Container Leasing Companies: What You Need to Know

Want to have maximum flexibility while transferring your goods to the other side of the world? Leasing a shipping container is probably what you need to guarantee that your goods will arrive in a perfect state. 

Today, more than 90% of the transported goods are transported by sea, as the average capacity of shipping containers has doubled over the past years. 

This also means that you have a lot more options to consider when it comes to choosing between the best container leasing companies. 

This is why we’ve prepared this list. We’ll rank the top container leasing companies depending on their performance in the container industry, list all their pros and cons to help you choose what works for you, and explain the differences between various types of lease agreements. 

The container leasing companies are ranked based on their market share in intermodal leasing. 

In this article, you’ll find the following.

  • Reviews of the top container leasing companies
  • Types of container leases
  • When to lease a shipping container
  • How to lease a shipping container

So, keep on reading to find the answers to all your questions. 

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Top Container Leasing Companies

container leasor

Compared to buying a shipping container, leasing containers offers more advantages. The first one of them is flexibility. 

When you lease, you have the power to increase the number of containers without worrying much about the cost. You can save on storage and maintenance fees and still manage to have your goods delivered to the predetermined location in leased containers.

Most of these companies do what we call intermodal transportation, where the freight is transported using various modes of transportation, without being handled while changing modes. 

Triton International

Founded in 1980, Triton International currently owns a whopping 7.1 million TEUs of shipping containers, which makes it the number one name on our list and the biggest name in the container industry. It has agencies in 16 countries and allows lessees to access its containers through third-party locations in 46 counties. 

When you lease a container from Triton International, you have the chance to choose between dry, tank, flat racks, refrigerated, pallet wide, and open-top containers.

It offers a vast array of solutions to suit every shipment and offers several equipment choices like chassis, roll trailers, and generator sets to guarantee the safety of refrigerated goods. 

According to the latest statistics in the shipping industry, Triton International achieved a net income of 614.2 million dollars in 2021, which represented an increase of 98.7% from 2020. In addition, it offers the most versatile container lease options, so it’s the number one choice for big names like Evergreen Marine Group, Maersk, and CMA CGM. 

Florens Container Leasing

Florens Container Leasing’s headquarters is located in Hong Kong, but its container fleet operates in all continents, thanks to its massive fleet of 3.9 million TEUs of containers. It had a market value of 5.2 billion dollars in 2019, but it’s expected to reach 7.1 billion dollars by 2026. 

This lessor offers dry, refrigerated, and tank containers. As a result, its top clients include big names like Maersk, which leases the biggest number of containers, followed by MSC and COSCO. 

  1. Textainer Group

Textainer Group currently leases containers to more than 400 shipping lines in its 14 regional offices. In addition to leasing, it’s also a global leader in container sales and trading. 

This container leasing company currently owns 4.3 million TEUs of intermodal containers, compared to the 3.7 million TEUs it owned in 2020. At the same time, it achieved an increase in its net income to 273.5 million dollars. 

Textainer Group offers standard, specialized, and refrigerated containers for lease and sale. It’s also a partner with the US military. 

  1. Seaco Global

Seaco Global was founded in 1998 with its headquarters in Bermuda. It currently offers a variety of containers, including standard, refrigerated, and special shipping containers to suit all types of freight.

It’s also one of the world’s leading tank leasing companies with capacities of up to 35,000 liters per tank. Along with leasing, Seaco Global offers container sales and one-way moves, in addition to asset management for third-party containers. 

This container leasing provider is currently owned by Bohai Leasing Co., Ltd and owns about 175 port locations in 50 countries, with international offices in Miami, London, Singapore, and Hong Kong.

As part of its efforts in giving back to the community, Seaco Global is currently participating in various charity projects to relieve poverty, provide health services, and improve education. 

  1. SeaCube Containers

SeaCube Containers specializes in leasing refrigerated shipping containers, although it also offers other types of leasing services. This company has its headquarters in the USA and currently operates in more than 200 depots in Asia, the Americas, and Europe. 

This company currently has more than 1.2 million TEUs of containers in service and 2.5 billion dollars in assets, and with the expansion of the import and export of perishable products, SeaCube Containers is expected to achieve more revenues in the coming years.

It also offers its customers standardized dry containers and generator sets for the safety of food and other perishable items. 

  1. CAI International

CAI International is one of the oldest container leasing companies, as it was founded in 1989 in San Francisco. In addition to container leasing, it currently offers container sales and specialized shipping equipment. 

This company focuses on its customers in the USA, with multiple intermodal solutions for various purposes. Nevertheless, it has numerous offices worldwide and currently serves various international container operators and logistics providers. 

  1. Beacon Intermodal Leasing

Beacon Intermodal Leasing is a Boston-based container leasing company. It was founded in 2008 and is currently part of Mitsubishi HC Capital Inc., just like CAI International. 

It currently owns 1.8 million TEUs of leasing shipping containers operating in more than 125 port locations, and it cooperates with more than 180 port partners in its 11 international offices.

