The Difference Between Contract, Private, and Common Carriers

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The Difference Between Contract, Private, and Common Carriers
The Difference Between Contract, Private, and Common Carriers

What is The Difference Between Contract, Private, and Common Carriers?

The auto transport industry is a bit more complicated than many people think, as there are a multitude of carriers in operation, all of which may not be accessible to a single person. All of the transport carriers that you may see while driving is not all necessarily part of the same service that you'll find on your typical auto transport website. There are actually three types of carriers, which are:

  • Contract carriers
  • Private carriers
  • Common carriers

Here's what differentiates each one from the other:

Contract Carriers

Contract carriers consist of carriers that work exclusively with one organization or company under a contract position. As a result, they only transport vehicles for that one company. You will find contract carriers with some auto transport brokers that laud the fact that they also act as carriers.

They are not as common today and becoming much less so as time goes on. That's simply because of how auto transport brokers are able to view a multitude of carriers in order to determine the best one for them in terms of price and scheduling. Contract carriers really are only relevant for extremely large auto transport brokers, usually ones that have a vast nationwide presence.

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Common Carriers

Common carriers are the most common out of the three ones mentioned. They are carriers that are able to be hired by any auto transport broker for an agreed upon price. The majority of the common carriers have open transport trucks, and they are the most efficient and affordable way of transporting vehicles, especially if there is more than one at a time.

Common carriers have to have a full auto transport license, not to mention be fully insured and bonded. The vast majority of auto transport carriers that you might see on the highway are common carriers. Because they are so numerous, they are highly competitive with each other. This allows auto transport brokers to be offered attractive prices, which increases their own profit margins and allows them to, in turn, charge their customers an affordable rate. The reason why your vehicle can be picked up almost immediately at times is due to the abundance of common carriers on the road.

Private Carriers

While common and contract carriers are available to the regular consumer, private carriers are not. Private carriers are not used by auto transport brokers. Instead, they are mostly used by large organizations and companies that have a need to transport a high amount of vehicles. One such example would be automobile manufacturers. In order to make sure that the vehicles get to their dealerships, they haul them themselves directly from the production plant. It's rare that you will be able to ship your vehicle using a private carrier.

As already mentioned, your vehicle will most likely be shipped using a common carrier. Common carriers are able to provide as good of security and service as the other two types, which A-1 Auto Transport works hard to ensure!

Joe Webster
Written By:Joe Webster
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Joe Webster began his journey in the auto transport field by attending the University of Southern California (USC), where he graduated with a Bachelor of Business Marketing. 

After college, he started his career in the auto transport industry from the bottom up and has done virtually every job there is to do at A-1 Auto Transport, including but not limited to: Truck Driver, Dispatch, Sales, PR, Bookkeeping, Transport Planner, Transport Manager, International Transport Manager, Brokering, Customer Service, and Marketing. Working with his mentor Tony Taylor, Joe Webster has learned the ins and outs of this industry which is largely misunderstood. 

With over 30 years experience in the industry, we've been helping people ship their vehicles, motorcycles, RV's, heavy equipment, household goods and more across the country or overseas without a hitch. Ask us anything.

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A-1 Auto Transport is a disclosed agent for the following shipping companies:

Trans Global Auto Logistics, Inc.
3401 E Randol Mill Rd
Arlington, TX 76011
NO. 018191NF
CFR Rinkens
15501 Texaco Avenue
Paramount, CA 90723
NO. 013055NF
ABC Worldwide LLC
2840 NW 2nd Ave #105
Boca Raton, FL 33431
NO. 025472F
CSI Logistics
435 Division Street
Elizabeth, NJ 07201
FMC 22206
Intl Cargo
45 Campus drive
Edison, NJ 08837
NO. 17858N
ShipYourCarNow LLC
1160 South Rogers Circle Suite 1
Boca Raton, FL 33487
NO. 025646
Merco Air & Ocean Cargo, Inc.
6 Fir Way
Cooper City, FL 33026
NO. 021869F
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