Speed Reads:

  • AmeriFreight offers the cheapest open car shipping service with average rates of 53 cents per mile for shipments of over 3,000 miles.
  • We recommend shipping your vehicle in September, October, or December to get the cheapest rates due to lower demand for auto carriers.
  • Open carrier shipping is the most affordable and popular method to transport your vehicle.

If you’re planning a move, there’s a good chance that you’re on the hunt for cheap car shipping. In this article, we’ll show you how to get reasonable rates for high-quality auto transport services.

Each year, our team ranks the best car shipping companies to help consumers make sense of the industry. We’ve spent over 300 hours collecting hundreds of quotes, surveying thousands of customers, evaluating shipping services, and interacting with companies through secret shopping. Our research shows that uShip, American Auto Shipping, SGT Auto Transport, and Montway Auto Transport are the cheapest car shipping companies overall.

Since auto shipping is a supply-and-demand business, using a broker is often the best way to secure auto carriers at a reasonable cost. This article will explain the factors that go into car shipping costs, offer recommendations for car transport companies, and give tips on how to lower transport rates.

Why You Can Trust Motor1.com At Motor1.com, we are dedicated to supplying car owners with the well-researched, fact-checked information they need to make sound decisions about auto shipping. Our team analyzes provider offerings and customer insights so you can feel empowered to make the best choice.
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Methodology: How We Rate Car Shipping Companies

The car shipping marketplace can be intimidating, with first-time customers sometimes spending hours trying to make sense of the process. That’s why our team reviewed all major car shipping companies, created various guides, and ranked providers based on reputation, cost, services, and customer experience.


When a company has a good reputation, you can count on it to resolve issues that come up. Auto shippers with strong business practices and expert endorsements receive the highest scores in this category. We also consider ratings from the Better Business Bureau (BBB) along with the nature of complaints that have been lodged.


Car shipping quotes fluctuate by season and as overall market conditions change. With that said, some companies tend to be cheaper than others. Our team compared over 400 quotes across a variety of auto shipping routes using different distances and vehicle types.

The quotes in this article apply to shipping an operable 2018 Toyota RAV4. Since there are so many variables in the process, you may find different rates than the ones listed here.


This rating is based on the types of auto transport services that are provided along with their overall quality. Most companies offer open and enclosed transport options. Some also have expedited shipping, guaranteed pickup windows, and additional cargo insurance coverage. Our review team looks at average transit time estimates when getting quotes as well.

Customer Experience

Do car shipping companies actually put their customers first? Our team uses a few methods to find out whether companies serve their customers well:

  • Secret shopping: We get quotes from all companies that we review and make notes on our experiences with service agents.
  • Customer surveys: To date, we’ve surveyed 2,000 car shipping customers who used a wide range of companies. Survey questions focus on customer experiences and the process of shipping a car from start to finish.
  • Customer reviews: We comb through hundreds of online customer reviews from sites like the BBB, Trustpilot, and Google, and we include these ratings in our overall customer experience score.



Cheapest Car Shipping Providers

AmeriFreight gave us the cheapest car shipping rate to transport a 2018 Toyota RAV4 over 3,000 miles on an open trailer, at 53 cents per mile. Our car shipping quotes reveal that the average 1,500-mile open car shipment costs $1,425, while enclosed carriers typically cost around $1,776 for that same distance.

Auto transport costs vary widely by the company, so it’s important to get multiple car shipping quotes online as you shop around.

Cheapest Auto Transport Companies

According to our research, the cheapest car shipping prices are generally offered by AmeriFreight, Montway Auto Transport, SGT Auto Transport, Sherpa Auto Transport, and uShip. You can compare our top-rated auto transport companies in the table below:

Car Shipping CompanyAffordability Rating
Montway Auto Transport4.5
SGT Auto Transport4.5
Sherpa Auto Transport4.5

We found uShip to be the cheapest when looking at the average cost per mile across all four types of quotes. All of our top picks were affordable in one way or another, however, whether for enclosed shipping, short-distance transports, or cross-country moves.

