The Best Cheap Moving Companies

JK Moving Services is our top pick thanks to its fully customizable offerings.

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Uprooting your life from one place to another is stressful enough without worrying about the cost of getting your belongings to your new home. Whether your move is local, long distance, or international, the task doesn’t have to break the bank. The best cheap moving companies provide affordable services without sacrificing quality, bring you peace of mind, and help you save money in the process.

Any low-cost moving company will offer a cheap rate, but how do you actually choose the perfect option for you? The best cheap moving companies will provide fair and reliable quotes, have professional and committed workforces that treat your belongings with respect, and provide dedicated customer service teams ready to answer any questions. These companies also offer valuation coverage for your belongings and have responsive claims departments, should you need to use them. Before booking with any of these companies, however, make sure to get several estimates to compare offers and services.

Best Cheap Moving Companies of 2023

Best Overall : JK Moving Services


JK Moving Services

JK Moving Services

Key Specs
  • Nationwide Availability: 50 states
  • Moving Options: Local, long distance, and international
  • Type of Quote: Non-binding
Pros & Cons
Pros
  • Fully customizable service

  • Financing available

  • Shipment tracking available

  • 24/7 customer service

Cons
  • Local moving only available in Maryland, Virginia, and D.C.

  • Deposit required

Why We Chose It

JK Moving Services offers fully customizable solutions to fit your needs and budget for local, long-distance, and international moves. You can request a full-service move, which includes packing of your belongings and help disassembling and assembling furniture, or you can opt to do most of the packing yourself and leave only the most fragile items to the movers. Whatever you choose, the company has you covered with 24/7 customer support, GPS shipment tracking, and price matching estimates. Additionally, the company can connect you to third-party provider Enhancify to secure financing for your move.

Founded more than 40 years ago, JK stands out from its competitors thanks to its courteous and efficient service. You can request a quote via text, email, or phone. While the process can be a little lengthy, the purpose is to provide you with the most accurate estimate possible. Securing your moving date requires an initial deposit, and you’re expected to pay the rest of your bill before delivery. The downsides to JK are that it doesn’t offer local moves outside of Maryland, Virginia, and D.C., and it doesn’t offer vehicle relocation services, although it can connect you to a third-party provider.

Best Long-Distance : Allied Van Lines


Key Specs
  • Nationwide Availability: 50 states
  • Moving Options: Local, long distance, and international
  • Type of Quote: Binding
Pros & Cons
Pros
  • Instant estimate available online

  • No initial deposit required

  • Can track your belongings during the move

Cons
  • Interstate moves require payment before delivery

  • Must note damaged/missing items before the crew leaves

Why We Chose It

When you have to move from coast to coast or any other long distance in the U.S., you can count on Allied Van Lines to provide you with an instant, fair, and transparent quote. Its online quote process is quick and painless and offers you a rough estimate of what you can expect to pay. You still have to speak to a representative to get a binding quote, but the good news is that you don’t need to pay a deposit to book Allied’s services. However, do keep in mind that interstate moves require payment before the driver can begin delivery.

Allied lets you pick how much involvement you want from your movers: full service, to help you pack all your belongings; partial service, to help you pack only fragile or special items; or none at all, in which case your movers will only help you load and unload your possessions. You can keep watch over your property thanks to the company’s GPS tracking service, and should you require it, Allied offers up to 90 days of in-transit storage to keep your stuff secure until you can take possession of your new home.

Best Short-Distance : American Van Lines


American Van Lines

American Van Lines

Key Specs
  • Nationwide Availability: 48 contiguous states
  • Moving Options: Local and long distance
  • Type of Quote: Binding
Pros & Cons
Pros
  • Full-, partial-, and self-service moves

  • Shipment tracking

  • Handling and packing services for antique and specialty items

Cons
  • Deposit required

  • Final bill may be higher than binding quote

Why We Chose It

Affordability and versatility describe American Van Lines’ moving services, which are available across the 48 contiguous U.S. states. You can opt for a full-service move and have the company’s staff take care of packing for you, do all the packing yourself and see the savings reflected in your binding estimate, or go with something in between and have the movers help you pack just your most prized possessions. For your peace of mind, antique and special items such as pianos or wine collections can also be professionally packed at an added cost.

