Rent or buy shipping containers

Maritime containers are sturdy, long-lasting, and versatile items that come at the price of a hefty investment. You need metal shipping containers but got stuck into an internal debate of whether to rent or buy shipping containers. It is necessary to think in detail before deciding because in both cases you have to pump money. Buying new maritime containers may have a large upfront cost and added responsibilities whereas renting is pretty flexible and cost-effective. But the pros and cons should be calculated on the basis of a comprehensive overview. The decision could be tricky.

Let’s discuss the following aspects to reach a conclusion:

Duration of usage

Analyzing the duration is the most important factor in deciding whether to rent or buy shipping containers. In case, the requirement is for the long term, buying cargo containers will prove to be a cost-effective solution regardless of the large upfront investment. Later, if the container trader sees that it is no longer required, they may choose to rent or resell it.

Now, if the requirement is for short-duration, it is a cost-effective and flexible solution to rent maritime shipping containers. If someone rents, they can easily dispose of it at the destination.

Purpose of Usage

Cargo containers are predominantly used to trade goods from one corner of the world to another. However, their structural resilience and strength have given way to multipurpose usage time again time. If the steel shipping container is used to trade, then the duration is the basics to decide whether to rent or buy shipping containers. But if used for storage space, it is necessary to calculate the inventory movement pace properly to decide on either renting or buying containers. In case, the duration is uncertain, it is better to rent first. Then, observe the pace of inventory movement and if the inventory movement is slow or recurrent, it is advisable to purchase containers for a cost-effective solution. Otherwise, long-term renting can mean more investment. The owner can resell it after use.

Freight containers have pretty versatile utility. Architects use old containers as well. In case they are converted to container homes, then buying used containers has a cost-effective and eco-friendly outcome.

Types of container

There are different container types available in the market from dry van containers to insulated containers. If the trader can’t decide on the container type for his goods, it is better to rent a cargo unit first. In case, the container type fits the goods, the trader can buy the cargo box permanently for long-term usage. Or, the buyer can customize shipping boxes to suit specific goods as well.

In a scenario where a trader has to ferry different types of goods, buying new shipping containers may not be a good solution. Then it may need frequent re modification that could be dangerous for the cargo box’s structural integrity. Here, it is better to rent freight units for a cost-effective container solution.

Container dimension

Cargo units come in different sizes and dimensions. Standard shipping container dimensions are 20ft, 40ft, and high cube variants. These many freight unit dimensions can be pretty confusing for new traders to choose from. If the trader can’t define their choice according to the amount or size of the goods, it is better to rent cargo boxes at first.

Container Grade

Freight boxes have different grades attached to them to define their condition or a relative account of their years spent in cargo transportation. There are different grades including cargo worthy (CW), wind and watertight (WWT), IICL, etc. Different cargo box grades mean their condition status that will decide their price, terms of usage, maintenance, etc. The decision to rent or buy shipping boxes sometimes depends on their grades and their practical condition as well. It is important to note that maritime box grades vary from owner to owner.


Budget is often the main factor behind the decision to rent or buy metal shipping units. Leasing cargo units provide a pretty flexible and cost-effective budget option. Hiring containers can mean no added cost for maintenance or storage as well. But buying is a more cost-effective and flexible choice for long-term or permanent usage. Here, the owner can take the liberty for modification as well which is not a solution for leasing.

Storage and Maintenance

Buying a new maritime unit has attached responsibilities like keeping constant checks for any signs of container maintenance regularly and added investment to store cargo units. Sometimes after cargo discharge, shippers have to ferry metal shipping units empty. Traders have to bear unnecessary logistics costs in case that happens. If the owner decides to rent their shipping unit, it is prudent to keep evidence of the unit’s condition before and after discharge to recover the maintenance cost. Or the owner could insure the unit to safeguard it.

However, if the owner rents metal shipping boxes, there may be a need for additional maintenance. In case, the container incurs rough handling at the cargo load and discharge point, bad stowing, overloading, or any unpredictable accidents. Here, it is better to settle a damage protection plan (DPP) before renting to recover any probable cargo box maintenance cost.

If someone decides to rent cargo units, they can do away with all these added headaches or responsibilities. There will be no maintenance responsibility or storage cost. Traders can dispose of them at cargo discharge destinations only.

It is mandatory to evaluate the aforementioned factors to reach a conclusion next time you are wondering ‘Should I rent or buy a shipping container?’ That way you can plan cost-effective logistics.

Whether to purchase shipping units or lease shipping containers- LOTUS Containers provides comprehensive container solutions all over the world. Check out our lease plan to fulfill your requirement with flexibility and cost-effectively. Traders can even sell shipping containers through us with container buyback services. Not only this, we provide associated services like container intermodal transportation services and LOTUS depot service as well.

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