It offers dry and reefers with the full support of the leasing operations until the freight arrives safely to its destination. Beacon International Leasing also offers other services like selling shipping containers and managing them on behalf of its customers. 

Types of Container Leases

There are different types of container leasing agreements, and each one of them has some advantages and disadvantages. Understanding the nature of these agreements will help you pick the most appropriate one.

However, there’s something common between all these agreements: you have to return the leased equipment and container in the same condition in which you received them. Here are the types of leasing contracts.

One-way Lease 

This shipping container lease has a variable duration, and the drop-off location is determined according to the shipper’s desire. The cost of this agreement is determined according to the availability of containers and free days, in which the company can make use of shipping containers without paying daily costs. A small-sized business will appreciate the presence of free days to cut down on costs.

A one way lease is suitable for small and medium-sized companies because the lessee has more flexibility in determining the leasing terms, number of containers, and their size. However, because the duration isn’t fixed, higher shipping container rental rates are expected in the contracts.

Master Lease

This is the most flexible and cost effective agreement as it offers a long list of pick-up and drop-off locations, so it’s also the most expensive one. Moreover, the lease rates are flexible and not predetermined as other types of lease agreements because you can mix and match between locations and types of containers to customize your agreement. 

One of the main advantages of the master lease is that it allows you to store your container and shipped goods at the lessor’s depot while saving on the storage fees before and after it’s lodaded.

At the same time, the container lessors handle all the maintenance, repair, and repositioning costs of the containers.

As a result, long term rentals are probably chosen by shippers that require large fleets and are unsure about their shipping container demand, as you can easily increase the number of containers for your goods. 

Long-term Lease

This leasing agreement has all the details predetermined in the contract, so it involves high rental rates. For example, the lessee can determine the number of leasing containers needed and the delivery schedule for a specific period of time. It’s what a lessee will choose if they have to handle several shipments.

Shippers choose long term leases when they want a lease contract that can last between 5 and 8 years. In most cases, the containers are brand new for this agreement, so the contract usually has a negotiable clause when the containers’ value depreciates over time, which lessens the overall cost.

However, in this agreement, the lessee is the one who will handle the maintenance and repair fees, so it allows the shipper to save money in the long term. Nevertheless, it’s not usually the most suitable option for a small business.

Short-term Lease

This is as restrictive as a long-term lease, but the only difference is that it usually lasts for six months. Short term leases work for a shipper that is looking for a single shipment or is quite sure about the terms of their freight, the number of containers needed, and the time period they’re needed for.

Just like a long-term agreement, all the maintenance and repair costs of containers are handled by the lessee, and the number of pick-up and drop-off locations is determined by the leasing company in short term leases. The lease is usually for a higher rate and will only work for a turnaround trip. 

Lease Buy-out

This leasing agreement is suitable for bigger companies. It’s an agreement that resembles the rent-to-own concept, where the company pays a high lease price that can be eventually deducted from the final price when it’s time to purchase the shipping container from the leasing company. 

If the shipping company doesn’t have the needed amount of cash to buy a container, this lease agreement will work for it because it gives it the ability to partially pay for a container that it will eventually own. It’s the suitable setup if the company ships goods on a regular basis. 

However, there are some downsides to this agreement, and one of them is that the total price paid is usually bigger than what the company would have paid if it decided to buy the container in the first place. The other disadvantage is that the lessee has to buy the container and pay its full price within a specified period, so this contract won’t work for a small business. 

When Should You Lease Shipping Containers?

When it comes to shipping your goods, there’s always the question of whether you should buy or rent a container. Money isn’t the only difference, as other features will help you pick the right decision, so you can either decide to pay for one or lease a container instead.

  1. Determine the size of the container that you need. If you have one large shipment, it would be better to lease a single large shipping container. However, if you have multiple shipments traveling to different locations, then you need various smaller lease containers ande have them loaded according to your plan. 
  2. Think about the time period you’ll need the container for. If you have multiple shipments, then a long-term lease will be appropriate. If you choose a short-term lease, then you should think about the transit time and the time needed to return the empty containers to the company. 
  3. Compare the prices and terms of several container lease companies to find the most appropriate offer. This also includes maintenance and detention charges.
  4. Ask about the cost of delivering the containers to your warehouse. In this case, picking a lessor with a depot or support offices close to your warehouse will make more sense. 
  5. Check out the availability to store the container at the lessor’s lot if you don’t have enough space to store it in your warehouse. 
  6. Once you have decided on the company, fill out the lease papers and sign the leasing contract. The company will require that you fill in some business information about your company, the goods you’re transporting, and other important details. You might also be asked to pay a deposit for the shipment. 

Conclusion

leasing shipping containers

There are tens of container leasing companies in the world, and we highlighted the top seven in this article to help you pick the right one. We’ve also discussed the types of lease agreements, so you can discuss the one that really works for your business. 

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.

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