Comparing Door-to-Door and Terminal-to-Terminal Car Shipping Options in 2023

a transport truck on the highway in the midst of terminal-to-terminal auto shipping

Each auto transport delivery type has pros and cons to consider before selecting a carrier

When comparing vehicle shipping options, you’ll see various price points, truck types, and timelines in your search. You might also see door-to-door and terminal-to-terminal transportation listed, and you’ll have to decide which one you’d prefer.

As the names suggest, door-to-door shipping means the driver picks your vehicle up from your home, or as close to it as the truck can get, and delivers it to your desired destination on the other end. 

On the other hand, terminal-to-terminal transport means you have to drop your car off at a specific location in your current city and pick it up at another terminal at your destination.

Both vehicle shipping types have benefits and drawbacks to consider, so it’s vital to go over your options and choose the style that works best for you.

Here’s a look at the pros and cons of door-to-door and terminal-to-terminal vehicle shipping.

Key Takeaways

  • Door-to-door car shipping is convenient but pricey, and you have to be there to receive the shipment.
  • Terminal-to-terminal shipping is more flexible but creates hassle, and storage fees can quickly make it more expensive.
  • Mercury Auto Transport can help you find the right shipping type.

The Benefits of Door-to-Door Car Shipping

The advantages of door-to-door shipping start with its convenience. When you use this option, the driver will pick your car up from your home and deliver it directly to your destination. As a result, you don’t have to find a ride from the terminal and can stay close to home.

You also don’t have to worry about your car’s safety at the terminal. These terminals are often just open lots where your vehicle could be damaged or broken into due to the lack of supervision. A door-to-door delivery immediately ensures your vehicle reaches a safe destination, eliminating that worry.

Door-to-door shipping is the way to go for overall convenience and safety for your car.

Door-to-Door AutoTransport Drawbacks

However, it’s worth noting that there are some drawbacks associated with door-to-door shipping that you’ll want to consider.

First, it’s more expensive than terminal-to-terminal, at least on the surface. You’re paying for a premium service requiring the carrier to venture into a residential neighborhood, so you can expect it to cost more. 

It’s also worth noting that depending on the truck’s size, the driver might have to meet you somewhere anyway because driving on narrow residential streets isn’t possible. The driver will usually try to find a spot close to your home, but this process adds inconvenience. There could be commercial truck restrictions in your neighborhood that prevent delivery, too.

Someone must be available to meet the driver on both ends, as well. You’ll have to present the driver with your keys, collect them at the end, and complete an inspection. If you’re moving across the country, having a specific timeline for meeting the carrier could add stress to the situation.

The Pros of Terminal-to-Terminal Auto Shipping

With terminal-to-terminal shipping, you’ll have to drive your car to a predetermined location where you’ll drop it off for your carrier. This method is far more flexible because you can drop the vehicle off a day or two before shipment. For busy people, terminal-to-terminal is sometimes the best option.

The same goes for picking your car up at its destination, as you can leave it at the terminal while you figure out where you’re going to park it or complete your journey when moving. Having this flexibility on the other end is helpful when shipping lengthy distances.

Terminal-to-terminal also costs less for the shipment because the carrier can stick to major highways and won’t have to trek through a residential neighborhood. The cost savings are often reason enough to go with this option.

The Cons of Terminal-to-Terminal Auto Shipping

There are negatives associated with terminal-to-terminal auto transport, though, that you’ll want to look at before choosing a method.

For starters, the terminal could be far from your property, adding hassle to the entire process. If you live in a suburban area and have to travel into town to drop your car off, you’ll have to figure out how to get back home. The same goes for reaching your vehicle at its new destination.

Leaving your car at one of the terminals for a few days could also encounter a storage fee. This fee could end up making the terminal-to-terminal shipping far more expensive for you in the end. Therefore, it’s worth asking about your carrier’s storage surcharges.

It’s unlikely that the terminal is secure, as well, and since there will be other vehicles and trucks passing it all day long, the risk of damage is heightened.

Choosing a Car Shipping Option

The type of auto transport you go with comes down to personal preferences. For convenience, it’s tough to beat door-to-door shipping because your carrier will pick your vehicle up and deliver it right to your destination (assuming they can reach it). However, terminal-to-terminal adds flexibility and can reduce overall expenses if you pick the car up quickly. 

Mercury Auto Transport is a car shipping broker that provides you with quotes from FMCSA-licensed and insured carriers. Our system allows you to choose between door-to-door and terminal-to-terminal options, ensuring you end up with the type of vehicle transportation that makes the most sense. Contact us for a free, instant quote or to speak with one of our auto transport experts.


