Our top picks: If budget is your biggest concern, then we recommend renting a truck from Penske and taking advantage of its 10% military discount. If you want the most convenient military move money can buy, we recommend hiring Mayflower—especially if you're planning an international move.
The Best Moving Companies for Military Moves
What you should look for in a moving company
For many military members, rental trucks and moving containers are likely to be more affordable on your allotted budget. Plus, there’s an incentive for sticking to your allowance: if you spend less, you get to pocket the extra cash.1
If you’re going the rental truck or moving container route, start by looking at moving companies that offer military discounts—it’s always worth seeing where you can save, especially on an allotted budget.
We also recommend a few full-service movers for those who can or want to spend a little bit more on their PPM. Our picks also partner with the military on HHG moves and are approved by the General Services Administration (GSA), so they know how to handle your needs.
Why we picked these companies
When you move on assignment from the military, you have a few options for getting your belongings to your new station. In some cases, the military will arrange to have some or all of your stuff picked up and transported by a military-contracted moving company. This is known as a Household Goods (HHG) Move.
In other cases, you may take your moving allowance and hire a mover on your own. This is called a Personally Procured Move, or PPM. For this piece, we focused on the best moving companies for your PPM.
The best rental truck company for military moves
Moving with a rental truck is by far the cheapest moving method—but it also requires the most legwork. You pack, you drive, and you unpack, which means you’ll be getting your squats in.
The good news is that lots of rental truck companies offer military discounts. This could bring the cost down enough that you may be able to pocket some of the reimbursement for your PPM.
Penske—Best for tight schedules
Of all the rental truck companies competing for your business, Penske shows the most support for members of the military. As a partner of Support Military Families and Paralyzed Veterans of America, Penske does more than knock a few bucks off your bill.
Penske salutes those that serve through discounts, specialty services, and next-level customer service. Penske even has a call center that specializes in military moves, so you won’t have to shuffle between departments to get your questions answered.
Why we like Penske
It guarantees reservations
Penske is the only rental truck company to guarantee the truck size, pickup date, and pickup time you reserve. If your orders say that you need to arrive at your new base by a specific date, you need a rental truck company like Penske that’s going to show up for the job.
Other rental truck companies (ahem, U-Haul) can’t promise you that the truck size and pickup location you request will be available. If the person using the truck before you goes over their allotted time, they’ll eat into your reservation.
If you’re on a deadline, if you’re a military spouse doing it all on your own, or if you simply want to stay on schedule (who wouldn’t?!), you can plan on Penske.
Ready to find your truck size?
Head over to our Penske Review to see how it stands out from the crowd.
The best moving container companies for military moves
Moving containers are the happy medium between DIY truck rentals and full-service moves: you pack and the companies drive.
A pricier full-service move may not be an option for your family, and a DIY move may be too much to handle on your own (especially if you’re trying to wrangle all your kids while your spouse is deployed).
Container moves allow you to stay within your budget—and most moving container companies give you more time to load than just the single Saturday afternoon you’d have to pile your things into the back of a rental truck.
U-Pack—Best for customizable pricing
U-Pack is halfway between a pricey full-service move and a labor-intensive DIY rental truck move. It offers both moving trailers (where you fill up part of a moving truck) and smaller ReloCubes, which are more traditional pod-style containers.
With a pay-for-what-you-use policy, U-Pack helps you save pennies, which can mean dollars back in your wallet.
U-Pack also promises speedy shipping: “U-Pack transit times average just 2-5 business days.”2 So if your PCS needs to take place—stat!—U-Pack can make it happen.
Why we recommend U-Pack
It only charges you for the space you use
U-Pack’s pay-for-what-you-use policy means that you’ll never pay for empty trailer space or extra containers—and you can stay within your budget. If you fill up your moving trailer only halfway, you’ll have to pay for only half of the space. If you request four ReloCubes but fill only three, U-Pack won’t charge you for the fourth.
If you don’t want to drive a rental truck from the East Coast to the West Coast, U-Pack’s pricing policy helps you avoid the hassle of doing it yourself at an affordable price.
Wanna know more about U-Pack?
Get the lowdown in our U-Pack Review.
1-800-PACK-RAT—Best for limited budgets
1-800-PACK-RAT offers budget-friendly container options. So if you’re moving out of the dorms and over to the base a few towns over, 1-800-PACK-RAT is an excellent option.
If any of the following apply to you, 1-800-PACK-RAT will likely be a good fit:
You don’t want to drive a moving truck from your old base to your new one.
You’re looking to save money—or to keep some of your reimbursement to pay for other expenses.
You’re working on a flexible timeline or don’t mind waiting a few extra days for your container to arrive.
Why we recommend 1-800-PACK-RAT
It offers a good bang for your buck
1-800-PACK-RAT makes a big push to help get you money back on your military move. The company will try to transport as many containers as possible on the same route to keep things efficient and cheap for both parties.
This means that your container may not move at lightning speed—but you will likely pay less than with other companies, so you can pocket more of your PPM allowance.
Plus, 1-800-PACK-RAT’s website is jam-packed with resources for each step of your move.
Are you thinking of taking your business to 1-800-PACK-RAT?
Read about what you can expect in our 1-800-PACK-RAT Review.
The best full-service moving companies for military moves
If you get a hefty allowance for your move—or if you want to pay a little bit extra for a whole lot of convenience—you could hire a full-service moving company for your PPM.
