Here’s What a Cargo Van Rental Is

This is a type of vehicle rental service that people typically use when moving bigger appliances, furniture, equipment, or other large, bulky items.

Cargo van rental is best suited to local, in-town moves, and these vehicles can be rented anything from just a couple of hours, to several weeks.

It’s easy to see why renting a cargo van is a popular choice when it comes to moving stuff.

They let you transport big items that wouldn’t fit in a car, at reasonable prices.

With this article, I will give you more details regarding the benefits, drawbacks, prices, and other relevant information to help you get a better idea of what renting a cargo van is all about!


What are the Main Uses of Cargo Van Rentals?

There are many everyday uses when it comes to cargo van rental, such as:


1. Moving a Small Apartment or College Dorm

The vast cargo capacity and payload of cargo vans make them the go-to choice for people looking to move places.

This means that you’ll have plenty of room for mattresses, furniture, decorations, and other smaller personal items and utensils.

And while moving trucks might offer even more space, cargo vans are still the most preferred option when moving smaller apartments or dorms due to being more compact and easier to drive.

The enclosed loading bay also provides full protection from the elements for your precious household items.


2. Transporting Larger and Bulkier Purchases

If you end up buying more and larger things than you’ve initially planned, a cargo van rental may be a feasible option.

Especially if you’re driving a sports coupe with minuscule boot capacity.

Although just about any reputable store nowadays offers free door-to-door shipping, you’ll still have to wait until your newly-bought TV or furniture arrives.

This is where renting a cargo van might come into play by offering you the chance to transport your large purchases to your address within hours.

And it can also let you avoid delivery fees if shipping isn’t free.


3. Hauling Outdoor Party Supplies

Hosting birthdays and outdoor parties during holidays such as The 4th of July is fun, but they require a plethora of items and consumables.

This means that you have to transport various foods, drinks, coolers, cooking utensils, blankets, tables, chairs, trash bags etc. that will hardly fit into a family sedan.

Enter, cargo van rental.

A vehicle of this class will accommodate all your party items, even taller decorations thanks to the higher roof.


4. Making Self-Deliveries to Customers

Other uses for cargo van rentals include self-deliveries made by smaller businesses around town.

Contractors and catering companies typically rely on renting cargo vans when an extra vehicle might be needed to meet increased on-site delivery demands.

This might be more cost-effective than outright buying a cargo van if self-deliveries are occasional than the norm.


What Makes Cargo Van Rental Less Ideal?

Depending on your needs, cargo van rental might not be your best bet, as a truck rental might be more useful under the following conditions:


1. You Have to Tow a Car or a Boat

Although some cargo vans have a very decent towing capacity of up to 7500 lbs, that’s still far from optimal.

Especially when compared to pick-up trucks’ up to 14,000-pound towing capacity.

So if you have to tow your car or boat to your new home, a truck rental would make more sense.


2. There’s a Need for Extra Seats

If you plan on transporting more than 2 people, then a cargo-oriented van simply won’t cut it.

Unlike regular vans, cargo vans are geared towards larger load capacity than passenger space, hence only having 2 front seats.

However, trucks such as extended cabs and double cabs have extra seats (typically 3), which can be a deal-breaker if you have to carry more than 2 people on top of all your belongings.


3. Transporting Really Large and Bulky Items

Even though certain furniture may still fit into a cargo van, a pickup truck will do a better job.

The specific shape and size of the bed of a pickup truck seem tailor-made for hauling bigger and bulkier furniture and appliances.

For example, those big reception desks and conference tables that simply won’t fit into a cargo van.


How Much Does it Cost to Rent a Cargo Van?

Cargo van rental prices vary greatly, although the average full-day rate of the most popular companies is around $100 for a local move.

But let’s see what the base daily rates of each of the top 4 most popular cargo van rental services is:


1. Budget (~$85/day)

Budget offers a base daily price for an estimated milage of 50 miles of only $84.17, including cost and energy recovery fees as well as sales tax. Energy recovery fees are not about the gas you use in the vehicle, it’s their oil, grease, utility costs, bus fuel, and other related costs to serving each customer.

Still, moving add-ons like furniture pads and insurance aren’t included in this base rate.

But they do offer discounts for various professionals such as firefighters and military personnel.


2. Penske (~$100/day)

The normal daily price for a high-roof Penske cargo van is a tad over $100, including the environmental and vehicle licensing recovery fees.

There’s also a $0.99 fee for every mile you make so the overall price can quickly add up.

This premium rate can be explained by the fact that Penske offers some of the newest and well-maintained fleets out there.

Still, this company offers AAA (American Automobile Association), military, and college student discounts ranging from 10-12%.


3. Home Depot (~$100/day)

The baseline price of Home Depot’s cargo van rental is truly cheap at just $19 for the first 75 minutes of use.

However, you’ll have to pay around $5 for every 15 mins once you pass the 75-minute mark.

You’re also required to pay the full-day rate if you keep the vehicle for over 6.5 hours, which means spending roughly $100-$150 or even more.

This makes Home Depot ideal for short-term rental purposes, but far from ideal if you’re planning on using the van for more than several hours.


4. U-Haul (~$145/day)

U-Haul offers a base in-town price of only $19.95 for a 9-foot cargo van, which is super cheap, but it doesn’t include additional fees such as gas and insurance.

And since U-Haul vehicles aren’t automatically insured, you may potentially have to pay around $1215 for a damaged windshield.