Some companies are cheap for shorter trips, others are competitive for longer distances, and a few offer cheap enclosed shipping. We encourage you to get free quotes from multiple auto transport companies to see which one is most affordable for your situation.



Cheapest Car Shipping Rates By Distance

While open-air carriers offer the cheapest overall cost to ship a vehicle, long-distance shipping comes with a lower per-mile cost. In the following sections, we’ll highlight the cheapest prices our review team received for short-distance and long-distance car shipping services.

Cheap Short-Distance Car Transport

Golden Key Express is the cheapest option for short-distance car shipping with a rate of 85 cents per mile. According to our research, the average car shipping rate for short-distance moves is about $1.24 per mile.

Cheapest Short-Distance Shipping Rates

Below are the 10 most affordable short-distance rates we received for shipping a vehicle 500 miles or less:

Car Shipping CompanyRate Per MileTransport Rate
Golden Key Express$0.85$450
Mercury Auto Transport$1.06$535
Ship a Car, Inc.$1.11$560
A-1 Auto Transport$1.12$563
SGT Auto Transport$1.21$610
American Auto Shipping$1.33$669
Sherpa Auto Transport$1.39$700
Montway Auto Transport$1.43$719
Ship a Car Direct$1.54$775

Cheap Long-Distance Car Transport

The cheapest long-distance car shipping rate our review team found was from AmeriFreight at 53 cents per mile. On average, auto transport customers pay 62 cents per mille to ship a vehicle 3,000 miles or more.

Cheapest Long-Distance Shipping Rates

You can find the 10 cheapest long-distance transport rates we were given in the table below:

Car Shipping CompanyRate Per MileTransport Rate
RoadRunner Auto Transport$0.54$1,645
Nexus Auto Transport$0.59$1,805
Montway Auto Transport$0.60$1,809
American Auto Shipping$0.60$1,829
Door To Door Transport$0.61$1,850
Easy Auto Ship$0.65$1,959
Golden Key Express$0.66$1,998
Guardian Auto Transport$0.70$2,125



Cheapest Car Shipping Services By Carrier Type

The easiest and most cost-effective way to ship a car is by using open auto transport services. With this method, your car travels on a double-decker carrier that’s open to the elements. Each open carrier can ship eight or more vehicles at once, making it an extremely economical option.

On the other hand, enclosed auto transport can protect high-value vehicles from potential damages from poor weather or flying objects. Expect to pay a considerably higher rate, though.

Cheap Open Car Transport

The most affordable shipping option using open transport for between 500 and 1,500 miles is Golden Key Express at 71 cents per mile. Golden Key Express offers significant savings, reducing costs by up to 12 cents per mile versus the average rate.

Cheapest Open Car Shipping Rates

Below, compare the 10 cheapest open car shipping rates we received:

Car Shipping CompanyRate Per MileTransport Rate
Golden Key Express$0.71$1,110
RoadRunner Auto Transport$0.77$1,195
Gartho Logistics$0.82$1,275
American Auto Shipping$0.85$1,319
Ship a Car Direct$0.87$1,350
Montway Auto Transport$0.88$1,369
Nexus Auto Transport$0.89$1,385

Cheap Enclosed Car Transport

According to our research, the cheapest enclosed car shipping rate is offered by RoadRunner Auto Transport with prices starting at 90 cents per mile for an operable 2018 Toyota RAV4 traveling 1,500 miles in an enclosed truck.

Cheapest Enclosed Car Shipping Rates

Below is a table with the 10 most affordable enclosed auto transport rates from our industrywide study:

Car Shipping CompanyRate Per MileTransport Rate
RoadRunner Auto Transport$0.90$1,395
Gartho Logistics$0.95$1,475
Ship a Car Direct$1.00$1,550
Door To Door Transport$1.06$1,650
SGT Auto Transport$1.09$1,699
Ship a Car, Inc.$1.09$1,700
A-1 Auto Transport$1.11$1,720
Montway Auto Transport$1.12$1,739

With enclosed car shipping, your car is secured in an enclosed semitruck where it’s safe from the elements. Since these car carriers can only ship a few vehicles at a time, enclosed shipping is more expensive.

