Shipping containers (also known as storage, cargo, intermodal, and freight containers) have become increasingly popular in recent years due to their versatility, usability, durability, and flexibility. 

From their original purpose of transporting goods across the world to being repurposed into residential and commercial structures, these steel boxes have proven their worth. 

In this comprehensive guide, I will guide you through the process of buying cargo containers, the different types and sizes available, where to buy shipping containers, the cheapest way to buy shipping containers, and a few tips to get the best deals. 

How To Buy Shipping Containers

So, how to purchase a shipping container?

There are lots of things to consider when purchasing shipping containers, but to summarize in a few steps:

Note: To get the best deals on shipping containers, you must compare multiple quotes from local shipping container suppliers and find the best deals that fit your budget and requirements. And to make things easy for you, click here and fill out this form to receive multiple quotes from suppliers near your area. 

StepFactorsAdditional InformationImportance
1Determine the purpose of the container: Decide whether you need it for storage or transportation.Consider factors such as the duration of use, location, and specific requirements for storage or transportation.High
2Research container suppliers: Find reputable sellers in your area and compare prices and quality.Look for reviews and recommendations from previous customers, and check the seller’s certification and licensing.High
3Decide on the type and size of the container: Choose the right type and size based on your needs.Consider the weight and size of the items you need to store or transport, as well as the intended use and location of the container.Medium
4Inspect the container: Check for dents, rust, leaks, and other damages that could affect its use.Inspect the interior and exterior of the container thoroughly, including the roof, walls, and flooring, and check the doors and locks for proper functioning.High
5Negotiate the price: Discuss and agree on the price with the seller.Be prepared to negotiate and compare prices from different sellers to get the best deal.Medium
6Arrange for delivery: Coordinate transportation and delivery to your location.Clarify delivery fees, insurance, and regulations that apply to your location, and make sure to have a clear delivery schedule.Medium
7Prepare the site: Clear and level the area where the container will be placed.Hire a professional if necessary to ensure the site is properly prepared and the container is installed safely and securely.Low

Common Types and Sizes of Shipping Containers

Container TypeSize RangeFrequently Used
Double Door Container10ft, 20ft, 40ft, and 45ft10
Refrigerated Container20ft and 40ft8
Open Top Container20ft and 40ft6
Flat Rack Container20ft and 40ft4
Tank Container20ft and 40ft3
High Cube Container40ft and 45ft7
Open Side Container20ft and 40ft5

New vs. Used Shipping Containers

When it comes to buying new or used shipping containers, it totally depends on your budget, how long you are planning to use the containers, what purpose you are going to serve, and many other factors.

Here are some things to keep in mind when selecting new or used shipping containers. 

CriteriaNew ContainerUsed Container
ConditionNew containers are in pristine condition and have not been exposed to the elements, ensuring that they are free from rust, dents, and other damage.Used containers may have visible signs of wear and tear, such as dents, rust, and scratches, and may have been exposed to harsh weather conditions during transportation or storage. However, some used containers may still be in good condition and can be refurbished or repaired to ensure their suitability for use.
CostNew containers are typically more expensive than used containers due to their pristine condition and lack of wear and tear.Used containers are often less expensive than new containers due to their pre-existing wear and tear. However, the cost may vary depending on the condition of the container, its age, and the availability of used containers in the area.
Customization OptionsNew containers can be customized to meet specific needs and requirements, such as additional doors or windows, insulation, ventilation, and electrical wiring.Used containers may have limited customization options due to their pre-existing design and condition. However, some used containers may still be suitable for minor modifications and improvements, such as painting or minor repairs.
AvailabilityNew containers may have longer lead times for delivery or may not be readily available in some areas.Used containers are more readily available and can be purchased or rented from a variety of sources, including shipping companies, container dealers, and online marketplaces.
Longevity and DurabilityNew containers have a longer lifespan and are made of high-quality materials that can withstand harsh weather conditions and heavy use.Used containers may have a shorter lifespan than new containers due to their pre-existing wear and tear. However, some used containers may still have a long lifespan if they have been well-maintained and are refurbished or repaired to ensure their durability.
Resale ValueNew containers have a higher resale value than used containers due to their pristine condition and longer lifespan.Used containers have a lower resale value than new containers due to their pre-existing wear and tear and shorter lifespan. However, some used containers may still have a reasonable resale value if they are well-maintained and in good condition.
Environmental SustainabilityNew containers are made of sustainable materials and can be recycled at the end of their lifespan, making them an environmentally-friendly choice.Used containers are also environmentally-friendly, as they can be repurposed or recycled to reduce waste and promote sustainability. However,

Container Grades and Their Importance

  • New/One-Trip Containers: Highest quality, used once for transportation, ideal for long-term storage or delicate cargo.
  • Cargo-Worthy Containers: Good condition, certified for international shipping, suitable for overseas transportation of goods.
  • Wind and Water Tight Containers: May have minor cosmetic blemishes but are still weatherproof and structurally sound and suitable for domestic transportation and storage.
  • As-Is Containers: Sold in current condition without inspection or repairs; the least expensive option, may have significant wear and tear, suitable for non-critical storage needs.

