Budget vs. U-Haul 2021

After comparing over 50 quotes and researching services offered by Budget and U-Haul, we find both offer a similar standard of service, though Budget is more affordable for local moves.
Our pick
budget
Budget
4.2 out of 5 stars
4.2
$1,054 avg. rental price
  • Icon Pros  Light
    Lowest prices for local moves
  • Icon Pros  Light
    5 truck sizes
Second place
uhaul
U-Haul
4.2 out of 5 stars
4.2
$992.19 avg. rental price
  • Icon Pros  Light
    Lower prices for long-distance moves
  • Icon Pros  Light
    7 truck sizes
Joe Roberts
Researcher & Writer
Read More
Published on August 05, 2021
10 min read

Bottom line

Budget Truck Rental and U-Haul are about equal in overall service quality, but Budget is the most affordable option for local moves. And while U-Haul’s long-distance prices can be lower than Budget’s, they aren’t as low as Penske’s.

U-Haul has far more locations than Budget, so it might be the only option in your area. But because Budget’s local moving prices are the lowest among the best moving truck rental companies, we’re calling this race for Budget.


Pros and cons

Budget
Pro Bullet Best rates for local moves
Pro Bullet Several discounts
Pro Bullet Low mileage rates
Con Bullet Fewer locations than U-Haul
U-Haul
Pro Bullet Low rates for long-distance moves
Pro Bullet Widest availability
Con Bullet Very few discounts
Con Bullet Unreliable reservations

Compare Budget and U-Haul top features

Company
Truck sizes
Locations
Avg. local price
Avg. long-distance price
Website
Budget51,600 US locations1$27.61 + $0.47/mile$2,080.00
U-Haul721,000 locations in the US and Canada2$38.70 + $0.99/mile$1,945.68

Budget and U-Haul similarities

Budget and U-Haul have a lot of similarities, like long-distance rentals, moving assistance, and great insurance coverage options. To bring you up to speed, we’ll quickly detail these similarities before talking about what differentiates the two companies.

Both companies offer local and long-distance rentals

Typically, a long-distance move is any move over 100 miles, and a local move is any move under 100 miles.

Truck rental companies sometimes call long-distance moves “one-way” moves because you return your rental truck at a different location than where you got it. Similarly, companies often call local moves “round-trip” moves because you return your truck to your initial rental location.

Both Budget and U-Haul offer rental trucks for both types of moves. This makes both companies stand out above competitors like Enterprise and Home Depot, which only rent trucks for local moves (though some Home Depot locations partner with Penske to provide long-distance Penske trucks).

Both companies have bad customer reviews

Across customer review forums like Google Reviews and Yelp, both Budget and U-Haul receive abysmal reviews. We checked star ratings across five different review platforms, and we found that the average star rating for both companies comes out to 1.3.

Since the companies’ star ratings are in a dead heat, we can conclude that the two provide similar customer satisfaction. However, customers do tend to complain about different things depending on which company they rented their truck from.

While neither company guarantees reservations, we’ve found that U-Haul customers complain about broken reservations far more often than Budget customers. Conversely, Budget customers report unclean trucks with malfunctioning parts far more often than U-Haul customers.

So, based on customer reviews, you’re more likely to get your reserved truck with Budget, but that truck probably won’t be as clean or reliable as a U-Haul truck.

Another important difference that we noticed is that Budget responds to customer complaints and is proactive about solving problems—U-Haul is not. We’re impressed by the way Budget goes the extra mile to address concerns.

Bullhorn
Want to hear what customers think of Budget?

Despite the negativity found in online reviews, we’ve seen Budget provide customers with positive experiences. If you want to read about these moves, check out these reports:

Both companies offer moving assistance

Renting a moving truck for your move traditionally means doing all the packing, loading, and unloading yourself. However, you don’t have to go full DIY. Both Budget and U-Haul offer move help services to assist you with everything except driving.

