The Best Moving Container Companies for Partial- and Self-Service Moves

An added bonus: Most of these containers double as storage.

We independently research, test, review, and recommend the best products—learn more about our process. If you buy something through our links, we may earn a commission.

best moving container companies

JodiJacobson / Getty Images

Moving can be a tremendously frustrating and exhausting undertaking, from coordinating a moving schedule to packing and getting ready for the move itself. Designed to take some of the hassle out of the moving process, moving containers could offer a more hands-off approach to your next move. Moving and storage container companies can also help alleviate at least some of this hassle and any sense of rush by replacing a moving truck with a large moving box. All you need to do is schedule the container drop-off and pickup at your convenience. The provided container (or containers) can be loaded, moved by machinery onto a carrier truck, and transported (or stored) to a designated location. This eliminates the need to drive your own moving truck or wait for a traditional moving company to deliver your items. 

The best moving container companies are cost-effective and provide free online quotes. Many companies provide nationwide service with options for local, long-distance, and even international moves. While using moving containers is generally a self-service move, there are companies that additionally offer full-service assistance. Some also offer extra benefits such as insurance or temperature-controlled storage. If you're planning on using a container rather than a moving service for your move, see our picks for the best moving container companies.

Best Moving Container Companies of 2023

Best Overall: PODS

Pods Moving logo

Pods Moving

Key Specs

  • Nationwide Availability: 44 states
  • Moving Options: Local, long distance, and international
  • Free Online Quote? Yes

Pros & Cons

  • Self-service or full-service option

  • Three container sizes

  • Contactless container pickup and delivery

  • Flexible storage choices

  • Positive reviews

  • Pricing can be confusing

  • No locations in Alaska, Montana, North Dakota, Vermont, West Virginia, or Wyoming

Why It Made the List

PODS ranks best overall thanks to its positive, long-standing reputation and comprehensive offerings. With over 245 storage center locations, PODS has over 6 million moves on its records. Not only does the company have the experience, but they have the extras too, with an array of add-on services like car shipping, full-service moving assistance, move-in services, and more. 

PODS containers come in three sizes: 8 feet, 12 feet, and 16 feet in length. The smallest container is suitable for moving a room or a studio, and the largest is best for two-bedroom homes of up to 1,200 square feet. PODS containers are made of steel frames that are water and impact resistant to ensure everything inside stays safe and dry. Your belongings will also stay put in the container during the move and transportation, thanks to the PODZILLA hydraulic level-lift system that keeps everything leveled. Pickup and delivery are both contactless, minimizing inconvenience for customers. 

Though pricing may be a bit confusing, PODS will provide you with a free online quote and moving services in 44 states. But note that PODS does not provide services in Alaska, Montana, North Dakota, Vermont, West Virginia, and Wyoming. If you're making an international move, the company does service Canada, Australia, and the United Kingdom. While PODS does support moves between the United States and Canada, it only supports moves within the United Kingdom and within Australia. In other words, you cannot use its services to move from the U.S. to the U.K. or Australia, and vice versa.

Most Durable: 1-800-Pack-Rat

1-800-Pack-Rat logo


Key Specs

  • Nationwide Availability: 30 states
  • Moving Options: Local and long distance
  • Free Online Quote? Yes 

Pros & Cons

  • All-steel containers

  • Offers option to hire professional labor

  • Three container sizes

  • Over 20 years of experience

  • Only serves 30 states

  • Customer reviews aren't as positive as other options

Why It Made the List

If you're in the market for a strong moving container, 1-800-Pack-Rat may be worth consideration. We ranked the company's containers as the strongest because the weatherproof, all-steel containers should be more than up to the task of protecting your belongings during a move. The all-steel build not only provides a sturdy structure but also keeps away moisture to prevent any mold and mildew. Plus, the containers feature a barn-style door, which is sturdier than the usual roll-up doors you see in moving containers and even trucks. 

Though it only provides service to 30 states and customer satisfaction seems to be a bit lower than other options despite the company's mission for excellence, 1-800-Pack-Rat remains an excellent choice. It offers free online quotes and the option to hire professional labor to help with loading and unloading the container. With three container size options and an array of optional services, including car shipment and professional packing and moving assistance, 1-800-Pack-Rat remains likely to offer the tools you'll need at a good value. And if you are not completely satisfied with your experience, 1-800-Pack-Rat will make it right through its responsive customer service.

