all. It’s a guarantee of a $50 reimbursement and is an excellent incentive for U-Haul to stay on top of its inventory management, but it is not a guarantee that the equipment will be there when the customer needs it.

The Home Depot does not accept reservations for Load ’N Go vehicles, so there’s no guarantee assumed or built into the system: Customers can check local inventory before heading to the store to rent a vehicle and may be able to call the local store ahead of time, but it’s difficult to plan ahead more than a few hours. Penske guarantees that vehicles reserved through The Home Depot more than 24 hours in advance will be available at the time and location specified (equivalent or larger vehicle). Vehicles reserved fewer than 24 hours in advance may not be available or may need to be picked up at a different location.

Verdict: U-Haul offers a reservation guarantee—the company will reimburse the customer $50 if their reserved vehicle is not available at the time of pickup. The Home Depot doesn’t offer a guarantee, so customers may find that the vehicle they need is not available when they need it.

Winner: U-Haul

U-Haul vs. Home Depot Truck Rental: Additional Services

U-Haul’s central business model is based on people who need to move things. As a result, the company provides almost every imaginable service a customer might need to move. The company sells moving boxes, crates, pads and blankets, bubble wrap, tape, labels, and all manner of packaging supplies. It also sells and rents heavy-duty moving dollies and packing blankets.

U-Haul offers self-storage in two forms, which helps customers save time searching for the best self-storage facilities in their area. Many U-Haul locations are also traditional self-storage units, where customers can rent a storage area for a monthly fee. To compete with the best moving container companies, U-Haul has added U-Box: a portable storage container option that delivers a storage vessel to the customer’s home, then picks it up for secure storage and eventual delivery. This provides different options for customers who are comparing moving containers vs. truck rental for their move.

In addition to renting multiple sizes and types of trailers and car trailers, U-Haul sells a significant range of hitch equipment and supplies including ball mounts, hitch balls and receivers, and bike racks, and more than 1,500 locations provide tow hitch and wiring installation. Employees are trained to assist customers in selecting the best tow package for their personal vehicle and then install it.

U-Haul can also coordinate movers or laborers to help customers pack, box, load, and unload their vehicles through its website. This can help customers combine the cost of hiring movers with the cost of moving truck rental.

Unfortunately, there are no options for a Home Depot PODS alternative or Home Depot pod rental. The Home Depot also doesn’t provide on-site storage. The company’s business model is to sell home improvement products, so while it offers a fantastic range of products and services to customers, storage isn’t among them at this time. The Home Depot is considered one of the best places to buy moving boxes, and it also sells padding materials, moving blankets, tape, and a range of reusable storage bins and boxes that can be used for storage after a move. The company has partnered with Bellhop, a service that coordinates custom moving services at a local level, background checking the workers who are assigned to customers’ homes, and guaranteeing their work. The system provides a personalized dashboard once the customer has received and accepted a quote on their moving job. This partnership allows customers to find professionals who know how to pack for a move efficiently and safely.

The Home Depot’s stores and website sell an impressive number of tow hitch and receiver supplies and accessories, but customers will either need to install the parts themselves or take them to a shop where pros can install them, as The Home Depot doesn’t provide that service.

On the other hand, The Home Depot offers a service that U-Haul does not: a robust line of tool rentals that can be a huge help for customers moving in and out of new homes who don’t yet own all the tools they might need to fit out their new space. Everything from carpet cleaners and blowers to industrial vacuums, paint sprayers, and saws, sanders, and drivers are available to rent for indoor work, as well as lawn care equipment, gardening machinery, and pressure washers for outdoor tasks. For a renter who doesn’t have the space to store the tools they need to make their new space feel like home or a homeowner who just signed a mortgage and can’t afford to buy them—or for a committed DIYer who knows they’ll only need a tile saw for this one project—the tool rental program is a fantastic deal. The rental program also includes moving and lifting tools such as dollies and jacks.

Verdict: U-Haul is a one-stop shop for moving services, offering dolly and furniture pad rental, boxes and packing supplies, storage unit rental, and professional movers in addition to truck rental. The Home Depot offers some similar services, but customers will need to look elsewhere for storage or moving containers.

Winner: U-Haul

U-Haul vs. Home Depot

Photo: istockphoto.com

U-Haul vs. Home Depot Truck Rental: Customer Service

U-Haul offers access to its customer service teams through multiple avenues. Focused on making moving easier and less stressful for its customers, U-Haul has thought through the process and provided access in ways that will likely accommodate almost everyone. Customers can call a toll-free number to speak to a representative. If there’s a long wait, busy customers can click online or press a button on hold to save their place in line and have a representative call them back—no waiting on hold while trying to pack boxes. Customers can also walk into one of U-Haul’s 20,000-plus locations and speak to someone in person to get the help they need. For less-pressing questions, customers can reach out via email, and when a conversation simply isn’t possible, live chat is an option on the U-Haul website. There’s also a helpful FAQ page on the website.

Load ’N Go renters through The Home Depot can seek help either in person at the customer service desk inside their local Home Depot store or by toll-free telephone call. Penske rentals through The Home Depot are serviced directly through Penske, which also provides a toll-free customer service line in addition to its 24-hour roadside assistance number for customers who have a problem on the road. Penske also has a live-chat option during business hours and provides a robust FAQ page for common questions.

Verdict: Truck rental customers can get customer service through The Home Depot in person or by phone. U-Haul also offers these options as well as live chat, email, and callback.

Winner: U-Haul

Verdict: U-Haul boasts relatively low prices, a wide range of moving services, and more than 23,000 locations, making it a top pick for many customers. However, The Home Depot is a solid runner-up, especially for long-distance moves, thanks to its unlimited mileage policy.

Both U-Haul and The Home Depot are trustworthy, solid options for customers who are moving or just need to haul something their personal vehicle can’t handle. U-Haul is one of the most-recognized names in moving services in the country for a reason: The company has a complete package of services all in one place for a reasonable cost, and there are locations almost everywhere all across the country. Most customers will find their needs can be met by U-Haul’s services. The Home Depot, especially given its partnership with Penske, gives U-Haul a run for its money in the areas where the two companies’ coverage overlaps. Until the number of locations increases and the company begins offering storage options, The Home Depot won’t be the powerhouse that U-Haul is. However, the unlimited mileage policy makes it worth checking out for long-distance moves because the savings there may be significant enough to make it worth potentially driving a few extra hours to find a location.

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