How Much Does a Used Shipping Container Cost?

Shipping containers continue to gain in popularity for a variety of reasons. For business owners looking for additional storage or to open up shop, shipping containers are a trendy new option. You might be wondering how much does a used shipping container cost?

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How Much Is a Shipping Container?

shipping-container-price
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There are a variety of options when it comes to shipping containers creating a wide range in pricing. Generally speaking, the cost of used shipping containers will range anywhere from $2,800 to $8,300. To better determine pricing options, take a look at some of the different options you have.

Size

There are two standard sizes for shipping containers. Before checking shipping container prices, you will want to determine what size best suits your needs.

Standard Size

89% of the production of shipping containers come in two standard sizes, which are:

  • 20-foot: 20’ x 8’ x 8′ 6″
  • 40-foot: 40 x 8’ x 8′ 6″

There are options for finding custom container sizes, but as you can imagine, this will cause the price to increase as these are rare to find.

The pricing for standard size used shipping containers are typically in the following ranges (updated July 2022):

Container Size   Price Range   
20-foot shipping container cost   $2,800 to $6,500   
40-foot shipping container cost   $4,000 to $8,300   

As you can see, prices can vary quite a bit. The two main factors that contribute to the price fluctuations are the condition of the containers and your location.

If you’re near a major port or can pick up locally, you might be able to find a steal, but expect to do some digging. Places like Craigslist or Ebay can also work on occasion, but be weary of scams.

The prices above are what you should expect to pay when purchasing online.

Unfortunately, the shipping container industry has taken a beating ever since COVID-19, causing container prices to almost double compared to pre-pandemic prices.

Plus, as shipping containers become more and more popular for non-traditional uses, prices are only naturally going to go up.

High-Cube Container

Some businesses have a demand for additional height in their storage containers. In these circumstances, you will want to look for a high-cube container, which will add an extra foot to your container’s height.

High-cube containers are available in both standard sizes:

  • 20-foot: 20’ x 8’ x 9′ 6″
  • 40-foot: 40’ x 8’ x 9′ 6″

Like the standard size containers, you can also find high-cube containers in custom sizes, but at a higher cost. Expect to pay around $200 – $400 more for a 20ft HC and $300 – $600 more for a 40ft HC

Untraditional Size

Any size outside of standard or high-cube container dimensions are considered untraditional. If you are looking for an untraditional size, you can anticipate paying 20-30% more than standard pricing.

Age/Condition

condition
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When you are looking to purchase a shipping container, it is important to remember what purpose they originally served – transporting cargo overseas. As a result, they are known to take a heavy beating.

Generally speaking, the average shipping container should have a lifespan of around 15 years. Keep that in mind, when you are doing your research on containers and finding out the current age and condition.

There are essential factors regarding the age and condition of shipping containers you will want to find out about before purchasing:

Age

Not only do you want to know how old the shipping container is, but more importantly, it’s also essential to see if you can find out how many times that particular container has been used to ship cargo. Knowing what the container has been used for in its history will help determine its longevity.

History of Repair

Much like any significant purchase you make, such as a car or home, you will want to find any shipping container’s repair history. Find out what was repaired, when it was fixed, and how frequently it has had repairs.

Damages

damage
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It may seem obvious, but you’ll want to be sure not to overlook any present damages the container has. Depending on the purposes you intend for the container, some damages might not be significant enough to deter you from purchasing.

Each element of age and condition are essential because you might find a newer container at a reasonable price, but it likely has been through a lot of damage and might still have some issues that you will need to tend to.