The extra protection of enclosed car shipping may be worth it if you’re moving a classic or luxury vehicle. During open car transport, your car may get dirty, and fluids from the upper vehicles may drip on your car depending on where it gets loaded. Enclosed shipping may cost hundreds more than open transport, but the extra protection could be worth the rate increase.



Car Shipping Deals

The most affordable car shipping companies offer multiple deals that could lower the total cost of transport for current or retired military personnel, students, and those willing to pay in cash upon delivery.

Car Shipping Discounts

Compare our top-rated cheap car shipping companies and the discounts they offer in the table below:

Car Shipping CompanyCashMilitaryStudentsReturning CustomerMultiple VehiclesSnowbirdsFirst RespondersMedical PersonnelEarly BirdSenior Citizens
Montway Auto Transport
SGT Auto Transport
Easy Auto Ship
Sherpa Auto Transport



Best Cheap Car Shipping Companies

Our pick for the best cheap car shipping company is Montway Auto Transport. The auto transport company was awarded our highest rating of 4.7 out of 5.0 stars and received the second best affordability rating during our review of cheap car shipping rates.

Price is one of the most important factors when choosing a car shipping company, but reliability is also crucial. Only pick an auto shipper that’s fully registered and licensed. Also, make sure your shipper has proper cargo insurance policies for peace of mind in case your vehicle suffers damage during transport.

#1 uShip: Best Car Shipping Marketplace

Average cost per mile: $0.97

Cheap for: All shipping distances, open and enclosed shipping

BBB rating: A+ and accreditation along with 4.6 out of 5.0 stars

One of the best ways to get cheap car shipping is by letting auto transporters bid directly for the job on uShip. All quotes we received from uShip were below average for the industry. Choosing enclosed shipping added $280 to the cost of a 1,500-mile shipment.

Read more: uShip review

uShip Cost

uShip was affordable for all shipping distances and transport types that we researched. Below are the prices our review team received from the uShip instant quote tool to move a 2018 Toyota RAV4. You’ll likely find even cheaper rates if you use the marketplace instead.

Carrier TypeShipping RouteTransport RateRate Per Mile
OpenChicago to Kansas City, Mo. (500 miles)$689$1.39
OpenLos Angeles to Houston (1,500 miles)$1,249$0.80
EnclosedLos Angeles to Houston (1,500 miles)$1,529$0.98
OpenNew York City to San Francisco (3,000 miles)$2,177$0.72

#2 American Auto Shipping: Best Service Selection

Average cost per mile: $0.99

Cheap for: All shipping distances, open shipping

BBB rating: A+ and accreditation along with 4.7 out of 5.0 stars

Going by the average cost per mile, American Auto Shipping is the second-cheapest company. We found American Auto Shipping to be reasonable for open car transport across all distances. However, choosing enclosed shipping on a 1,500-mile shipment increased the cost by $500, which was one of the priciest surcharges we came across.

Read more: American Auto Shipping review

American Auto Shipping Cost

Below you can see all of the prices we received from American Auto Shipping:

Carrier TypeShipping RouteTransport RateRate Per Mile
OpenChicago to Kansas City, Mo. (500 miles)$669$1.33
OpenLos Angeles to Houston (1,500 miles)$1,319$0.85
EnclosedLos Angeles to Houston (1,500 miles)$1,819$1.17
OpenNew York City to San Francisco (3,000 miles)$1,829$0.60

#3 SGT Auto Transport: Best Price-Matching Guarantee

Average cost per mile: $1.00

Cheap for: Short distances, enclosed shipping

BBB rating: A and accreditation with 4.7 out of 5.0 stars

SGT Auto Transport offers good rates overall but stands out for its short-distance quotes and enclosed shipping prices. Adding enclosed shipping to our 1,500-mile quote increased the rate by $200, which was on the more affordable side among enclosed shipping surcharges.

