2021’s Best Moving and Storage Container Companies

Kurt Manwaring
Researcher & Writer
Read More
Published on August 02, 2021
10 min read

We tracked down the best moving container companies to help you find the best fit for your situation. Our overall winner is U-Pack. Its low costs, wide availability, and top-notch customer service are tough to beat.


The 5 best moving container companies


U-Pack—Best overall

upack
U-Pack
Our Rating
4.5 out of 5 stars
4.5

U-Pack’s prices are so low that it puts about $400 back in your pocket compared to other moving container companies. You’ve heard the saying: “More money, more problems.” Well, now you can find out if it’s true.

But it doesn’t stop there. U-Pack also has a pay-for-what-you-use policy that allows you to order extra containers—but only pay if you use them. It also scores top-shelf customer reviews and has instant online quotes to make your life easier (who wants to wait on hold these days?). On the downside, U-Pack doesn’t let you store the U-Pack ReloCube at your home (a problem if you’re hoping to unload the container over several days)—and it offers only long-distance moves.

Pro Heading
Pros
Pro Bullet Low prices
Pro Bullet Instant online quotes
Pro Bullet Pay-for-what-you-use policy
Pro Bullet Excellent customer reviews
Con Heading
Cons
Con Bullet Long-distance service only
Con Bullet Storage availability at off-site location only

What sets U-Pack apart?

U-Pack has the lowest prices

No moving container company has better prices than U-Pack. We compared U-Pack quotes to hundreds of estimates from other moving container companies. We looked at small homes and big ones, short distances and cross-country trips, and quite a bit in between. What did we find? On average, U-Pack’s prices are about 15% cheaper than competitors.

Moving a tiny apartment? U-Pack is $820 less expensive than other companies. Got a five-bedroom brownstone that people say looks like ritzy suburb homes in holiday movies where everybody gathers together? Look for U-Pack to save you $720 over the competition. It’s tough to beat prices this low.

Average U-Pack moving container prices

U-Pack
Industry average

$2,610

$3,000

Data as of 8/10/20. Offers and availability may vary and are subject to change. Average cost calculated by comparing moving costs for four home sizes across six distances.

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What do customers think of U-Pack?

We paid a real-life customer to move with U-Pack in exchange for her candid feedback. She awarded the company 4.5 out of 5 stars and loved its low prices and fast delivery.

U-Pack has a pay-for-what-you-use policy

U-Pack makes it easy to plan for a big move without paying through the nose. Moving container companies often charge per container, so the more stuff you have, the more it costs. But U-Pack does things differently. It charges by the number of containers you fill up rather than how many you order. So if you’re not sure how many containers you need, err on the safe side and get an extra one. If you don’t use it, you don’t have to pay for it.

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1-800-PACK-RAT—Tons of deals

1-800-PACK-RAT offers more discounts and price matching deals than any other moving container company. Its high-quality containers mean a lofty price tag—but only to start with. Thanks to loads of discounts, 1-800-PACK-RAT’s prices often drop below average for moving containers. And that’s saying something for a moving company with the strongest containers on the market.

1-800-PACK-RAT even offers local and long-distance delivery (some companies do only one or the other). The biggest drawback is that 1-800-PACK-RAT’s bills can be confusing (it breaks your invoice into so many different fees that you can leave feeling like you’re not 100% sure what your final price is).

Pro Heading
Pros
Pro Bullet High-quality containers
Pro Bullet Local and long-distance delivery
Pro Bullet Tons of discounts
Pro Bullet Price matching with PODS
Con Heading
Cons
Con Bullet High pre-discount prices
Con Bullet Confusing payment structure

What sets 1-800-PACK-RAT apart?

1-800-PACK-RAT is serious about discounts

1-800-PACK-RAT makes up for initial high prices with discounts and price matching. Virtually every time we called 1-800-PACK-RAT, friendly reps offered to meet or beat PODS’s price (it doesn’t have the same deal for companies like U-Box with flimsy containers). That equates to an instant 5% savings if 1-800-PACK-RAT is willing to price match.

And the price cuts keep coming. 1-800-PACK-RAT has tons of moving container discounts for everyone from college students to medical professionals:

  • Best price guarantee
  • Local moves
  • First responders
  • Medical professionals
  • Military members
  • Senior citizens
  • Teachers

Most of 1-800-PACK-RAT’s discounts save you an extra 10%—bringing the company in line with other low-cost players like U-Pack and U-Box. That’s even more impressive when you consider the next selling point for 1-800-PACK-RAT: strong moving containers.