Here is a simple breakdown of the different conditions, or grades, of shipping containers, what that means, and what you can expect to pay for it:

Grade   Condition   Description   Price Range   
New   One trip   
  • Highest quality, most durable
  • Less than one year old and used for cargo once
  • Minimal exposure to damaging environments
20-foot
$5,000 to 7,000

40-foot
$6,000 to $9,500   
Premium   IICL-5   
  • The highest grade for used containers
  • Between 2 and 8 years old
  • Great condition with minimal damage
$4,000 to $8,000   
Grade A   WWT   
  • Certified as “wind and water tight”
  • Over eight years old and still certified to ship cargo
  • Some amount of rust or damage
$3,400 to $6,500   
Grade B   WWT   
  • Certified as “wind and water tight”
  • Over eight years old and not certified to ship cargo
  • A good amount of damage or rust
$3,200 and up   
Refurbished     
  • Any used container that has been repaired
  • Pricing varies based on age and repair history
$3,000 and up   
As-is   General-purpose   
  • Purchase without inspections or certifications
  • Expect dents, rusting, and other damages that you can repair on your own
$2,800 and up   

Rent vs. Purchase

You might not realize that purchasing is not the only option you have for acquiring shipping containers. Renting is another way to help you get the container you are looking for without the hefty price upfront.

Rent

Many businesses look to rent shipping containers for a more comfortable, more affordable, and highly convenient option. You can opt to make smaller monthly payments through renting instead of paying the large lump sum upfront.

Another thing to consider is the disposal after the need for the shipping container has been depleted. If you only need a container temporarily, renting is an excellent option for you not to have to worry about what to do with it once you no longer need it. Typically, once the terms of your rental agreement have been completed, suppliers will pick them up from you directly.

Monthly rental periods for shipping containers are usually two years long, and the fees associated with it are as follows:

Terms   Price Range   
Monthly rent   $75 to $200   

Any untraditional sizes or special features will add additional monthly costs ranging from $125 to $500 per month.

Purchase

You will have two options in terms of purchasing a shipping container; buy it new or used. While buying a new shipping container will give you peace of mind in terms of longevity, there are plenty of used options out there that will meet your expectations more.

Terms   Price Range   
Purchase used   $1,400 to $2,600   
Purchase new   $3,000 to $5,000   

The price ranges vary based on the different aspects of the containers, and the more custom your order, the heftier the price tag you can expect to pay.

You might also like:

Rent to Own

A newer purchase option for shipping containers that is becoming increasingly popular is a rent to own terms. On rent to own terms, you can finance the shipping container by paying a monthly rate until you cover its cost in its entirety.

Delivery Fees

shipping container being delivered
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The delivery fees associated with shipping containers varies on a few different features of the container itself. Generally speaking, the delivery fee for a standard shipping container is around $3,000.

FAQs

You want to make sure to have all the information you possibly can before making a big purchase like a shipping container. Take a look at some of the frequently asked questions surrounding purchasing a used shipping container.

Can you buy shipping containers under $1,000?

While you can find shipping containers for less than $1,000, you want to make sure you know what you are getting yourself into with a price tag that low. If a shipping container is that inexpensive, it is likely to have many faults that may not be repairable.

How Much Does It Cost to Buy a 40-Foot Shipping Container?

A standard 40-foot shipping container, with dimensions 40’ x 8’ x 8.5’, costs anywhere from $2,600 to $3,300. If you are looking for a high-cube or untraditional size container, you can expect to pay 20-30% more than the standard pricing.

How Much Is a Shipping Container Home?

Containers make for great homes, with varying customizations. On the simpler container home range, you can anticipate paying $10,000 to $35,000. Larger homes that use various containers can be up to $175,000.

What Is the Lifespan of a Shipping Container?

If you purchase a brand new shipping container and put it immediately into storage, it could last nearly 50 years. More likely, you will be purchasing a used container that has already had a life at sea, carrying cargo.

A used container will still easily last you around 15 years, depending on your use and the environment you will be placing it in.

How Come 20-Foot Containers Can Cost More Than 40-Foot Containers?

If you compare two shipping containers of similar age and condition, with the only difference being one is 20 feet, and the other is 40 feet, you might find that the smaller is more expensive at times.