For example, if you have to move locally (one-way move),you’ll need to pay around $124.95 extra on top of the $19.95 base rate.

There are also extra fees for adding furniture and appliance dollies.


What Can You Fit Into a Rented Cargo Van?

A regular 9-foot cargo van can hold a number of bulky items, especially furniture such as:

  • Queen-size mattresses
  • Some types of sectional sofas
  • Small-medium wardrobes
  • Small-medium tables
  • Small couches

In fact, most cargo vans have an average cargo capacity of around 250 ft³ meaning that you can fit additional stuff on top of larger items such as a mattress.

This may include nightstands, TV stands, dressers, and storage bins with maybe some extra space for other, smaller miscellaneous items.


What Are the Most Popular Cargo Vans For Renting?

The legendary Ford Transit is the preferred workhorse in cargo van rental companies such as U-Haul and Home Depot.

However, other rental services offer several different cargo van options to choose from.

But let’s take a closer look at the most common and popular models available at cargo van rental services:


1. Ford Transit (Medium Roof)

  • Interior dimensions (L x H x W): 125″ x 72″ x 70.3″
  • Cargo capacity: 358.7 ft³
  • Maximum payload: 3,900 lbs
  • Roof height: 72”

The Ford Transit is arguably the most popular and widespread model that offers heaps of practicality, making it a staple among cargo van rental fleets.

Even the short-wheelbase version (125” long) has more than generous load capacity and superb payload.

This model comes with all cargo van-friendly standard features such as an automatic transmission, ABS, stereo, and air-conditioning.

Although the medium roof interior height is quite decent, some rentals may offer the high roof variant with a whopping 81.5” worth of interior height.


2. Nissan NV2500 (High Roof)

  • Interior dimensions (L x H x W): 143″ x 76″ x 55″
  • Cargo capacity: 345 ft³
  • Maximum payload: 3,700 lbs
  • Roof height: 76”

The high roof version of this very component Japanese cargo van is a brilliant choice if you have to transport taller and bulkier items.

The NV2500 is also available with a bulkhead option for direct access to the cargo area from the front seats.

Standard features for this model include air conditioning, power steering, and automatic transmission.


3. Chevrolet Express

  • Interior dimensions (L x H x W):126″ x 65″ x 55″
  • Cargo capacity: 260 ft³
  • Maximum payload: 3,700 lbs
  • Roof height: 65”

Although the short wheelbase Chevrolet Express might not have the best load capacity, it compensates by having more compact exterior dimensions.

This means that this van will be easier to park and maneuver around city streets.

The Chevvy Express also comes with all standard features that you’d expect from a cargo van, such as an automatic transmission and an aircon.


How to Choose The Right Cargo Van Rental?

Here are 5 important factors to consider so that you may choose the cargo van rental that suits your needs:


1. Nationwide Coverage

Some cargo van rental services provide nationwide availability, meaning that no matter what state you live in, you’ll be able to rent a van.

Not having this can be a real deal-breaker if you’re located in a more remote place, so always double-check if your preferred cargo van rental service is available in your area.

Some services even have a self-pickup feature that lets you get your cargo van, regardless of the hour of the day, through a smartphone application.


2. Cargo Capacity and Payload

Consider the bulk and height of the things that you’re going to transport via the cargo van rental to find the most suitable vehicle model.

Make a list of the furniture pieces you have, thencheck the corresponding cargo capacity and the maximum payload of the cargo van to make sure that everything fits.

For example, if you’re going to haul a medium-sized wardrobe, you’ll need a high-roof model that offers extra space for taller objects.

Or if you plan on transporting some sort of a sectional sofa, you’d probably want a long-wheelbase version for the added interior length.


3. Damage Coverage

Note that generally your vehicle won’t be automatically insured when you rent a cargo van.

So if you don’t pay extra for damage coverage, you’ll be liable to pay for any damage that might occur, even if it’s by accident.

This can easily mean waving goodbye to anywhere from several hundred dollars to thousands for damages such as a smashed windshield or knocked-off bumper.

And oftentimes, your auto insurance might not cover rental cargo vans, although you have to call your insurance company to be certain.

Thankfully, most rental companies offer standard and premium insurance options, albeit at an extra cost.


4. Estimated Mileage and MPG

Another key factor to consider is the distance between your loading and unloading locations.

By estimating the mileage, you’ll be able to get a rough idea of how much you’ll have to pay extra for gas.

And you have to remember that gas fees aren’t included in the base cargo van rental rates, and some companies even expect you to return the vehicle with a full tank.

So for longer distances, you might want to consider less thirsty models that have better MPG, with diesel-powered vans being especially fuel-efficient.


5. Extra Fees and Discounts

Although some rental services have really cheap base rates, there are additional fees that can quickly add up.

Consider the extra costs associated with insurance, gas, moving equipment, accessories, etc.

Some services will even charge you their full-day rate if you go over a fixed amount of time (e.g., 6.5 hours).

Another thing to keep in mind is the various discounts that some cargo van rental companies offer.

This typically includes college students, AAA, military personnel and firefighters.



A cargo van rental is a vehicle rental service that’s mainly used for moving single-room apartments or simply transporting larger items.

This type of rental is ideal for moving locally (in-town) as one-way trips aren’t even an option at most companies that rent cargo vans.

The load capacity, decent prices, driveability, and DIY nature of this rental type is why many prefer cargo vans over moving companies for local moves.

However, a cargo van rental might not be your best bet if your main priorities include extra room for passengers and top-notch towing capabilities.

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