How To Get The Best Scrap Metal Prices At A Scrap Yard

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If you’re looking to get the best scrap metal prices, there is a lot of reading you can do on this site; Besides reading this page, I suggest you browse through our publicly available Scrap Metal Guide to learn just how much money you have been throwing away for all these years! If you have any questions or comments, add them to the comments section or in our public Forum!

The world of scrap metal recycling has changed a lot in the past decade or so, if only for one small thing… Prices. Commodities have skyrocketed in recent years, taking with it something once worth pennies and making it into something worth dollars.

Where to Find Scrap Metal Prices Online

Scrap metal prices can be found on this website in the upper right hand corner of every page, under the title “Scrap Metal Prices.” Just select your scrap metal material, and it’s most recent prices will be presented in graph form along with some historical data.

These material prices are rough estimates of what your materials are worth, found by aggregating values nation wide. As explained below, the value of the scrap metal depends on many factors, and these online estimates are only useful for those tracking market movement; please call a local scrap yard and ask for their price list, and comparing it to the prices provided should help tremendously in evaluating “good” deals.

What Determines Scrap Metal Prices?

Scrap Metal Prices are a function of metal type, location, quantity of scrap metal, and current market value for your materials. In other words, the price you get paid by a scrap yard will depend on what you are selling (copper, brass, aluminum, steel, etc), where you are selling (what side of town, which side of the world, etc), how much scrap metal you are selling (pounds vs tons), and how much the material is worth once refined (“spot price”).

  1. Scrap Metal Type: Scrap metal is broken down into many different types of categories. For example, Copper, Lead, and Stainless Steel are all types of scrap metals that can be sold at a scrap yard, and each of these metals can get further subcategorized into copper wire, lead wheel weighs, or 18-10 grade stainless steel, for example.Now, this is obvious to anybody who has sold metal before…But, what isn’t so obvious is the way your metal gets categorized! The category of your metal depends on the scrap yard you are at!!! For example, what one scrap yard considers bare bright scrap copper, another scrap yard will consider copper #1.Keep this in mind when shopping around for better prices, because the last thing we want is a quote for cast aluminum, only to find out the scrap yard considers your material to be pot metal. (~40% reduction in price!)
  2. Geographical location: Without making too many generalizations, we can assume that scrap metal prices will always be highest in areas where there is the most competition. This means rural areas, areas far away from refineries, areas too far inland, etc will rarely have better pricing then those places where scrap yards can both fight for customers and haggle with refineries.Keep this in mind when searching for the best scrap yard. Spending 1 more hour round trip and an extra $15 in gas to get to a further scrap yard may make you an additional 15% at the pay out window!

    In a similar vein, you can always consider selling your scrap metal on eBay, which allows for tremendous competition, but which takes fees and costs you for time, shipping, and handling.(more on Selling Scrap Metal On eBay )

  3. Quantity of Scrap Metal: On the surface, it is a simple concept; the more metal you have, the more it is worth. But further exploration shows that it really is a tool which can be used to your advantage! (Read more below)
  4. Current Spot Metal Prices: These would be the prices that newly refined ore and scrap is being sold for. In general, the more money a refinery can the refined metal for, the more money you can sell your scrap metal for. (But, keep in mind, this isn’t alwaysthe case) The best way to keep up with metal spot prices is to check out Kitco spot price feeds.

How To Negotiate The Best Scrap Metal Prices

The easiest way to change the salvage value of your scrap metal will be to somehow manipulate any of the 4 different parameters that scrap metal prices depend on to your advantage. For example, selling to a different scrap yard can increase how much you make! Here are three simple techniques to getting better pricing, ordered from easiest to hardest; You will need to use all three to get the absolute best pricing!

  1. Play the quantity:Every scrapper has encountered this scenario: You call up the scrap yard to check on the price of a certain type of metal; their first and only question “How much do you have?”When you buy/sell in bulk, you get better pricing, and the scrap yard is no exception.

    Try this on for size: instead of selling brass by the bucketful, try the barrel-full! Save up a 55 gallon barrel of brass (it doesn’t need to be full). A semi-full barrel of brass should weigh 1/4 ton – 3/4 ton depending on what type of brass components are in it.

    When you call up the scrap yard to ask what they pay for brass, they will be much more receptive to your price requests if they know you will be bringing in a 1/2 ton of brass, and hopefully will be happy to offer you 10% more than what they normally would!

    This mentality can be applied to all metals; Save up your shred metal and sell it by the trailer-full, or even dumpster-full!

    This type of price advantage is easiest to work out if you have a secure area to store your scrap metal. Be wary of thieves and city ordinances!

  2. Play the market:
    All things being equal, scrap metal prices will drop slightly in the summer and increase slightly in the winter. This is especially true in areas that have very cold winters that impede recyclers and scrappers from collecting and salvaging. Use this to your advantage!!! If you can hold onto your metal for a few months before selling, you will most likely see a rise in prices in the winter!WARNING: this only works in scrap markets where there is not much volatility, meaning the price is not constantly jumping and falling without reason.
  3. Play the scrap yards:Every scrap yard is willing to compete for your business, especially if your business is consistent! (Especially if you are scrapping full time!) If you are business or just a guy with a hobby, you can squeeze your scrap yards for better prices. It all dependents on how much material you are bringing in, and how consistently you are bringing it in.Start off by becoming a steady customer at a scrap yard that has proven itself to be of a high-caliber. This is the key! The better the scrap yard, the better they treat their customers. Be sure to introduce yourself to the owner, and always save your scrap yard price tickets! ALL OF THEM! Total up how much metal you bring in per week, per month, per year, etc, and how much material that is for them.

