Freight Facts: The Cost of Shipping Containers

The Cost of Shipping Containers

What can you do with a used shipping container?

The possibilities are nearly endless.

They can store cargo and equipment at job sites. They can house cafes and pop-up shops in trendy neighborhoods. They can even transform into low-cost homes, school buildings, and medical facilities.

And of course, let’s not forget about shipping containers’ original purpose: shipping freight.

If you’re looking into used containers, you probably have a few questions. What’s the average cost of shipping containers? Is the price worth it?

A few considerations go into answering those questions. Let’s take a closer look:


The bigger the shipping container, the higher the price tag. However, larger shipping container sizes often offer better value per cubic foot. If you know you need a large amount of space, it’s often cheaper to buy one large container than two small ones.

The condition can significantly affect the cost of metal shipping containers. Generally, used shipping containers cost about $2,100 for a 20-foot model and $2,850 for a 40-foot model.


Should you buy a new shipping container? If you’re not actually in the logistics business, the answer is almost always no.

Shipping containers are manufactured from high-quality steel to withstand rigorous conditions. They must meet high durability standards set by the ISO to ship cargo on land or sea. That means even containers no longer considered suitable for freight shipping are still more than durable enough for non-shipping uses.

If you are buying a shipping container that needs to meet ISO standards, used containers can still be much more cost-effective than new ones.

Regardless of why you’re buying your container, it’s important to inspect your purchase before purchase. Watch out for rust and other signs of wear-and-tear. Repairing these problems is often possible but will cost money.

Research your seller carefully. Do they have positive reviews? What about a quality guarantee? Many sellers will offer inspection and certification services to help you be sure that your container is safe and will meet your needs.


If you’re using your shipping container for simple on-site storage, you may not need to make any modifications at all.

But if you’re going for a more specialized project, modifications are in your future. Depending on the project’s scope, these changes can bump up your price tag.

Your shipping container may need electricity, windows, or awnings. A container storefront will need an attractive paint job. A container home will need heating, cooling, walls, and other comforts. These will all be additional costs on top of the container itself.


Before you click “buy,” read your seller’s delivery terms carefully. In some circumstances, getting the container to your location can cost more than the container itself!

A seller located closer to you should charge less for delivery. Pay attention to any extra fees related to unloading and installation.

Learn More About the Cost of Shipping Containers

The cost of shipping containers should be fair and transparent with any reputable container dealer. But not all sellers—or containers—are created equal. That’s why it’s important to do your research.

Want to learn more about used shipping containers? Read more articles here in our archives.

Freight Facts: The Cost of Shipping Containers

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