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1-800-PACK-RAT has the strongest moving containers

1-800-PACK-RAT is the best of the best when it comes to container quality. Moving container construction ranges from low-quality wood to generic metal to steel. The second best container company (PODS) makes its containers with a steel frame. But 1-800-PACK-RAT takes things to a whole new level. Not only does 1-800-PACK-RAT have a steel frame, but it also has steel walls and doors. The company doesn’t say whether its containers could withstand a missile strike—but if anyone stood a chance, it would be 1-800-PACK-RAT. No company has stronger moving containers.

Looking for excellent container quality?

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Visit our Moving Grant hub to find out which companies we’ve worked with and to apply for funding for your next move!


PODS—Great customer service

PODS goes out of its way to give you a top-notch customer experience. Its customer service reps get the highest marks in the business, and PODS has three container sizes to give you more flexibility. PODS is also available in nearly every state and offers both local and long-distance service. On the downside, it doesn’t include taxes in your estimate, and you have to call for a quote for moves over 50 miles. But with customer service this fantastic, that’s less of a drawback than it might be with other companies.

Pro Heading
Pros
Pro Bullet Positive customer reviews
Pro Bullet Low post-discount prices
Pro Bullet High container quality
Pro Bullet Multiple container sizes
Pro Bullet Local and long-distance services
Pro Bullet Wide availability
Con Heading
Cons
Con Bullet No instant online quotes for moves over 50 miles
Con Bullet Taxes not included in estimates

What sets PODS apart?

PODS has excellent customer service

None of our top moving container companies get better customer reviews than PODS. We did the math, and PODS’s average customer review score of 3.8 out of 5 stars is a half star higher than the industry average. People love its consistently professional drivers and on-time delivery. And they often praise PODS’s customer service reps. To see if the praise was legit, we repeatedly called PODS posing as customers. Time after time, we came away impressed with how easy it was to get accurate answers to our questions.

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Save 10% on your moving container

Get your online PODS discount for Move.org readers—or call 866-229-4120 and ask for promo code "MOVEORG."

How much does a PODS move cost?

A PODS move costs about $3,160. PODS’s initial prices are slightly high, but the moving container company erases that problem with a huge discount. All Move.org readers qualify for a 10% discount. Since it can cost thousands of dollars to move, those savings add fast. When you compare PODS to the industry average for small or midsize homes, the average price savings is over $300.

The size of your home also impacts the cost of your PODS move. For example, a one-room apartment costs approximately $1,760 while a five-room home sets you back about $4,550. In each case, PODS costs less than the industry average.

PODS moving container prices (after discount)

Home size
PODS
Amount below industry average

1-room apartment

$1,760

$340 ↓

2-room house

$2,390

$190 ↓

3-room house

$2,670

$460 ↓

5-room house

$4,550

$60 ↓

Data as of 8/10/2020. Offers and availability may vary and are subject to change. Average cost calculated by comparing moving costs for four home sizes across six distances.

Take advantage of a 10% discount for Move.org readers

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Zippy Shell—Flexible delivery

Zippy Shell has one of the coolest containers we’ve seen. The company’s cagelike construction lets you tie down your belongings every few inches, so things don’t fall during transport. Zippy Shell even offers to stagger your containers’ delivery in case you don’t need them all. So what’s not to love? Unfortunately, Zippy Shell is available in only 28 states—and it doesn’t include container rental fees in your quotes ($159 per month).

Pro Heading
Pros
Pro Bullet Flexible delivery option
Pro Bullet Steel cage containers
Pro Bullet Local and long-distance service
Con Heading
Cons
Con Bullet Limited availability (28 states)
Con Bullet Rental fees not included in quote

What sets Zippy Shell apart?

Zippy Shell has flexible delivery

Zippy Shell helps you save money by staggering the delivery of your moving containers. Since you pay per container, costs can add up if you order more than you need. While most companies deliver the number of containers you request—and charge you for them—Zippy Shell brings you only the containers you need.

