Shipping container cost and how to get the best deal

If you’re looking to buy a shipping container what cost can you expect? Let’s take a look at some ballpark numbers on shipping container cost and the grading systems and condition of a shipping container in each price range. Important to note that grading standards are usually a company’s system and not an international standard for purchasing containers. This means, that although 2 companies could both classify their containers in terms of grade A, B, or C, it does not mean that a Grade A will be the same for both. 

Going by quantity, most shipping containers for commercial use are leased. Leasing shipping containers hold a lot of advantages for businesses such as low up front shipping container cost, flexibility of drop off and pick as a project ends and the ability to scale the quantity as needed. Leasing a shipping container can be as low as $50-$75 a month. Some projects and uses tend to be better suited by buying a shipping container. The ability to customize, paint and place the shipping container permanently come to mind. Shipping container homes and storage uses for farms are two examples.

When buying a shipping container and comparing shipping container cost it is important to know what to expect in your price range and the container terminology that goes with each price range.

One example shipping container grading system from the

1. As-is shipping containers and well used shipping container cost – Expect to pay $1500-$2000

If you are looking for a bargain or a handyman container for a use that does not demand cosmetics a bargain shipping container is a great option. These shipping containers can have an extensive amount of damage or rust to the doors, sides, joints and wood flooring. As with all things the more damage the cheaper the shipping container. This kind of as-is shipping containers start around $1500 for a standard 20 foot container and maybe $1750 for a 40 foot container. This will vary by location, inventory and the extent of the wear and tear. A surplus of this level of quality is available starting with a simple web search, ebay or even craigslist.

At this price point be expecting issues with the doors, some possible holes, rust, dents or floors that have been damaged by chemical spills or water damage.

As is shipping container cost.

The cost of a well used shipping container like this may make sense for your project.

2. Average or common condition shipping container – Expect to pay $2000 – $3500

If you are looking for a quality container that can be used for storage, security or most any personal or farm project at a reasonable price, then renting or buying a used container might be the best way to go. Most containers reach the market in good but not great condition as shown below.

Know this: there are plenty of used shipping containers out there that are in good condition. As long as the container has not been severely damaged, it will do what it’s meant to do: protect and store your stuff. Containers are made of COR-TEN steel and are designed to last 10, 20 or even 30 years. Buying used, means you get a durable product at a reasonable price. Used containers for purchase in a range of average condition can cost anywhere between $1,900-$3,500, depending on the size and condition of the container.

One trip containers and grade A container prices – Expect to pay $2500 – $6000

If you are looking for a high end one trip shipping container or one that has never been used and are willing to pay full price, a ‘one-tripper’ is the right container for you. One-tripper containers have been manufactured and shipped directly from China, carrying their first and last load of cargo.

New shipping containers cost anywhere from $3,000 to $6,000, depending on the size, features and market price in the region where you will have it delivered. Moving them around does cost money so it impacts the final cost. Many shipping container suppliers sell new containers for purchase.

New or one-trip shipping containers are popular among industries that plan on using the containers for frequent transport or storage and require the newest, most structurally sound and cosmetically pleasing units available.

Many commercial developers are now building amazing shipping container homes or buildings with storage containers, converting them into livable space or working office spaces. Because they are cheap, transportable and green they make a great raw building material. This type of application requires a person buy a one trip shipping container for the best finished product.

Where can you buy a shipping container? Get the lowest prices now from our local container partners and find out what hey offer.

So how to get the best deal and not overpay?

Don’t overbuy. Shipping containers have a life span of 20-25 years if properly maintained and depending on climate. 95% of all rust you may see on your shipping container is purely cosmetic and easily sanded and removed. For $200-$300 a container can be painted once cosmetic rust is removed. Most damage is surface deep and overpaying for a shiny container could be a big mistake. Buyers may pay $1000 to $3000 more for a container no more structurally sound.

Compare shipping container dealers. Our website exists to compare and save buyers money on shipping container costs. We work with over 50 shipping container suppliers in 46 states. With a single quote request you can compare the shipping container inventory, grading systems and pricing of every dealer in your state and willing to deliver to you.

Additional information and assistance on shipping containers in Spanish on MSN Dinero.

What are the most common steel shipping containers for sale?

Let’s take a look at the various sizes and astounding quantity of shipping containers for sale. The large volume will help you understand where there is such a strong market across the US. You can quickly and easily get shipping container prices here from our preferred partners, and from there, you’ll likely be able to make a more informed choice about what’s best for your needs.

The Most Common Container Size?