Like many of its competitors, American Van Lines will only give you an estimate after you speak to one of its representatives on the phone. You also need to pay a deposit to secure your moving date, but you can negotiate the percentage with the sales agent. Be mindful that your binding estimate may include language in the contract that allows the company to charge you more money for transporting goods that aren’t listed in the initial estimate. To avoid this, be very specific when doing your inventory, read the fine print, and ask your sales agent all the questions you have about the services before booking.

Best Online Tools : North American Van Lines


North American Van Lines

North American Van Lines

Key Specs
  • Nationwide Availability: 50 states
  • Moving Options: Local, long distance, and international
  • Type of Quote: Binding and non-binding
Pros & Cons
Pros
  • 24/7 customer service

  • Virtual home assessments

  • Shipment tracking available

  • Online packing calculator

Cons
  • Damaged/missing items must be noted at time of delivery

  • Deposit required

Why We Chose It

North American Van Lines has been helping customers in the U.S. move their furniture and valuables across the country since 1933 and has been providing international moves since 1952. With expertise spanning nearly a century, the company is at the forefront of moving services, providing 24/7 customer support, virtual home assessments, and shipment tracking. Its drivers are also trained using the latest technology in interactive driving simulations to help them learn the best way to do their job safely and efficiently regardless of weather and road conditions.

Like with many other moving companies, you have to speak to a sales agent to receive a quote. You can input your information on the company’s website and someone will reach out to you, or you can call them directly. Afterward, you’ll have to schedule an in-home or virtual assessment so the agent can provide you with an accurate estimate. Be aware that you’ll be asked to pay a deposit when booking the services, but you can negotiate the percentage with your sales agent. North American also offers an online packing calculator to help you assess the amount of packing supplies you’ll need.

Best for Small Loads : PODS


Pods Moving logo

Pods Moving

Key Specs
  • Nationwide Availability: 44 states and Washington, D.C.
  • Moving Options: Local and long distance
  • Type of Quote: Non-binding
Pros & Cons
Pros
  • Doesn’t require deposit

  • Full refund for cancellations up to 24 hours before container arrives

  • Billed by number of containers, not weight

  • Three container sizes: 8 ft, 12 ft, 16 ft

Cons
  • Not available in AK, MT, ND, VT, WV, WY

  • Doesn’t offer full-service moves

  • Must call for a quote

Why We Chose It

As one of the most flexible moving companies in this roundup, PODS is the best option for people who have small loads and are looking to move in the most affordable way possible. Its three container sizes (8 ft., 12 ft., 16 ft.) are big enough to store all the belongings in a studio, one-bedroom apartment, or two-bedroom apartment, respectively. A great feature of PODS is that the company charges per container, meaning you don’t have to worry about going over an estimated weight limit. Plus, you can get a full refund if you cancel 24 hours before the container arrives at your residence.

To get a quote, you have to speak to an agent about your needs and destination. You can secure a date without paying a deposit, but the company does require a credit card, which it will charge seven days before your moving date for long-distance moves or the day before for local moves. One reason PODS is cheaper than other companies is that it doesn’t offer full-service moves. It can connect you with third-party providers if you require assistance with packing, loading, and unloading your belongings, however. Be mindful that PODS is only currently available in 44 states and Washington, D.C.

Best for International Moves : International Van Lines


international van lines logo

international van lines

Key Specs
  • Nationwide Availability: 50 states
  • Moving Options: Local, long distance, and international
  • Type of Quote: Binding and non-binding
Pros & Cons
Pros
  • Offers door-to-door service for international moves

  • Provides vehicle relocation services

  • Shipment tracking available

  • Virtual home assessment

Cons
  • Local moves only available within Florida

  • Deposit is nonrefundable for international moves

Why We Chose It

As its name suggests, International Van Lines specializes in international moves and is authorized to work logistics in 150 countries. It can perform door-to-door service, which entails collecting and transporting your belongings in the U.S., moving them to your new country via plane or ship, taking care of all customs requirements, and delivering your stuff to your new home. As a bonus, you can keep track of the shipment’s progress through the company’s website.

Of course, door-to-door service is a premium feature, so you can also request a port-to-door, door-to-port, or port-to-port service depending on your budget and preferences. Keep in mind that the company’s agents are willing to work with your budget and may be able to offer discounts, special pricing, or price matching if you ask. If you’re interested in domestic long-distance moving prices, the company offers a moving quote calculator on its website that can give you a rough estimate. To get a binding quote from International, you need to call and speak to an agent. A deposit is required to book its services; unfortunately, this is nonrefundable for international moves. The company does provide limited local moving services but only within Florida.

