Reviews

1-800-PACK-RAT vs. PODS: Which One Should You Choose in 2023?

Whether you’re looking for long-term storage or want to gradually pack for a move, portable container storage is a great, affordable option. In choosing between 1-800-PACK-RAT vs. PODS, which is the better option?
Meghan Wentland Avatar
1-800-PACK-RAT vs. PODS
Photo: bobvila.com

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The floors are being refinished. What do you do with the furniture? The house is being staged for sale—but where should all the “stuff” go until the move actually happens? Maybe kids are home from college with piles of furniture and boxes of books. Or maybe elderly parents are downsizing and need time to sort through a lifetime of belongings. Perhaps the attic is on the verge of overflowing; what’s a pack rat to do? Or on the other end of the spectrum, maybe you want to DIY a move but don’t want to drive a 24-foot box truck on an unfamiliar highway while towing a car. Portable moving containers can be a great solution for all of these situations, and 1-800-PACK-RAT and PODS are two of the most popular options. When comparing 1-800-PACK-RAT vs. PODS, though, which company is the better option?

PODS, which is an appropriate acronym for Portable On Demand Storage, was the first player in the portable storage container industry at its inception in 1998. The concept was simple but novel: Based on the same storage container idea that the industry uses for shipping goods, the company would deliver a (much smaller) version of a commercial shipping container to a customer’s home. The customer could use the container as temporary storage for a monthly fee, either on-site or in a secure storage center, and the container would be collected when the storage was no longer necessary. Alternatively, customers could take their time loading their possessions into the container until their move date, at which time a truck would collect the container and deliver it to their new address. After a relaxed and leisurely drive to the new home, the customer could then gradually unload the contents of the container into their new home.

The concept was so attractive to customers—for many reasons, including convenience, cost, and flexibility—that a new industry was born, and PODS quickly found itself challenged by a raft of competitors. 1-800-PACK-RAT was one of the greatest challengers when it arrived on the scene in 2003. It focused on lower costs and solid-steel containers with more usable space inside, but otherwise it shared the same business model with a variety of pods in various moving sizes and the option of using 1-800-PACK-RAT as mini storage or self-storage. The two companies remain at or near the top of the lists of best moving container companies. Both offer a solid collection of services and options, but it’s important for a customer to consider what their specific needs are before making a choice.

How We Compared Moving Container Companies

1-800-PACK-RAT vs. PODS
Photo: istockphoto.com
  • Reputation: In this industry, customers are hiring a company to provide a container in which to safely store their valuables, and in some cases transport them. A company’s reputation on the street goes a long way toward determining if customers will feel comfortable trusting the company with their possessions. We evaluated each company’s longevity, market presence, and reviews.
  • Moving container options: One of the benefits of this type of container moving and storage is that customers don’t need to pay for more space than they need, but the usefulness of the benefit is dependent on the container size options available. We assessed the choices each company provides.
  • Available services: Obviously storage and moving are the key services provided by each of these companies. But moving is a complicated process, and if a customer can multitask with the same company, this can reduce that complication. Companies that provide additional services may have the edge over companies that don’t.
  • Location availability: Moving and storage companies that have many branches spread across the country can reduce extra fees and charges related to fuel, longer drive times, and gasoline, adding convenience and reducing overall costs.
  • Quote and booking process: Since many people prefer the convenience of a simple online quote and booking process (regardless of industry), companies that provide this service may be preferable to those that don’t. However, when customers have questions or situations that don’t fit the online profile, they want to be able to call and talk to a person.
  • Cost: The cost of booking a container for storage and moving is always, always an important component, but it’s not the only one: Choosing a company solely based on cost can result in disappointment. Companies that balance reasonable costs against excellent service and reputation will be the strongest options.
  • Customer reviews: Customer reviews should always be taken with a grain of salt; angry customers are somewhat more motivated to write evaluations than satisfied ones. However, the overall trend of the reviews and patterns of praise and complaints can give customers a good idea of what the strong and weak points are for each company.

1-800-PACK-RAT vs. PODS: Reputation

Both 1-800-PACK-RAT and PODS have strong reputations. While other container moving solutions have come on the market, some nationally and some locally, these two are among the most well-known providers of this service.

PODS was one of the first, if not the first, portable storage and moving companies when it was founded in 1998. When seeing any portable storage container parked in a driveway or on a lawn, many people will think, “Hey! They have a pod!” That name recognition alone gives PODS an edge over the competition, because when customers search for a storage or container moving solution, they may not know exactly how to search, so they’ll search for “pods for moving” or “what is a moving pod?” The company’s reputation for clean, easy-to-use containers and flexible scheduling options along with its name recognition makes it a powerhouse.