Though there are specialized shipping containers you may be able to use for your shipments if it is especially large or oddly shaped, the vast majority of shipping container dimensions are considered to be “standard intermodal container” sizes. Though they’re commonly just referred to as steel shipping containers or freight or cargo containers, they may also be called a sea or ocean container, or an ISO container.

We are focusing on the 20 ft shipping containers as the most flexible, common in private sales and with the most residential and farm uses due to ease of transport.

20-Foot Container Usage and Details

If you are considering a 20ft shipping container , also known as intermodal containers, are a large, standardized container for freight transport. They can be used across different modes of transport, including ship, rail and truck (without unloading and reloading cargo), and are used primarily to store and ship materials. Steel shipping container dimensions vary, and there are a number of different standard sizes. 20 foot shipping containers are extremely popular and available in all 50 states due to the common use of them in every industry. It’s estimated that there are about 25 million of them in the world as of 2020.

20 foot steel shipping containers can come equipped with forklift pockets for loaded containers, as well. Because of how versatile they are, these 20 foot shipping containers are some of the most common ones to see on the road.

The maximum cargo size permitted for 20′ containers, due to interior dimensions, is as follows:

  • Length: 19 ft., 3 inches
  • Width: 7 ft., 8 inches
  • Height: 7 ft., 9 7/8 inches
  • Door Opening: 7 ft., 8 inches wide, 7 ft., 5 inches tall
  • Cubic Capacity: 1,165 cu. ft.

Just how many 20ft shipping containers we talking about?

There are currently almost 20 million total shipping containers in circulation worldwide with the number of active shipping containers at more then 7 million. 20ft shipping containers represent the largest amount of any size from this sample. In total, steel shipping containers make around 200 million trips a year, according to Billie Box.

Where the heck do These shipping containers come from?

Approximately 97% of all shipping containers are manufactured in China. This is due to a lower cost to manufacture in China and that much of the world’s products are produced in China. The liner shipping industry has spent over US$300 billion in more than a dozen countries on the purchase of new vessels that can carry increasingly astonishing amounts of containers. Many of these containers stay in their final destination which is how so many come to be available for sale in the aftermarket. You can search our dealers in your area and see over 500 for sale or rent at any time. Ultimately the logisitics and transportation authorities and port cities end up with both control and inventory of every container that enters the country. While the transportation of containers is generally pretty steady and only changes seasonally due to demand, recent events have impacted the industry. The shipping container transportation laws of the US and local laws due to COVID-19 in 2020 have cause breaks in the flow as safety precautions are put in place in port cities.

4 Things To Check When Buying A Shipping Container.

What to look for when inspecting a shipping container:
Corners and Seams: Walk around the outside of the container and check the corners, edges, and seams. Make sure that you look at the bottom and top of the unit, where condensation and water can collect. Then do the same on the inside. Be on the lookout for any types of rust, corrosion, or excessive condensation build up. Surface rust typically amounts to nothing and can be fixed with a cheap coat of paint, but more serious rust is possible in containers older than 12-15 years.

Conex Boxes

Paint/Rust: Check the interior and exterior of the container for paint chips, flaking, or other types of damage. Weaknesses in the paint may be a sign of rust or corrosion hidden underneath the paint. If permitted, carry a steel bristled brush to try and knock off shipping container inspection. It is important to know if anything exists that may be a medical or health related issue later. A commercial use container means liability and knowing it is safe and a medically safe container for chemicals and and other hazards is important to you business.

any suspect areas to assess how serious the spot might be. A little rust should be expected and since the container is probably made of COR-TEN steel it’s perfectly natural.

Mechanical Parts: The mechanical parts of a container are around the doors. The hinges and locking gear make up a majority of the moving parts. Make sure that the doors swing freely enough for your liking, and the locking gear opens and closes easily enough for your intended use. If they parts don’t move as freely as expected, would lubricant solve the issue?

Flooring: Check the floor for any signs of rotting or excessive damage and gouges. Some wear and tear must be expected, after all the container has probably been around the world a couple of times. If there are areas of rot or damage you may need to invest in having it repaired.

Lockbox: Many older containers aren’t equipped with a lock box, while new or one trip shipping containers are. If the container will be in an unsecured area, such as an oil field or construction site, you may want a lock box. If one isn’t installed, you can either ask the depot to install one for you (and the costs associated), or you can purchase a bolt on lock box.

Overall, a used shipping container that’s between 10-15 years old should be expected to be starting to show its age. That being said, it doesn’t mean the steel shipping container price is not great and it will work well as a storage unit or other type of modified container shelter. Having what you plan to use the container for in mind, and knowing what’s important and not, will help you make the best decision when making the purchase.