Full-service moves are a hands-free option: when you go full service, the moving company can handle the packing, unpacking, loading, unloading, and driving, so you avoid the backbreaking part of the process.
The full-service moving companies we recommend here also have direct contracts with the military, so you may end up working with one of them if you do an HHG move.
United—Best for long-distance moves
With international moving services, tech installation services, and GPS tracking, United is a clear full-service moving frontrunner.
United’s up-front pricing plans prove that it has nothing to hide—a mark of a trustworthy company—and it offers plenty of services to make things easy for you even after your long-distance move.
You won’t have to figure out how to get your computer network wired up or find a place to store all those extra boxes that don’t fit in your new home.
Why United Van Lines is good for military moves
It’s a top-shelf option for international military moves
United Van Lines handles moves of all distances, ranging from local (under 100 miles) to long-distance (over 100 miles) and even international.
While both Mayflower and Atlas also service long-distance and international moves, United boasts the highest number of completed military moves. This makes it the best option if you’re in the military and you want your moving company to bring experience to your lengthy move.
United’s international reach extends to over 150 countries, so the company can accept most customers moving overseas.
For international moves, United gives you a devoted moving specialist who will walk you through every step of the process. This specialist will assist with paperwork, help coordinate with customs, and manage the logistical nightmare that often comes with an overseas move.
Want to know more about United Van Lines?
See all the buzz about the company’s tech installation services and transparent pricing in our United Van Lines Review.
Mayflower—Best for customizable service
After you’ve moved your entire home again and transferred to yet another city, the last thing you’ll want to do is set everything up after you’ve unpacked. Mayflower can help.
Mayflower offers flexible moving packages that include amenities like multimedia connection and home cleaning. Once you get to your new house, you don’t have to worry about setting up your WiFi network or scrubbing your shower.
(And let’s be real: some boxes will probably still be packed months after your move.)
Why we recommend Mayflower
It offers flexible packing packages
Mayflower offers customizable moving packages ranging in price from $195 to $1,395, so you can select how much professional help you want with packing, cleaning, and home setup.
And why is this important with a military move? Because while it’s nice to have movers tackle all the logistics, there may be some items or individual rooms you’d prefer to pack yourself.
After all, movers have no way of knowing what’s meaningful to you.
Mayflower’s packages also allow you to pick the services that are within your budget.
Are you itching to know more about Mayflower Van Lines?
See the full breakdown of its package offerings in our Mayflower Review.
Atlas Van Lines—Best for security
With high security standards and both a ProMover certification and GSA stamp of approval to its name, you can trust that your stuff is safe with Atlas.
Plus, the company is particularly good at transporting hard-to-move items like motorcycles, pianos, and swing sets. So you won’t have to leave anything behind—Atlas has the equipment, manpower, and expertise to transport all of your belongings. (Just make sure you have enough room at your new crib!)
Why we recommend Atlas Van Lines
It takes the security of your stuff seriously
When it comes to security measures that put your mind at ease while you’re moving, Atlas is ahead of the competition.
Here are some of the security features we find most impressive:
24/7 satellite tracking of your moving truck
ProMover-certified and background-checked movers
Drug testing and alcohol screening for workers
If you hand your belongings over to a full-service mover, you won’t have eyes on it for days or even weeks—which is why we love that Atlas lets you track your things via GPS. Plus, worker screenings and certifications allow you to feel confident about who is handling your things.
Eager to know all about Atlas Van Lines? Read about its special-item moving services, storage options, and more in our Atlas Van Lines Review.
Best of the rest
Just because a moving company isn’t at the top of our list doesn’t mean it doesn’t have discounts and services that could help you out. Here are a few of our other picks for military moves.
Budget: Budget lives up to the affordability its name suggests. And when it comes to military discounts, it’s no different. Budget’s truck rental discounts go as high as 20%.
Get a quote | Read our review
Zippy Shell: Military bases come in all shapes and sizes. You may have tons of room to park a moving truck or drop a container in front of your house—or and you may need to play some Tetris to make space for it. Zippy Shell’s trailers can reach almost any location, making loading and unloading feasible no matter which base you live on.
Get a quote | Read our review
SMARTBOX: SMARTBOX’s reliability comes from its locked-in pricing. The price it quotes you is the price you’ll pay, which may make moving on a military budget ten times less stressful.
Get a quote | Read our review
Bekins: Like the other full-service moving companies on our list, Bekins partners with the GSA to move military families like yours from base to base. Bekins offers a host of discounted services and moving supplies, so you can stay within your budget—and get the convenience of a full-service move.
Get a quote | Read our review
Our final thoughts
Moving is hard—especially moving while in the military. Whether you just received your first official orders or you’re transferring bases yet again, we feel you. Beyond the logistics of physically moving your belongings, there’s a lot of emotion involved in uprooting your life.
Here’s a refresher of the moving companies that can make your move a little less stressful:
- Penske: Best for tight schedules
- U-Pack: Best for customizable pricing
- 1-800-PACK-RAT: Best for limited budgets
- United Van Lines: Best for long-distance moves
- Mayflower Van Lines: Best for customizable service
- Atlas Van Lines: Best for security
Do you have a mover in mind you think we should consider? Let us know in the comments section below!
Joe Roberts also contributed to this article.