1-800-PACK-RATS is no slouch in the reputation department, though. The company has longevity and a catchy, memorable name, so it’s easy to remember and dial up with questions, and reviewers are generally pleased with the product and the service. However, 1-800-PACK-RAT doesn’t have the widespread coverage nationally that PODS does, so it’s only established where there are active locations; it’s simply not as well known as PODS.

Verdict: PODS has become a well-known name since its inception in 1998, and moving containers have become synonymous with the brand. 1-800-PACK-RAT was founded in 2003, and while it’s become a big player in the moving industry, its name and reputation don’t come with the same level of recognition that the PODS brand does. 

Winner: PODS

1-800-PACK-RAT vs. PODS: Moving Container Options

The idea of placing a large number of one’s belongings into a container outside the home gives many people pause. Will the container be accessible? Easy to load? Will the contents be protected from the elements? Will the container keep out critters and vermin? For those who need the container in place for a longer period of time, another concern is the size. Nobody wants a massive container in their driveway when they just need a place to store some furniture while the floors are refinished.

What sizes do PODS come in? PODS containers are available in three convenient sizes: 16-foot, 12-foot, and 8-foot. The volume of material that can be stored in each container varies somewhat based on how the contents are packed. PODS containers are fabricated with steel framing and sheeting and a combination of wood and high-impact-resistant polymers to create an impervious and waterproof space. This protects customers’ belongings from weather, animals, and theft. The company does recommend that for longer-term storage, customers will want to consider storing the container at an indoor PODS security center for extra protection. In terms of loading the container, PODS containers feature roll-up doors, so there’s no need to leave extra space in the driveway for swing-open doors. There are also fewer access points and openings, as well as a secure option for locking the door, which provides great security.

PODS Container SizeMeasurementsStorage Space (approximately)
16-foot container16 feet by 8 feet by 8 feetContents of a 1,200-square- foot home or apartment
12-foot container12 feet by 8 feet by 8 feetContents of a 500- to 800- square-foot space
8-foot container8 feet by 7 feet by 8 feetContents of a 500-square-foot space or smaller

The size of PACK-RAT containers is similar. The company contends that the containers’ solid-steel construction withstands the elements better than containers that use wood or plastic, and specifically that the absence of wood in their construction reduces the absorption of moisture and the likelihood of mold or mildew formation. The steel includes corrugated-steel cutouts to allow for the placements of bungees or tie-downs to secure the contents, and barn door–style openings allow ease of access. This does result in a larger footprint, the two barn doors need space to swing open and in a tight space, this may impede loading.

Container SizeMeasurementsStorage Space (approximately)
16-foot container16 feet by 7.75 feet by 7.75 feet830 cubic feet: holds 3 to 4 rooms of furniture
12-foot container12 feet by 7.75 feet by 7.75 feet620 cubic feet: holds 2 to 3 rooms of furniture
8-foot container8 feet by 7 feet by 8 feet404 cubic feet: holds 1 to 2 rooms of furniture

Verdict: 1-800-PACK-RAT and PODS both offer three container sizes, allowing customers more flexibility to choose the appropriate size to meet their needs. Both companies use fully enclosed all-steel containers for maximum security and durability. However, PODS uses roll-up doors, which means the container takes up less space in driveways, and this gives PODS the slight edge. 

Winner: PODS

1-800-PACK-RAT vs. PODS
Photo: istockphoto.com

1-800-PACK-RAT vs. PODS: Available Services

While the primary goal of both companies is storage and moving, there is a range of other services that can be helpful for customers as they work through the process of moving. Bundling these services together through one company can streamline the complex process of moving and can often reduce costs, so customers may find this option attractive.

PODS offers customers moving and storage supplies, a matching service for professional local packers and movers, and move-in services including connections for setting up utilities and help choosing homeowners or renters insurance. The company provides a useful blog with answers to commonly asked questions and resources for customers who are moving. For those who are planning to move long distances and don’t wish to drive one or more cars, PODS facilitates a car-shipping option with two preferred third-party shipping companies to arrange for the car (or cars) to be picked up, transported to the new location, and safely delivered. PODS very specifically notes that cars cannot be transported inside PODS shipping containers—apparently some have tried!

1-800-PACK-RAT provides customers with supplies for packing and moving, connections with local assistance for packing and loading, and helpful checklists and a blog for ideas and reference. The company also offers a handy space-calculator tool to help customers determine which size container to rent and how many packing supplies they’ll need. Additional services to assist with military moves are available, and 1-800-PACK-RAT shipping for cars is provided through a recommended car-shipping service—in fact, its preferred shipper is also one of the shippers that PODS recommends. It’s difficult to locate the information for car shipping on 1-800-PACK-RAT’s website, however, so customers who are booking a moving container may not be aware that it’s a service offered unless they are specifically looking for it.