Read more: SGT Auto Transport review

SGT Auto Transport Cost

Below are the rates we received when asking for quotes from SGT Auto Transport:

Carrier TypeShipping RouteTransport RateRate Per Mile
OpenChicago to Kansas City, Mo. (500 miles)$610$1.21
OpenLos Angeles to Houston (1,500 miles)$1,499$0.96
EnclosedLos Angeles to Houston (1,500 miles)$1,699$1.09
OpenNew York City to San Francisco (3,000 miles)$2,289$0.75

#4 Montway Auto Transport: Cheapest Overall

Average cost per mile: $1.01

Cheap for: All shipping distances, open and enclosed shipping

BBB rating: A+ and accreditation along with 4.6 out of 5.0 stars

When we reached out to Montway for car shipping quotes, we found lower costs for open vehicle transport than from most companies. Long-distance shipments are where Montway Auto Transport really stands out, with its cross-country quote being 21 percent cheaper than the industry average. Choosing enclosed shipping added $370 to the cost of a 1,500-mile shipment.

Read more: Montway Auto Transport review

Montway Auto Transport Cost

The table below contains the car shipping rates we received from Montway Auto Transport:

Carrier TypeShipping RouteTransport RateRate Per Mile
OpenChicago to Kansas City, Mo. (500 miles)$719$1.43
OpenLos Angeles to Houston (1,500 miles)$1,369$0.88
EnclosedLos Angeles to Houston (1,500 miles)$1,739$1.12
OpenNew York City to San Francisco (3,000 miles)$1,809$0.60
Montway Auto Transport Our #1 Rated Provider
BBB Rating : A+ Phone : 844-601-0286
Pros & Cons
Pros Zero upfront payment Network of over 15,000 car carriers Competitive prices Military, return customer, and pay-in-cash discounts available Strong customer reputation Cons No guaranteed pricing $199 cancellation fee

Montway Auto Transport tops our list of the best car transport companies in 2022. The company works with over 15,000 carriers across the nation and can ship a car to anywhere in the United States, including Alaska and Hawaii. According to our consumer vehicle shipping survey, Montway Auto Transport had the highest satisfaction rating of any major provider.

#5 Sherpa Auto Transport: Locked-In Prices

Average cost per mile: $1.10

Cheap for: Enclosed shipping

BBB rating: A+ and accreditation along with 4.9 out of 5.0 stars

Sherpa has reasonable rates overall, but it shines with its enclosed shipping rates. Our team found that adding enclosed shipping to a 1,500-mile shipment increased the cost by just $175, which is a very cheap surcharge. If you want to give your car the best protection on its journey, consider a quote from Sherpa Auto Transport.

Read more: Sherpa Auto Transport review

Sherpa Auto Transport Cost

In the table below are the rates our review team received from Sherpa Auto Transport:

Carrier TypeShipping RouteTransport RateRate Per Mile
OpenChicago to Kansas City, Mo. (500 miles)$700$1.39
OpenLos Angeles to Houston (1,500 miles)$1,575$1.01
EnclosedLos Angeles to Houston (1,500 miles)$1,750$1.12
OpenNew York City to San Francisco (3,000 miles)$2,650$0.87

With other auto shipping providers, your initial quote is just an estimate and your final rate may end up being higher. Sherpa Auto Transport offers the Price Lock Promise, which reduces costs and hassle by making your original transport quote the final price you pay.

Sherpa Auto Transport Locked-In Prices
BBB Rating : A+ Phone : 888-216-2214
Pros & Cons
Pros A+ rating from the BBB and very few customer complaints Easy-to-use booking process and quick shipper matching Price Lock Promise on every quote Cons Can be slightly more expensive Does not ship to Alaska or Hawaii

Your quoted price or lower is guaranteed with this car shipping company. Sherpa Auto Transport offers a price lock promise, clean car guarantee, and vets all its carriers.

#6 AmeriFreight: Best Discounts

Average cost per mile: $1.15

Cheap for: Long-distance shipping, open shipping

BBB rating: A+ and accreditation along with 4.8 out of 5.0 stars

AmeriFreight offers below-average rates for both medium- and long-distance shipments. The cross-country rate from New York City to San Francisco was quoted at $1,598, which is much cheaper than the industry average of $2,313. The AmeriFreight website mentions that the cost to ship a vehicle ranges from $450 to $2,500, with increased fees for shipping a car to either Alaska or Hawaii.

