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How do moving companies charge?

November 29th, 2017 - 12:53 PM

How moving companies determine charges

When planning a move, you may be getting quotes from various companies and wondering where the rates come from. How do they calculate the charges? Why are some quotes so much higher than others? Are there hidden fees not included in the cheap rates? The costs associated with each type of move depends on a variety of factors. Full-service moving companies charge differently than DIY companies. Take a look at the initial moving costs and possible add-ons, along with when to expect to be charged during a move and how to pay.

moving company charges

The initial moving costs

Moving companies have unique ways of charging for their services. Knowing how each type of move works and the factors that contribute to the base pricing can help determine if it’s a good value.


With a full-service move you pay for labor (including packing, loading and unloading), and transportation. The cost is typically  based on the weight of your belongings, (which can be a challenge to verify ahead of time). The moving company sends a representative to your home ahead of time to inventory everything — furniture, inside cabinets, storage areas, closets, etc. — to estimate the weight of the shipment. The actual weight is determined and charges assessed after the truck is loaded and weighed at a weigh station (or other truck scales). Because it typically costs more to travel a longer distance, the distance between the old and new homes contributes to the cost of a full service move as well.

Truck rental

Truck rental rates are based on origin and destination, equipment size , and the move date. That means that longer moves, larger equipment and peak moving times normally cost more. Because this is a completely DIY solution, you pick up the equipment, load it, drive it, unload it and return it. And fuel is not included in the price. (more on that later).


As a “you pack, we drive” service, U-Pack is unique. You save money by packing, loading and unloading on your own, but U-Pack handles the driving. While rates are also based on locations and move date, it differs in that you pay based on space  rather than weight. Here’s what that means: you can reserve space inside a moving trailer (measured by linear feet) or a certain number of smaller moving containers.  If you need more trailer space than reserved, simply add your linear foot rate. If you need less, subtract it. Same for the moving containers — if you reserve three but fit everything into two, you only pay for two. It’s convenient and much more predictable.

Possible add-on charges

There’s always a chance for additional costs when it comes to moving. Most aren’t “hidden” but are based on the type of moving company you select and the services and supplies you need. Here are some common add-on charges to be aware of.


Full-service movers could add charges for services considered difficult, including:

  • Long carries. If movers have to carry furniture a long distance from the home to the truck (or vice versa) additional labor fees are assessed. Most companies will set maximum distance and anything beyond that distance incurs extra charges.
  • Stairs carries (flight carries).  If the movers have to bring your belongings up or down a flight of stairs, a charge is added.  This can apply  to anywhere stairs are present, such as a main entrance, multiple-story home or an apartment.
  • Handling special items. If the movers need to handle large, extremely heavy or bulky items (think piano, grandfather clock, hot tub, safe, pool table, etc.) that require special handling and/or packaging, you should expect additional charges.
  • Shuttle services. If you’re moving from a location that can’t accommodate a large moving truck (due to its size, low-hanging limbs or electrical lines, etc.), a smaller vehicle may be needed to transport your items. If this is necessary, additional fees are typically assessed.

Truck Rental

Some of these truck rental charges are optional, but fuel is not.

  • Fuel. This is an extra that every truck rental customer faces. After fueling the truck for the move, it’s also  necessary to return it with the same amount of fuel it had at pickup . If you’re moving long distance, gas costs can add hundreds to the overall costs of a move. This truck rental fuel calculator can help you estimate gas costs for your move.
  • Coverage options.  The cost to add this differs based on the type of coverage you select. Most truck rental companies offer some type of damage waiver, cargo coverage, personal accident insurance, medical coverage and supplemental liability insurance and you have the option of purchasing what you need. And while it’s optional, purchasing additional coverage is recommended if your personal insurance coverage isn’t adequate.
  • Extra miles or days. While some truck rental companies offer unlimited mileage, most include a set number of miles and days to complete your move. Extras can normally be added for an additional fee.
  • Towing equipment.  If you need to tow a vehicle or need more room for belongings, you may be able to add a trailer or tow dolly to your truck rental price. Don’t forget that  pulling a trailer decreases fuel efficiency, so calculate that into your fuel costs as well.


U-Pack base rates include the equipment, transportation, fuel and standard liability coverage. Any extras are optional, including:

  • Help loading and unloading. While U-Pack doesn’t provide moving crews, we’re happy to refer you to packers and loaders on either end of your move. Crews are available to help with just big pieces or with everything — you tell them how many people are needed and for how long.
  • Storage.  If you’re ready to move out, but not quite ready to move back in, you can add storage and store your belongings in the container or trailer you loaded into — no transferring in and out of a storage unit. Storage rates are per 30 days, per container.
  • Guaranteed transit. While U-Pack transit times are some of the fastest in the industry, sometimes you need it there faster (or on a specific day). For an additional charge, you can add U-Pack Guaranteed to have your shipment delivered on the exact day you need it.

Timing of charges

The date payment is also important. With more costs added for things like utility and rental property deposits and extras like paying a babysitter and hotels and eating out on the road, it’s helpful to know the timing of when your debit or credit card will be charged. It helps with budgeting, and you don’t want the surprise of hitting a credit or daily charge limit (contact your bank or credit card company ahead of time to advise of the charges to avoid this).

While it differs by company, most truck rental companies charge a deposit at booking. In some cases, that deposit may include a hold placed on your card for the entire estimated move charges. And, many full-service companies require payment up-front.

With U-Pack, no deposit is required, and you don’t pay for the move until  it’s in transit.

Have questions about how moving companies charge?

If you have questions about moving company charges that we didn’t cover here, leave a comment below. We’re here to help!