Where to Buy Shipping Containers

After finding out your budget and the type and size of containers required, you want to know where to buy shipping containers. 

You want to know the best place to buy shipping containers so you can get the best deals without sacrificing quality. 

Here are some of the place you can start your search with: 

Local Dealers: Get Free Quotes Now

One of the most straightforward ways to buy a shipping container is through a local shipping container dealer. They typically have a range of container types, sizes, and conditions in stock. 

Buying from a local dealer also allows you to inspect the container in person before making a purchase.

Compare Quotes Now From Local Dealer Today

Online Marketplaces

Various online marketplaces, such as eBay, Craigslist, and specialized container websites, allow you to browse and purchase shipping containers from the comfort of your own home. 

These platforms connect buyers with sellers from different locations, providing a wide range of options. 

However, it’s crucial to verify the container’s condition and arrange for delivery before committing to a purchase.

Container Auctions

Shipping container auctions are another option to consider. These events typically involve the sale of numerous containers from shipping companies or leasing firms looking to offload their surplus or retired inventory. 

Auctions can be an excellent opportunity to find a great deal, but keep in mind that you’ll be bidding against other potential buyers.

Here is a list of websites that offer shipping container auctions:

Cheapest Way To Buy Shipping Containers

When searching for the cheapest way to buy shipping containers, I strongly recommend comparing quotes from various suppliers. 

Request quotations from multiple dealers, considering factors such as container size, condition, and delivery costs. 

Additionally, explore online marketplaces, local classified ads such as Craigslist, Want Ad Digest, local newspapers, and social media groups to find competitive prices. 

Don’t hesitate to negotiate with sellers to secure the best deal. 

By thoroughly researching and comparing quotes, you can confidently purchase shipping containers at the most cost-effective price point.

Tips for Getting the Best Deals on Shipping Containers

The table below highlights the top ten tips for obtaining the best deals on shipping containers, ensuring you make a cost-effective and informed decision.

Tip NumberTips for Getting the Best Deals on Shipping ContainersValue (1-10)
1Compare quotes: Obtain quotes from multiple suppliers to evaluate the best price options.10
2Determine condition: Assess container quality, and choose between new, used, or refurbished options.9
3Consider size: Select the appropriate container size to meet your storage or shipping needs.8
4Negotiate: Engage in price negotiations with sellers to secure a more favorable deal.10
5Check delivery costs: Factor in the delivery fees when comparing overall costs of containers.8
6Research online: Use online marketplaces, classified ads, and social media platforms to find deals.9
7Explore bulk discounts: Inquire about volume discounts if purchasing multiple containers.7
8Inspect in person: Examine the container’s physical condition to ensure it meets your expectations.6
9Ask for a warranty: Request a warranty or guarantee from the seller for added protection.7
10Time your purchase: Monitor market fluctuations and aim to buy during periods of lower demand.8

**This table includes a value rating (1-10) for each tip, indicating their relative importance when seeking the best deals on shipping containers. Higher values represent more significant factors to consider.


How much does a shipping container cost?

Prices vary depending on factors like size, condition, and location, but you can expect to pay anywhere from $2,000 to $7,000 for a used container and $3,000 to $8,000 for a new one.

How can I ensure the shipping container I’m buying is in good condition?

Inspect the container in person or have someone you trust do so on your behalf. Pay close attention to potential issues such as rust, dents, or leaks, and verify that the doors open and close properly.

What should I consider when choosing the right size for my shipping container?

Consider your intended use, available space, and budget when selecting the appropriate size. The most common sizes are 20-foot and 40-foot containers, but other sizes, such as 10-foot or 45-foot, are also available.

Local zoning regulations and building codes may apply to shipping container structures. It’s essential to check with your local authorities and obtain any necessary permits before starting construction.

Make sure to do some research on your local laws and regulations regarding the placement of shipping containers before ordering, or you can talk to your local dealer and find out more about the shipping container regulations.