The Cost of a Shipping Container Depends on These 5 Factors

The shipping container industry is notorious for having a consistent product mix but ever-changing market prices. So what are the factors that dictate the cost of a shipping container in the marketplace today?

This article will walk through the five main factors that determine the cost of a shipping container at any given time:

  1. Shipping container size you need
  2. Condition or grade of container
  3. Your storage location
  4. Whether you want to rent or buy
  5. Global trends impacting container movement

1. Container Size

The container size you’re looking to buy or rent has a HUGE impact on market pricing.

So what size of portable storage container do you need? A 10 footer? 20 ft unit? Or a 40 footer?

Container Sizes

Determining the volume of items you need to store will give you a better understanding of what to expect in terms of the estimated cost of a shipping container.

Standard size 20ft, 40ft, and 40ft High Cubes are typically the most cost-effective storage containers.

That’s because the larger container sizes (i.e. 45ft, 48ft, and 53ft shipping containers) are less common. And the specialized 10ft unit has to be modified from a larger container size.

So if you don’t need more storage space than what a standard one-car garage can provide, then a 20ft or 40 ft container is usually, by far, the most affordable.

2. Container Condition

The condition impacts the cost of a shipping container just as much as its size does.

A container in Wind and WaterTight (WWT) condition is usually the way to go if you’re trying to get the best price.

WWT containers are typically much, MUCH cheaper than a storage container in new (One-Trip) condition. And they’re usually much less than refurbished and/or cargo worthy units.

There are As-Is units that are cheaper than WWT containers. BUT we don’t recommend this condition of container for storage because there’s no guarantees or recourse. And, oftentimes, As-Is shipping containers are just not storage-worthy.

But, in any case, container condition → container cost.

3. Your Location

Is your site far from a container port or yard?

When considering the cost of a shipping container, you have to factor in transportation and the container delivery rate.

Cost of Shipping Container Delivery

But if you’re in a populated or urban area, this shouldn’t be an issue. That’s because there’s typically a container yard nearby.

4. Rent vs. Buy

Renting anything is usually cheaper up front than buying. But this isn’t always the case.

Luckily, when it comes to determining the cost of a shipping container, there’s a simple formula to live by…

If you need to storage for more than 6 months, buying a shipping container is certainly more cost-effective than renting it.

Plus, when you buy it, you don’t have to worry about any recurring costs, pick-up charges or hidden fees that some portable storage companies like to tack on their rental quotes.

But if you need a short-term storage container at your site for, let’s say, 3 months, then without question, you should rent vs. buy.

The cost of a shipping container for rent in the industry usually ranges in between $50 to $150 per month depending on the size you get.

10ft rental containers are about $50 to $70 per month, while 20ft rental units clock in at about $60 to $80 per month. 40ft rental containers are usually only $90 to $110 per month.

And for a 40ft High Cube rental—which boasts an extra foot of vertical storage space compared to the 7’10” internal height of the standard 40ft container—you’re typically only looking at paying $100 to $120 per month.

The cost of a shipping container for purchase varies based on supplier and market dynamics.

But based on recent trends, a used 20ft shipping container in good Wind and WaterTight (WWT) condition is about $1,300 – $2,400.

For a new (One-Trip) 20 footer, you’re looking at about $1,850-$3,500. And a used 40ft container is usually in the $1,400 – $1,700 ballpark. While a One-Trip 40 footer is about $3,500 or so.

And a used 10ft “specialized” container size is between $1,300 to $2,200. For a new one, plan to pay about $700 to $1,200 more.

5. Global Trends and Market Factors

A combination of political, economic, technological, and environmental forces and trends impact the cost of a shipping container in the marketplace today.

Here’s a round-up of the major external influences on the market price of a shipping container:

  • Trade patterns and shipping routes
  • Ocean freight costs and surcharges
  • Whether or not it’s high season or downtime in the shipping industry
  • Supply and demand for imports and exports
  • The dynamics of China’s container manufacturing industry
  • Changes in domestic transportation and logistics

Yes, it’s true that these external factors that impact global container movement are unpredictable and uncontrollable.

But the more you know about container pricing, the more informed you’ll be when comparing rental rates and sales units on the live marketplace.

Cost of Shipping Container in Online Marketplace

Why Can’t I Find Published Shipping Container Prices on the Internet?

The container trading industry is a very secretive one, uniformly expressing reluctance to give out the pricing scheme and formula used to calculate prices.

Much of this hesitation arises from the volatile nature of the marketplace, where inventory and pricing are in constant flux.

With these perceptual changes, competition is fierce.

This is one of the main industry problems Container Markets has identified. So we’ve leveraged the power of technology to address this issue.

So…current cost of a shipping container?

Get container pricing >>

If you’re thinking about buying or renting a storage container, then it’s helpful to understand the factors that influence the cost of a shipping container at any given time.

The more you know about container cost components, the savvier you’ll be as a buyer or renter.

Not only will you know the right questions to ask about current container pricing. You’ll also understand what a competitive container price actually looks like when comparing live inventory and suppliers on our online marketplace.

Hey, they don’t say “knowledge is power” for kicks, after all.

The Container Markets Solution

Container Markets is here to make buying, selling, and renting containers radically simple.

By having suppliers list their equipment on our site, you can gain insight into market dynamics and easily find container pricing in your area.

In particular, our online container marketplace:

  • Eliminates costly old processes.
  • Connects buyers and suppliers directly.
  • Enhances market transparency.
  • Provides a quick, seamless buying experience.

Enjoy supplier-direct published shipping container prices whenever you need it most.

View current cost of a shipping container >>

3 Comments to “ The Cost of a Shipping Container Depends on These 5 Factors”

  1. […] the marketplace is so volatile, the cost of a shipping container is always changing. So be careful of what you’re getting for a container rate that’s […]

  2. […] since 20ft units are so popular, they’re relatively low cost. Plus, they’re commonly available in all conditions in ports across the U.S. (and the […]

  3. […] the other hand, a 20ft used container (20′ x 8′) is about 150 square feet. Used 20 footers can cost between $1,750-$2,500 depending on the […]

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