Buying Shipping Containers

How much should you pay for a used shipping container?

Shipping containers (also known as storage containers, freight containers, conex boxes, ISO containers, or sea cans) can be transformed into a lot of nifty, useful things: bars, gardens, restaurants, bachelor pads, and the list goes on.

So how do you know that you’re getting the best value at a reasonable price on shipping containers?

Before committing to buy, it pays to know the key elements that will impact whether or not you make a smart purchase decision.

In this article, we explore the four main factors that impact the cost of shipping containers the most.

How Much to Pay for a Shipping Container

We’ve put together this quick shipping container pricing guide for you. Besides recent ballpark figures, you’ll also learn about the various factors that can potentially impact total costs when you're about to purchase a shipping container.

For starters, shipping containers can cost anywhere from $2,000 to $4,500.

These ballpark figures will give you a rough idea when shopping for storage containers.

  • Used 20 Foot Shipping Container: around US$2,000
  • New 20 Foot Shipping Container: around US$3,000
  • Used 40 Foot Shipping Container: around US$2,200
  • New 40 Foot Shipping Container: around US$ 4,500

Generally, shipping container prices will vary based on the following factors: age, condition, size, delivery fees, and supplier.

4 Factors that Impact the Cost of Buying Shipping Containers

#1 - Age and Condition

If you are looking for a storage container with minimal wear and tear, one-trip containers may be your favorite choice. These containers are typically manufactured and shipped from Asia, where they carry their first (and last!) cargo.

As single-trip containers, they usually show only minor signs of wear, and are considered "new" by industry standards.

Here’s a ballpark estimate for the price of one-trip containers:

  • 20 Foot Shipping Container: retails at US$3,000 
  • 40 Foot Standard Shipping Container: retails at US $4500 
  • 40 Foot Standard High Cube Container: retails at US $5000 

In a nutshell, the newer the shipping container, the higher the price. You can expect longer lifespans from one-trippers because they have experienced less wear and tear than used containers with a longer life at sea.

With new containers, there’s also a reduced risk of unknown chemical contamination.

Keep in mind, however, that you don't have to purchase a one-trip container just to get a container in great condition. At, we offer a certified condition guarantee on all our containers to ensure that you get a container that meets or exceeds your standards.


Used or retired containers are units who have outlived their recommended shelf life for international transport, but are still perfectly suitable for other uses.

An important note on used containers — “used” doesn’t mean that they are not in good condition. Most of the time, a retired container is assigned a grade and marked with a specific label (e.g. lightly damaged, ISO approved) to describe its condition.

Essentially, it depends on how the older container has been used, and the conditions to which it has been exposed.

If you’re buying a used shipping container, double-check for the following:

  • Check for loose floorboards.
  • Check for rust (a little rust may be okay) and dents. Ask about previous repairs.
  • Check the Better Business Bureau (BBB), social media, and forums for seller reputation and customer reviews.
  • Make sure that the doors open and close easily. Difficulties in opening and sealing the door shut may be a result of uneven ground. When placing a shipping container on the ground or a grassy surface, level the area as much as possible. If it’s impossible with your current location, level the container by wedging a corner or two once it’s in place.

You can learn more about buying used shipping containers here.

#2 - Size of the Container

When shopping for shipping containers, you can choose between standard and high-cube containers. Generally speaking, standard-sized containers are 8 feet wide by 8 feet, 6 inches high.

There are two standard lengths for storage containers: 20-footers and 40-footers.

Most standard shipping containers have been approved by the International Standards Organization (ISO) to ensure consistent, quality, and safety across the board.

Meanwhile, a high cube shipping container is 9 feet, 6 inches tall. Some suppliers offer extra-wide containers that are usually 10 feet in width. You may have to pay an extra 20-to-30% for custom-sized shipping containers.

#3 - Delivery Fees

The delivery fee is another important factor that you shouldn't overlook when considering shipping container pricing. There are instances when you have to pay for special permits as well. These costs impact how much you pay out of pocket to put your container to use.

If you purchase a container that is hundreds of miles away from your property or site, delivery costs may be extremely expensive. In many cases, inflated shipping costs outweigh lower prices you paid for the container.

Why buy a container on Craigslist or eBay only to shell out a fortune to get it delivered?

When inquiring about pricing, ask about delivery (and other) fees upfront. Is the cost of delivery included? If not, what will it cost?

For the most part, suppliers set a flat delivery fee for a certain mile radius. They may charge more for anything that goes beyond their preferred mileage, but multiple orders might get you a discounted rate.

Obviously, the higher the mileage, the more you are going to pay. Rush orders for same day or next day delivery can come with a 20-to-30% premium.

Additionally, it might cost more if it's difficult for the delivery team to access your property. Transport companies charge extra if they have to go up long dirt roads or squeeze into sketchy delivery locations. Finally, some delivery teams charge additional fees (around $75 per hour) when the driver has to wait on the customer to get the drop site ready or do extra tasks to get the container in place.

#4 - Who Sells You the Container

Once you’ve decided on the right shipping container to purchase, you have to decide where to buy.

Resellers typically mark the container up 25-to-35%. Like everything else that involves a middleman, you will pay for their markup if you buy through them. Buying direct almost always nets you a better deal.

It's also worth noting that middlemen tend to push containers that have been in stock for too long. This means you could possibly be pressured into paying for containers that are in worse shape than you would from a larger supplier, but still pay the same price.

At, we cut out the middleman markups completely.

Your Next Step In Shopping for Your Shipping Container

Whether you’re considering a shipping container to set up your new office space at home or simply looking for a quick storage solution, buy from a supplier you can trust.

When shopping for shipping containers, inquire about pricing from different providers. Besides costs, ask about policies on pricing, warranty, delivery, and permits. At, we provide every customer a certified condition guarantee —you get exactly what you were promised or we replace it.

Written by Container Guru / March 3, 2018

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