    Once you have developed a consistent and steady relationship with the scrap yard, and their workers, sit down with the owner (or acting manager) and have a frank and polite conversation with him or her. If they are not at all receptive of your request to have higher prices, that is not the end of the world! You can bring the same tickets to another scrap yard and show them how much material you are willing to bring them if they can give you better (“special”) pricing.

    The idea is not to be aggressive, but to be frank and open: They need to understand that you will bring your business to the scrap yard that can give you the best prices.

    The worst case scenario is that you end up still getting the same prices you were getting before. The best case is that you make more money per load just for asking!

If you have any questions about getting better scrap metal prices, or if your scrap metal prices are “fair,” I suggest you register for our free metal recycling forum and ask our thriving scrap metal community!

{ 19 comments… read them below or add one }

Bonnevillelarry August 26, 2012 at 1:44 am

Keep the great free advice coming

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ScrapMetalJunkie September 4, 2012 at 6:50 pm

No problem!

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martin September 2, 2012 at 11:09 am

Looking for a scrap that will give me mor then 6cents for tv’s

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Ken February 4, 2013 at 1:56 am

Try breaking them down there is quite a bit of copper inside along with aluminum and steel. There is also steel and aluminium inside the tube if you can safely extract it

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Charley December 1, 2012 at 10:49 pm

I work in lighting and change out alot of HID ballasts. I can seperate the copper pretty easily, then trying to remove the paper like material from copper is another story. Is there a way to clean the copper easy ( I tried burning it and then soaking in water)?

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ScrapMetalJunkie December 3, 2012 at 7:29 am

There is no easy way to clean the copper; Unfortunately, you will need to sell the copper winding “as-is.” Also, I must stress for you that burning copper wire (including ballast windings) is a 100% illegal federal felony. If you want more information, you can reference my write-up on “Burning Wire“.

Please take into consideration the other habits listed above… Believe it or not, they are the most sustainable, consistant methods for getting higher return out of your scrap metal stream.

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Hai December 2, 2012 at 8:45 pm

Hi guys

Recently me and my business partner found a company from Asia that would like to purchase metal from Australia, I have researched and contact several scrap metal yards and company’s and requested to get a price list, they all gave me the same question.. How much are you offering. It is a bit hard to give a price when I’m not sure what the current metal price is per tonne, I don’t want to give them a wrong estimate and make myself look like a laughing stock, can Anyone here be kind to help me figure the pricing out??

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chris hinton January 1, 2013 at 8:22 pm

can anyone tell me where I can find how the price of scrap iron has fluctuated over the last 12 years?

Thanks

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reggy January 11, 2013 at 2:33 am

i got some lead sheet for sale maybe got 1000 lbs from a demolition work, is any body need that kind of stuff for them self will delevry it

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Duane Goings January 15, 2014 at 6:26 pm

Reggy, where is the 1000 lbs of lead located?

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jose puebla March 6, 2013 at 4:24 pm

im interested in scrapping vehicle i have. i have enough to fill an 18 wheeler flatbed. where can i get the best prices for my cars?

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jose puebla March 6, 2013 at 4:26 pm

i have a yard full of vehicles that i want to recycle. ive had offers from businesses to purchase my cars for the purpose of junking them. my question is, how much money are these businesses making on junked cars and where can i take my cars to recycle?

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tom swinburn May 31, 2014 at 10:15 am

jose—I’m new to this but in my area your best bet is to remove the fuel tank(s), drain and clean them, dump them back with the vehicle. Take out the battery, sell separately. Same with catalytic converter if so equipped. Then scrap the whole thing, on a trailer preferably. One area where trying to separate by type is a waste of time. (CAVEAT). IF, your vehicle is a fairly popular one, and if it has good sheet metal on doors, fenders, the hood, glass, interior panels, then by all means put them online. Scrap what’s LEFT.

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Sandy B April 2, 2013 at 3:53 pm

Any info on scrapping and pricing for an unused Bronze Grave Marker?

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Bill June 26, 2013 at 11:23 pm

I have a 21 foot cudie cabin boat im thinking about scrapping. I’ve never scrapped anything b4 so not sure how to go about it… Do i break it down to just metal or can i bring the boat intact? I would like to do whatever i need to do to get the most money that i can. I would also like to know how do i decide where to bring it? Are most scrap yards about the same price?

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Tanya January 31, 2014 at 8:11 am

I have a complete motor home on wheels for scrap, but need it towed out. What do most places pay for these . Also a almost complete Malibu boat and trailer to be picked up interior, is with boat. Anyone know scrap prices on these two?

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Scott April 15, 2014 at 10:10 am

I’m looking at starting a scrap metal business, what is the best way to register the business and what do I want to tell my insurance company?

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kevin york August 20, 2014 at 12:18 pm

What’s the best way to sell lead acid scrap batteries.

Is it best to just remove the cells from the batteries and sell it without the housing case (I am thinking this way one gets to make more money) or is it better to just sell the entire battery with acid?

Any advice will be much appreciated – I recycle 10Ton of batteries every month and can use all the advice I can get…

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ScrapMetalJunkie October 16, 2014 at 6:28 am

Selling everything all together without disassembling is the safest most time effective way to do it in my opinion.

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