Best for Insurance: U-Pack

U-Pack logo


Key Specs

  • Nationwide Availability: 50 states
  • Moving Options: Long distance and international
  • Free Online Quote? Yes 

Pros & Cons

  • High average customer reviews

  • Insurance included in quote

  • Serves all 50 states, Canada, and Puerto Rico

  • High prices

  • Doesn't accomodate local moves

  • Cannot store container at home

Why It Made the List 

U-Pack is a Better Business Bureau accredited company offering unique options when it comes to moving its containers, which are called ReloCubes. While U-Pack doesn't offer much in terms of extra perks or services, its liability policy is hard to beat, and it has excellent customer reviews. The company includes insurance of $3 per pound for up to 60,000 pounds per trailer load and 7,500 per ReloCube. You can also opt to increase the insurance amount for additional protection if you're transporting particularly expensive items. 

Customers can use as many or as few containers as they need when planning a move. Any unused ReloCubes can be returned. In addition to ReloCubes, U-Pack offers freight trailers where you only pay for the space you require within the freight trailer itself. 

While U-Pack is on the higher side in terms of costs, it guarantees that you will only be paying for the space you use measured by linear foot. If you are unsure of how many containers you'll require, a space estimator is provided on the company's website for your convenience. Both ReloCubes and trailers are transported by trained drivers, so you don't have to lift a finger or struggle to drive an unfamiliar vehicle. U-Pack also supports moves to areas of Canada and Puerto Rico.

Most Versatile: U-Haul

U-Haul logo


Key Specs

  • Nationwide Availability: 50 states
  • Moving Options: Local, long distance, and international
  • Free Online Quote? Yes

Pros & Cons

  • Offers international moves

  • Online estimator tool for the number of boxes needed

  • Also has moving options other than containers

  • Only one container size

  • Insurance not automatically included

Why It Made the List 

Based in Phoenix, Arizona, U-Haul has been in business since 1945 and specializes in do-it-yourself moving equipment. The company provides a variety of vehicles and supplies to assist you with the moving process from start to finish and operates from over 21,000 locations. These locations are often franchises; however, and the quality of service is likely to vary from location to location.

U-Haul's moving container is called a U-Box, which can fit about a large room of items. While the moving container only comes in one size, you can order multiple containers to ensure no item is left behind. But if you don't end up using a container, U-Haul won't charge you for it.  U-Haul makes it quick and easy to receive a quote online and will help guide you through the process of determining how many boxes your move will require using its estimator tool

You can choose to ship your container(s) to your destination or opt to tow one yourself, and boxes can be used for longer-term storage either at your home or at a storage facility. If needed, the company also provides moving assistance where professional movers will load your boxes for you. U-Haul is one of the three companies on this list that offers international shipping and of the three, remains the most flexible when it comes to accepted destination countries.

In addition to moving containers, U-Haul also carries a large assortment of trailers, trucks, supplies, and a variety of moving accessories including hitches and additional storage options that cater to your personal moving needs. If you're DIY-ready or are looking to move internationally, U-Haul likely has you covered. You can count on the company to be your one-stop shop for almost all of your moving and storage needs, but the quality of each service may vary.

Best for Budget: Zippy Shell

Zippy Shell logo

Key Specs

  • Nationwide Availability: 32 states
  • Moving Options: Local and long distance
  • Free Online Quote? Yes

Pros & Cons

  • Affordable prices

  • Offers temperature-controlled storage

  • Provides referrals for moving assistance

  • Breathable weatherproof containers

  • Only available in 32 states

  • Only includes two to three free days to pack shell

Why It Made the List 

Zippy Shell may be the best choice for you if you are looking for a lower-cost option, plan to be packed and ready to go within a few days, and want your belongings in the best climate-controlled environment possible. Founded in 2010, Zippy Shell merged with 1-800-Pack-Rat in 2018 and offers free online quotes and prices that are often hard to beat.

Zippy Shell offers 10-foot and 15-foot container sizes for moving (16-foot on-site boxes are also available strictly for storage). The moving containers are unique in that they are delivered on a trailer with a hitch rather than placed directly on your property by heavy machinery, meaning they can legally be parked in many parking spots. It's a great option for those living in apartments or condos because the Zippy shell can be parked on the street or in a building's lot where there isn't a designated area to load and unload your belongings. The company also advertises that its shells are weatherproof but still breathable, protecting your belongings from the elements as well as mold and mildew. Storage facilities are temperature-controlled, further decreasing the risk of environmental damage to your belongings.