If you think you need three containers but might be able to get the job done with two, Zippy Shell can split up your delivery. By bringing you two containers on one day but scheduling a third container for another day, you can cancel the next scheduled delivery if it turns out you don’t need it. And since a single Zippy Shell container can cost well over a thousand dollars, you’re looking at a boatload of savings.

Zippy Shell containers are unique (in a good way)

Zippy Shell containers have something we haven’t seen before: steel-cage construction. Why’s that important? It has to do with how safe your stuff is. During transport, things can move around inside the container and get damaged. Your belongings can even jam the doors from the inside so you can’t open the container. Zippy Shell solves that problem with steel bars spaced every three or four inches. All you have to do is loop a tie-down or rope around your stuff and connect it to the caged bar. Problem solved.

And in the rare instance that something still comes loose, Zippy Shell has barn style doors that open outward (instead of up and down like a garage)—so jamming is never a problem. Bottom line: your stuff stays safe.

Want a company that keeps your stuff safe?


SMARTBOX—Straightforward pricing

SMARTBOX takes the mystery out of shopping for a moving container. While many companies surprise you with hidden fees or don’t include taxes, SMARTBOX gives you a single final price from the beginning. SMARTBOX also has discounts for college students and includes weatherproof covers for its containers. But there are some disadvantages. In addition to high prices, SMARTBOX gets low marks from customers who have a hard time reaching its telephone representatives, and isn’t widely available.

Pro Heading
Pros
Pro Bullet Straightforward pricing
Pro Bullet College student discounts
Pro Bullet Weatherproof covers
Pro Bullet Pay-for-what-you-use policy
Con Heading
Cons
Con Bullet High prices
Con Bullet Poor customer reviews
Con Bullet Limited availability

What sets SMARTBOX apart?

SMARTBOX has straightforward pricing

SMARTBOX offers something rare in the moving container industry: straightforward prices. While many other companies tack on hidden fees, divide your final bill into multiple payments, or leave you guessing about how much taxes cost and when you’ll pay them, SMARTBOX makes it easy. You just pay a single and straightforward bill (taxes included). That’s it. If only every company made it this simple.

SMARTBOX has deals for college students

College is expensive—and SMARTBOX has special moving container deals to make sure arriving on campus doesn’t cost too much. That even applies to college faculty and staff. SMARTBOX has a $20 off coupon for just about everybody spending time at school:

  • Dormitory students
  • Faculty and staff
  • Individual students
  • International students
  • Off-campus students
  • Sororities / Fraternities
  • Study abroad students

Take advantage of SMARTBOX’s straightforward pricing


Other moving container companies to consider

At Move.org, it's our goal to look at every moving container company from a researched-based, user-focused lens. We've looked at everything from container construction to customer satisfaction. Though we are confident in our choices for the top 5 moving container companies, there are others to choose from like Go Mini's and U-Box.


Moving container FAQ

How much do moving containers cost?

The average cost of moving containers is approximately $3,000. Costs vary depending on the size of your home, how far you travel, and what time of year it is.

How much do moving containers cost for long distances?

The average cost of moving containers for long distances of over 1,000 miles is approximately $3,390. Costs range from about $2,780 (U-Pack) to $3,730 (1-800-PACK-RAT).

What are other companies like PODS?

Several companies like PODS sell portable storage containers, including U-Pack, 1-800-PACK-RAT, Zippy Shell, and SMARTBOX. Moving containers can often be stored at your home or a company storage facility.

How much does PODS cost?

The average cost to move with PODS is approximately $3,160 (or $2,840 if you request a 10% Move.org discount).

Are there moving companies that allow you to pack your own stuff?

Yes, there are moving companies that allow you to pack on your own. Both rental truck companies and moving container companies are cheaper alternatives to full-service moving companies because you pack your own stuff.

Where can I find small moving storage containers?

You can find small moving storage containers by contacting PODS, U-Pack, or U-Box. Small containers often hold up to one room’s worth of belongings.

Small shipping container sizes

Company
Smallest container size

PODS

6 ft. 6 in. x 6 ft. x 7 ft. 6 in.

U-Pack

6 ft. 3 in. x 7 ft. x 8 ft. 4 in.

U-Box

7 ft. 11 in. x 4 ft. 8 in. x 6 ft. 11 in.

Data as of 10/23/2020. All measurements are approximate.

What are the best U-Box alternatives?

