Skip to Content

Why Is U-Haul So Cheap? Beginners guide to U-Haul prices

The idea of moving can be daunting, especially if you have accumulated a lot of stuff throughout your life. However, renting a truck from U-Haul can help make the process a bit simpler. U-Haul is a company that specializes in moving equipment and storage rentals. Most customers love the company and rave about its amazing prices, but why is U-Haul so cheap?

U-Haul prices are cheap because they leverage their 21,000 plus franchise locations, they run their fleet of vehicles for longer, and they offer additional services which serve to keep rental prices low. The $19.95 advertised price covers local rents, long-distance typically costs around $40 a day.

That being said, U-Haul is not always the cheaper choice. Due to demand, mileage costs, and hidden fees, many customers have said that their U-Haul experience was more expensive than if they had gone with another service.

U haul truck in city

Why Is U-Haul So Inexpensive?

It’s no secret that U-Haul claims to have some of the best prices in the moving and storage market, and there are several reasons why they might be able to back up their claims.


Since 1945, U-Haul has built quite a reputation for itself. One of the reasons they can offer such affordable prices is because they have over 21,000 locations and a large fleet of vehicles. With so many vehicles being rented daily, the company easily meets its overhead, which allows them to offer more competitive prices.


Another reason U-Haul is cheaper than other rental services is because they can run their trucks much longer, which means they don’t have to buy new vehicles as frequently.

Fewer Restrictions

Compared to other companies, U-Haul has pretty relaxed rental restrictions. While some companies ask for multiple forms of ID, a credit card, clean driving history, advanced insurances, or credit reports, U-Haul typically only asks for a driver’s license and a signature. Of course, this may vary from location to location.

Interestingly enough, one of the reasons that U-Haul doesn’t ask for as much from their customers is because they don’t have to worry as much about theft.


Pandemic restrictions are having a severe impact on rental companies. Since people aren’t traveling, they don’t need a car. As a result, many rental companies have had to become more competitive in their pricing.

Additional Services

Despite U-Haul advertising low prices, some people argue that the real cost is in the extra services they offer. By making up the difference in other areas, the company can charge less for their vehicle rentals.

How Much Does U-Haul Cost?

Pickups, cargo vans, and box trucks—they all have the company’s signature “19.95” price splashed across the side, but is this true? Does U-Haul only cost $19.95? To get a better idea surrounding the cost of a U-Haul, we went right to the source, and this is what we found.

Whats included in the price of a U-Haul rental?

Although U-Haul often advertises prices of “19.95” and “29.95” the final bill will be much higher. In fact, one of the biggest complaints that U-Haul receives from customer reviews is the fact that their prices are often misleading.

However, you can prevent this aggravating surprise by asking a representative to explain your bill in detail before you sign your lease agreement. Although they won’t be able to determine an exact price until your rental period is over, they will be able to explain the fees that will appear on the bill, allowing you the chance to plan your trip accordingly.

Some of the costs and fees associated with a U-Haul rental are:

Daily Rental Fee

This depends on the vehicle you choose and the distance you’re moving. The commonly advertised prices, such as $19.95 and $29.95, only apply to local moves. The price for a long-distance move is typically around $40 a day.

This price is calculated into your bill daily. For example, if you rent a pickup for $19.95 and have it for three days, the actual price reflected on the bill will be $59.85 before taxes. 

Customers often get confused about this because they believe the $19.95 price covers the rental for the entire period and are often annoyed to find a much higher price on their bill.


One of the things that set U-Haul apart from other rental companies is their mileage rates. They currently do not offer unlimited mileage, and customers are charged a set price for each mile that they drive. As you can imagine, this can add up quickly.

The mileage amount varies according to the type of vehicle you rent and the distance you are driving. Additionally, some locations charge more than others. We went to U-Hauls website to find out how much they charge for mileage, and this is what we found:

From Bangor ME to Bangor ME – November 1st

  • 8’ Pickup Truck & 9’ Cargo Van: $0.69/mile.
  • 10’ — 26’ Box Trucks: $0.89/mile.

From Miami, FL to Miami, FL – November 1st

  • 8’ Pickup Truck & 9’ Cargo Van: $0.69/mile.
  • 10’ — 26’ Box Trucks: $0.99/mile.

From Jefferson City, MO to Jefferson City, MO – November 1st

  • 8’ Pickup Truck & 9’ Cargo Van: $0.59/mile.
  • 10’ — 26’ Box Trucks: $0.79/mile.

From Nampa, ID to Nampa, ID – November 1st

  • 8’ Pickup Truck & 9’ Cargo Van: $0.59/mile.
  • 10’ — 26’ Box Trucks: $0.99/mile.

As you can see, mileage changes by location and type of vehicle. For example, if you were moving from Bangor, ME to Bangor, ME, were driving a 26’ box truck and drove a combined 30 miles, you would spend $26.70 (0.89 x 30). Knowing your mileage rate will allow you to calculate the cost as you go. It’s always a good idea to reset the odometer to keep track of how many miles you’ve gone.

