Vehicle shipping and auto transportation is a $10.8 billion industry in the United States alone. And the market just keeps growing.

Yet, for any independent trucker, competition for high-paying hauls can be fierce. That's where auto transport load boards come into play.

To land contracts, it's important to use load boards wisely. These platforms match truckers with transport brokers, and they can help you build your reputation as a reliable, effective hauler.

In this guide, discover what makes a load board worthwhile. Then, learn about the most popular load boards online, and choose the right one for you.

What is a Load Board?

Load boards are online platforms that facilitate connections between auto brokers and auto transport haulers. The people who post on load boards are:

  • Shippers
  • Carriers
  • Qualified brokers

Auto brokers post the nature of the transport job. Truckers can then book a high-paying, 1000+ mile gig—an anchor load—and build a series of shorter transfer gigs around the anchor.

This is the optimal way to navigate independent vehicle hauling work. But, anchor load jobs are often only available for a short time, because carriers snap them up quickly.

Whether you're just starting out, or you're trying to take your career to the next level, it's important to determine which load boards are worth your time—and, sometimes, your money.

What Features Elevate the Quality of a Load Board?

Most load boards add value by streamlining the paperwork and verification processes necessary to carry vehicles professionally.

They make booking and billing easier, and they vet auto brokers to prevent unscrupulous agents from conning truckers. Some sites are pretty bare-bones. But the best platforms offer features that go beyond those basic services.

Building your reputation on the right boards is a good, long-term investment in your career. As you build relationships throughout the supply chain, you establish a professional network of your own.

You can also begin to specialize. Load boards can help you find unique loads that fit your truck's capacity and the capabilities of any transport equipment you invest in. When you examine load boards, consider the following qualities.

Free vs. Paid

Some load boards are free, while others charge a subscription fee. Fees range from as low as $30/month to as much as $150. There is an element of "you get what you pay for" when you compare boards in different price tiers.

Free load boards tend to attract truckers who are just starting out, or who are relatively early in their careers. As a result, auto brokers are less likely to offer contracts with high-value clients on free boards.

The more challenging a trip and the higher value the vehicles are, the more likely an auto freight broker will seek experienced truckers.

Subscription load boards also typically offer more automated features that streamline paperwork, more transparency, and greater security features.

However, make sure to look for those features specifically; some load boards are not worth what they're charging.

Rate Analysis, Negotiation

On some load boards, auto brokers set the rate for the gig, and carriers can take it or leave it. Other load boards enable negotiation.

The best load boards offer rate analysis features. Rate analysis, forecasting, and rate checks help truckers negotiate the most profitable hauls.

Rate forecasting lets truckers see week-by-week trend predictions to help you map out profitable routes. Rate analysis gives you market rates in real-time, so you can negotiate with concrete data backing you up.

Rate check tools incorporate data like:

  • Fuel cost per mile
  • Average rate per mile
  • Average line haul revenue

This lets you determine the ideal fee for a given shipment. Some load boards pair these tools with filtering features, so you only see advertised jobs that offer you the amount you want to make.

Pricing Optimization

Different load boards utilize different strategies to get you paid. Typically, brokers and markets set rates with one of three methods:

  • Spot market pricing
  • Index-based pricing
  • Rate algorithms

There are pros and cons to each of these strategies. Rate algorithms typically incorporate one or both of the first two options, but also factor in specific variables (like per-lane rates and fuel costs).

Quick Pay vs Factoring

Quick Pay and factoring are the two primary ways carriers receive payments from brokers for completed work.

Quick Pay is convenient, but it ultimately pays lower rates per load (on average). It's best if you want to streamline cash flow.

Factoring is a 3rd-party invoicing service. Carriers pay a fee to use it. But, it often puts auto transporters in a better negotiating position, and it consistently nets truckers higher rates.

The best load boards offer both. Quick Pay integration is quickly becoming standard. Factoring service partners let load boards offer discounts and incentives to carriers.

Available Load Quantity, Quality

How many high-quality loads are available on a given board? This is a make-or-break feature for load boards. If all jobs are low-quality, or if you can't actually get one, a board isn't worth your time.

Research which brokers have a reputation for high-quality loads. Determine which boards they're using.

Update Frequency

How often does a load board update its postings? The more frequently it updates, the better.

High-frequency updates mean rate analysis tools are more likely to be accurate. It also means you're more likely to see a high-paying job as soon as it's posted.

Ideally, a load board will update in real-time. Some only update every sixty seconds, and others take far longer than that.

Frequent updates enable features like automated reloads. These tools automate grouping and booking several related jobs. This lets you get work without hitting "refresh" constantly.

User-Friendliness

A load board is user-friendly if it has an easy-to-read user interface.

If a load board includes a mobile app, its design should cultivate a streamlined, straightforward user experience. Features that improve a load board's user-friendliness include:

  • High-rated mobile app
  • Standard integrations (TMS, logistics)
  • Instant booking
  • Automated features

Credit Ratings

Credit ratings let you see a freight broker's credit score. This lets you understand the credit risk you're taking on if you contract with a given broker. It also verifies the broker's identity to prevent fraud.

Credit risk is the risk you will not be paid for a completed job. That is, it's the risk that the freight broker might default on your fee.

Some load boards let you calculate that risk and incorporate added risk into your rate—a form of risk-based pricing. Reliable load boards will not let auto brokers post jobs if their credit ratings are too low.

Consolidation Options (LTL, FT)

You want as little empty space on your cargo bed as possible. Consolidating multiple jobs lets you maximize your per-mile profit.

Different load boards offer different consolidation features. Some boards automatically group different jobs into a complete route. Others facilitate route optimization and transfers among carriers on a network.

Less Than Load (LTL) features include automated appointment booking, time blocking, and streamlined rate negotiation.

Decision Tools

Decision tools are features on a load board that empower you to optimize your route. These tools make it easier to book the jobs you want and bypass the ones you don't. Decision tools include:

  • AI/ML-algorithms
  • Route optimization tools
  • Sorting and filtering view

Artificial intelligence (AI) software and machine learning (ML) algorithms make rapid calculations based on real-time data. They're increasingly critical transportation logistics tools.

These algorithms can show you the best load options based on your availability. They can also adjust routes to reduce expenses.

How to Get The Most Out of a Load Board

Use load boards strategically. Get the most out of load boards with a few tactics:

  • Input all useful information (including your availability)
  • Use automated tools
  • Reject low-paying loads
  • Manage your reputation
  • Check credit ratings, rates, continually
  • Use alert notifications on mobile apps
  • Weigh quick pay vs factoring

The more research you do, the more you can plan ahead. Plans map out your road to success on load boards.

Best Auto Transport Load Boards 2022

There are hundreds of auto transport load boards out there. Cut through the clutter with this quickstart guide. Discover the top eleven load boards, their best features, and their drawbacks.

123Loadboard ($35-55/month)

123LoadBoard has over 350,000 users. Brokers post over 53 million truckloads on the board each year, on average.

Carriers and brokers alike give it high ratings on TrustPilot and in app stores. It's easy to use, secure, and reliable.

123Loadboard is known for its effective rate tools, integrations, and large network.

Best Features

123LoadBoard offers many popular features. The most notable features include:

  • Real-time load alerts
  • Rate Check tool (premium only)
  • Point-to-point mileage insights (premium only)
  • Visible broker credit scores
  • Automated, electronic document capture + storage

Drawbacks

There are very few drawbacks. But, some users were frustrated with the limited rate sorting and optimization tools available with the standard plan.

Others were unhappily surprised when they were automatically charged after their free trial ended.

1Dispatch (Ready Logistics) (Free)

Ready Logistics runs a load board app for qualified carriers: 1Dispatch. 1Dispatch offers high-quality loads direct from Ready Logistics, a full-service solution for transporting vehicles.

The catch is, you must qualify to join the 1Dispatch load board. To do that, you'll need to connect with the Carrier Experience Team. This is free, but it can be time-intensive.

Benefits

the 1Dispatch app offers a range of benefits and protections to carriers. These include:

  • Fast payment
  • Streamlined load management
  • Damage claims protection and resolution
  • Easy vehicle addition and grouping

Drawbacks

1Dispatch is free and offers high-quality loads. But, not everyone who applies to be a carrier is accepted. The 1Dispatch load board is geared towards mid-career auto transporters.

Carrier by ACV (Free)

Carrier by ACV updates the load board app ACV Transportation.

Carrier is a relatively new load board, and it's entirely app-based. It's the transportation arm of ACV Auctions, an online car sale site. The user interface is simple. Using it is straightforward.