As you’d expect, these services cost extra, and exact prices depend on factors like location and how long you need help. That said, many hands make light work, and when some of those hands belong to professionals, it can greatly speed up your move. Your wallet may be a little lighter afterward, but your back will certainly hurt less than if you’d done all the work yourself.

U-Haul uses an online marketplace to provide moving assistance. In this marketplace, local labor companies compete to get hired for your job and you can handpick which company shows up to help you. Budget, on the other hand, provides moving assistance through a partnership with HireAHelper, our very favorite moving labor company.

Light Bulb
Still planning to do all the work yourself?

If you’re trying to move as frugally as possible, then going full DIY is the best route. However, just because there won’t be any professionals on-site doesn’t mean your stuff can’t get pro-level treatment. Check out our guide to loading a moving truck so you can load up like the pros.

Both companies have great coverage options*

While moving coverage is optional, you should always purchase as much as you can to safeguard your stuff, your truck, and yourself. That’s why we like that both Budget and U-Haul have comprehensive coverage options.

Keep in mind that all of these coverage options have various exclusions and limitations, and you should refer to your rental agreement for complete information regarding coverage.

Budget's coverage plans3

Budget has five coverage options to protect you in case of unfortunate circumstances ranging from locking your keys in the truck to getting in an accident.

Damage Waivers: These coverage plans cover the cost of damage to your Budget truck and any towing equipment you rent. Budget offers two different damage waiver plans:

  • Physical Damage Waiver (PDW), which covers all damage costs.
  • Limited Damage Waiver (LDW), which only covers damage after the first $500, so the repair/replacement costs for the first $500 of damage will come out of your own wallet.

Supplemental Liability Insurance (SLI): This coverage plan protects you against injury claims made by third-parties against you while you’re driving your Budget truck. There are some exclusions, though. For example, SLI doesn’t cover you if you drive in a way that violates your rental agreement.

Personal and Cargo (PAC): PAC covers bodily injury for you and your passengers and damage to your household goods in case of a collision. PAC won’t cover certain types of belongings—such as jewelry—or collisions that result from improper driving, though.

Roadside SafetyNet (RSN): Paying for RSN gives you access to Budget’s 24/7 roadside assistance hotline that can help you in case of flat tires, lock outs, dead truck batteries, etc.

Auto Tow Protection (ATP): ATP covers any vehicle you tow using a Budget tow dolly or car carrier as long as you tow it behind your Budget truck.

U-Haul's coverage plans4

U-Haul has four coverage options to protect you in the event of water damage, burglary, or accidents.

Safemove®: With Safemove, you get a damage waiver for rental equipment like your truck, cargo protection for your belongings, and medical/life protection for you and your passengers.

Safemove Plus®: This coverage option gives you everything included in the base Safemove plan, but it adds $1 million in supplemental liability coverage and additional inclusions for your damage waiver.

Safetow®: Think of Safetow as Safemove for towing. It gives you a damage waiver for your towing equipment, protection for towed cargo, and medical/life protection for you and your passengers.

Safetrip®: While all U-Haul rentals come with basic 24/7 roadside assistance in case your truck breaks down, you can purchase Safetrip to gain access to more deluxe roadside protections like lockout services and fuel services.


Budget and U-Haul differences

Now that we’ve talked about qualities that Budget and U-Haul share, let’s discuss the things that differentiate them—pricing, extra services, truck sizes, and availability.

Best local prices: Budget

CompanyBudgetU-Haul
Avg. price for rentals under 100 miles$27.61 + $0.47/mile$38.70 + $0.99/mile

Data as of October 2020. Prices do not include add-on services like moving coverage or additional equipment rentals. Offers and availability may vary by location and are subject to change.

On average, Budget’s local prices are about $10 lower than U-Haul’s. In fact, Budget’s local prices are the absolute lowest in the truck rental industry. Additionally, Budget charges less than half of what U-Haul does for mileage, so you can drive farther and make more trips back and forth in a Budget truck while still saving money.