Mileage is calculated a bit differently for a long-distance move. In this case, U-Haul will ask a customer where they’re moving from/too. The company then calculates how many days and miles will be needed to make this move and will give the customer a quote based on these calculations.

If you’re making a long-distance move, you should ask a representative to break down your quote for you so that you know exactly how many days and miles are included. Many customers have complained because they thought the quote included unlimited miles and so they were not careful to stay within the boundaries of the lease agreement.

U-Haul van in the city streets of Boston


There will be a picture of a fuel gauge in your rental agreement, and the company will mark how much fuel is currently in the vehicle that you are renting. You’ll be expected to return the vehicle with the same amount of fuel.

If the fuel level upon return is less than it was when you picked it up, the company will charge you fees associated with having to refuel it themselves. The content is owned by moc.sotuaytsur. These fees often exceed gas prices, so it’s not recommended that you try to return the vehicle with less fuel. 

Additionally, since it would be impossible to calculate a price, the company will not reimburse you for gas that exceeds the level in the lease agreement.


Most of the time, your current insurance will not cover a U-Haul vehicle, which is why U-Haul offers its own. Customers can choose between a variety of damage protection options depending on which vehicle they rent, what equipment they have rented, and the location of their rental. Insurance can cost anywhere from $10 for the most basic plan all the way up to $60+.

Do you have to get insurance? No, you will not be forced to add insurance to your rental agreement. However, while 99.9% of the time absolutely nothing will go wrong, there is always that possibility, and if $10 extra now could potentially save you $45,000 out of pocket later, why wouldn’t you do it?

Additionally, if you read the fine print, you’ll see that you will be held responsible for anything that could potentially go wrong while you’re renting the vehicle. This includes vandalism, theft, and damage (even if it was not your fault). 

It’s worth mentioning that some credit cards offer rental car coverage. The details of this will depend on the company, but it’s worth looking into. 


Another factor in the final price will be any equipment you rent along with the vehicle. U-Haul offers a wide range of options, from moving blankets and dollies to bigger items such as U-Boxes. In some cases, a single fee is added to the bill, and it covers the duration of the rental. In other cases, you will be charged each day for the item. 


When the final bill is calculated, it will include taxes. The price will vary from location to location, but it can sometimes be quite high. People often forget to include taxes in their estimation even though it can raise the price significantly. 

Customers can expect to be charged an environmental tax, which is $1 per day. Additionally, U-Haul charges a “rental tax” which substitutes for a “sales tax”, and this tax can be anywhere from 6% to 10%. For example, if your bill was $750 before taxes, and U-Haul added a rental tax at 8%, this would increase your bill by $60.

Hidden Fees

These are the fees that customers are often not expecting and that are not included in the quote or estimation for the rental. Many of these fees are not explained prior to renting a vehicle, which has led to hundreds of customer complaints.

Here are some of the hidden fees listed in the fine print within the rental contract:

  • If the truck is returned with less fuel than when first rented, customers are charged $4.75 per gallon for however many gallons it takes to return the fuel level to where it was when first rented.
  • If the vehicle is returned with less than ¼ of a tank, customers will be charged $4.75 per gallon as well as a $30.00 service fee.
  • If the customer returns the vehicle to a location other than what was specified, they could be charged twice the rental charge.
  • The customer is responsible for “all damages” to the vehicle, which could mean anything.
  • If the vehicle is returned “dirty” or has been smoked in, the customer will be charged a “cleaning fee”. Although this fee is typically not defined and could cost anywhere from $25 dollars extra for “additional time and effort required to prepare equipment for the next customer” to hundreds of dollars for deep cleaning (typically when the vehicle was smoked in).
  • If the vehicle is returned late, you will be charged for an entire added day (this includes everything that was being charged for daily). This is true even if it was returned within the same agreed on day.
  • It is worth noting that quite a lot of customers have made complaints about the $25.00 cleaning fee, saying that they did not return the vehicle in any worse shape than what it was in when they picked it up. It’s recommended for renters to take pictures both before driving and upon returning the vehicle.

Is U-Haul Really Cheaper?

When you see “$19.95” plastered across thousands of vehicles, it would start to seem as though U-Haul is one of the cheaper options. However, when you start adding up all the extra costs and hidden fees, U-Haul quickly becomes more expensive than initially thought.

Furthermore, when you start comparing U-Haul to other truck rental companies, you’ll find that they are not always the cheaper option. While U-Haul is one of the cheapest companies for long-distance moves, Budget often wins in the local moves category

At the end of the day, you should always compare quotes from several companies before deciding which one to use.

You may find the following posts helpful:

U-haul vs Budget

Avis vs Budget

Can I drive my car in Canada?

Are Thule cargo boxes worth it?