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Buying A Vending Machine Under $500 - Is It Possible?

How to discover affordable vending machines under $500. Uncover possibilities and make informed decisions for a budget-friendly vending venture.

December 20, 2023


The prices of vending machines vary greatly depending on size, brand, condition, and features. Whether you are looking for a vending machine for your office or to start a vending business by building a vending machine route, you must look for a good deal on the equipment. How much you pay for the machine will determine how fast you can recoup your investment. Now, is buying a vending machine under $500 possible? In this post, I will cover how much you can expect to pay for various vending machines and where to find one for under $500.

How Much Does a Vending Machine Typically Cost?

New vending machines typically cost between $3,000 and $7,000, depending on the brand features. Combo vending machines are on the higher side of the scale. Separate drinks and snack machines typically sell for under $5,000. Most manufacturers and retailers selling new machines in the United States can arrange financing, with some offering attractive terms such as $0 down and up to 48 months repayment period.

Note that aside from the equipment purchase cost, there are other costs associated with running a vending machine business that you should budget for. These include repair and maintenance costs, insurance, electricity, stocking/restocking costs, and gas for restocking runs.

How Much Does a Used Vending Machine Typically Cost?

You can expect to pay anywhere from $500 to $4,000 for a used vending machine. Most used vending machines in good condition on the market today have prices ranging from $1,000 to $3,000. The prices will depend on size, functionality, brand, and age.

Vending machines typically last 12 to 20 years depending on build quality. Past the 10-year mark, most machines will require some refurbishment to keep them working perfectly and to make them competitive in a market with increasingly smarter vending machines. When paying for an old used vending machine, you should, therefore, factor in potential future repairs and refurbishment, and the limited time you have to recoup your investment before the machine is fully written off.

Seeing as most used vending machines cost $1,000 to $3,000, with some priced as low as under $500, are the savings worth it? There are several benefits to buying a used vending machine, including:

  • Shorter payback period. With a new vending machine, the expectation is that you’ll recoup your investment in under two years. With an affordable used vending machine, you can recoup your investment much faster, sometimes in under six months.
  • Test new locations on a budget. When you are not sure how well a new location is going to perform, and you don’t want to sink a lot of money into it, you can test it using an affordable used vending machine.
  • Lower equipment depreciation. Most of the depreciation of a vending machine happens in its first seven years. You can resell your used vending machine without taking a significant financial hit. If you refurbish it well and add a card reader, you can resell it at a profit.

Is There Any Way to Buy a Vending Machine for Under $500?

Yes, it is possible to buy a vending machine for under $500. Note, however, that such vending machines come infrequently on the market. You will need to monitor listing sites for some time before you find a good deal. Alternatively, if there is a vending machine reseller in your region, you can notify them of your intention to buy a vending machine in the said price range so they can notify you whenever a suitable vending machine becomes available.

A vending machine listed for under $500 will be on the older side and will probably need some restoration. It would be wise to have a budget greater than $500 to have some wiggle room for unforeseen expenses.

Also, an old vending machine listed for under $500 may not have cashless payment methods, which customers have come to expect as a default feature. You can get a decent card reader for between $100 and $300. Consider this an investment, as the opportunity cost of not having a card reader is significant. According to a study by Parlevel, installing a card reader can increase a vending machine’s sales by 42%.

What should you look for when buying a low-cost vending machine? Pay attention to the following issues when assessing a vending machine under $500 to determine if the deal is worth it:

  • The machine's external appearance. People judge a book by its cover. Even for under $500, only buy machines that won’t repel potential customers. People are picky about where they buy their food.
  • The compressor’s working condition. Confirm that the compressor works properly and that the machine can continuously keep food at the desired temperature.
  • Peripheral technology. If it doesn’t have a card reader, can the MBD interface allow you to add one?

Where Can I Find Vending Machines Under $500?

Online marketplaces where second-hand equipment is sold are the best platforms to source vending machines under $500, as you can compare several options before making a purchase. The popular websites where you can find used vending machines are:

You may not find a vending machine under $500 that meets your needs on the first search. You should keep an eye on the marketplaces for some time to see what comes up. Consider setting alerts for new listings to monitor prices, features, and brands of potential deals.

You likely already recognize that a vending machine priced under $500 is likely on the older side. When shopping for such a machine on eBay, Facebook, or Craigslist, expect the following:

  • It will be an all-cash deal. Private sellers on such platforms rarely arrange financing. Use your savings or take out a loan to fund it.
  • No warranty. In most cases, the manufacturer’s warranty will have expired. All repairs will be out of pocket.
  • Expect hidden expenses. Unless you inspect the vending machine physically before buying it, set aside some cash to take care of unexpected failures.

Aside from Facebook, eBay, and Craigslist, you can find affordable vending machines in your area by calling resellers and vending machine companies operating in your area. A vending company running several routes in your area may have some old machines they want to get rid of. Notify them of your intention to buy such a machine, and you will be the first person they call when they want to sell old equipment.

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