While it is the lowest-cost option we found, Zippy Shell only provides up to three days for you to pack your container before transporting it to a storage facility or your destination. It also offers outside referrals for moving and unpacking assistance if you'd prefer to have some help with the heavy lifting. The website features resources that provide everything from moving tips to interior design ideas.

Best for College Students: SmartBox

SmartBox logo


Key Specs

  • Nationwide Availability: 23 states
  • Moving Options: Local and long distance
  • Free Online Quote? Yes 

Pros & Cons

  • Price match guarantee

  • Temperature-controlled storage

  • No fuel surcharges

  • Only available in 23 states

  • One container size

Why It Made the List 

SmartBox offers several included-with-the-price perks with a flexible and convenient moving option to take the stress out of the entire process. It's a great option for college students, too, as they provide discounts to make dorm moves a bit more affordable. 

SmartBox will work with you during the reservation process to create a moving plan that works best for you and your family. You can also get up to 30 days of free storage, which can allow for a less hectic moving experience. And with a price match guarantee, you can be sure you won't be overpaying for its services. All you pay for is the space you need—no hidden fees or fuel surcharges. 

If you're storing your belongings with SmartBox, the company will keep them in a temperature-controlled facility to protect them from environmental damage. Though SmartBox only provides service in 23 states (the lowest number among the companies on this list), it offers a full list of included cities on its website for your convenience and full transparency upfront. The positive customer endorsements front and center on every page of the company website attest to the quality and convenience of using a moving container through SmartBox.

Final Verdict

Overall, the best moving container company we reviewed is PODS. With coverage in most of the U.S., PODS additionally services international moves to and from Canada and within the U.K. and Australia. While U-Haul was a close contender for the top spot, thanks to its variety of available DIY options and worldwide service, PODS is more specialized in moving containers and offers more flexibility and services like local and long-distance moves with optional full service, on-site and facility storage options, flexible time lines for loading and unloading the moving container, contactless pickup, and delivery with the PODZILLA lift that minimizes jostling of your belongings, car shipping, and more.

Compare the Best Moving Container Companies

Company Nationwide Availability Moving Options Vehicle Relocation? Container Sizes Free Online Quote?
Best Overall
44 states Local, long distance, and international  Yes 8ft, 12ft, 16ft  Yes
Most Durable
30 states Local and long distance Yes 8ft, 12ft, 16ft Yes
Best for Insurance
50 states Long distance and international No 6'3" x 7' x 8'4” Yes
Most Versatile
50 states Local, long distance, and international No 5' x 8' x 7.5' Yes
Zippy Shell
Best for Budget
32 states Local and long distance Yes 10ft, 15ft, 16ft (on-site storage only) Yes
Best for College Students
23 states Local and long distance No 8' x 7' x 5'  Yes

Guide to Choosing the Best Moving Container Company Near You

When selecting a moving container company, it's important to consider various factors to ensure the service is suitable for you, your household, and the timeline of your move. Consider the following when deciding which moving container company to hire:


Costs will vary among services, service packages, and companies but will largely depend on the specifics of your move, including the number of boxes, service area, move distance, and storage time. The price can also be affected by the addition of other services, such as hiring movers, opting for temperature-controlled storage, or purchasing optional insurance. 

Storage Options 

Most moving container companies dictate or request a predetermined number of days in which to move your items into the container. Some offer as few as three days, while others may allow you up to a month to load your container. Moving container companies may additionally allow on-site storage at your home and/or storage at secure facilities. Some of these facilities are also temperature-controlled but check to see if that is included or an additional cost to your move. 

Service Area

Not all companies will deliver to every location, and very few companies will ship containers internationally. Check a company's website to see a comprehensive list of what cities, states, and countries it services. Companies will also have partner companies (often through acquisitions) that service different locations, so check for that as well when researching the best moving container company for you.

Move Distance 

Companies may offer local, long-distance, and/or international moving options. Some may offer only one option, while others may offer all three. Take care to choose a company that specializes in the type of move you require. Of the companies on our list, only U-Haul provides international shipping.

Additional Features 

Full-service moving assistance, car shipping, temperature-controlled storage, and insurance are just a few of the additional features and services that may be offered by moving container companies. Take a look at each company's website for a full description and details of its offerings to make sure that you're receiving what you need for your upcoming move.


Many companies offer student and military discounts on their services, in addition to discounts for memberships in organizations like AAA. It's best to call the moving container company directly to see what promotions they offer.

