NerdWallet’s Top Moving Companies of 2021

These excellent full-service movers and moving container companies can make your next relocation easier. Here's what to know.
Claire TsosieJan 5, 2021
GettyImages-1158769814-v2-top-moving-companies-2020

Many or all of the products featured here are from our partners who compensate us. This may influence which products we write about and where and how the product appears on a page. However, this does not influence our evaluations. Our opinions are our own. Here is a list of our partners and here's how we make money.

A great moving company can make a move much less stressful and time-consuming. Services are expensive, though — even a relatively small relocation can cost thousands — so you want to choose carefully. Here's a list of our top picks.

Full-service movers

Full-service movers handle moves from start to finish, including standard furniture disassembly, loading and unloading and driving to the destination. Often, you can also pay for add-on services, such as professional packing. Some jobs may be handled by different movers within the company's network, not directly by the moving company you booked.

Full-service movers are a good fit for:

  • Someone who wants help with loading, unloading and other aspects of moving.

  • Someone managing a large move.

  • Someone willing to pay more to have someone else manage the logistics of a move.

Our picks for long-distance moves: Mayflower Transit and United Van Lines

  • What Mayflower and United do: Long-distance moves, local moves, international moves, car shipping, loading/unloading, free cancellations up to 24 hours before moving reservation (as long as no work has been completed), instant online quotes for one-bedroom homes, virtual moving walk-throughs.

  • What Mayflower and United don't do: Instant online quotes for moves larger than one bedroom.

Mayflower Transit and United Van Lines — which were both founded over 90 years ago, and are now owned by UniGroup — are our top picks for long-distance movers because of their broad geographic coverage, strong track record, easy-to-use online quote and booking tools, and packages of useful add-on services. Unlike many movers, both companies make it possible to get finalized quotes and book long-distance one-bedroom moves, along with add-on services, entirely online with no in-home or virtual home survey required. (Virtual home surveys of larger homes are required so the quotes can be accurate, according to UniGroup.)

Our pick for local moves: Handled

  • What Handled does: Local moves, one-bedroom or smaller long-distance moves in select markets (fulfilled by Mayflower, not Handled), car shipping, loading/unloading, free cancellations up to 24 hours before standard moving reservations, instant online quotes for local moves of apartments with one or two bedrooms and houses and townhomes with one to four bedrooms.

  • What Handled doesn’t do: Large long-distance moves, international moves.

While most local movers charge hourly rates, Handled offers instant guaranteed flat rates online for standard local moves. The company, which has locations in 37 states, uses an algorithm and details you provide about your move to generate these locked-in prices; no in-home survey is necessary. However, for more complicated local moves, hourly rates apply and an upfront deposit is required. While Handled doesn’t service long-distance moves directly, you can use their website to request quotes for small long-distance moves fulfilled by Mayflower in certain markets.

Our picks for movers that do it all: Allied Van Lines and northAmerican Van Lines

  • What Allied and northAmerican do: Long-distance moves, local moves, international moves, car shipping, loading/unloading, virtual moving walk-throughs, instant online quotes for moves to other states (a follow-up survey is necessary to finalize quotes). Cancellation policies vary by location.

  • What Allied and northAmerican don't do: Instant quotes for local moves and moves within the same state.

Allied Van Lines and northAmerican Van Lines — both owned by Sirva — stand out with a wide range of services. In addition to handling local, long-distance and international moves, they also have helpful add-ons, such as packing, storage, cleaning, appliance installation and furniture assembly. Both companies also offer instant online quotes for moves to other states, which include a ballpark range of what prices to expect. To finalize these quotes, you'll need to arrange an in-home or virtual survey, though.

Our pick for international moves: International Van Lines

  • What IVL does: Long-distance moves, local moves, international moves, car shipping, loading/unloading, refunded deposits up to 48 hours before moving reservation, virtual moving walk-throughs.

  • What IVL doesn't do: Instant online quotes, local moves with fewer than two bedrooms.

International Van Lines is our top pick for international moves in part because of its impressive geographic coverage: It serves over 180 countries. If you’re heading abroad, it gives you the option to move your belongings by ocean freight, which is cheaper, or air freight, which is faster. IVL also offers express shipping options by air freight, so you can receive your items within days rather than waiting a month or longer. Unlike most moving services, however, IVL charges an upfront deposit of roughly 25% of the total cost of your move.

