What’s The Cheapest Way To Ship Large Packages? | Full Guide + Tips
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Whether you own a small business or just occasionally ship packages to friends or family, you probably want to find the cheapest option available. The cost to ship a package depends on several factors like the size and weight of the package, along with how quickly you need the package delivered. All the major carriers have several shipping options to choose from, so how do you find the cheapest one? Plus, how much does it cost to ship a package in the first place? We will tell you everything that you need to know about shipping a package, including how to find the cheapest rates. We will also give you some tips for saving money on shipping costs.
Which Carrier Offers The Cheapest Way To Ship Packages?
Generally, USPS offers the cheapest shipping for small packages. If you have a package that weighs less than 5 pounds, then the postal service is probably going to be the cheapest option for shipping. The post office offers several different flat-rate shipping options that you can use as well. This means that you will pay the same price regardless of the weight of the package. As long as it fits inside the box, then it ships for the same price. Prices for flat-rate Priority Mail boxes from USPS start at under $8, so they are a great option when you need a cost-effective way to have your package delivered.
If you have an item that is larger and heavier, then UPS tends to be the cheapest way to send large packages. UPS will deliver items up to 150 pounds with their standard UPS Ground service. For example, you can ship a 50-pound package through UPS Ground for as little as $28. Plus, the service will have your parcel delivered within five days in most cases.
Lastly, you will need to utilize a freight service for extremely large or heavy items. If your item exceeds 150 pounds, both UPS and FedEx offer freight services that can handle those items. FedEx is usually the most affordable option when it comes to freight service. The cost to send a freight item depends on many factors, and you should work directly with your carrier to obtain a shipping quote.
USPS Shipping Rates By Service
So, just how much does it cost to send a package through the mail? Prices vary by service type, but you should select one that meets your needs regarding delivery speed. Some options will get your package to its destination much faster, although you are wasting money if quick delivery is unnecessary.
USPS also offers some additional options not mentioned below, like Media Mail. However, those are special services that have specific shipping restrictions. While Media Mail might offer the best rates, your item must qualify for this service before you can use it. Here are the different ways that you can send a package with USPS, along with how much they cost. You can also estimate USPS shipping charges easily on USPS.com.
— First-Class Package Service
Most people know that a stamp costs $0.58 for first-class mail, which is extremely affordable in terms of shipping costs. However, that amount of postage will only cover a letter that weighs up to 1 ounce. If, however, you have a small and lightweight package, then you can still use first-class service to send it. Your package must weigh less than 13 ounces, and there is no guaranteed delivery time. The price to send one of these small packages starts at only $4.30. This is a great option for e-commerce businesses that need to mail a high volume of small items. Plus, you can even get a discount if you print your own shipping labels or obtain commercial pricing rates.
— Priority Mail
If you need to have your package delivered more quickly and get detailed tracking information, then USPS Priority Mail might be the right choice for you. Priority Mail boasts a delivery time of 1 to 3 business days. Prices for this service start at just $7.95, and it even includes Saturday delivery at no extra charge. If your item fits within one of the flat-rate boxes, then there is no need to worry about the weight of the package. If it fits, it ships! However, weight can never exceed 70 pounds, and the maximum combined length and girth of the package cannot exceed 108 inches. When it comes to larger and heavier packages, USPS rates increase — often higher than those offered by UPS.
— Priority Mail Express
This service will reduce your transit time even lower. Priority Mail Express service offers guaranteed next-day or second-day delivery. You will receive full tracking capabilities with this shipping service, and the prices are very competitive. Your package should arrive by 6:00 PM on the delivery date, and you might be entitled to a refund of a portion of your shipping cost if it’s late. Prices for this service start at $26.60, and they increase as the size of the package increases. Your best bet is to fit your item inside of a flat-rate envelope or box if possible.
— Overnight Service
USPS does not offer a guaranteed overnight delivery option in every situation. Their Priority Mail Express service is their equivalent of overnight shipping. While your package will generally arrive the next day, there might be circumstances where it does not arrive until the second day. Flat rate packages are again the best option here. Prices start at $26.60 for a small box, and they increase for medium boxes and large boxes. However, it doesn’t matter how much your package weighs or how far it travels. If it fits inside the box, you could send it from New York to Los Angeles without any surcharges or additional fees.
UPS Ground Shipping Rates
UPS Ground is the most common shipping method for UPS customers. This shipping solution provides fast service and relatively low prices. In most cases, UPS Ground will deliver a package to its destination within five days. However, remember that Saturday and Sunday delivery is not included in most cases. You can use the UPS Shipping Calculator to see exactly how much your delivery will cost. The UPS shipping cost calculator is extremely helpful. For a one-pound package, prices start at about $10. If you increase the weight to 20 pounds, the price only increases to $17.
You should also keep in mind that UPS uses both the dimensional weight and actual weight of the package when determining the billable weight. This means that oversized packages, even though they might be lightweight, will still be charged a higher rate. This is because they take up additional space on the carrier’s vehicle. UPS flat-rate boxes are also a great option for UPS customers, and they come in a variety of sizes.
