Scrap Metal Prices in the United States

What is considered scrap metal?

Scrap metal is basically metal that you got from stuff you no longer need or is broken. It can be metals from your old car, but also wiring or cans. Usually your first inclination is to just throw it away, but remember that it can be used again and can therefore be valuable!

How do scrap yards set scrap prices for metals?

Your local scrap yard sets their scrap metal prices based on 4 factors:

  1. The metal type: non-ferrous metals usually command higher prices than ferrous metals. Also - if the metal is in sheet form, or other easily processable form, then you'll get a higher price as well.
  2. The spot price: the spot price is the fair market price for the metal in question and is what it is traded for on the commodities markets. This fluctuates continuously and is outside your control.
  3. The amount of metal: if you bring MORE metal then you can typically get a better price from your scrap yard as the handling and processing is almost the same for them. So you may want to save up!
  4. The location of the scrap yard: if your scrap yard is in the vicinity of other scrap yards, then the prices will (typically) be more competitive. The owner will need to give better prices to get the best chances of getting people to bring it to them.

What should I do to get the best price for my scrap metal?

You will want to do these 3 things to get the best price for your scrap metal:

  1. Check the metal price BEFOREHAND with several scrap yards in your area. If you just drive there and negotiate, then you may get fleeced.
  2. Save metal until you have a large amount: you'll find you get better prices if you bring it in bulk than if you just come with a few pounds.
  3. Weigh the metal at home! Unfortunately not all scrap yards are 100% trustworthy. Make sure you know how much you're bringing to avoid getting short-changed!

What should I bring to the scrap yard?

In most jurisdictions you need to bring Identification so don't forget that. If you're scrapping a car then you'll need the title as well of course. For goods that are high-risk (goods that are stolen a lot) such as copper wire, you may also need to show how you came into possession of it.

How do I know if a scrap yard is good or fair?

You should check the reviews on different websites such as Google reviews, Yelp and others. Don't just look at the overall score, but read some recent reviews to see if the price is fair and whether the service is good and friendly. And do some offline research as well - typically a good reputation is earned by many people visiting. It's very likely your neighbours or friends have been to scrap yards in your area - so ask them!

How do you determine scrap metal prices in an area?

Our site checks prices on the websites of scrap yards on a daily basis. We average the prices in a certain area so that they reflect the real market value.

What are the laws for scrap metals?

Since scrap metal is highly valuable, you'll need to bring ID and typically the transaction will be recorded and the details stored for quite some time. The scrap yard has to follow laws that are relaxed in some locations, but strict in a lot of locations. Stricter laws can even require finger-printing and long-term transaction logging.

What is the difference between ferrous and non ferrous metal?

Non-ferrous metals are metals that do not contain iron and are typically higher value scrap metals. Non-ferrous metals include aluminum, zinc, copper and alloys such as brass. Ferrous metals contain iron and are much more common and less valuable. Ferrous metals include steel and cast iron for instance.

What are the best metals to scrap for money?

The best metal items to scrap for money are made from high valuable non ferrous metals such as copper or aluminum. Items such as copper wiring, copper tubing or sheet aluminum are typically things that bring a lot of money. But also things you wouldn't think of - such as those light-weight rims that rode into the curb many times. Don't throw them out if don't want to restore them - scrap those aluminum rims!

Please contact us if you feel we need to add any questions to this list.