Whether you’re moving to a new home or looking to put some of your items in storage, you may need a vehicle larger than your own.
U-Haul is a popular company that rents out trucks, vans, and other vehicles to people who need a larger vehicle to haul their items.
People often use the trucks to store furniture and boxes while moving to another residence.
Renting a U-Haul isn’t always cheap, however.
Before you choose to rent a U-Haul vehicle for your moving needs, it may be worth knowing why U-Haul is so expensive to rent.
Why Is U-Haul So Expensive? (10 Reasons)
The average price of renting a U-Haul is between $20 and $50 with mileage costs and other fees added to your total from there.
U-Haul can be expensive because of its limited inventory, the different costs associated with running a rental company, any additional services you include with your rental, and the time of year in which you choose to rent.
Let’s look at these factors in more detail.
1. Peak Moving Season
One of the reasons U-Haul rentals can be expensive is if you’re trying to rent a truck or trailer during peak rental season.
“Peak season” is typically when the moving season occurs.
You may not realize that there’s a moving season, but there is.
It tends to start around spring and ends around fall.
During this time, because the weather is warm and pleasant, people are out looking for new homes, new apartments, or moving their children in and out of college.
It’s also a time when people go on vacation.
They may need to rent a trailer to haul some ATVs or even a boat.
Because it’s a time when a lot of people are renting trucks and other moving equipment, it means the demand is exceptionally high.
Since U-Haul only has so much inventory, they have to increase their prices due to the high demand.
You might find that U-Haul prices are a lot lower during the late fall and winter.
U-Haul is expensive because renting something during peak moving season exacerbates the lack of inventory that U-Haul has.
2. Limited Inventory
The problem with U-Haul which directly impacts its prices is its limited inventory.
Although many U-Haul stores have lots of acreage and trucks, they still have a set number of rentals available in their space.
They can’t buy a ton of trucks if they don’t have room to store them.
As such, they have a limited inventory.
This means that they almost always have a shortage of their services.
Since there’s a shortage, U-Haul can ask for higher prices for their rentals.
This is done to decrease demand until their supplies increase again.
That’s why renting from them during the moving season is especially expensive.
Since they only have so many trucks, trailers, and other moving equipment, if the demand is high for those items, then the price is going to be high.
It all comes down to how large the U-Haul store is, too.
Larger U-Haul stores are going to have more inventory space than smaller stores.
Pricing also comes down to how many of a certain vehicle are in stock.
For example, U-Haul might have a lot of car trailers for rent but very few 10-foot trucks.
The limited inventory feeds into their higher prices.
U-Haul is expensive because they don’t always have a lot of inventory.
3. Fuel Costs
Another big factor that can make U-Haul expensive is fuel costs.
U-Haul charges customers fuel costs in a few ways.
For one, they charge customers based on mileage.
If you’re driving a long distance, then your mileage cost is going to be quite expensive.
U-Haul charges this to keep up with fuel costs as well as maintenance costs.
The more you drive the U-Haul, the more damage you’re essentially doing to it.
U-Haul also doesn’t fuel the truck for you.
They’ll have it gassed up when you first pick it up, but from there, it’s up to you to refuel it.
Refueling a moving truck is more expensive than refueling a standard car.
These trucks tend to have bigger gas tanks.
As such, you’ll face higher prices at the fuel pump.
High fuel costs make renting your U-Haul even more expensive.
U-Haul is expensive because you typically have to pay for your own gas.
4. Maintenance Costs
While you do need to pay for damages if you end up in a wreck or you harm the U-Haul truck, you don’t have to pay for standard maintenance costs.
U-Haul takes care of all that.
That also means that U-Haul takes on a lot of costs in this regard.
They need to give their trucks and vans regular maintenance to ensure they’re in working order.
They know that if they don’t keep their vehicles in top shape, then they’re not going to last very long.
Spending a few grand on a vehicle to keep it in good shape is far more affordable than having to buy an entirely new truck.
As such, it makes sense that they maintain their fleet.
That said, it does increase their costs, too.
They will occasionally have to replace parts and maintain tires.
Because they have a reputation to uphold, they can’t rent out a truck or van that won’t function.
People will stop renting from them and go to their competitors instead.
Since they have high maintenance costs, however, they need to cover those costs with higher prices.
It allows them to build up a cushion that they can draw from when costs are a bit tight.
