The Cheapest Way to Send a Package: Shipping Costs & Options

Calculating shipping costs and choosing the cheapest shipping method can be confusing. Our guides to the cheapest way to ship anything make it easy to compare shipping costs and choose the right method for your cargo, whether you’re shipping common items like boxes or hard-to-transport items like antiques or art.

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1. How much does it cost to send packages?

We have calculated shipping costs for three common shipping methods: USPS, Parcel Shipping, and Consolidated Freight.

i. usps shipping costs

ii. package shipping costs (for example, ups or fedex)

iii. consolidated freight

2. frequently asked questions

Get answers to frequently asked questions about shipping packages.

When it comes to shipping, the term “package” can refer to any type of shipment, including tubes, envelopes, padded envelopes, and packages of any size and weight. packages can contain almost any payload and can be shipped for any reason, such as:

  • people who ship small items or paperwork to loved ones, friends or businesses across the country
  • homeowners who move long distance and ship large boxes to their new home
  • business owners shipping customer purchases or items to other locations

There are generally three types of packages:

  1. Tubes: Tubes are ideal for securely shipping rolled papers like blueprints, posters, or artwork, but can also be used to ship specialty items like rolled shirts, fishing, golf clubs or telescopes. tubes are not usually subject to any special pricing, as long as they are below the weight limit of the chosen shipping service.
  2. envelopes and padded envelopes: envelopes and padded envelopes they are lighter and less expensive to buy and ship, but they are less durable and more susceptible to damage. they are ideal for individual items or smaller, more durable loads that can be safely transported without risk of damage provided proper precautions are taken, such as fabrics or paper products.
  3. boxes:< / Strong boxes are more expensive to purchase and to ship, but are more durable than envelopes or padded envelopes. boxes are ideal for fragile items that require more protection than an envelope can provide, as well as shipments containing multiple items or heavy or large items. depending on your shipping provider, you may even be able to provide your own packaging.

Whether you’re shipping small items or large packages across the country, there are some special considerations to keep in mind when shipping packages:

  • What you’re shipping: The size and weight of your cargo will determine whether you ship your items in an envelope or a box, which, in turn, will affect your shipping costs. Shipping. as well as how to pack your items. lightweight, durable items can be packed in envelopes, but fragile, valuable, or heavy items are best shipped in boxes with adequate padding to ensure they are protected from damage in transit.
  • How many items you’re shipping: If you’re shipping multiple items, boxes (with proper padding) will offer more convenience and protection than envelopes or padded envelopes, which are often ideal for individual items.
  • how fast you need your items to arrive: Your shipping costs will be higher if you need fast or overnight delivery, especially if you’re shipping boxes, large packages, or heavy items.
  • package size: Large or oversized packages will cost more to ship, regardless of how much they weigh. For more information on shipping large packages, read our guide on the cheapest way to ship large packages.
  • box weight: heavy items They are not ideal for envelopes or padded envelopes, and are best packed in boxes. however, especially heavy boxes are at higher risk of damage and may be too expensive to ship via mail or package delivery services. If possible, splitting a heavy shipment into two smaller packages can help reduce your costs and protect your cargo. be sure to check the specs on your boxes; each should have a maximum weight limit listed at the bottom.
  • dimensional weight: if you’re shipping large, lightweight packages, you’ll need to be aware of something called “dimensional weight “. If your package is priced by dimensional weight, your shipping costs will be determined by the estimated weight of the package based on its length, width, and height, rather than the actual weight. each carrier values ​​dimensional weight differently, so look for your “dimensional weight factor” when calculating your shipping costs.
  • unboxing experience: sometimes it pays off the added expense of shipping items to customers in a box over a padded envelope, especially if you are a retailer shipping items to customers. A positive unboxing experience can go a long way toward creating loyal and satisfied customers.

The Cheapest Way to Send a Package: Shipping Costs & Options

how much does it cost to send packages?

Flat rate and variable pricing are available through USPS, package carriers, and consolidated freight providers.

The cheapest way to ship packages depends on the package you are shipping:

  • small, lightweight items packed in padded envelopes are cheaper when shipped via usps
  • small, heavy items are cheaper when shipped using usps flat rate pricing. usps
  • large, light items are cheaper when shipped using usps priority mail
  • large, heavy items are cheaper to ship using consolidated freight
  • for fast or overnight deliveries, package carriers will be the cheapest

Compare rates for shipping packages using the most common shipping methods:

  • usps
  • parcel shipping (such as fedex or ups)
  • consolidated freight


Flat rate shipping and variable pricing are available for both padded envelopes and boxes.

usps flat rate pricing depends solely on the size of the package you ship; the weight of your package, as well as the speed and distance of the trip, are not taken into account in the shipping costs. flat rate packages are delivered within 1-3 business days.

If you opt for variable pricing, shipping costs will depend on the size and weight of the package, as well as the speed and distance of travel. USPS offers four variable price shipping options:

starting at $3.50-$30.87 for 70lbs traveling the farthest possible, or $40.59 for oversized packages

packages exceeding 2 cubic feet (3456 cubic inches), with dndc/dscf input, add $15.00.

packages over 2 cubic feet (3456 cubic inches), with ddu entry, add $15.00.