This means that if you’re moving locally and you’ve got money on your mind, Budget is your best option.

Best long-distance prices: U-Haul

Company
Avg. price for rentals under 1,000 miles
Avg. price for rentals over 1,000 miles
Avg. price for small rental trucks
Avg. price for medium-to-large trucks
Budget
$378.51
$2842.31
$1798.00
$2352.00
U-Haul
$296.56
$2684.00
$1499.27
$2225.44

Data as of October 2020. Prices do not include add-on services like moving coverage or additional equipment rentals. Offers and availability may vary by location and are subject to change.

As you can see in the table above, Budget lags behind U-Haul price-wise in just about every use case except for local moves. Keep in mind that these are just averages based on about 50 quotes we gathered in October 2020, though, and moving truck prices vary based on location and time of year.

In fact, we have seen Budget’s prices for long-distance moves be significantly lower than U-Haul’s. In one case, Budget offered a rate that was roughly $600 cheaper than U-Haul’s for a move from Iowa to Texas. Similarly, for a move from Iowa to Washington DC, Budget’s rate was around $200 lower than U-Haul’s.

Here’s the takeaway: get a quote from both companies no matter how far you’re moving. Both companies give customers free quotes, and they don’t take long to get, so there’s really no reason not to. While you’re at it, get a quote from Penske as well since it typically offers the best rates in the industry for long-distance moves.

Most discounts: Budget

While Budget and U-Haul are about neck and neck price-wise, Budget is the clear winner in the discount arena. Here’s a list of discounts the company offers:

     US military discount—20% off truck rental

     AARP member discount—20% off Sunday through Thursday and 10% off Friday through Saturday

     Police, fire, and EMT personnel discounts—20% off for local moves and 15% off for one-way moves

     Motor Club member discounts—20% off for local moves and 15% off for one-way moves

     Bar Association member discounts—20% off for local moves and 15% off for one-way moves

     Student discounts—20% off for local moves and 15% off for one-way moves​[1]

For comparison, the discounts U-Haul lists online are much sparser, and it doesn’t list specific discount rates for its moving trucks. This leaves customers unsure of what to expect price-wise, whereas you can bank on receiving a specific percentage discount from Budget if you’re in one of the listed groups.

In fact, since U-Haul’s prices are often around 20% cheaper than Budget’s, snagging one of these discounts can actually bring your Budget price down to U-Haul’s price or lower.

Most extra services: U-Haul

Both Budget and U-Haul offer just about every service you could need for a typical moving truck move. However, U-Haul does provide a few extra services that Budget doesn’t.

Budget and U-Haul service comparison

ServiceBudgetU-Haul
Moving truck rentalYesYes
Moving coverageYesYes
Packing and loading servicesYesYes
Vehicle trailer rentalYesYes
Cargo trailer rentalNoYes
Self storageYes*Yes
Moving container rentalNoYes
Packing suppliesYesYes

Data as of July 7, 2021.

*Budget’s self storage units are only available at certain locations. If you require self-storage through Budget, call your local franchise to inquire about availability.

Most truck sizes: U-Haul

As with its total number of services, U-Haul has a few truck sizes that Budget doesn’t.

U-Haul truck size 

  • Cargo van
  • Pickup truck
  • 10-foot box truck
  • 15-foot box truck
  • 17-foot box truck
  • 20-foot box truck
  • 26-foot box truck

 

Budget truck sizes

  • Cargo van
  • Pickup truck
  • 12-foot box truck
  • 16-foot box truck
  • 26-foot box truck

Despite the difference in total sizes, both companies have a similar range of truck sizes with cargo vans and pickup trucks on the small end of the scale and 26-foot box trucks on the large end.

This means that you can probably find the right truck for your home size at either company. U-Haul’s options will just be a little more on the nose.