Best for Vehicle Transportation : Atlas Van Lines


Key Specs
  • Nationwide Availability: 50 states
  • Moving Options: Local, long distance, and international
  • Type of Quote: Binding and non-binding
Pros & Cons
Pros
  • Offers virtual home assessment

  • Discounts and free full valuation coverage for AAA members

  • Shipment tracking

  • Customer portal helps streamline entire move

Cons
  • Must speak to a representative to get a quote

  • Damaged/missing items must be noted at time of delivery

Why We Chose It

Founded in 1948, Atlas Van Lines has a surfeit of experience helping families, businesses, and individuals transport their belongings across the nation. This trustworthy company can help you with local, long-distance, and international relocations, as well as the transportation of vehicles. It not only moves cars and trucks securely, but it can also help you transport campers, snowmobiles, motorcycles, antique and collectible automobiles, and other types of vehicles.

Among Atlas’ many advantages is the fact that it offers discounts and free full valuation coverage to AAA members. Although you have to call the company to get a quote, you don’t need to pay a deposit to book its services, and you can opt for a virtual home assessment instead of an in-person visit. An online customer portal lets you keep track of where your shipment is located at all times and provides other details related to your move, so you have all the info you need in a single place.

Best for Students : U-Pack


U-Pack logo

U-Pack

Key Specs
  • Nationwide Availability: 50 states
  • Moving Options: Local, long distance, and international to Puerto Rico and some Canadian provinces
  • Type of Quote: Non-binding
Pros & Cons
Pros
  • No deposit required

  • Special pricing for students

  • Online quotes available

Cons
  • Must load/unload belongings within three business days

Why We Chose It

Students get a special deal when booking services with U-Pack. You can choose between booking space in a commercial trailer truck, the cheapest option it offers, or containers known as ReloCubes, which are a bit pricier. Answering a few simple questions online will get you a non-binding quote, and you can book U-Pack’s services directly on the website without ever talking to anyone. Additionally, you don’t have to put down a deposit or make any payments until the trailer or ReloCube is on its way to you.

U-Pack’s main drawback is that it doesn’t provide loading, unloading, or packing services itself, but if you want to hire labor, you can book a third-party provider on U-Pack’s website. Also, unlike other container moving companies, U-Pack only provides three business days to load or unload your belongings. Still, its flexible pricing and professional drivers make this company a good option for people looking to save on their move.

Best Self-Service : 1-800-Pack-Rat


1-800-Pack-Rat logo

1-800-Pack-Rat

Key Specs
  • Nationwide Availability: 30 states and Washington, D.C.
  • Moving Options: Local and long distance
  • Type of Quote: Binding
Pros & Cons
Pros
  • Three container sizes: 8 ft., 12 ft., 16 ft.

  • Get container for a full month to pack

  • Quotes include taxes

  • No deposit required for local moves

Cons
  • Not available nationwide

  • Must call to get a quote

  • Containers are leased on a monthly basis

Why We Chose It

Even when you’re prepared to tackle all the tasks involved with a move yourself, you may want to consider a partner you can trust to safely transport your possessions. With 1-800-Pack-Rat, you get affordable pricing and the benefit of not having to drive a big, bulky vehicle across however many miles you need to go. Plus, the company’s containers are placed at ground level for easy loading and unloading, unlike truck rentals.

The containers, available in three different sizes from 8 to 16 feet, are leased on a monthly basis. This is good if you want to load or unload your belongings at your own pace but can quickly turn into a disadvantage if you keep them just a couple of days longer, as you’d then have to pay for an extra month. Still, the company promises to put customer satisfaction at the forefront, so you can always call customer service and make the proper arrangements to fit your situation.

Like other moving companies, you need to speak to a sales agent to get a quote. However, you may want to go through the online quote form first, given that 1-800-Pack-Rat is not yet available nationwide. On the bright side, if you’re booking a local move, you don’t need to pay a deposit to secure your moving date.

Final Verdict

Moving can be very stressful, and combing through all the moving providers available can feel overwhelming. That’s why JK Moving Services is our top pick. It reduces stress by handling everything from financing and doing an inventory of your belongings to packing, loading, unloading, and unpacking everything in your new place. Its outstanding expertise, 24/7 customer service, GPS tracking, and great pricing practices, including price matching, make it stand out from its competitors and provide a smooth, worry-free moving experience.