Verdict: In addition to storage and moving, PODS and 1-800-PACK-RAT also offer labor assistance for moving and car-shipping services through trusted third parties. Car shipping is a benefit to those who are looking to ship their vehicles and wanting to bundle multiple services. However, the car-shipping service information is rather hidden on the 1-800-PACK-RAT website, meaning many customers may not be aware of it.

Winner: PODS

1-800-PACK-RAT vs. PODS: Location Availability

Finding a storage-container company that’s close to home (and to the new destination) is a key factor for customers who are using portable shipping containers, both for convenience and to keep costs down. PODS has widespread availability, with more than 200 locations spread across 46 states including Washington, D.C., and Hawaii, eight locations in Canada, and locations in Australia and the United Kingdom. Alaska, Montana, North Dakota, and Wyoming are the outliers; there are no PODS locations in these four states, and customers in those areas won’t have access to PODS unless they live close enough to a border location in another state. The vast majority of the country, however, will be able to find a PODS location nearby.

1-800-PACK-RAT has a significantly smaller footprint—it’s really one of the only significant weaknesses in the business model. The company has more than 65 locations in 32 states (Alaska, Montana, North Dakota, and Wyoming are still out of luck, though). This, of course, is far less coverage than PODS, though the company’s website does encourage those who live in areas without storage facilities in their states to reach out via their toll-free number to ask about options; the website indicates that 1-800-PACK-RAT can service 97 percent of the country. Most customers, however, will likely feel more comfortable choosing a company that has a physical location fairly close to their home, so those who don’t live in covered states may want to select another option.

Verdict: There are about 200 PODS storage locations across 46 states, which covers a sizable majority of the country. Conversely, 1-800-PACK-RAT has over 65 locations across 32 states, meaning that fewer customers are able to utilize its services. 

Winner: PODS

1-800-PACK-RAT vs. PODS: Quote and Booking Process

As with many services that are involved with home and moving, customers expect clear information about the cost and booking of their portable container to be available online. While moving companies hold their quotes and estimates notoriously close to the vest, both 1-800-PACK-RAT and PODS provide clear, itemized lists of their costs through their websites. Customers who are moving can enter their current and future ZIP codes, the date they would like the container delivered to their home, the requested date of pickup, and the container size they need. Both companies then immediately provide the cost breakdown of each stage of the process, and then offer additional services—insurance coverage, packing materials, padlocks, and other options—and list a transparent total invoice along with details about payment methods and delivery. Customers can then click through agreements and book. Under certain circumstances—specifically long-distance, cross-country moves that are more complicated— customers may need to call customer service to talk through the additional steps needed to create a quote. All customers are welcome to call at any time for assistance.

Customers requesting a container only for temporary storage purposes can follow a similar process, although 1-800-PACK-RAT emails the quote to customers. The email arrives immediately and contains a link customers can use to book directly. Again, the detailed lists of charges and fees are comprehensive, and both companies offer the option to book and pay later. The processes are smooth and easy to follow.

Verdict: Both PODS and 1-800-PACK-RAT. PODS customers will go through different channels to receive quotes depending on their needs: Those who are moving long-distance are required to call, whereas those who are simply renting storage can conduct all business online. Both PODS and 1-800-PACK-RAT customers are then redirected to an online booking process regardless of whether they need to rent a container for moving or for storage. 

Winner: Tie

1-800-PACK-RAT vs. PODS
Photo: istockphoto.com

1-800-PACK-RAT vs. PODS: Cost

Storage and moving are expensive, so while both 1-800-PACK-RAT and PODS are less expensive than full-service moving companies, cost still matters. How much does it cost for moving pods? Storage pod rates are made up of several components: a fee to deliver the empty container, a fee to pick up the loaded container, a fee for the rental period, a fee for facility storage (if customers choose to take advantage of that service), and a fee to either return the container to the home for unloading or to transport and deliver it to a new address. Finally, there’s a charge to collect the emptied container.

In a straight showdown between Pack Rat vs. PODS pricing, PODS’ costs are a bit higher than 1-800-PACK-RAT’s across the board, including the rental fees and the service charges.

However, both companies offer regular promotions that can significantly lower the costs. PODS provides discounts for customers who choose longer storage periods, including free pickup and delivery, and percent-off coupons seasonally. Both companies provide a 10 percent discount for members of the military, but 1-800-PACK-RAT extends this discount to teachers, first responders, doctors, nurses, and seniors. And in a direct and spectacular marketing move, 1-800-PACK-RAT offers a guarantee to price-match any quote that a customer receives for a lower price on the same level of service from PODS, basically guaranteeing that its price will be as low as or lower than the price of PODS.

Sample Pricing for Facility Storage

Container Size1-800-PACK-RATPODS
8-foot container$349 per month plus $99 empty-container delivery fee$359 per month plus $129 empty-container delivery fee
12-foot container$379 per month plus $99 empty-container delivery fee$429 per month plus $129 empty-container delivery fee
16-foot container$399 per month plus $99 empty-container delivery fee$469 per month plus $129 empty-container delivery fee

Verdict: While both sites offer various special promotions to save shoppers money on their container rental, PODS containers are typically pricier than 1-800-PACK-RAT containers, especially for larger sizes. PODS also charges higher delivery fees than 1-800-PACK-RAT.

Winner: 1-800-PACK-RAT

1-800-PACK-RAT vs. Pods: Customer Reviews

Customer reviews online are a mixed bag: Angry and dissatisfied customers often have an ax to grind and crave a public forum in which to do so, while satisfied customers are more likely to be pleasantly surprised that they got what they paid for and go about their business without taking the time to comment. A quick survey of reviews on Trustpilot and ConsumerAffairs reveals a collection of customers pleased with the containers themselves and the service in general for both companies.

1-800-PACK-RAT reviews mention some problems with unexpected charges and late containers, in addition to some complaints about customer service. Each of these reviews included a response from the company with an offer to address and resolve the problems. Positive reviews raved about customer service and timely resolution of problems. Many of the negative reviews discussed an absence of pricing availability online, which appears to be outdated, as that is no longer the case.

PODS reviewers mentioned that they were pleased with customer service and communication, along with the availability of locations and the flexible lengths of time available for storage. Unhappy customers discussed cost and timing problems during transit and delivery. In addition, a number of commenters noted goods arriving damaged and struggles with materials sliding forward and jamming the roll-up doors. Some of these issues may be a result of improper packing and tie-downs, but there are enough reviews that damage may be a concern. Some customers also felt the service was expensive. However, PODS representatives responded to every comment, positive and negative, on the review sites.

Verdict: 1-800-PACK-RAT and PODS receive mixed reviews online; however, both companies appear to consistently respond to and attempt to resolve customer complaints. 1-800-PACK-RAT’s reviews generally lean more positive, citing standout customer service and seamless services. PODS customers compliment clear communication and courteous service, but less-positive reviewers express disappointment with the quoting process and pricing.

Winner: 1-800-PACK-RAT

Verdict: PODS is a major name in the moving industry, and with good reason: A widespread presence, hundreds of locations, and well-designed steel containers make it an excellent choice for those looking to rent a moving container. 1-800-PACK-RAT is another great choice, especially for those looking to save money on their move. 

Both 1-800-PACK-RAT and PODS are standout options for customers who need temporary storage, emergency storage, and long-term storage, and those who want to DIY a short or long-distance move without having to drive a large truck on their own. PODS has the edge over 1-800-PACK-RAT, based on the availability of locations and service centers and the ability of the containers to fit into tighter spaces (such as smaller driveways and tight lawn spaces) due to the overhead doors. 1-800-PACK-RAT can offer lower costs for similar services to those customers who live close to one of the company’s smaller number of locations, but it can often work with customers in other areas as well. For most customers, PODS is the best choice—but for those on a budget, 1-800-PACK-RAT is also a great option.

FAQs

Moving is a complicated process, but both 1-800-PACK-RAT and PODS can make it easier. These are some of the questions customers often ask about portable container storage and moving along with the answers.

Q. What is the average cost of a 1-800-PACK-RAT container?

The cost will vary based on the services needed and the size of the container. A local move will cost around $150 to $790 depending on the number of containers, including 30 days of on-site storage while the customer is packing. The cost of long-distance moves varies more based on the distance. Storage charges include $379 per month for a 12-foot container plus a $99 empty-container delivery fee

Q. Is a pod cheaper than a moving company?

Almost always, yes. You’ll spend more in time and labor, but the costs can be dramatically lower.

Q. Are PODS good for long-distance moves?

Yes, especially if you’ll need your belongings stored for a period of time in between leaving the old home and moving into the new one. You’ll pack your own PODS container over a few weeks, lock it, and a truck will pick it up and deliver it to the new home on the date specified. If necessary, you can choose to store the PODS container for a month (or several) in between.

Q. What should you not pack in a moving pod?

A car. Absolutely do not pack a car. Also off-limits are hazardous materials, combustible materials, animals, and humans (yes, this is specifically prohibited). The company also recommends that irreplaceable heirlooms, important papers, and cash not be shipped in a pod.

Q. How much can you fit in a 1-800-PACK-RAT container?

A 16-foot container from 1-800-PACK-RAT holds about as much as a 10-foot-by-15-foot storage room. The 12-foot container holds the volume of a 10-foot-by-10-foot storage room, and the 8-foot container is similar in size to a 9-foot-by-9-foot storage room.

Q. Are 1-800-PACK-RAT containers waterproof?

1-800-PACK-RAT containers are made entirely of steel—steel framing, steel walls, and steel doors to make them weatherproof and waterproof. For long-term storage, an indoor storage center is still the best option, because it adds an extra roof overhead and reduces the likelihood of any seepage.