Most availability: U-Haul

While U-Haul’s extra services and extra truck sizes don’t make it a significantly better option than Budget for most moves, U-Haul is the clear winner in terms of availability. U-Haul has over 13 times more locations than Budget.

U-Haul operates a staggering 21,000 locations between the US and Canada, whereas Budget has a more modest 1,600 locations in the US.

Budget’s numbers are certainly nothing to sneeze at, but U-Haul’s nationwide availability all but guarantees that you’ll have a nearby U-Haul location or two no matter where you live or where you’re moving to.

With Budget, pickup and dropoff location options are more limited, and you’ll probably have to drive a little farther to get and return your truck. No matter which company you go with, though, you should do a little research to ensure you’ll have locations near your old and new homes.


Our pick: Budget

Budget is definitely outclassed by U-Haul in terms of availability and extra services. However, the two companies are just about tied when it comes to customer satisfaction, so U-Haul doesn’t seem to leverage these strengths effectively. And while it’s long-distance prices can be lower than Budget’s, they aren’t the lowest in the industry, whereas Budget’s local prices are.

Because of all this, we think Budget is a slightly better place to rent a truck than U-Haul.

Ready to get your Budget quote?


Methodology

For our pricing data, we gathered 28 online quotes from both Budget and U-Haul. To get a complete picture of each company’s pricing, we got quotes for 4 home sizes across 7 different distances ranging from 50 to 2,000 miles. To ensure quotes could be fairly compared between the two companies, we gathered them all within the same week and for the exact same zip codes.

To compare services, we dug into each company’s online offerings, read all the fine print, and called customer service whenever questions arose. We also assessed factors like moving coverage, reservation reliability, roadside assistance, and availability.

Finally, to make sure our rankings accurately reflected customer experiences, we also incorporated star rankings and patterns of feedback left by customers on platforms like Google Reviews and Yelp.

Other truck rental companies we recommend

Now that you know how Budget and U-Haul compare, check out these reviews to see how both companies stack up against their other competitors:

Recommended resources

FAQs about rental trucks

Is it hard to drive a U-Haul?

It’s trickier than driving a regular car, but U-Haul trucks are designed to be driven by ordinary people. If you’re stressed about the driving, U-Haul has put together some tips for driving U-Haul moving trucks.

Do you need a driver’s license to rent a truck?

Yes. U-Haul and Budget require driver’s licenses to rent moving trucks.

Do Budget and U-Haul offer cargo van rentals?

Yes. Both companies provide cargo vans, which are a good option for small, in-town jobs like transporting washers, dryers, and furniture.

Does Budget require a deposit?

Budget requires a deposit for all round-trip moves (in addition to your quote) but waives the deposit for one-way trips if you pay with a credit or debit card. Deposits are refundable, but it can take three to five business days after returning the truck before you see the money.

You should also be aware that while Budget’s advertised deposit rate is $150, our research found the average deposit is closer to $200 for round-trip moves.

Does U-Haul require a deposit?

U-Haul takes a deposit of $100 or the full rental cost (whichever is higher)—but only if you are paying with cash. Using a credit card or a debit card? No deposit required.

Sources

  1. Budget Truck Rental, “Company Overview.” Accessed July 7, 2021.
  2. AMERCO, “Company History.” Accessed July 7, 2021.
  3. Budget Truck Rental, “Budget Truck Protection Coverages.” Accessed July 8, 2021.
  4. U-Haul Truck Rental, “For Your Protection and Peace of Mind, Safemove Has You Covered.” Accessed June 16, 2021.
  5. Budget Truck Rental, “Current Truck Rental Deals.” Accessed July 8, 2021.
Joe Roberts
Written by
Joe Roberts
Joe Roberts is a professional writer with a degree in writing studies and over four years of copywriting experience. He previously worked at Overstock.com, where he wrote about furniture, home decor, and moving. Joe has moved all over Utah, so he knows his way around a moving truck—and he spends his time (and money) expanding his personal library so it will be even heavier next time he moves.

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