In addition to standard ground shipping, UPS also offers several expedited shipping services. UPS Next Day Air, Next Day Air Early, and Next Day Air Saver are all options when you need a package delivered the very next day. Next Day Air prices start around $30 for a one-pound package and that price increases to $64 for a 20-pound package. If you are looking for cheap shipping, then these expedited services are not the best option. However, if you need guaranteed delivery by the next day, then they might be the best shipping choice. In some cases, UPS Express Critical even offers same-day shipping, but that is certainly not the cheapest option.
FedEx Ground Shipping Rates
FedEx shipping costs are generally slightly higher than UPS. Like the other shipping carriers, FedEx also examines both the dimensional weight and actual weight of the package when calculating the cost of shipping. The more cubic inches of space that a package occupies, the more it will cost you. Heavy packages will also cost you more, even if they are small in size. Let’s revisit the one-pound package example — rates with FedEx for sending this package with FedEx Ground service start around $13. If the box is heavier, the price goes up. At 20 pounds, the cost would rise to $21 for standard ground service.
Similar to UPS, FedEx also offers overnight shipping options. FedEx Standard Overnight is the cheapest of their overnight services. The cost to send a one-pound package through standard overnight service would be $48. If you increase the weight to 20 pounds, then the cost rises to $103. As you can see, these express overnight services are never going to be the cheapest option to ship boxes. However, you might be forced to use them in some cases where you absolutely must have a package delivered the next day.
DHL Shipping Rates
DHL is best known for international shipping, and it is often the most expensive carrier for domestic shipments. In fact, you might find that DHL does not even provide a service for short routes within the United States. DHL is mostly a freight and logistics company that is headquartered in Germany. They serve many countries around the globe, and they often offer the best prices when it comes to international shipments.
If you want to see exactly how much your shipment will cost, then you can use the DHL shipping calculator. You will need to enter some shipping details like the recipient address and return address, along with the weight and dimensions of your package.
Other Factors To Consider When Shipping Packages
One of the biggest factors to consider when shipping packages is how quickly you need the package delivered. This can be especially true if you need weekend delivery. USPS provides Saturday delivery at no extra charge, and Sunday delivery is available on some services. However, weekend delivery is less common with UPS and FedEx. It is almost always an additional service that you will need to pay for — if it is available at all.
Another consideration is the fragility of the item that you are shipping. When you ship a fragile item, some shipping companies will charge an extra fee for fragile items. If you can fit the item into a small flat-rate box and pack it so that it is completely protected, then you might not be required to pay this fee. However, if the item breaks during transport, then the carrier would not be liable for it unless you declare the item as fragile.
Saving Money On Shipping Costs
Now that you know which carriers offer the cheapest solutions, what are some other ways that you can save money on shipping costs? One of the best ways to save money is by signing up for an account with your carrier and printing your own shipping labels. This allows you to get those labels at a lower cost than retail. In some cases, you might save as much as 20% or more. This can really add up for business owners who ship a lot of packages from eBay, Shopify, or some other e-commerce platform.
Next, make sure that you select the service that best meets your delivery timeframe requirements. If you can wait a few days for the package to be delivered, then you have no reason to pay for expedited service. You should only use premium services when absolutely necessary, as you might be wasting money otherwise.
Finally, make sure that you place your item into as small a box as possible. Using a bigger box than is necessary can lead to increased shipping costs. This is because the carriers calculate costs based on both the size and weight of the package. A 5-pound package in a small box will be cheaper to ship than a 5-pound package that is in a larger box.
The Bottom Line
Sending a package doesn’t have to be a hassle or expensive. If you have a small package that weighs less than 5 pounds, then USPS is almost always the cheapest way to send it. However, as the size and weight of the package increase, you might find that UPS becomes the most affordable method. When you send an item so large that it requires freight service, then FedEx will typically be the best way to go. Just be sure that you select the right service based on your specific needs, including budget and delivery timeframe.
Frequently Asked Questions
Is FedEx or USPS cheaper?
For an average package, USPS is almost always cheaper than FedEx. However, FedEx might have a better offer for very large or heavy packages. In fact, USPS will not deliver packages that weigh more than 70 pounds.
What is the cheapest way to send a package through USPS?
The cheapest way to send a package through USPS is usually first-class package service. However, you can only send small packages that weigh up to 13 ounces using that service. The next best option is typically USPS Parcel service. This service does not have a guaranteed delivery time. If you need faster delivery, then USPS Priority Mail is the way to go. Priority Mail prices start at just over $7, so it’s still a cost-effective way to send packages.
Are there any free shipping options?
When you place an order online, you might find that the retailer offers free shipping. However, someone is paying the shipping costs. No carriers offer free shipping options. So, if you need to send a package to someone, you will need to pay for the cost. Shipping companies are in business to make money, so they must charge for their service.
Is it cheaper to ship boxes UPS or USPS?
It is usually cheaper to send small boxes through USPS, while UPS is often cheaper for larger or heavier boxes. The typical turning point is around 5 pounds. For packages under that weight, USPS will usually be cheaper. However, once the package exceeds 5 pounds, you will find that UPS probably has better rates.