Get a quote.

Transport Vehicle FROM
Transport Vehicle TO
Vehicle Year
Vehicle Make
Vehicle Make
Vehicle Model
Vehicle Model
Vehicle Type
Full Name
Phone Number
Email Address
Available Date
Additional Information
Contact & Date

Thank you!

Thanks for submitting the form. You will be receive an email shortly.

What Our Customrs Are Saying


We feel it’s important for you to know how we determined your quote. Quotes are based on what the market demands for cars to be moved at a given time. Each quote is compared with the current rates on the National Load Board before being sent to our customers and will be reviewed periodically through the process.

Other companies might offer you a lower price to obtain your business. This method is ineffective because if the car does not pay the correct amount of money, it will run the probability of not getting loaded or transported on time. You will not get this information from our competitors. Truck drivers always take the loads that pay the most first, leaving the loads that are mispriced to be moved last or not at all. We try very hard to avoid this with our customers by quoting a fair but realistic quote up front. Visit our How we determine your quote page for more information.

Understanding auto transport insurance is important and we think it’s valuable to explain how it works. As part of providing a great car transport service, it is our job to guarantee that the carrier we assign to pickup your vehicle is licensed and insured. Click here to check out our license.

When you go with Mercury to ship your vehicle, you can rest assured that the carrier assigned to move your car is fully insured and licensed with the FMCSA (Federal Motor Carrier and Saftey Administration).

Your vehicle is covered by the carrier’s insurance policy that is doing the shipping. Depending on the type and size of the truck/trailer that is shipping your car, the insurance policy can cover from $100,000 to $1,000,000 of damage.

We have also provided a checklist to explain what you need to do at both pickup and delivery in case there are any issues so, you can file a claim and know that everything will be taken care of.

It is rare but, time-to-time there may be accidental damage while in transit and it is good to know that your carrier’s insurance will protect your auto shipment in that event.

To view a sample BOL (Bill of Lading) and learn what to do in case of accidental damage, please check out our Condition Report and Procedure checklist.

When comparing auto transport companies, keep in mind that low-priced quotes often result in delays in getting your vehicle loaded. Choosing the right broker is vital to getting a reputable carrier for the lowest price possible.  

We feel it’s important for you to know how we determine your quote.

When you’re looking for a car shipping rate, you want to understand how auto transport works. Prices are based on seasonal market demands for cars to be moved at any given time. Each quote is prepared based on the season and the current national rates.

When comparing auto transport companies, keep in mind that low-priced quotes often result in delays in getting your vehicle loaded. Choosing the right broker is vital to getting a reputable carrier for the lowest price possible. Not all brokers are created equal in this talent.

Mercury does a thorough background check with each carrier for every shipment. We verify their ratings, references, and in addition, we obtain a certified copy of their insurance certificate, directly from the government agency that it is on file with.

You can have peace of mind knowing that the carrier shipping your vehicle is the very best and that there are no surprises guaranteed.

Mercury Auto Transport is licensed, Bonded and Insured. Our FMSCA Motor Carrier Number is MC647319.

While we do our best match your auto shipping needs with the most responsible carriers with the best track records, from time-to-time there may be accidental damage while in transit, it is good to know that the insurance of the carrier we locate for you will protect your auto shipment in that event.

Shipping a vehicle can be stressful if you don’t know what to do.  This is why we believe it is paramount to have our highly trained agents be your main point of contact from start to finish.

They will go over everything you need to know so you can relax.  In the meanwhile, we prepared this checklist.  This includes everything from pickup to delivery and how to make sure your car is ready for pickup.

When it comes to car moving, we want you to be ahead of the game!  For any questions and further assistance our agents are standing by, (800) 553-1828.  Please read our checklist to prepare your vehicle to learn more.

There are several ways you can ship a car.  The options include enclosed trailer, open carrier transport, flatbed truck, door-to-door shipping services, and to or from a terminal as well.  The most popular of the options is a 7 to 10 car open carrier.  These large trucks can accommodate almost any size vehicle including carsSUVstrucksjeeps, and vans.

Open car transport, door to door is also the best way to get the cheapest auto transport rate possible.  To learn more and see what transport method is best for you, please fill out our free quote form and one of our representatives will respond to you within minutes.  You can also call us at (800) 553-1828.

We present offers from FMCSA Licensed and Insured Carriers. When you accept an offer, we send your service agreement that guarantees the price, door-to-door service, and 100% bumper-to-bumper insurance. There are never any hidden fees or charges, guaranteed.