This price variation happens when demand exceeds supply in the local area. Usually, 40-foot containers are the most commonly used in cargo and can be easier to find.

Conclusion

If you wonder how much are shipping containers, you can answer that question by looking at the different aspects of what you are looking for. The price of containers can range drastically, but luckily there are other purchase options for you.

Regardless of whether you are looking to rent or purchase, be sure to look at all of your shipping container specifications. A shipping container is a big-ticket item to buy, so you must know what you are getting yourself into.

Ryan Stetson

Ryan Stetson

Currently own two 20' and 40' containers converted into an office/workshop. Having worked in the shipping industry for 6 years, my goal is to share my personal experiences as well as connect potential container buyers with suppliers around the US.

14 Responses

  1. I am in upstate New York would you know of a reputable company that that sells cargo containers please let me know ?

    1. Hey Michael,

      Inventory is limited, but try MobileModularContainers as they are solid. They might only be doing rentals right now though.

  2. Currently homeless…my son is trying to help me with buying me a tiny home or shipping container…I’m by self but want to convert it into a home for me…and I love building stuff too…is it hard to make it into a home…seeing it’s made of steel….any advice would be appreciated..thanks so much

  3. I am interested in buying 30 used 10x20x9.5′ conex shipping containers but they must be delivered to my property in goldendale washington how much will it cost me and what kind of deal will you make me I have plans to buy 50 more if the price is rite just to be fair I have 2 other company’s working out a deal for us as well and plan to buy within the next 60 days

  4. Hello Ryan. Would you be able to point me in the direction of a shipping container home designer/architect? I am looking to build a custom home and don’t want to use some of the large company out here in CA. Looking for a private designer that can help draw me up some plans that I can bring to my general contractor

    1. Hey Asha!

      That’s awesome. Please email me once your container home is complete as I’d love to see the finished product.

      If you’re just looking for plans to give to your general contractor, I have a couple of options for you. Check out Pinup or AHC, as both offer some pretty solid container home plans. AHC has a lot more to choose from and can customize upon request for a fee.

      Full disclosure, both are affiliate links, but I think they’re both pretty good resources. If you buy from AHC, use coupon code “RYAN” at checkout for 10% off :). Hope that helps!

  5. Hello Ryan,

    My name is Steve Shedd, former owner of Steven-Thomas Antiques in Orange County, Ca.
    I closed my business of re-crafting 19th century staircases and buffets into useable furniture. I trashed all the soft woods but kept solid oak and walnut planks and pieces I now want to get rid of it all, approximately 1,200 cubic feet of hardwood and parts stored in a 40 ft sea freight contaner sitting in the back lot of my brothers manufacturing plant. I’ve found
    Charitable foundation that is interest in taking it all off my hands about 120 miles aways. So far I’ve found no trucker who will do the trucking for less than $ 1,500. Do you know of someone in my area from here to Santa Barbara that found truck it for me for less than $ 1,500? also, a company that would buy the container where is as is if the foundation chooses to u-haul the goods away. thanks for suggestions !

    1. Hey Steve,

      I don’t know anybody in your area, but your best bet is looking for hotshot truckers with a tilt bed to transport it for you as they’re usually the cheapest. You can try posting on craigslist and offering $5-$6 per mile. Also, check trucking forums like https://www.truckingboards.com/bb/.

      Hope it helps!
      Ryan

  6. I am very impressed by this information. I would like to buy some containers and export them to another country like Kenya, then pay rent to own basis, A one time use container would be really a good option for me, a 40 foot high cube container. Long Beach sounds like a good port for me. I will appreciate any leads.

    1. Hey Nephat,

      If you’re looking to ship containers to Kenya, Australia or China would be a better option than the US. For a one-trip container you could buy it brand new from China and then rent it out to a company looking to transport goods from China to Kenya, and the container will only cost you the difference between what you paid and what you rented it out for.

      Ryan

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