AmeriFreight Discounts

Many auto transport brokers offer minimal discounts, but AmeriFreight is an exception. Customers could potentially receive one of the following savings opportunities:

  • Military members or veterans: $35 off
  • First responders: $35 off
  • Medical personnel: $35 off
  • Early Bird: $35 off if you sign up within 48 hours of getting a quote
  • Students: $25 off
  • Senior citizens: $25 off
  • Return customers: $50 off
  • Multiple vehicles: $50 off every additional vehicle

Early bird is the only discount that AmeriFreight allows you to combine with another on the same order. Customers get locked-in pricing by choosing AmeriFreight’s First Class rate.

Read more: AmeriFreight review

AmeriFreight Cost

Below are the car transport rates provided to us by AmeriFreight representatives:

Carrier TypeShipping RouteTransport RateRate Per Mile
OpenChicago to Kansas City, Mo. (500 miles)$996$1.98
OpenLos Angeles to Houston (1,500 miles)$1,199$0.77
EnclosedLos Angeles to Houston (1,500 miles)$2,038$1.31
OpenNew York City to San Francisco (3,000 miles)$1,598$0.53
Amerifreight Best Discounts
BBB Rating : A+ Phone : 888-207-1503
Pros & Cons
Pros A+ rating from the BBB and accreditation Many discount opportunities Strict car shipper vetting process Top-rated customer service Cons Slower online quote process

This provider offers more discount options than any other auto shipping broker. Amerifreight also offers 17 years of industry experience, and shipping for motorcycles, RV’s, and ATVs.

#7 Easy Auto Ship: Best Customer Service

Average cost per mile: $1.23

Cheap for: Long-distance shipping, open car shipping

BBB rating: A+ and accreditation along with 4.6 out of 5.0 stars

As far as shipping rates go, Easy Auto Ship’s rates are slightly higher than the industry average. That’s not the case for long-distance shipping, where the company gave us a quote of $1,959 to send our Toyota RAV4 coast to coast. Easy Auto Ship offers discounts to military members and veterans, as well as savings for paying in cash. The company’s strong customer service is seen by its A+ rating on the BBB, guaranteed pricing structure, and free car wash if your vehicle is dirty when you sign the bill of lading.

Read more: Easy Auto Ship review

Easy Auto Ship Cost

Rates from Easy Auto Ship average $1.23 per mile, though this depends on your shipping distance and various other factors. The table below has rates we received from Easy Auto Ship:

Carrier TypeShipping RouteTransport RateRate Per Mile
OpenChicago to Kansas City, Mo. (500 miles)$824$1.64
OpenLos Angeles to Houston (1,500 miles)$1,589$1.02
EnclosedLos Angeles to Houston (1,500 miles)$2,491$1.60
OpenNew York City to San Francisco (3,000 miles)$1,959$0.65
Easy Auto Ship Highly Flexible Options
BBB Rating : A+ Phone : 888-202-7376
Pros & Cons
Pros A+ rating and accreditation from the BBB Relatively low shipping prices Instant online quotes Cons More complaints than other top car shipping companies

You can get a discount for paying in cash and great benefits with this shipper. Easy Auto Ship offers low rates, fast pickup times, and shipping options for RVs.



How To Get Cheap Car Shipping

SGT Auto Transport CEO Jack Savov shared a few tips on how to bring the cost of an auto shipment down. “Customers can consider being more flexible with their pickup and delivery dates to avoid the added expense of expedited or rushed shipping.

“If the location is not a major city or along a common route, meeting the carrier in a nearby larger city can help avoid additional charges. Removing any modifications made to the vehicle prior to shipping can help reduce the cost, as the base cost is based on the factory model.”

