June 24, 2012

Frugal Options for Renting a Truck

I don't own a truck.   I don't need to haul stuff enough to warrant the purchase of a truck.   Usually I beg a favor from a friend of mine when I need to haul something or I just rent a truck.   I honestly prefer not to pester my friend cause I think it might be annoying for him to have to constantly haul stuff for people.   If I do ask him then I always offer to buy him dinner or something like that to make it fair.    The better option for me is to rent a truck.

You can rent a truck at various places.   I once rented a truck from Home Depot in order to haul a ladder home.   That was pretty easy and didn't cost much.   I've also rented a truck (actually a van) from Uhaul to haul some junk to the dump.   I'm not thrilled with the experience with Uhaul in general but it got the job done.     Some rental car companies also rent out trucks.   Not all rental car agencies have trucks in their fleet but at least Enterprise does in my area.    One more option for truck rental is Zipcar.   They seem to now have trucks in their fleets.

Hourly or Daily rates
Sometimes I only need a truck for maybe an hour or less. That was the case when I hauled the ladder I bought at Home Depot.    The Uhaul we needed for several hours so renting it for a day was the better option. 

Varying Pricing
I compared prices for the 4 different options for either 1 hour or 1 day rentals. 

daily Hourly miles
Uhaul* $19.99 n/a $0.59
Enterprise $82.46 n/a $0
Zipcar* $60-100 $10-14 $0
HomeDepot* $69 $19 $0

*The pricing here may or may not include all charges like taxes or insurance.  The Enterprise rental charge seemed to include everything but I'm not sure on the others.

Zipcar prices for truck rentals actually vary from city to city but seem to be in the $10-14 range, but Ionly checked a few cities.

Quickly looking at that table above it seems to me that Zipcar would be the cheapest way to go for 1 hour and Uhaul would be least expensive for a 1 day rental.    However  theres a couple things to consider.   The Zipcar rental is only most practical if you're already a member and/or if you would rent a truck fairly frequently.   They have a $60 annual membership fee that you'd have to take into account.   So if you only rent a truck 1-2 times a year then Zipcar would not be very practical.   For the Uhaul rental you'll notice they are the only one that has an extra charge per mile driven.   The fairly steep 59¢ rate will add up quickly if your truck related errand requires much driving.   If I drove to our rental on the other side of town that would be a 60 mile round trip and cost me an extra $35.40.

Depending on what kind of trips you need to make with a rental truck any one of the four companies could potentially be the best choice.

If you make this kind of trip : then this company might be best...

Frequent short trips : Zipcar
Occasional short trips : Homedepot
Occasional time consuming trips : Uhaul
Occasional longer distance trips : Enterprise
Frequent long distance trips : Zipcar

Of course the availability and rates vary from city to city so you'll want to check the details where you live.

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