You’ve decided to ship your car and you’ve found the best car shipping company for the job. Hiring a car shipping provider will save you a lot of time and hassle — especially if you’re moving internationally — but even then, it can get expensive.
The auto transport industry charges anywhere from $600 to more than $2,000 for a single transport, depending on your vehicle, the distance, and any add-ons you buy.
The good news is that plenty of auto transport companies offer car shipping discounts. Even if it’s just $50, that’s $50 that you can spend on the best packing materials or other moving expenses.
In this guide, we’ll explain how auto transport discounts work and share a few pro tips to help you get the best car shipping deals.
Why companies offer car shipping discounts
Nearly every car shipper offers discounts of some kind — but they aren’t doing this just to be nice. Car shipping companies offer discounts to:
- Attract customers: Auto transport companies offer discounts to incentivize you to choose them over their competitors. If you can get the same level of service from a provider with cheaper pricing, you’re going to go with that provider.
- Increase order volume: Auto shipping companies aren’t really missing out on money when they offer discounts. Lower prices lead to an increase in order volume, which offsets the cost of the discounts. Higher volumes are easier on their margins, so offering discounts actually makes good financial sense for auto shippers.
- Target specific demographics: Military discounts often cover both active duty military members. If a car shipping company offers an enticing discount tailored to this demographic, they’re much more likely to win more business from military families. The same goes for demographics like students and seniors.
Types of car shipping discounts
You don’t need to be a veteran to score a decent discount on car shipping. There are so many auto shipping discounts out there, including:
- Student: It’s no secret that college students are living on a ramen noodle kind of budget. Shippers will usually offer discounted car transport services to students who need to ship cars between their university and home.
- Senior: Almost all providers offer some kind of senior discount. Since many senior citizens are on a fixed income, this discount is great for reducing your transport costs. The only catch is that the minimum age range differs by car shipping company. It’s usually between 55 and 65, so confirm the policy with your shipper. You’ll also need to provide your ID to verify your age.
- Military: Shippers will offer discounts to active duty personnel and veterans as a way to thank them for their service. Active duty military and their families move about every two years, so asking about military discounts can save you thousands of dollars’ worth of moving expenses over time. Be prepared to show your military ID or other proof of service for this discount.
- First-time movers: This isn’t as common, but some car shipping companies offer incentives for first-time customers. They tend to offer first-time discounts during off-peak seasons like fall and winter.
- Snowbirds: Speaking of off-peak seasons, many shippers offer “snowbird” discounts for folks migrating south for the winter. Fewer people move in the winter in general, so shippers offer this discount to drum up business during slower times of the year.
- Multiple vehicles: Are you shipping more than one vehicle? You’ll probably get a break on vehicle shipping costs. Auto shippers are more than happy to offer multi-car discounts in the 5%–10% range.
- Early bird: Some auto transport companies offer discounts if you book well in advance of your move date. This is usually around the three-month range, but it depends on the shipper.
How to get the best car shipping deals
Scoring a discount is one way to spend less on car shipping, but there are other ways you can score a better deal on car shipping. Follow these quick tips to get the best car shipping deals.
Ask for at least three free quotes
Never go with the first quote you see. You should always request instant quotes online or quotes over the phone. This gives you a better idea of fair pricing for your particular situation.
Don’t be afraid to shop around. Collect at least three quotes for comparison before you make a decision.
But remember that the cheapest option isn’t always the best option. Look at what you get for the money for a true apples-to-apples comparison.
For example, maybe one shipper throws in $100,000 guaranteed coverage on all shipments but charges a smidge more. You might be willing to pay a little more for peace of mind.
Choose a flexible pickup date and delivery location
The more flexible you can be, the less you’ll pay to ship your car. Some shippers might have routes that match up with your needs as long as you’re flexible. They’ll often reward your flexibility with better rates.
If possible, try to avoid door-to-door delivery. This is a super convenient option to save time, but you’re paying for white-glove service.
Instead, opt for terminal-to-terminal shipping to save money. Sure, you’ll need to drop by a car shipping terminal for pickup and drop-off, but you could save hundreds of dollars by doing so.
Know the difference between open versus enclosed carriers
Enclosed carriers ship your car inside a protected trailer. This guards your car against weather, road damage, and theft.
The downside is that the car shipper can’t transport as many cars on an enclosed trailer, so they have to charge a lot more for enclosed shipping. But if you have a luxury car or an antique vehicle, it might make sense to pay the premium for less hassle.
Check out our list of the best enclosed car shipping companies to learn more.
Open carriers are generally more cost-effective, so if you’re looking for the absolute best option for the money, this is generally the way to go.
The downside is that open containers expose your car to wear and tear from the road and weather. You can always buy up on shipping insurance to protect your car if you go with an open carrier.
Don’t be afraid to negotiate
Everything is negotiable. If you have several transport quotes, use them as leverage! Some car shipping services offer price matching, which could help you score better pricing for a higher level of service.
FAQs about car shipping discounts
What is the average cost of shipping a car?
The average cost ranges from $600 to $2,000. However, it depends on factors like distance, vehicle type, and any shipping options (like door-to-door delivery or enclosed vehicle transport) that you add on.
What is the best way to find cheap car shipping rates?
You can find cheap car shipping rates by getting multiple car shipping quotes from different auto transport services. Working with a transport broker can also help you compare options to find the best rates.
What is the cheapest way to ship a car?
Open transport is the cheapest way to ship a car. It exposes your car to the elements, but it requires less effort from the shipper, which is why it’s more affordable.
If you go with open transport, be sure to check your insurance policy so you understand what is and isn’t covered — you might want to upgrade insurance coverage just to be safe.
What car shipping company offers the best military discounts?
Can you get a car shipping discount for multiple vehicles?
Yes, many auto transport companies offer discounts when you ship more than one vehicle.
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