Like any other company that operates with the intention of
turning a profit, rental truck companies want you to believe that renting a moving truck
is inexpensive and easy. That's why
every time you pass a truck or van from U-Haul, Penske or Budget on the highway,
you'll see something like "Rentals starting at ONLY $19.95" advertised on the
back of the truck. Of course, these rentals do start at only $19.95, but it's
rare that you'll actually pay that little, unless you plan on renting the truck
for 10 minutes.
The way that these rental companies recoup their costs
is by adding on a lot of little "hidden" charges and
fees, which are not very hidden if you know where to look. Read on to find out
some of the more common hidden charges you'll come across when renting a truck
and how to avoid them.
What are the hidden charges?
Hidden charges don't have to
necessarily mean "surprise" charges, especially if you familiarize yourself with
some of the more common ones rental truck companies
tend to hit you with. The more prepared
you are for these charges beforehand, the less of a surprise it will be when it
comes time to pay.
- Extra charges for renting during a peak time. As with moving
companies, truck rental companies also have peak times when their prices rise.
For example, it will cost you more to rent a truck on the weekends, at the end
of the month, around holiday weekends and in the summer. Rental companies can
charge customers more during these times because the demand for trucks is
- Don't forget about paying for gas. One of the things rental companies
don't advertise when they tout their low rates is the gas you'll have to pay
for. You'll have to return the truck with the same amount of gas that was in the
tank when you rented, and filling up the tank in rental truck isn't cheap, so
make sure to fact that cost into your budget when you think about renting.
- Your mileage matters. As with the gas charges, you'll also be charged
a flat rate per mile for driving the truck. If you are making a short local
move, you'll pay less than you would if you were to rent the truck to drive
several hundred miles. These mileage fees can add up pretty quickly-- be mindful
of this when planning your move.
- Beware of "cost recovery fees." Depending on where you rent your
truck, different companies may add their own fees. One such fee is a "cost
recovery" that can be tacked on to your final bill when you return the truck.
These fees are not often advertised before renting the truck, so inquire with
the rental company about any possible charges before you decide to
Saving money on your truck rental
Just because rental truck
companies will hit you with hidden charges and extra fees doesn't mean you can't
plan accordingly and avoid them to the best of your ability. Here are some tips
on how to save money when you rent a truck and what to look for in order to get
the best deal possible:
- Know when to reserve your truck. You can save a lot of money on
renting a truck if you know when to rent. Depending on the circumstances
surrounding your move, you may not have the option of being flexible with your
moving dates. However, try to rent your truck during the week, in the middle of
the month. Also, avoid renting during the peak summer months, which typically
extend from Memorial Day through Labor Day.
- Compare prices from several different rental companies in
your area. Rental truck prices can fluctuate just as frequently as prices
for airline tickets, so your best bet to avoid paying too much is to compare
prices from as many different companies as possible. It's common to have prices
that differ by as much as $150-200 from one company to the next, so compare
quotes and pick the one that fits best with your moving budget.
- Be flexible with your dates. Having flexibility with your moving
dates will benefit you greatly when it comes time to reserve a moving truck. By
changing a few of the dates around, you can find prices that are often
significantly cheaper, much like you would if you were searching for plane
- Play around with different combinations of pick-up/drop-off
locations. A little-known trick that many people miss out on is choosing
different pick-up/drop-off locations for your rental truck. This trick won't
apply to short distance local moves, but it can benefit bigger moves where
you'll be traveling more. Sometimes, you'll find that a certain rental location
one town over from the city you're moving to is in need of inventory in their
lot and your price will be cheaper if you choose to drop your truck off at that