Compare the Best Cheap Moving Companies

Company Nationwide Availability Packing & Loading Options Vehicle Relocation? Tracking Option? Type of Quote
JK Moving Services Best Overall 50 states Full service, partial service, self service Yes Yes Non-binding
Allied Van Lines Best Long-Distance 50 states Full service, partial service, self service Yes Yes Binding
American Van Lines Best Short-Distance 48 contiguous states Full service, partial service Yes Yes Binding
North American Van Lines Best Online Tools 50 states Full service, partial service, self service Yes Yes Binding, non-binding
PODS Best for Small Loads 44 states and Washington, D.C. Partial service, self service Yes No Non-binding
International Van Lines Best for International Moves 50 states Full service, partial service Yes Yes Binding, non-binding
Atlas Van Lines Best for Vehicle Transportation 50 states Full service, partial service, self service Yes Yes Binding, non-binding
U-Pack Best for Students 50 states Self service Only motorcycles and ATVs Yes Non-binding
1-800-Pack-Rat Best Self-Service 30 states and Washington, D.C. Self service; full and partial service through a third party Yes Yes Binding

Factors That Affect the Cost of a Move

Whether you’re going with a traditional full-service mover or a modern container-only provider, there are multiple factors that can impact the cost of your move. These include but aren’t limited to: load size, distance, services procured, the number of movers you require, the day of the week you’re moving, the valuation coverage purchased, and whether your estimate is binding or non-binding. When you speak to the moving company’s sales agent, be explicit about your needs and remember to ask about any available promotions or discounts.

Some companies charge by weight, which means they won’t care about how many boxes you put in the trucks as long as the weight falls in line with your estimate. In other cases, the companies charge by cubic feet, meaning the more space you require, the more you’ll pay. In any case, it’s not uncommon for moving companies to require an exhaustive list of all the items to be transported, including those considered high-value or specialty items, such as pianos. Any changes to the number of items you’re transporting between your initial quote and moving day may cause the moving company to increase its estimate, even if you received a binding quote.

Before booking any services, make sure you clearly understand the offer made by the sales agent. Generally, binding quotes provide an established fee to be paid for services rendered, even if the weight or amount of items quoted differs from the final tally. However, some contracts include a clause stating that the binding quote is subject to change if anything else is added to the move, which means it’s not truly a binding quote. Non-binding quotes generally bill you per weight, so you have to request weight tickets before and after the trucks are loaded to understand what your exact bill will be. In this case, if the weight is lower than the amount quoted you’ll receive a reduced bill.

Ways to Reduce Moving Costs

There are several things you can do to reduce your moving costs, including being flexible with your moving dates and doing some of the work yourself. However, beware that some of these actions may forfeit your right to file a missing or damaged items claim later.

  • Packing: The easiest way to reduce your moving bill is to buy all supplies and pack all your belongings yourself. However, be mindful that the valuation coverage offered by moving companies may not apply to missing or damaged items that were packed by the owner.
  • Load size: Generally, the fewer things you have to transport, the cheaper the price. Take a look at your belongings and decide which things are better off donated or gifted than in your new home.
  • Services contracted: The fewer services you require, the cheaper your moving bill. Instead of asking the movers to assemble and disassemble your furniture, you may save a few bucks by doing the task yourself. The same goes for making crates for special or fragile items, or putting your things outside to save yourself a stairs or elevator fee, if it applies.
  • Flexibility: How much flexibility do you have in your move? Generally, moving on a weekday will be considerably cheaper than moving on a weekend. Similarly, moving during the off-season (between the months of September and April) is less pricey than moving during the peak summer season.
  • Get a tax deduction: You can deduct your moving expenses from your tax bill when you meet three criteria: your relocation is job-related, you moved more than 50 miles, and you worked full time at least 39 weeks out of the first 12 months in your new residence. Speak to your accountant to learn more about this.
  • Price matching: Get several quotes from reputable moving companies you would consider using. Use those estimates to get your favorite company to price-match an offer and get the best deal.

Frequently Asked Questions

What Is the Most Inexpensive Way to Move?

