What’s The Cheapest Way To Ship Large Packages? | [Full] Guide

Do you have an e-commerce store that sells oversized or heavy items? Perhaps you just need to ship a piece of furniture or another big item to a friend or family member. Sending large items through the mail can be quite costly, so finding the cheapest way to do so can save you some money. All the major carriers define large packages differently, and their pricing also differs. So, what is the cheapest route to go when you have a large box that you need to send? Keep reading as we give you the details on what it will cost to ship that package, plus give you some tips on saving money.


What Is The Cheapest Way To Ship Heavy Items?

The answer depends on just how heavy your item is. For items up to 70 pounds, USPS is often one of the cheapest ways to send a package. In fact, the U.S. Postal Service offers two different sizes of large flat-rate boxes for Priority Mail. The first is 12 inches x 12-1/4 inches x 6 inches. It is ideal for shipping books, shoes, laptops, or anything else that will fit into the box. The other is 23-11/16 inches x 11¾ inches x 3 inches. It is ideal for shipping board games and other long items. The cost to ship these items is $22.65 if you buy the box at your local post office. Another advantage of these boxes is that weight does not matter. As long as your item fits inside the box, then it ships for the same price.

If your item is heavier than 70 pounds, then USPS will not be an option. They do not deliver packages that weigh more than 70 pounds. UPS Ground or FedEx Ground will be your cheapest option if your package weighs between 70 and 150 pounds. These two services are similar in price, and both carriers offer flat rate options as well. UPS offers an extra-large flat-rate box that measures 18″ x 12″ x 6″. The rate to ship this box is $22.85.

The FedEx flat rate extra-large box is roughly the same size, as it measures 15-3/4″ x 14-1/8″ x 6″. However, the cost to ship it is $32.25. FedEx box sizes are about the same as those of UPS. If you need to ship extremely large or heavy items, then a freight service is likely what you will have to select. UPS and FedEx both offer freight shipping options, and their prices are comparable. You can expect that it will cost you at least $100 to use a freight service, and the prices could exceed $300 depending on where your item is headed and how big it is.


Definition Of A Large Package

Each carrier handles large package shipping a little differently. What might be considered large to one carrier might not be a problem for another carrier. When it comes to USPS, they have strict rules. First, if your package weighs more than 70 pounds, it is considered non-mailable. This means that they will not deliver the item. In addition, if the length and girth of the package exceed 130″, they will not ship it. If found in the postal network, a package exceeding these rules will be held until the shipper picks it up. The shipper will also be assessed a $100 fee for the return of the package.

When it comes to UPS, they also define a large package when using their shipping services. UPS will assess a large package fee if the length plus girth [(2 x width) + (2 x height)] of your item combined exceeds 118 inches but does not exceed the maximum size of 157 inches. FedEx Ground and FedEx Home Delivery will deliver packages up to 108″ in length or 165″ in length plus girth as long as the package does not exceed 150 pounds. However, if the length exceeds 96″ or the length plus girth exceeds 130″, you will be assessed an oversize package fee.


USPS Shipping Rates For Large Packages

So, what are the post office shipping rates to send a large package through USPS? The answer depends on a few different factors, like the type of service you select and how far the package needs to travel. If you are lucky enough to fit your item inside a flat-rate box, you don’t need to worry about the shipping distance or weight. Your shipping cost for a large box will be $22.85 for Priority Mail. If you need to get your item there quicker, then Priority Mail Express is an option. Only flat-rate envelopes are available for the express service, and prices start at $26.60. Sending a large package using overnight shipping will be quite expensive. For example, a 70-pound package traveling through several zones will cost $654!

If you can wait longer for your package to arrive, then USPS Parcel Select might be a good option. The prices on this service are a little lower, and most shipments will arrive at their destination within eight days. However, you should know that the maximum weight for this service is 35 pounds. In some cases, you might even be able to pick up your package from USPS before final delivery. This won’t save you any money on shipping, but it might allow you to get your package quicker.


UPS Shipping Rates For Large Packages

As with the other carriers, the price for shipping a package with UPS will depend on the size and weight of the package as well as how far the package must travel. UPS Ground shipping cost is the most affordable, and it is also one of the most common services that customers use. When calculating shipping costs, UPS will use both the dimensional weight and the actual weight of your item. The heavier of the two will be used to calculate the billable weight. Therefore, UPS box sizes have a big effect on the shipping cost. This means that an extremely large box will incur higher charges even if it is very lightweight. UPS has great rates on large packages. For example, a 20-pound package being shipped across the country will only cost you about $31. Plus, UPS has quick shipping speeds, so your package will arrive within five days in most cases.

If you need your package to arrive more quickly, then you could select UPS 3 Day Select, UPS Next Day Air, Next Day Air Saver, or Next Day Air Early. Next Day Air Saver is the cheapest of their overnight delivery options, and it will guarantee that your package arrives before the end of the next business day. That same 20-pound package will cost you about $200 to ship it across the country with this service.


