Rooftop Cargo Carriers Rent vs Buy? Which Is Better?

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Are you traveling somewhere soon, which requires additional space? An automatic response is typically a cargo carrier. There superb at providing you that much-needed extra space along with keeping your goods protected throughout transportation. But that leads us to this one important question, should you rent or buy a rooftop cargo carrier? Here's what you need to know:

I'm here to see who wins in the matchup: Cargo Carriers Rent vs Buy. 

Whether you buy or rent a rooftop cargo carrier comes down to lifestyle and budget. If you're an avid traveler who'll use a cargo carrier once a month, then it's undoubtedly worth the money. However, if you've only just discovered you might need a cargo carrier for your up-and-coming trip, then it's probably better to rent one for around $20 a day.

The decision to rent or buy a cargo carrier can be challenging. However, we wanted to make this a more straightforward process. To better understand whether you should or shouldn't purchase a cargo carrier, I suggest you become knowledgeable on the below. Here we detail the pricing and various other questions you should ask yourself to narrow down your decision-making.

Cargo Carriers Rent vs Buy

Depending on your situation, you could benefit more or less from buying a cargo carrier. To better visualize whether you should make the initial investment or not, you'll want to see the below. But, before we get into the questions, let's discuss pricing.

Total pricing

One of the main variables that affect our purchasing decisions is pricing. We all want the best price for our buck, and it's the same in this situation. Of course, pricing for cargo carriers will massively depend on what type of style, brand, and optimal extras you purchase. Therefore, here are some rough estimates of pricing you can expect to encounter with a cargo carrier.

  • $50 to $800 for either a cargo bag, box, basket, or sports-specific carrier
  • $50 to $250 if you need to purchase crossbars for your vehicle
  • $60 to $300 when you need roof rails installed onto your vehicle (fixed and non-fixed)

Above are some average prices for three essential pieces of equipment that are required for cargo carriers. From these prices, it suggests you'll spend around $160 to $1,350 depending on what models and brands you select. But how much is renting a cargo carrier?



Cargo box (medium or extra-large)

$20/day or $100/week

Crossbars (required)

$8/day or $30/week

Source: Roofboxtogo

As you can see, the price for renting a cargo box is reasonably low. However, most renters will only offer cargo boxes rather than bags, baskets, and sports-specific carriers. If you'd like these, it's a high probability you'll need to purchase them. Also, remember the prices above don't account for a roof rail. Now you have an idea of prices, let's discuss various reasons why renting or buying may be the better option.

How often will you use a cargo carrier?

The above question is without a doubt the first you must answer when determining whether to buy or rent a cargo carrier. However, you won't need many trips to make purchasing a cargo box worth it. Let's check this from the above data. A cargo box is a maximum of $20 per day, and to buy a cargo carrier, you're looking between $50 to $800, depending on what brand and style you opt-in for. From this, we can suggest it'll take 2.5 to 40 days' worth of renting before it pays for the entire storage unit.

Forty days' worth of renting is a lot. Especially if you take week-round trips here and there. But, if you think about this over a lifetime, you'll quickly realize that buying a cargo carrier might be more advantageous. Additionally, $800 is the premium side of cargo carriers and for people who will utilize it regularly. You can still purchase good-quality carriers for $150 to $200, making it something you should consider.  

Do you need to invest in cargo carrier attachments?

The above really narrows down that it's more beneficial to purchase a cargo carrier. However, factors that aren't accounted for are the attachments. In most events, both roof rails and cross rails need to be installed on a vehicle before loading the cargo carrier. Therefore, if your vehicle doesn't have these, you may want to consider renting because it'll be an additional $110 to $550.

This also doesn't include any "special" attachments, such as a skis rack. Currently, ski racks are specialized and come up rather expensive. Typically, these can be priced anywhere $100+. Because of this, you'll want to double-check the total costs, including the cargo carrier and attachments, compared to renting them if your vehicle requires this.

Is it necessary for the amount of stuff you transport?

After determining if the price is worth how much usage you'll get from a cargo box, this next question is relatively self-explanatory. Do you really need a cargo carrier to travel successfully? Or can you get away with it? If you're anything like myself, I'm continuously overpacking for every holiday. I find myself packing goods into my cargo carrier and completely forgetting about it until we return home.

Therefore, if you want to reduce travel expenses, see if you can cancel out purchasing or renting a cargo carrier. By doing this, you'll be saving money in the long run, and you'll be surprised what you can remove from current storage.

Where will you store your carrier when it's vacant?

The last question you'll want to answer is, where will you store it when it's not in use? It sounds silly, but most cargo carriers are pretty large, and I'm sure you don't want to keep them installed throughout the year. By doing this, you're just putting it through weathering conditions that decrease the product's lifespan.

Most people store cargo carriers just above their cars in their garages. By doing it this way, it's doubtful you wouldn't have any available space if you have access to a garage. However, we're aware that not everybody does, so finding room for this large storage unit could be challenging. 


After reading the above, you should have a clearer vision of whether you should or shouldn't purchase a rooftop cargo carrier. In all honestly, it really depends on your lifestyle, budget, and potential usage. If you're going to benefit from this type of storage solution on your vehicle, I don't see why you would hesitate.

If you're considering the purchase, check out our detailed posts about the top bags, hard shell, and soft shell rooftop cargo carriers.  

Now you understand more about buying and renting, which will you choose?

About the author 

Vieira Babeker

Hi! I'm Vieira. I've always been interested in different Auto Accessories

My passion here at is to provide helpful straight forward clear advice and tips for Automotive Accessories.

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