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The Factors Affecting Shipping Container Prices: An Insider's Perspective

Updated: May 21, 2023


shipping containers staked on top of each other

Shipping container prices are a big mystery. If you're curious about the cost of shipping containers of different sizes and types across different areas, this article is for you.


The price you pay for shipping containers will have a significant impact on your logistics business. Whether you're a forwarder or a container merchant, it is essential to guarantee that you are paying the appropriate price for containers.


However, this task is far from simple. First and foremost, shipping container pricing is not transparent on a global scale. Additionally, many firms often rely on their internal networks, oblivious to other more attractive pricing possibilities. Furthermore, macro and micro events such as the pandemic, the Russia-Ukraine conflict, and escalating inflation have shown that shipping container rates are subject to significant fluctuations.

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How much do shipping containers cost?

The prices of shipping containers are expected to be influenced by their high availability in 2023. Due to a decrease in demand caused by inflation, shipping containers are easily accessible at a lower price.


Opting for used containers

A cheaper alternative The choice of container to purchase will ultimately depend on the type of cargo you intend to ship, providing very little leeway for choice. However, you can take control of the cost of the container by opting for a used container.


Used containers, or containers that are cargo-worthy, are always cheaper than new ones. Used containers are available in various conditions including cargo-worthy, wind and watertight (WWT), and As-Is conditions. While cargo-worthy and WWT containers are fit for transportation, As-Is containers are mostly preferred for storage purposes.


You can be assured that these used containers will not only be easy on the wallet but will also provide sturdy protection for your cargo. Check out our public search feature below to see the current difference between new and used container offerings.

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20ft Shipping Container Prices

The 20-foot shipping container is extensively utilized as an intermodal shipping container. It is the most economical and compact container size obtainable. Its low-mass architecture provides ease in transporting cargo.

Hence, if one possesses a small cargo consignment, opting for the 20-foot size container is prudent.

Besides, it also curtails the freight charges, thereby saving money.

The average price of a used 20ft shipping container is around $2000 and $4000 for a new one.


The aforementioned rates are just average rates that may vary from one place to another. It's noteworthy that in several areas, you can conveniently purchase 20-foot dry containers for a sum of $1800 or even less.

Intrigued to know more?

​​Easy Shipping Container Delivery | USCONEX | Start by Getting a Quoteor Call 1-813 393 1279

40ft Shipping Container Prices

40ft shipping containers are a good investment due to their double storage capacity at a mere 20-30% premium compared to the 20ft variety.


These 40ft cargo containers are ideal for conveying various consumer goods, including but not limited to cotton, furniture, clothing, grains, and electronics.

For a standard 40ft, you’re looking at around $2500 for a used one and $6000 for a new one.


However, it is essential to note that the aforementioned listed cost is subject to fluctuation based on both geographical location and the passage of time. In light of the high value proposition offered by these popular shipping containers, one would be prudent to stay abreast of market trends to identify the optimal time and location for their purchase.

​​Easy Shipping Container Delivery | USCONEX | Start by Getting a Quoteor Call 1-813 393 1279

40ft HC shipping container prices

The 40ft high-cube (HC) is highly suitable for cargo with greater altitude and volume. Its storage capacity is maximized, just like the regular 40ft shipping container, making it highly cost-effective.


With an additional foot in height, the container's maximum capacity is achieved, and accordingly, the prices for this particular container model are escalated.


Despite the higher rates for high-cube containers, purchasing them at a more reasonable price is feasible. At major locations, 40ft HC dry containers can be found at around $2700 for used and $6000 for a new one.


The Factors Affecting Shipping Container Prices

When it comes to determining the cost of a shipping container, numerous factors come into play. Below, we shall delve into some of the most crucial aspects that affect pricing.


Container Size

Container Size is one of the most fundamental factors. As previously mentioned, the size of the container directly correlates to its cost. In general, the larger the container, the higher the price.


Container condition

Container condition is another factor to consider. The price of a shipping container is affected by whether it is new or cargo-worthy. Naturally, new containers tend to be significantly pricier than used ones, which can be acquired at a more reasonable cost.


The cost of delivery

The cost of delivery should also be taken into account. Selecting the right supplier is imperative, as delivery fees may surpass the container's price. The delivery fees are determined by several factors, such as the distance between the supplier and the destination, the number of containers being delivered, and the delivery time. Therefore, it is essential to choose wisely when deciding on the supplier and location to acquire the containers from.


Geographical location

Geographical location is another critical aspect to consider. The cost of containers can differ considerably depending on the supply and demand within a particular area. The current economic situation and the price of steel in a given region may significantly impact the price of containers. Additionally, whether the location is landlocked or not should also be taken into account, as landlocked areas may incur higher transit costs due to the lack of direct access to the sea.


Container prices in China

China, as the preeminent shipping hub worldwide, experiences a perpetual demand for shipping containers. Given its status as a primary exporter, the demand for containers consistently surpasses other locations. Consequently, a significant supply of repositioned and freshly manufactured shipping containers, available in both new and empty states, matches the demand. As such, the prices of new 20ft shipping containers in China remain within a moderate range.

shipping container price chart in China

Nonetheless, in 2022, there was a discernible decrease in demand for goods originating from China. This downward trend in demand has correspondingly resulted in a fall in container prices, as illustrated by the graph. Notably, the price slump was not solely due to reduced demand; contributing factors such as a dearth in labor and a surging number of Covid cases also had an impact.



Container prices in the US

Based on recent years, it is an easy task to declare that shipping container prices in the United States are greatly influenced by both regional and global events. Observing solely 2022, the American shipping industry was beset with port congestion, a shortage of truck drivers, acute labor contract negotiations, and railway strikes.

Needless to say, these occurrences impacted the costs of shipping containers. The graph below manifests that the prices of cargo-worthy 20ft containers remained elevated in New York. This was caused by the East-Coast port developing into one of the most heavily trafficked ports in the United States, designed to alleviate the congestion at the Los Angeles and Long Beach ports.


shipping container price chart in US

As demonstrated in the graph, the container prices at US ports began to stabilize only towards the conclusion of 2022. This signifies that there are now more options for sourcing containers in the country. You need not seek out more economical locations since prices are relatively uniform throughout the nation. Nevertheless, it is imperative to remain vigilant and keep tabs on container prices since trends may shift at any moment.


​​Easy Shipping Container Delivery | USCONEX | Start by Getting a Quoteor Call 1-813 393 1279


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