Moving container services

Moving container services deliver large containers to your home, give you time to load them with your belongings, then transport them to your destination. Loading and unloading generally aren't included in the base price, but you can pay extra for those services.

Moving container services are a good fit for:

  • Someone who's confident about loading and unloading their belongings without help.

  • Someone who wants a move that's lower cost than a full-service move, but doesn't want to drive a truck themselves.

  • Someone making a small move without much bulky furniture.

Our pick for long-distance moves: U-Pack

  • What U-Pack does: Long-distance moves, moves to Canada or Puerto Rico, loading/unloading (as an add-on), free cancellations up to seven days before delivery, instant online quotes in most cases.

  • What U-Pack doesn't do: Local moves, car shipping.

U-Pack container sizes: 

  • Small: A ReloCube's internal dimensions are 70"x 82"x 93" and can hold up to 2,500 pounds.

  • Large: A moving trailer's internal dimensions are 324"x 96"x 108" and can legally haul 22,500 pounds.

U-Pack's broad geographic coverage in the U.S. and durable metal containers make it our go-to for long-distance moves. It's also a good choice if you're not quite sure how much room you'll need. If you order too many containers, you'll be charged only for those you actually use. And if you load a moving trailer only partway, you'll be charged only for the space you take up, not the full amount.

Our pick for best container options: PODS

  • What PODS does: Long-distance moves, local moves, certain international moves, loading/unloading (as an add-on), free cancellations up to the day before delivery, instant online quotes for local moves.

  • What PODS doesn't do: Car shipping, instant online quotes for long-distance moves.

PODS container sizes: 

  • Small: The dimensions are 7'x 7'x 8' with a weight limit of 5,200 pounds.

  • Medium: The dimensions are 12'x 8'x 8' with a weight limit of 4,700 pounds.

  • Large: The dimensions are 16'x 8'x 8' with a weight limit of 4,200 pounds.

  • Note: The larger containers from PODS have lower weight limits.

PODS offers the best variety of container options of the moving container companies we reviewed, featuring three sizes and robust steel construction. That makes it a compelling option for those with more to move who don't want to deal with multiple containers for their belongings. It also offers instant online quotes for local moves.

PODS may offer refunds for delivered containers that go unused in some cases, according to the company, but that’s not guaranteed in all situations.

Our pick for low cost: U-Haul U-Box

  • What U-Box can do: Long-distance moves, local moves, international moves, loading/unloading (as an add-on), free cancellations before delivery, instant online quotes for domestic moves.

  • What U-Box doesn't do: Car shipping (though you can rent a car trailer from U-Haul).

U-Box container size:

  • Small: The internal dimensions are 95"x 56" x 83.5" with a weight limit of 2,000 pounds.

If you’re moving a light load on a tight budget, U-Haul's U-Box service is a strong choice. While it offers only one type of relatively small container — plywood enclosed in a vinyl weatherproof cover — its prices tend to be lower than competitors and it handles a wide variety of moves, including local, long-distance and international. And if you order more containers than you actually use, you won't have to pay for the unused ones.

Loading included (not an add-on)

Instant online quotes

Deposit required

Availability

Free cancellation

Mayflower Transit

✅ *

No

50 states and 150+ countries

Up to 24 hours before move.

United Van Lines

✅ *

No

50 states and 150+ countries

Up to 24 hours before move.

Handled

✅ ***

No for standard moves; yes for moves billed on an hourly basis

37 states

Up to 24 hours before reservation for standard moves.

Allied Van Lines

✅ **

No

50 states and 130+ countries

Cancellation policies vary by location and type of move.

northAmerican Van Lines 

✅ **

No

50 states and 130+ countries

Cancellation policies vary by location and type of move.

International Van Lines

Yes

50 states and 180+ countries

Up to 48 hours before move.

U-Pack

No

50 states, Puerto Rico and Canada

Up to 7 days before the delivery.

PODS Moving

✅ ***

No

46 states and 3 countries (Canada, U.K., Australia)

Up to 4 p.m. local time the day before the delivery.

U-Haul U-Box

No

50 states, Canada and any international port

Anytime before your loading date.

*Instant online quotes available only for one-bedroom homes.

**Instant online quotes available only for interstate moves.

***Instant online quotes available only for local moves.

Get more smart money moves – straight to your inbox
Sign up and we’ll send you Nerdy articles about the money topics that matter most to you along with other ways to help you get more from your money.