How to Negotiate a Cheaper Moving Truck Rental

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How to Negotiate a Cheaper Moving Truck Rental

aptsherpa · Oct 1, 2007

If you don’t have much to spend on your upcoming move, you’ve probably ruled out the possibility of hiring a moving company. It’s common sense: your move will be much cheaper if you find a cheap rental truck, even when you factor in the cost of gas, tolls, food, and lodging throughout your trip. Your moving truck rental will probably be your most significant cost. If you’re on a tight budget, is it possible to negotiate a better price and score a cheap moving truck? Depending on how flexible you are, the answer is probably yes.

Timing is everything

Because of work obligations and traditional leases that end on the last day of the month, most movers are predictable. They need trucks on the last weekend of the month. Naturally, moving companies know this. Just like airlines that charge more for tickets on holiday weekends, many moving companies charge more on weekends and at the end of the month. If your moving dates are flexible, you might be able to get a discount. More established companies sometimes publish their discounted midweek rentals clearly on their websites and brochures. With smaller companies, you may have to ask.

Even if the company doesn’t have a policy to discount rental rates during off days, you may still be able to score a cheap truck rental. Don’t sign anything or put down a deposit until you’ve asked about discounted rates for rentals. Make it clear that you haven’t decided which company to rent from, but that a discount would make a big difference in your decision. Take the time to ask around among the smaller companies and compare offers. The more information you have, the better you’ll be able to negotiate.

One Way vs. Round Trip

Although using a small company has its advantages, sometimes going with one of the moving truck giants is easier. Budget and U-Haul trucks are available nearly everywhere and are more likely to have a drop-off point in your destination city. You can reserve trucks online and usually something’s available for a last-minute rental. However, larger companies will be less likely to negotiate with you on an individual basis. Of course, there’s no harm in trying.

If you don’t get far relying on your negotiating skills alone, you may still be able to save money by making a round trip rather than arranging a one-way rental. While one-way rentals are undoubtedly more convenient, they can be much pricier. If you’ve decided to use a U-Haul rental, you can use their website to calculate the difference between going one way and returning the truck to your original pick up location. Be sure to factor in the cost of gas and additional miles to the cost of the return trip. If you’re only traveling a few hours, you may find that the difference is significant. If you’ve enlisted the help of some (really nice) friends to help you move, they may be willing to drive the truck back for you after you’ve moved into the new place. Just remember that you’ll owe them big time!

Get a smaller truck

On more than one truck rental website, the companies helpfully explain that renting a bigger truck will provide added security for your belongings. We’re not totally sure what kind of advantage an extra-large truck provides. With all that room, it seems like things are more likely to move around and break. But bigger trucks cost more than smaller trucks; hence the helpful suggestion from the rental companies. Don’t let salesmen or company websites talk you into renting a bigger truck than you need. Take measurements of your largest pieces and determine your size needs that way.

Remember that although you’ll be saving money, renting a truck and moving on your own may be a bit of a challenge. Unless you live a Spartan lifestyle, you’ll need some dedicated friends and family members who are willing to help you (or at least some people who owe you a favor). If your friends are still recovering from your last move, consider hiring labor from a local moving company to load and unload your truck. It’s easy to underestimate the amount of time and manpower it will require to move your things, especially if you own couches, upholstered chairs, or a large bed. And don’t forget that you’ll need people at your new apartment to help you as well. But if your dates are flexible or you can put in the time to research your best option, you can find a cheap moving truck rental that can significantly reduce the total cost of your move.

Have you had any luck negotiating with a truck rental company? What tactics did you use? Share your wisdom with other readers in our comments section.

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