U-Haul is expensive because of its high maintenance costs.
5. Insurance Costs
Because the business’ survival is dependent upon its fleet, U-Haul also has expensive insurance plans for its vehicles.
They want to make sure that if their vehicles do end up in an accident or get damaged that they’re going to have some form of protection.
Considering that their business puts their assets in the hands of others, there’s a good amount of risk that they take on.
They’re trusting the renters to be mindful of their use of the trucks and to bring them back in one piece.
Obviously, that doesn’t always work out.
Many renters aren’t used to driving big trucks or hauling something behind their cars.
That sort of inexperience can lead to accidents and damage.
To ensure they’re able to keep up with the repair costs, U-Haul relies heavily on their insurance plans.
However, because their business is slightly risky, they likely face high insurance rates.
In order to be able to pay those rates, they have to charge high prices for their equipment.
U-Haul is expensive because of its high insurance costs.
6. Toll Fees
Since most people use U-Haul trucks to move—sometimes across great distances—one expense that they may not consider is toll fees.
U-Haul does not pay toll fees for you.
Instead, when you pass through a toll, you’ll either pay it directly, or the bill will be sent to U-Haul.
If this occurs, U-Haul will add the toll fee to your final bill.
Essentially, you’ll be responsible for paying all toll fees that you collect.
U-Haul doesn’t pay them.
This makes renting from U-Haul expensive because it’s just another fee that you need to pay while using their service.
The good news is that if you know your way around the area or have a good GPS, then you can usually avoid paying toll fees by not driving on toll roads.
That might make your drive a bit more difficult or last longer since it may not be the most direct path, but it can help you avoid tolls.
That said, the extra mileage or fuel costs you add to your total might end up costing you more than the tolls.
As such, it’s worth planning your route to ensure you’re taking one that will save you the most money.
U-Haul is expensive because it doesn’t cover your toll fees.
7. Extra Fees
Besides paying external fees like tolls, you’ll also have an assortment of different fees to pay to U-Haul.
One such fee is their environmental fee.
U-Haul charges an environmental fee to help combat carbon emissions.
Since their business is all about driving, they’re a contributor to pollution.
In an effort to do their part in reducing pollution, they charge an environmental fee.
They use the funds of that fee to research and develop new ways of making their trucks and operations more eco-friendly.
That usually means investing in new technology that helps them cut down on carbon emissions.
They also use it to sponsor energy-saving and water-saving projects.
While the intentions behind the fee are good, it does make renting from them a bit more expensive.
Not only do you have the standard rental fee, but you’ll have fees like the environmental fee added on top of it.
Depending on how many fees apply, you could end up with a very expensive rental.
U-Haul is expensive because it charges you extra fees on top of your rental fee.
8. Self-Storage Services
While renting from U-Haul can be quite expensive, it’s even more expensive when you add on extra services.
One of the services that people often include is self-storage services.
U-Haul typically has storage units that you can rent to permanently or temporarily store your items.
It’s helpful when you need to move out of a place and aren’t quite ready to move your things into your next place of residence.
The problem with using their self-storage services is that it makes using U-Haul even more expensive.
You have to pay them monthly for the unit, and that rate differs based on the size of the unit.
Add your truck rental fee to the mix, and you have a very expensive bill.
U-Haul is expensive because of added services like self-storage.
9. Damage Fees
Though you may be a well-intentioned and safe driver, there may come a time when you accidentally damage the U-Haul truck or trailer.
A tree branch might fall on the windshield.
Someone might run into the truck when they are moving furniture.
Car accidents are common.
Whatever the reason, your rental could become damaged.
In most cases, the renter must pay for those damages.
The exception is those who pay for some sort of protection plan through U-Haul.
If you pay for a protection plan, then your rental price is going to be higher.
However, it also means that if you damage the truck, you won’t have to pay what could be an even higher price to fix it.
U-Haul is expensive when you pay for protection services to avoid paying for damages.
10. High Demand
A final reason why U-Haul is expensive is that its services are often in high demand.
Even though the moving season is when U-Haul is in most demand, it’s also in relatively high demand throughout the year, too.
People are always moving or hauling things around.
As such, you often have to compete with other people to get your hands on a specific truck or trailer.
When the competition is fierce, U-Haul is able to charge high prices.
U-Haul is expensive because its trucks and trailers are often in high demand.