FedEx Shipping Rates For Large Packages

FedEx Ground is usually the cheapest shipping option offered by FedEx. The prices for FedEx service are comparable to those offered by UPS, although FedEx is often slightly more expensive for packages in the 1 to 150-pound range. Like UPS, FedEx uses both the dimensional weight and actual weight of your package when calculating the shipping cost. Heavy packages that are small in size are likely to cost about the same amount as larger packages that are lightweight. Shipping companies must take into account the amount of space that a package will occupy, and they must charge accordingly.

Let’s once again look at the 20-pound package from the previous example. To send it across the country with FedEx Ground service, you will pay about $39. If you need to ship packages quickly, then FedEx Standard Overnight might be the shipping method that you choose. The cost for this service will run you $239 in this case. As you can see, FedEx is slightly more expensive than UPS, although their freight service is usually a little cheaper. Once you hit the 150-pound weight limit for regular service, then freight charges will start to apply.


Other Options For Sending Large Items

So, what other options are available for sending large items besides the three carriers discussed above? DHL is one of the first ones that come to mind. DHL is a private shipping and logistics company, similar to UPS and FedEx. If you are looking for international shipping for a large package, then DHL might be your choice. They are headquartered in Germany, and they serve many international countries. While they are not as popular within the United States, they are a great option for international shipments.

Another option is to consider a third-party freight and logistics company. There are many companies that offer private freight and hauling services. Think of all the 18-wheeler trucks you see rolling down the road on a given day. Many of those are available for hire, and you can use them to transport large and heavy items for you. However, you should know that going that route is usually much more expensive than using a traditional shipping carrier. If you are willing to pay the price, you can get customized and concierge-level service from some of these companies. They can work with you to package and secure your item, pick it up from your home, and deliver it where it needs to go.


How To Save Money On Shipping Costs

Many people wonder how they can reduce the cost of shipping when they need to send a large package. While you can still expect to pay a premium price for large items, there are some things that you can do to save a few dollars on your costs. First, you should package your item into the smallest box possible. Putting your shipment into a larger than necessary box can lead to unnecessary surcharges, as wasted cubic inches can lead to wasted money. Since carriers use both the size and weight of your item to calculate the shipping charge, you want to keep the package as small as possible.

Next, make sure that you choose the appropriate service based on your needs. If you don’t mind a longer transit time, then there is no need to pay more for expedited service. In some cases, this could save you a substantial amount of money. For example, USPS Priority Mail will typically deliver your package within three days. Unless you absolutely need a next-day delivery service, there is no need to pay extra for Priority Mail Express. Choose the most cost-effective method that will still get your package there on time, even if it means selecting a less common method like Media Mail or First-Class mail package service.

Package your fragile items extremely carefully. If you can package the item well enough that you are confident it won’t break during shipping, you could save some money. If you mark an item as fragile with UPS or FedEx, then a surcharge might apply to ensure that they are more careful with the package.

Finally, if you are a small business owner that does a lot of shipping, consider signing up for a business account and printing your own shipping labels. Having your own shipping solution and printing your own labels can lead to great savings over retail ground rates. Plus, it will save you a ton of time from visiting the post office or UPS Store each time you need to send a package!


The Bottom Line

The size and weight of your package, along with the delivery time and distance, are the most significant factors that affect the cost of shipping the package. USPS is generally the cheapest option for packages up to 70 pounds, and they offer many great flat rate shipping options. If your package is too big or heavy for USPS, then UPS is usually the next best way to go. Once you hit freight size, then FedEx often has the best rates. Follow the tips laid out above to make sure you keep your shipping charges as low as possible, and you should always select the carrier that best fits your specific needs.


Frequently Asked Questions


Is FedEx or UPS cheaper for large packages?

In most cases, UPS is cheaper for large packages. For both regular ground service and expedited air service, UPS tends to run a little cheaper for packages up to 150 pounds. Once you cross that threshold, you start to utilize the carrier’s freight rates. FedEx often has cheaper freight rates, so the answer might just depend on exactly how large your package is.


What are the different ways to ship a package?

There are many different ways to ship a package. The most common ways are with the major carriers like USPS, UPS, and FedEx. Each carrier offers multiple shipping methods as well, depending on how quickly the package needs to arrive. You can choose from standard shipping that generally arrives in 2 to 6 days or overnight shipping, which will arrive the next day.


What is the cheapest way to ship a 50 lb package?

It depends on the size of the item. If it will fit into a large, flat-rate box, then USPS would be the cheapest option. You could ship your item for approximately $22. However, if the item will not fit inside the box, then UPS will likely be the cheapest option for a package of that size and weight. UPS Ground rates start around $22 for a 50-pound package, and they only go up to around $65 even if the package needs to travel across the country.

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