How Do You Know What Size Moving Container to Get?

The container size you require will be entirely dependent upon the number of items you wish to store/transport. Some companies have containers of varying sizes, while others allow you to order as many containers of uniform size as you need. Usually, the smallest container can fit a studio or dorm room; the bigger the container, the more rooms you can fit. Some company websites have a space estimator tool to help you determine the number of containers you should request. If you are still uncertain, consider choosing a company that lets you request extra containers without charging you for any unused ones. If in doubt, you can call the company's customer service number and speak with a representative for advice on container size. Also keep in mind that containers have a weight limit, so even if all of your items will physically fit into the container, you may require additional containers if your items exceed the weight limit.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • How Much Do Moving Containers Cost?

    The average price will likely be around $3,000 to $5,000 for a single-family home. But the actual price of a moving container will depend on a multitude of factors, including travel distance, size, weight, number of containers, and add-on services.

  • How Do You Get a Quote for a Moving Container?

    All of the companies on our list offer no-cost quotes through their websites. Simply go to the website or call the customer service number, give details about your move, and provide your contact information to receive a quote.

  • What Is the Most Budget-Friendly Moving Container Company?

    All of the companies on our list offer great value for the cost. Of the companies reviewed, Zippy Shell has the lowest average price: around $3,400.

  • What Can You Put in a Portable Moving Container?

    Many personal belongings can be stored in a portable moving container. Furniture, clothing, office supplies, tools—you name it. Anything that's not on the company's list of restricted items can typically be stored and transported in the container, assuming you can find a way to pack it in. Keep in mind that companies build storage containers differently; some are weatherproof and more resistant to mildew than others.

  • What Should You Not Pack in a Moving Container?

    Most companies do not allow motorized vehicles, perishables, living organisms, flammable/combustible materials, explosives, compressed gasses, or hazardous materials. Most companies also do not recommend storing items of high value. Anything that might be dangerous if spilled within the container or at risk of catching on fire is generally not allowed. Perishable items can go bad within the container, which would cause a gross or hazardous mess when the container is opened back up, so these items are also on the list of restrictions. Living creatures are also banned from moving containers, for obvious reasons.

  • Do Moving Containers Have a Weight Limit?

    Yes, most containers have a maximum weight capacity rating, which usually falls between 2,000 and 6,000 pounds. It is also likely a container will have restrictions on how you are able to stack items within it. Consult with the company you choose to determine the maximum weight capacity of its containers.

  • Are Moving Containers Waterproof?

    Different companies offer different containers and not all are truly waterproof. Some are waterproof in and of themselves, while others are only advertised as weather resistant. Companies that do not offer waterproof containers may offer waterproof covers for them if that is a concern for your move. Check with the moving container company to see what it offers, and read the fine print or any terms and conditions to ensure a company stands by its promise of "waterproof" with adequate warranty.

  • How Long Can You Keep a Moving Container?

    The amount of time you can keep a container will vary from company to company. Some companies give you a few days, while others offer up to a month to load or unload your container. Additionally, several companies give you the option to use the container as an ongoing storage solution at your home. Check with your company to see what it offers.

  • How Do You Move a Moving Container?

    Most companies use heavy machinery like a forklift—PODS uses its proprietary PODZILLA machine—to lift and maneuver the container onto a truck. Once the container is loaded onto the truck, the company will transport it either to your new home or a storage facility for you.

  • Can You Store a Moving Container?

    Most companies have their own storage facilities where your container can be stored until you are ready to unpack it, and some will allow you to use their containers for storage at your home. If needed, you can also find temperature-controlled storage to protect your items in all seasons and types of weather. Take a look at what companies offer if you're looking to store your belongings for more than the time it takes you to move.


In order to compile a list of the best moving container companies, our research team made dozens of customer service calls and enlisted the help of data collectors to fill in the blanks for more than 30 criteria points. These included nationwide availability, storage options, valuation coverage offerings, and customer support channels.

Each criteria point was assigned a weight, then grouped into one of six categories:

  • Customer experience (23 percent) 
  • Pricing/price transparency (20 percent)
  • Coverage and types of moves offered (20 percent)
  • Moving services (20 percent)
  • Insurance/protection (10 percent)
  • Reputation (7 percent)

Scores were calculated based on these weights, and companies were ultimately given a rating out of five stars. To ensure that the information presented is accurate, two or more data collectors verified the research. This page will be updated with any changes to the highlighted companies' offerings.

Was this page helpful?
Related Articles