The best way to save money is to do most of the work yourself. Procuring your own packing supplies, packing all of your belongings, disassembling furniture, making crates for fragile components, and taking care of the loading and unloading of your belongings can significantly reduce your moving costs. If you do all this, you only need to pay for a company like PODS or U-Pack to transport your belongings from point A to point B, which is much cheaper than a full-service move. Be mindful, however, that the valuation coverage provided by most moving companies won’t apply to items you packed, so you may want to consider using third-party insurance to protect your belongings.

What Is the Cheapest Day to Hire Movers?

Weekdays are always going to be less expensive than weekends. However, you also need to take into account that certain seasons are busier than others. Moving between the months of September and April, which is considered the off-season, will likely be cheaper than moving during the summer months.

What Is a Reasonable Price for a Local Move?

The price you pay will vary, depending on the size of your move, the distance you’re traveling, the services you request, the number of movers you require, and the city where the move is taking place. Depending on your geographical area, you can expect to pay anywhere between $50 to over $100 per hour per mover. If you only require loading, unloading, and transportation, a reasonable price for a local move could be anywhere between $500 and $2,500, depending on the factors listed above. It’s a good idea to get at least three quotes from different companies so you can get the best price for your budget.

Do You Pay Movers Before or After the Move?

It depends on the company. Many companies require that you pay an initial deposit, which may be anywhere from 10% to 50% of your quote. However, other companies may not require a deposit and will only request payment a couple of days before your scheduled pickup or before your scheduled delivery. In most cases, you can sort out your payment preferences by speaking to a company agent before booking any services.

Can You Negotiate Moving Prices?

Absolutely! In many cases, the sales agents are willing to work within your budget to secure the sale, and you can ask them directly about discounts or special offers they can extend to you. Having some flexibility in your dates may yield good results as well. Lots of companies also offer price matching, so make sure to get a few quotes for the same number of items and services and bring the best price to your preferred company to see if they can beat it.

How Much Do You Tip Movers?

This is entirely up to you. Some people tip anywhere from 5% to 20% of the total moving bill; others tip anywhere from $5 to $20 per hour per mover. As a general rule, you should evaluate the movers’ performance, timeliness, and how they treated you and your belongings, while also taking into account any outstanding factors like the climate (intense heat or snowy conditions) when deciding how much to tip. Remember, tipping is not mandatory, and you should not feel obligated to tip if your belongings are damaged or treated poorly.

Is PODS Cheaper Than a Moving Company?

Yes, but this is because PODS and other similar companies only provide a container and transportation. Most moving companies will include services like loading and unloading, which requires paying movers. You’re the only one who can determine if the savings are worth the work or if you’d rather pay a little extra to have someone else do it for you.

How Far in Advance Should I Book Movers?

You have a greater chance of securing the best deal with advance notice. It’s recommended you start the quoting process for international moves at least three months beforehand. For local and long-distance moves, you may want to start the booking process at least two months in advance. In the off-season, you may be able to book services within a week or two of your moving date. However, if your dates fall within the busy summer season, try to book moving services as far in advance as possible.

Should I Pay Extra for Movers’ Insurance?

It’s always a good idea to protect your belongings against unforeseen circumstances during a move. However, it’s vital to understand that, for the most part, moving companies don’t sell insurance; they sell valuation coverage designed to limit their liability. Valuation coverage has very specific clauses in the fine print and does not guarantee that the carrier will accept liability. Basic valuation coverage is free, but it pays 60 cents per pound in the event of missing or damaged items, so if your two-pound $50 vase gets broken during transit, you’re only entitled to receive $1.20. On the other hand, for an added cost, moving companies may offer full valuation or replacement coverage, which strives to either replace the damaged goods with similar items, offers to repair them to their pre-move condition, or pays you their full market value. Be advised that for any of these claims to go through, you must note every damaged and missing item in your delivery paperwork the day you receive your items.

Methodology 

To find the cheapest moving companies, our research team reviewed 19 nationwide services, collecting a total of 589 data points. Ratings were created by assigning weights to each of the 31 moving criteria we considered.

Our top picks received high scores in heavily weighted areas such as customer experience (23 percent), pricing structure (20 percent), location coverage (20 percent), and moving services (20 percent).

The information presented here was verified by at least two data collectors through customer service calls. For more details on our research process and scoring system, head to our complete moving methodology page.

Close up of a young family unpacking their things after moving in their new home

Marko Geber / Getty Images

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