Whichever provider you choose, the following methods can bring down your total car shipping cost:

  • Reserve early: The earlier you post your transport request, the more time providers have to bid on your contract and the better chance you have of getting a good deal.
  • Drop off and pick up at a shipping terminal: Door-to-door services are expensive, especially if you live in a rural area where shipping rates are higher. Consider using terminal-to-terminal shipping instead to keep costs down.
  • Choose open shipping: Open auto shipping is far cheaper than enclosed shipping. However, you may want the added protection of enclosed shipping if you have a luxury vehicle, a classic car, or a model with low clearance.
  • Discounts: See what kind of discount opportunities auto transport companies provide to lower the cost of shipping. Many car carriers offer savings for veterans, students, and first responders among others.
  • Look into multicar shipping: If you want to ship the car by itself, rates will be far more expensive. It’s cheaper to choose a shipper that transports several vehicles together.
  • Be flexible with pickup and delivery dates: With a strict shipping time frame, fewer shippers will be able to fulfill your request. Because of this, you won’t benefit from the price drop that comes when various shippers bid for your contract.
  • Compare multiple quotes: Look at quotes and offers from multiple auto shipping companies to find cheap car transport.
  • Clean out your car beforehand: Extra weight inside your vehicle can increase shipping costs, so get rid of any items in your trunk. Remove all but a quarter tank of gas from the car and leave a maximum of 100 pounds of personal items inside the vehicle.
  • Ship by train: The cheapest way to ship your car is by freight train. However, this comes with disadvantages regarding the speed and security of the transport service. Amtrak car shipping is also only available between Washington, D.C., and Orlando, Florida, with no dropoff points in between.
  • Cross-country services: If you’re planning a move from California to New York or vice versa, you’re likely looking for ways to save money. The good news is that per-mile rates decrease with long-distance shipments.

How Much Should You Pay To Ship A Car?

According to the prices we received, a shipment of about 500 miles costs $732 on average. A medium-distance shipment of around 1,500 miles costs $1,425, while a cross-country shipment of 3,000 miles goes for about $2,313. You can see that the cost per mile typically decreases as overall mileage increases.

Below are average price ranges for distances of 500, 1,500, and 3,000 miles based on quotes from 18 of the most popular car shippers:

Car Shipping DistanceShipping TypeAverage PriceAverage Cost per Mile
500 miles (Chicago to Kansas City, Mo.)Open$732$1.45
1,500 miles (Los Angeles to Houston)Open$1,425$0.92
1,500 miles (Los Angeles to Houston)Enclosed$1,776$1.14
3,000 miles (New York City to San Francisco)Open$2,313$0.76

The price per mile almost always goes down as distance increases. You may pay as much as $2.10 per mile for shipments of less than 500 miles but as little as 53 cents per mile for cross-country shipments.

Factors That Affect Car Shipping Rates

Various factors can affect your final car shipping cost, including:

  • Size and weight of the car: The heavier your car, the more you’ll pay to transport it. SUVs and trucks usually cost more to ship than sedans.
  • Type of car: You’ll likely pay less than average if you’re moving motorcycles or all-terrain vehicles (ATVs), but expect to be charged a steep rate if you’re shipping recreational vehicles (RVs).
  • Pickup and delivery locations: Urban areas will likely be less expensive to ship to and from compared to rural regions.
  • Vehicle condition: The shipping process is easier if a car remains drivable, so working vehicles are less expensive to ship than inoperable ones.
  • Shipping distance: Shorter distances usually have higher per-mile costs but cheaper prices overall.
  • Time of year: It’s more expensive to transport your car in January and during the summer months since these are peak car shipping times.
  • Transport type: For cheap car shipping, opt for open carrier transport. Still, use an enclosed trailer if you want full protection from road hazards and bad weather conditions.
  • Fuel prices: If gas prices are especially high, companies may charge customers additional fees.

Cheap Car Transport: Conclusion

The best way to find affordable car shipping costs is to plan ahead and compare multiple transport quotes. “Shipping a car can be a complicated logistics process, and it’s important to invest time in researching the different companies and services available,” Savov said. “Going with the cheapest option may not always provide the best outcome, and it’s important to consider factors such as reputation, experience, and customer service.”

The earlier you book, the better chance you have of securing low rates during your time frame. We recommend comparing auto transport quotes from at least three providers to find the best option for your budget.

Cheapest Auto Shipping: FAQ

Below are some frequently asked questions about cheap car shipping services: