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Best Load Boards 2024: Reliable Carriers & Brokers Research

By
Brian Smith
May 21, 2024
11 minutes
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Best Load Boards 2024: Reliable Carriers & Brokers Research
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The supply chain industry is booming with more truck driving jobs popping up daily and a never-ending need for transportation. While there's money to be made, drivers, carrier companies, and brokers struggle to find each other and match up their services. The best load boards help trucks find loads and brokers advertise their freight. But, many load boards lack the volume or necessary features that would make this process seamless.

We've done the research and made a list of the best load boards as rated by dispatchers, owner-operators, and brokers. Keep reading for our rankings, complete with recent user reviews and an introduction to Cota Systems®, the best up-and-coming load board solution.

What are Load Boards?

Brokers, third-party logistics companies (3PLs), or shippers use load boards to post freight they need moved along with a relevant description, equipment needed, and dates and times. Carriers can then find loads that match up with their location, truck type, schedule, or desired pay.

The goal is to help carriers and shippers connect for the common goal of making money moving freight. Sometimes the big load boards don't have what you need, but sifting through the smaller ones can seem like an enormous waste of time.

Let's get into the best load boards for truckers, carriers, and brokers.

Quest for the Best Load Boards

We scoured review sites to find the most common gripes about load boards, as well as what users like about their favorites. We used the following factors to find the best trucker load boards:

  • User-friendly interface and intuitive features.
  • Efficiency in finding loads and using filters.
  • Reliability or accuracy or load descriptions.
  • Integrations with other platforms for documents, tracking, or payment.
  • Ease-of-use in mobile apps or web versions.
  • User transparency/safeguards from illegitimate businesses.

Winner Overview

  • Best Up-and-Coming Load Board: Cota Systems®.
  • Best Free Load Board: Freight Finder.
  • Best Load Board for Owner Operators & Dispatch: Direct Freight.
  • Best Load Board for Shippers: Truckstop.
  • Best Load Board for Box Trucks & Partial: UShip.
  • Largest Load Board: DAT.
  • Best for Low Rates: Uber Freight
  • Best for Last Minute Loads: 123 Loadboard

Cota Systems® All-In-One Load Board Solution

Before we get started, we'd be remiss if we didn't highlight our lesser-known load board solution.

Our goal is to combine all the features of the best load boards for truckers and shippers into one, simplified solution. The Cota app connects certified shippers with independent trucking companies, streamlining the search process and simplifying dispatch.

Load Board Syncing

CarrierPro allows users to sync their favorite load boards into one place, saving time by searching all load boards and ensuring the reliability of shippers at the same time.

By specializing in partial movements, the app was built to be the best load board for box trucks and Less than Truckload (LTL) drivers out there. Free load boards have never been better.

New Load Notifications

Carriers can save lane preferences and common locations to receive real-time available load notifications. Pickup loads along your route to make the most out of every trip. This saves hours of wasted time searching for last-minute loads - you can be the first to bid on a load every time by leveraging the best truck load boards from one convenient app.

Simplified Dispatch

Dispatchers can save time using our simple system with one-click billing, payment tracking, and seamless integrations with the driver app. Say goodbye to siphoning through multiple platforms for documents and contact information. With Cota Systems® best trucking load board, you can do it all.

Document Transfer

In the app, sending paperwork to dispatch and shippers couldn't be easier. Rather than the painstaking chain of sending documents to dispatch and waiting for them to send to the customer for the OK, simply scan, send, and go. Dispatch can see the files immediately, opting for complete transparency. What other load boards for box trucks can do that?

Top Rated Load Boards by Truckers & Brokers

You'll notice the big players on this list like DAT and Truckstop, and it's simply because they get the best reviews. We also included smaller load boards with different functions tailored to a certain group - brokers, specialty, etc.

Without further ado, what are the best load boards?

DAT Load Board

DAT largest load board

According to G2 Reviews, this is one of the top load boards in North America, and so most people have heard of or used DAT. Equipment filters allow users to create load boards for box trucks, vans, flatbeds, etc. This review sums it up well: "DAT is the only load board we use. The search features are key for our company brokering freight and finding freight for our equipment." Definitely a lot more reviews from brokers than truckers on the G2 platform, but the reviews have spoken - DAT has one of the most extensive lead boards out there. Of course, with success, there's always a few bad sides that lurk. For truckers, this seems to be that there's an increase in spammy posts - specifically the same load posted several times to get more attention. Here's what truckers and brokers are saying about DAT on the G2 review platform:

Brief Overview: (4.6 stars on G2)

Size: More than 448.5 MILLION loads and trucks posted per year

Filters: Current location, deadhead radius, destination, truck type, truck dimensions, weight, date range, load age, company

Cost: Carriers: $45-295, Brokers: $145-395, Combo: $260-395

Top Flex: Offers the largest network to search from

Devices: Apple, Android, Desktop

As Rated by Truckers

  • 👍 - Large pool of freight.
  • 👎 - Competitive.
  • 👎 - Spam.

As Rated by Brokers

  • 👍 - Large pool of carriers.
  • 👍 - Exhaustive load boards for shippers.
  • 👎 - Cost.
  • 👎 - Competition.
  • 👎 - Rate transparency.
positive DAT loadboard review
negative DAT loadboard review

Truckstop

Truckstop best load board for shippers

Truckstop is getting lots of love on the G2 review platform, much of the reason it's being called one of the top load boards is because of an influx of small businesses using this load board. The hug network provides specialized options like sprinter van load boards and tankers. One way truckers agree it falls short is the board's user experience - not a good look for such a huge platform! Other carriers are calling it the best load board for hot shot trucking and open decks. Resources include a pre-calculated RPM and other rate negotiation tools.

Brief Overview: (4.1 stars on G2)

Size: Over 350,000 loads daily

Filters: Equipment, origin, radius, destination, weight, length, distance, days to pay

Cost: $39-149 per month

Top Flex: More mom-and-pop businesses on Truckstop that aren't always on DAT

Devices: Apple, Android, Desktop

As Rated by Truckers

  • 👍 - More small businesses.
  • 👍 - Specialized Options.
  • 👎 - User experience.
  • 👎 - Slow platform.

As Rated by Brokers

  • 👍 - Customer Service.
  • 👎 - Spam.
positive Truckstop loadboard review
negative Truckstop loadboard review

UShip

Uship loved by partial & ltl shippers

Uship is an online marketplace that connects individuals and companies with carriers who can help them move pets, freight, vehicles, and other Less than Truckload (LTL) commodities. Like other load boards for box trucks and sprinter van load boards, many shippers are brokers or small businesses looking for affordable rates. This is a big win for truckers as reviews on Trustpilot seem to favor small businesses. Carriers are saying they love the user experience, but the broker fees can get awfully costly. One reviewer that stood out left a 5 star review even with a mistake made to his shipment: "Our shipment was split up into two shipments but the pallets missing from the initial shipment were promptly located and delivered the following day. Everything arrived in good condition. We are happy with the service provided." Kudos to a team that can right a wrong and get high praise in the process!

More on the truckers standpoint: There aren’t a lot of reviews from the actual carriers on Trustpilot, we had to do a lot of digging. Some appreciate the quick buck, but don’t mistake UShip for being on the driver’s side. Lots of bidding and more attention to the shipper could put truckers in a tight spot.

Brief Overview

Size: Over 40,000 transportation providers and 6 million customers to date

Filters: pickup/delivery location, weight, pickup site type, customer type, commodity

Cost: Free with load booking fees

Top Flex: Simple process, plenty of control over who you work with

Devices: Desktop, Apple, Android

As Rated by Truckers

  • 👍 - Local & Regional Runs.
  • 👎 - Bidding.

As Rated by Shippers

  • 👍 - User Experience.
  • 👎 - Fees.
positive Uship loadboard review

123 Loadboard

123 Loadboard best for last minute loads

123 Loadboard can possibly be the most popular load boards for trucking companies, carriers find it useful in situations where DAT and Truckstop prove unhelpful. TrustPilot reviews by truckers are overwhelming - almost all raving about the customer support they received from 123 Loadboard! They also seem to love the large pool of freight. A breath of fresh air for truckers after reading the one sided comments from brokers for UShip above. This is one load board that seems to have truckers' backs - and it shows with over 900 reviews, mostly from truckers! Still a contender for one of the best load boards for brokers because they make it easy to post loads and integrate with platforms like Mcloed and Descartes. Also, happy truckers equals happy brokers - right?

Brief Overview (4.7 stars on trustPilot)

Size: Over 57 million loads posted annually.

Filters: Pickup and delivery location, equipment, size, credit rating, days-to-pay, rate, team/solo.

Cost: $35-55 per month.

Top Flex: Easy to use web version, mobile app could use some work.

Devices: Desktop, Apply, Android.

As Rated by Truckers

  • 👍 - Financial tracking.
  • 👍 - Large pool of freight.
  • 👍 - User experience.
  • 👍 - Customer service.

As Rated by Brokers

  • 👍 - Customer service.
  • 👎 - Cancellation policy.
positive 123 Load Board loadboard review

NextLoad

Nextload loved by owner operators

NextLoad is a free online load board for brokers and carriers. It's on our list of best load boards because of its across-the-board positive ratings for user experience and user-friendliness. Birdeye reviews for this load board are overwhelmingly positive - could it be because it's a free load board? That could be a big factor, but the reviews are praising the quality of loads available, customer service, and according to one 'to-the-point' reviewer: "In short: everything is good, nothing is bad."

Easy navigation is another common pro mentioned via Birdeye reviews - seems NextLoad nailed their UX!

Brief Overview: (4.4 stars on Birdeye)

Size: N/A

Filters: Weight, Length, Distance, Minimum rate, Keywords, Origin, Radius, Destination, Equipment, Company type.

Cost: Free.

Top Flex: Easy to use system, large number of loads and trucks.

Devices: Desktop (mobile version but no app).

As Rated by Truckers

  • 👍 - User experience.
  • 👍 - Filters and Features.
  • 👍 - Customer service.
  • 👎 - Limited flatbed options.
  • 👎 - Downtime.

As Rated by Brokers

  • 👍 - Free carrier credit checks.
  • 👎 - Customer service.
positive NextLoad loadboard review

UberFreight

Uber Freight best for low rates

Uber Freight has called itself the future of freight. While not many people would take it that far, the system has a few valuable qualities. Drivers can rate facilities and warn other carriers about problematic shippers. Shippers can take advantage of guaranteed rates based on national averages. While Uber Freight has its issues, it is one of the best load boards for dispatchers to catch a last-minute load. Most reviews found on G2 for this load board are by brokers, not truckers. 

Although truckers may flock to leaderboards with more options - there is a limit depending on the level of treatment and earnings. One reviewer mentions that they had just "started working with Uber Freight, booked 2 loads, go to pickup and HEB refused to release load, tried to communicate with Uber and got passed off to 2 to 3 different people to resolve the issue." 

Not a good look for this giant, however, reviews by carriers were hard to come by and we're giving Uber Freight the benefit of the doubt here. The sheer size of this company says there must be more to it than what we’re seeing online at the moment. Brokers seem to be relatively happy, with one explaining "reload options are very helpful and make it very easy to keep the trucks moving." The fact that drivers are able to rate shippers is enough for us to think good things may be on the horizon with Uber Freight.

Brief Overview: (4.1 stars on Capterra)

Size: 15,000 FTL and 150+ LTL carrier partners.

Filters: Trailer type, date, commodity, load type, appointments, locations, radius.

Cost: Free.

Top Flex: Carriers easily find loads near them, and brokers choose between highly rated, pre-approved carriers.

Devices: Desktop, Apple, Android.

As Rated by Truckers

  • 👍 - Load options.
  • 👎 - Low rates.

As Rated by Brokers

  • 👍 - Flexibility and tracking.
  • 👎 - Lower quality.
positive Uber Freight loadboard review

Direct Freight

Direct Freight best for dispatchers

DirectFreight is a free load board with paid options to add features like scheduled alerts and document storage. While many call it one of the best load boards for dispatchers and brokers, it has a few kinks to work out regarding in-app billing and customer service as per the current Google reviews. Truckers seem to like the Direct Freight app, but they have a few suggestions such as one reviewer who said: "Seems like a good app for people who have a CDL and a commercial vehicle. Not really seeing anything for a pickup truck to hotshots. Maybe they will have some soon though 🤔."

While another driver, who did find loads for herself for "..2 weeks and have enjoyed my experience. It's given me confidence to book my own loads as O/O." There are also quite a few reviews on Google from brokers, one in particular has said he's had a "..great experience and in joy used it. It is easy to understand and find loads for your carrier." All in all, Google reviews are pointing to the positive, with truckers calling this load board 'exceptional' and 'a direct line on dreams in the making'. With Owner Operators as happy as this, that very likely trickles over to shipper satisfaction!

Brief Overview: (4.0 stars on Google)

Size: 300,000 loads daily.

Filters: Pickup/deliver radius, trailer type, FTL/LTL, date, age, weight, length.

Cost: Free or paid plans from $35 per month.

Top Flex: Feature-rich on the broker and carrier side.

Devices: Desktop, Apple, Android.

As Rated by Truckers

  • 👍 - Filters.
  • 👍 - Broker transparency.
  • 👍 - Large freight pool.
  • 👎 - Brokered freight options.

As Rated by Brokers

  • 👍 - Carrier credit reports.
  • 👍 - Carrier ratings.
  • 👎 - App glitches.
positive Direct Freight loadboard review

Qualities of the Best Load Boards

The best trucking load boards should ultimately save you time, money, and headaches. Whether you use them as a backup or backbone in your operations, your load boards should serve their purpose of connecting you with partners with as few technical difficulties as possible.

High-Quality Loads

Loads should pay fair and in line with or above national averages. Sifting through freight that barely pays enough to break even is demoralizing and defeating.

Load instructions should be reasonable and clear. Brokers should have to state all requirements, not sending any surprises over in a rate of confirmation for you to dispute.

Real-Time Updates

Don't waste your time calling on loads that were booked hours ago. You're already calling 10-30 numbers to find the right match. Load boards should have strict expirations on postings.

Rate Negotiation Tools

Data on what similar lanes are going for helps with negotiations on both sides. It helps to have real, reliable data on the lane in question so everyone involved knows they're getting a fair deal.

User-Friendly Interface

Glitchy websites and confusing platforms only slow you down. Apps should be user-friendly and intuitive - especially if you're paying for them.

A huge plus is integrations with common TMS/EDI/payment/tracking platforms. The more data auto-populates, the faster you can get things moving.

How Carriers Find Truck Loads

Deciding how to find truck loads while optimizing equipment and working hours is half the battle.

Carriers use a diverse pool of resources to find profitable loads. Some prefer to secure dedicated lanes and contracts, settling for lower pay in return for stability and daily home time. Others prefer to hunt for new freight constantly, taking advantage of spot rates and seasonal rate hikes.

Searching Load Boards

Most carriers use load boards regularly, whether to book loads or get a feel for comparable rates. Depending on their equipment, they will specifically look at sprinter van load boards, reefer load boards, or what have you. Dispatchers or owner-operators will call out to brokers who have posted their loads, offering a price or collecting information. Load board rates can be unpredictable and working with new shippers every day can be stressful for drivers.

Freight Brokers

Freight brokers work for shippers to get their loads moved on time and within budget. They're largely the ones posting loads, acting as a middleman between the customer and carrier.

Brokers normally take 15-25% of the profit, tacking their fee onto truck driver quotes before billing the customer. Carriers learning how to find truck loads often work with brokers to find regular lanes.

Shipper Partnerships

Building a network of shippers is the best way to secure predictable lanes without scouring different load boards all day every day. Once on their list of preferred carriers, they will reach out to YOU.

The benefits of this method include stability and reference building. Downsides include being pressured to honor regular rates even when national averages change.

Government Contracting

Those lucky enough to work as government contractors have regular lanes, and use load boards for trucks in between committed loads. Contracting means reliable rates and predictable schedules. Because the requirements are strict to qualify, your company won't have to bid against as many competitors.

Streamline Your Search

Cota Systems® makes searching for loads easier than ever. Rather than searching load boards separately, sync your favorites into one platform and search the best box truck load board, according to your preferences.

Combine boards from your favorite brokers, both big and small.

The Truth About Load Boards

Not everyone in the supply chain industry has the best intentions. Using load boards means you may have to take measures to protect yourself and your drivers. It can also be tough to find high-quality loads nearby, forcing you to waste money with deadheads and spend time scrolling through different load boards.

Cota Systems® was created to solve these problems. Our aim is to provide the benefits of the best trucker load boards - ease of use, transparency, and reliability - without the downsides and headaches. If you think load boards aren't for you, check out our list of the best trucking companies to work for according to truckers themselves!

Are Paid Load Boards Worth it?

Paid load boards for trucks are worth the money, as long as you're making a decent ROI, finding good loads, and receiving the customer support you deserve.

We suggest using free ones to start, and upgrading for paid versions if and when you feel like you're missing out on helpful features. If you feel like there's more money to be made with paid services, it's definitely worth exploring.

Save Time Finding Loads With Cota Systems®

We hope this list of best truck load boards helps you navigate the world of finding freight with some more information up your sleeve. Remember to take reviews with a grain of salt - someone might have had a great or terrible experience because of their region, truck type, or attitude. Exploring the options for yourself is the only way to truly rule out or fall in love with a load board.

At Cota Systems®, we're committed to helping truckers succeed; we keep your priorities in mind with every feature we design and guide we write. Check out our load boards for box trucks and partial loads today to make the most of every mile.

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