The best U-Box alternatives are U-Pack (low costs), 1-800-PACK-RAT (high-quality containers), and PODS (excellent customer service).

How much does it cost to rent a moving container?

The average cost to rent a moving container is approximately $3,000. Costs vary depending on things like container size, time of year, and the distance of your move. The cheapest moving container companies can often save you hundreds of dollars compared to the industry average.

What are the best moving cube companies?

The best moving cube companies are U-Pack, 1-800-PACK-RAT, and PODS, according to Move.org. Each company has its own strength. For example, U-Pack has low costs, while 1-800-PACK-RAT has strong containers, and PODS has excellent customer service.

What is portable storage?

Portable storage is a moving industry term that refers to moving containers (or moving cubes). Rather than store your belongings in a storage unit, a portable storage company brings a storage container to your home.

What companies have portable storage containers?

Many companies have portable storage containers, including PODS, U-Pack, 1-800-PACK-RAT, Zippy Shell, and SMARTBOX. Costs vary depending on how far you’re transporting the storage containers and how big your home is.

What are the best moving truck companies?

Is PODS cheaper than U-Haul?

PODS is often cheaper than U-Haul for long-distance moves. While U-Haul's initial quotes seem lower, they often include additional fees—and don't factor in the food and lodging you need to drive cross-country.

What are the dimensions of a PODS container?

PODS has three moving containers that range in length from approximately 6 to 15 feet. The weight limit for a PODS container varies from about 4,200 to 5,200 pounds.

PODS container dimensions

Container size
Container dimensions
Weight limit

Small

6 ft. 6 in. x 6 ft. x 7 ft. 6 in.

5,200 lbs

Medium

11 ft. 6 in. x 7 ft. x 7 ft. 6 in.

4,700 lbs

Large

15 ft. 6 in. x 7 ft. x 7 ft. 6 in.

4,200 lbs

Data as of 9/2/2020. PODS container sizes are estimates. Customers are responsible for assessing the container capacity for their belongings.1

What can you put in a portable moving container?

You can put most household goods in a portable moving container. Most companies prohibit items such as hazardous materials, flammable liquids, and weapons.

What’s the cheapest moving container company for local moves?

PODS is the cheapest moving container company for local moves. Its average cost of $1,160 for a 100-mile move is about $560 less expensive than the industry average of $1,720. Add in PODS’s 10% discount for Move.org readers, and you’re looking at even more savings.

How much is a SMARTBOX container?

A SMARTBOX container is approximately $3,020. Costs range from about $1,450 to move a small apartment across town to around $5,010 to move a three-bedroom home across the country. SMARTBOX also has discounts for college discounts.

Does PODS do long-distance moves?

Yes, PODS does long-distance moves. Its average cost to transport a portable storage container more than 50 miles is approximately $3,160.

What is a portable storage unit?

A portable storage unit is a portable container that you can use for temporary storage or to move your belongings. Container options vary by storage company. For example, PODS has three steel-framed sizes, while U-Haul has a single plywood storage box.

Can I use a moving storage container for long-distance moves?

Yes, you can use moving storage containers for long-distance moves. The container cost is typically more affordable than a moving service with professional movers. However, a rental truck is often cheaper for smaller moves.

How much is a moving storage container rental?

A moving storage container rental costs approximately $3,000. Mobile storage costs vary depending on storage needs and whether you hire professional movers to handle loading and unloading. Long-distance moves also cost more than smaller moves.


Recap

Every moving container company offers something unique. 1-800-PACK-RAT has the strongest containers, while PODS has top-notch customer service. Zippy Shell has the most flexile delivery, whereas SMARTBOX has discounts for college students. But in the end, no moving container company has more to offer than U-Pack. Its combination of low costs, excellent customer reviews, and availability in all 50 states is unbeatable.

Sources

Kurt Manwaring
Written by
Kurt Manwaring
Kurt Manwaring brings nearly a decade’s worth of research experience as a business consultant to the Move.org team. He specializes in taking complicated issues (like moving) and presenting them in a way that everyone can understand. His writing has been featured in hundreds of publications, including USA Today, Martha Stewart Living, Country Living, Good Housekeeping, Heavy, Slate, and Yahoo! Lifestyle. He brings a BS in sociology and an MPA (masters of public administration) to the Move team. He would love to hear about your moving experiences and questions at kurt@move.org.