Regardless of your packaging or whether you opt for a flat rate or variable price, packages shipped via USPS cannot exceed 70 pounds.

usps also offers retail ground shipping for less urgent packages. prices start at $8.50 per package depending on its size and weight, as well as the area to which it will be sent, and can go up to $152.60 for 70 pounds or $220.50 for large packages that travel the maximum distance possible. Dimensional weight charges will apply to large and light packages.

package delivery (ups or fedex)

flat rate and variable pricing are available through major package carriers such as fedex and ups.

ups flat rate shipping service is called ups flat rate. they are the only carrier that allows you to use your own packaging, with fixed prices available for five sizes based on volume (up to 1728”3), with a maximum weight of 50 pounds, regardless of package size. Three speeds are available: UPS Ground, UPS 3 Day Select, and UPS 2nd Day Air. prices range from $9.25 to $61.50 per package, depending on trip size and speed.

ups variable price depends on the size and weight of the package, as well as the distance of the trip. multiple speeds are available, from standard shipping to expedited overnight shipping. packages with a large size-to-weight ratio will be quoted using dimensional weight. Large packages (those with longest side exceeding 96″ or combined length and girth exceeding 130″) will be subject to a minimum billable weight of 90 lbs., unless shipped using ups ground with a package of freight prices.

fedex flat rate shipping is called “fedex flat rate”. Unlike UPS, you must use FedEx packaging to qualify for flat rate shipping. 12 sizes are available, including envelopes, packets, boxes, and tubes. packaging is free and can be ordered online with free delivery. packages can weigh up to 50 pounds regardless of size. six speeds are available: fedex express saver, fedex 2day, fedex 2day a.m., fedex standard night, fedex priority night and fedex first night, with prices varying by size, speed and travel distance from $26.70 to $222, 79.

the variable price depends on the size and weight of the package, as well as the speed and distance of the trip. multiple speeds are available, from fedex ground (1-5 business days) to fedex first night (next business day at 9am)

consolidated cargo

Consolidated freight is generally not available for small packages, but is ideal for large or particularly heavy packages or multi-pack palletized shipments. Most LTL packages will be subject to variable pricing, but some shippers (including TSI) also offer convenient fixed-price options that are ideal for household items that can be easily packed in boxes, such as books, clothing, bed, decoration.

The cost of shipping your boxes using tsi’s flat rate shipping depends on how many boxes you have to ship. prices start at $570 for 5 boxes, up to a maximum of 15 boxes.

If you have more than 15 boxes to ship, we can help too. learn more about our custom box shipping services.

Variable pricing is also available for shipments of more than 15 boxes, oversized or particularly heavy packages, or palletized package shipments. Your shipping costs will vary based on the size and weight of your cargo, the distance you’ll be traveling, and the level of service you require.

If you have more than 15 boxes to ship, we can help too. learn more about our custom box shipping services.

Note: Shipping cost estimates are calculated using individual carriers’ online cost estimating tools. Details, exact prices and shipping times are not guaranteed.

The Cheapest Way to Send a Package: Shipping Costs & Options

frequently asked questions

how much does it cost to send packages?

The cost of shipping a package will depend on whether you opt for a flat rate or a variable price, the size and weight of the package, the distance it will travel, and how quickly you need it to arrive.

Here’s a rough idea of ​​how much you can expect a package to cost using some of the more popular shipping methods:

what is the cheapest way to ship large and light packages?

The cheapest way to ship large and light packages is usually USPS Priority Mail with variable prices.

If you need faster delivery, parcel shipping is the most economical option. ups is usually a bit cheaper than fedex.

what is the cheapest way to send large packages?

The cheapest way to ship large packages depends exactly on the size of your package. With USPS, UPS, and FedEx, large packages may be subject to oversized or oversized pricing surcharges, or dimensional weight pricing. this can make shipping large packages very expensive, especially if you’re shipping multiple boxes.

Lead freight is often the cheapest way to ship large packages, especially if they are considered too large or particularly heavy. Freight shippers specialize in transporting this type of cargo and do not add surcharges for oversized or heavy packages. however, if your cargo can fit in a flat rate box (18″ x 14″ x 12″ weighing less than 40lbs), flat rate shipping is the most cost effective at about $64 per box, regardless of location to which you travel.

what is the cheapest way to ship light packages?

Usps is usually the cheapest way to ship light packages, unless you need overnight or expedited delivery. If your package is urgent, parcel shipping will be your cheapest option.

is it cheaper to send in a box or in a padded envelope?

Shipping a padded envelope is almost always cheaper than shipping a box, but it may not be the best option for your package depending on what you’re shipping. fragile or valuable items or multi-item shipments are always best packed in boxes.

is it better to send one big box or two smaller boxes?

If possible, it is often better to ship two smaller boxes rather than one large, heavy box. this will spread the weight of your cargo between two smaller packages, which can significantly reduce your shipping costs, especially if the large box would qualify for large or oversized prices.

If you can’t split your shipment into two smaller boxes, consolidated freight may be the best option because you won’t have to pay the oversized shipping fees charged by USPS and other package carriers.

is it cheaper to send ups or fedex?

UPS and FedEx package shipping costs are about the same, but UPS’s flat rate price is slightly cheaper than FedEx’s. For variable pricing, FedEx usually starts out a bit cheaper but can be more expensive for larger, heavier shipments or for packages that will travel a longer distance. ultimately, your price will depend on the size, weight, speed, and distance of travel.

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