One of the benefits of this connection is consistent work. ACV Auctions funnels a consistent flow of steady, exclusive work straight to its transport side. Carrier lets truckers soft reserve work to optimize their routes.

Benefits

Carrier offers some protective benefits to drivers, including its photo-based electronic Bill of Landing process. Notable positives include:

  • Delivery direct to dealers (saves pickup/drop-off time)
  • Quick pay options
  • Real-time security features
  • Real-time pricing, status updates

Drawbacks

Carrier by ACV doesn't offer as many premium-quality auto-transport loads as some competitors. Its app is also unpopular among auto carrier professionals.

CarShipIO ($39-129/month)

CarShipIO is an all-in-one auto transport carrier TMS and load board. All members get unlimited access to the marketplace and load boards.

As a transport management service, drivers can import and manage loads from up to 35 different sources, in addition to the CarShipIO board. The basic plan offers load management, trip planning, and expense tracking features.

The CarShipIO EBOL EPOD app makes it easy to send ETAs and status updates, automatically capture Bill of Landing, and update (or verify) information. It does not facilitate bidding on brokered loads.

Benefits

Many of CarShipIO's benefits stem from its duality as both a TMS and a load board. Benefits include:

  • One-click expense tracking
  • Asset-tracking tools
  • Trip management
  • Automatic notifications (customizable)
  • Live online training
  • 24/7 support
  • Variety of software integration options

Drawbacks

It is not intuitive to customize expenses with the CarShipIO platform. Also, the mobile app lags on some devices.

Central Dispatch ($90-116/month)

Central Dispatch is the most-utilized auto transport load board on the internet. It typically has about 40,000 loads posted at any given time. This adds up to millions of job postings each month.

Central Dispatch's huge network is why it's so popular. It's not unusual for a shipper or broker to place over half of their loads through this site.

Unlike other load boards, Central Dispatch does not enable bidding. Brokers set the rates.

That said, popular isn't the same as highly-rated. Central Dispatch has a low score on TrustPilot, and truckers on YouTube often give the board negative reviews.

The consensus seems to be that it has the most jobs by far, but it doesn't have great features. Moreover, managing procedures and resolving disputes is a particularly frustrating process on Central Dispatch.

Benefits

Central Dispatch's key benefits for carriers make optimization easy. Features include:

  • Multi-point route search
  • Advanced search and filter features
  • One-click invoicing

Drawbacks

Central Dispatch has plenty of drawbacks. It doesn't offer much in terms of TMS integration, rate checks, or other analytics options.

Unlike similarly-priced competitors, it offers no rewards or automated features. Carriers must contact shippers by phone to confirm pickup.

People continue to use Central Dispatch because, well, so many people already use it. It has become the "Amazon" of auto-transport load boards.

Convoy.com ($100/month)

Convoy.com is one of the pricier load boards, but it's also one of the best. Shipping clients include Unilever, P&G, and Wayfair. Truckers find a high volume of high-quality loads on this board.

It's easy to use Convoy's filter features to find the best load for you. Sort by geographical location, route, and load type.

Convoy offers high-caliber route-optimization tools, streamlined load bundling, and rate insights. And, several integrations, rewards programs, and services are packaged into Covoy's fee.

Best Features

The most popular features are Convoy's automated options and its savings programs. Highlights include:

  • Automated Reloads
  • Free TMS features
  • TruckYeah Savings (avg. $35,000/year savings)
  • Convoy fuel card
  • Automated bookkeeping, confirmation, GPS tracking
  • Easy-to-use app
  • One-click lumper code requests

Drawbacks

Convoy.com's monthly fee is expensive. It's also highly competitive. Early-career truckers risk being outbid.

DAT ($40-170/month)

DAT takes an innovative approach to load board management. It combines three load board platforms in one:

  • DAT Power
  • DAT TruckersEdge
  • DAT Express

DAT is a bidding platform. There are no search or post limits. It offers broker credit ratings, load match alerts, and milage and routing optimization at all levels.

Higher-paying members get access to spot-market data, routing and optimization tools, and assurance features.

Benefits

Truckers typically recommend trying out DAT's easy-to-use mobile app before subscribing. Depending on your subscription level, DAT offers useful benefits, including:

  • Past-due payment collection assurance
  • Fuel optimization
  • Tri-hauling suggestions
  • Canadian loads
  • Preferred and blocked company filters
  • Live (real-time) load board
  • Exact match alerts

Drawbacks

DAT has few drawbacks. But, for some users, customer service is not responsive enough.

The biggest complaint is that the lowest price tier doesn't enable enough features. Brokers cannot enable "book now," as DAT is a bid-only platform.

Direct Freight (Free-$35/month)

Direct Freight offers over 300,000 loads every day. Its interface is simple, and it's very easy to use.

This load board has staked its reputation on reliability and transparency. It gives truckers and carriers all the information they need without a hassle.

See broker credit scores, bond authority, and relevant insurance information before you book. It also enables plenty of advanced features for a comparatively low rate, including customizable load filtering and text alerts.

Benefits

Direct Freight offers plenty of benefits for auto transport carriers. These include:

  • Custom search filters
  • Custom alerts
  • Weather notifications
  • One-click store and send documents
  • Days to pay feature

Drawbacks

Direct Freight isn't as well-known as other load boards. As a result, there are fewer available jobs here than there are on other paid boards. Use this board strategically to get the most out of it.

TQL Carrier (Free)

TQL Carrier is a free, private load board from Total Quality Logistics. Brokers post over 65,000 jobs on TQL Carrier each week. Not all jobs are auto-transport, though.

TQL also runs a second load board for partials. These jobs fall between LTL and FT jobs. To qualify for TQL's carrier network, you need auto insurance liability coverage of $1 million or more, as well as cargo insurance coverage.

TQL Carrier is a particularly useful load board for truckers with specialized equipment or skills.

It's easy to search for loads by load type and trailer type. Specialized loads include Hazmat, drayage, Department of Defense contracts, and cross-border transport (among others).

Benefits

Cargo haulers appreciate some of the unique benefits offered by TQL Carrier. These include:

  • Instant booking option
  • Book-by-phone option
  • Discount ELD
  • Exclusive deals on Ryder services, products
  • TMS integration

Drawbacks

Earlier this year, updates to the TQL Carrier app created bugs for some drivers. But, overall, there are few notable drawbacks when using this free load board.

Trucker Path (Free-$90/month)

Trucker Path is the highest-rated free load board, and it offers advanced features at three subscription levels.

Over 150,000 loads are available every day. Currently, roughly 300,000 brokers and carriers use Trucker Path every month.

Trucker Path enables real-time notifications, and it imposes no limits on searches or posts. The app is also praised for the community of carriers who often crowdsource knowledge from each other.

Paying members get access to Rate Check tools, a fuel surcharge calculator, real-time "live load" alerts, and per-lane trend analysis.

Benefits

Most carriers consider the Trucker Path app and load board easy to use. Its most popular benefits include:

  • Free app
  • Crowdsourced knowledge community
  • Payment transparency
  • Credit reporting
  • Trend analysis tools
  • Bid visibility

Drawbacks

Though the network is large, Trucker Path isn't perfect. Drawbacks include misleading reviews of truck stops and limited opportunities to take high-quality loads.

TruckStop.com ($39-149/month)

There are currently 200,000 active listings on Truckstop.com. It has a reputation for excellence, and both early-career and advanced auto carriers rate the load board positively.

It's easy to search for jobs by load type or truck type. Instant booking, Quick Pay, and unlimited load searching are available with all plans.

The Pro Plan offers market insights, broker credit ratings, and real-time load board updates. Pro also lets you search by best-paying loads, and it offers more optimization tools.

Benefits

Truckstop.com is one of the oldest load boards on the internet. It built a reputation on benefits like:

  • Fast payment
  • Market insights
  • Multi-trip search

Drawbacks

Truckstop.com is not the most-used load board. Other competitors have more postings. And, standard plans do not offer the most desirable features.

Connect With Auto-Hauling Agents You Can Trust

Auto transport doesn't have to be complicated. Connect with brokers and transportation logistics services you can count on. At Nexus, we make car shipping stress-free for everyone—customers and carriers alike.

Auto transport load boards have something to offer. But, at the end of the day, a load board is a middleman. Middlemen make things more expensive, and they create more paperwork.

Why not work with us directly?

If you're interested in joining our carrier network, contact us today. We'd love to have drivers like you on our team.