What’s the Cheapest Way to Ship a Package? Size, Weight, & More

Are you looking for the cheapest way to ship a package for your ecommerce business?

You couldn’t be in a better place.

cheapest way to ship a package

This article gives you different shipping options based on various factors to help you determine the best fit for your business and includes an overview of shipping carriers to choose from.

Come with us for this plus much more.


Let’s go.

Cheapest Way to Ship a Package

Available Shipping Options

There are many shipping options to choose from depending on your location, delivery time, and rates. These include:

  • Free shipping: Under this option, you send the package and cover the cost of shipping for your customer. If at all possible, include the shipping cost in the item pricing so you can entice customers to buy from you without losing money.
  • Flat rate shipping: This allows you to pay a fixed delivery price for every order base on specific-sized boxes issued by the carrier. The shipping price isn’t dependent on package’s weight or size.
  • Local shipping: This allows packages to be delivered to customers without shipping services. It’s ideal if you are a local business selling to customers in your area.
  • Real-time carrier rates: The actual shipping costs are generated automatically at the checkout based on the item’s weight, dimension, and distance.
  • International shipping: It involves shipping to destinations that are different countries from the item’s point of origin.
  • Expedited shipping is any shipping faster than the regular or standard delivery methods.
  • Overnight shipping: This allows you to receive your order the next business day after purchase
  • Same-day delivery: The order is received the same day the purchase is made.

How to Choose the Right Shipping Provider

Various shipping companies offer different rates based on different factors. Choosing the right carrier is crucial for your business. The following are some of the things you should look out for when choosing a shipping provider.

  • Reliability: Ensure the carrier you settle for is reliable and delivers without delays. Delays or unreliable delivery times can ruin your business.
  • Shipping costs: Look out for carriers with pocket-friendly rates but high-quality services. The cheapest options are not always the best. Go for a provider with reasonable rates without compromising on the quality of services.
  • Shipping speed: Consider your customers’ needs in terms of delivery speed and opt for the ideal carrier which meets those needs efficiently
  • Shipping destination: If you ship internationally, choose a provider who offers this service. Ensure your carrier delivers to all the destinations you ship to.
  • Tracking capability: Most customers love tracking their packages. As such, choosing a carrier with tracking benefits not only your customers but you. This will allow you to monitor your cargo shipments and deliveries.
  • Customer service: Choose a provider with a reputation for offering good customer service.

Cheapest Way to Ship Based on Package Size

The package size plays a significant role in determining the shipping rates. The bigger the package, the larger the space it occupies in a truck and the higher the shipping rates. Opting for flat-rate shipping can make it more manageable. 

However, the flat-rate package will not always guarantee you the lowest rates. The following are some of the best shipping methods based on package size.

Cheapest Way to Ship Envelopes or Flats

The USPS First-Class package is the cheapest way to ship small packages like envelopes or flats. This allows you to ship lightweight packages that weigh up to 13 ounces. 

Prices for this service start from $4.50, with an expected delivery timeframe, which is between 2-5 days.

If the envelope or flat is beyond 1 pound in weight, you can opt for the USPS Priority Mail Service, whose pricing starts from $8.70 and delivery times of between 1-3 days.

Shipping Small Packages

USPS is generally the cheapest option for shipping small packages. For packages that weigh less than 70 lbs, USPS Priority Mail Flat rate is the cheapest option. 

USPS priority mail flat rate shipments are delivered in 1-3 days. To ship flat rate via priority mail, you must use flat rate designated boxes or envelopes. USPS priority mail flat rates start at $9.45.

UPS Ground service comes second, with prices starting at $10.05 and deliveries made between 1-3 days. Alternatively, you can use FedEx Express Saver, whose starting price is $12.05 for small boxes sent via FedEx One rate service. Under this service, deliveries are made in 1-3 days.

Shipping Large Packages

While USPS offers the best rates for small packages, it does not cater to packages over 70 pounds. As such, UPS Ground service and FedEx Ground offer the cheapest rates for large and bulky packages. Both carriers allow you to ship oversized packages of up to 150 pounds with their regular shipping services.

UPS Ground and FedEx Ground shipping services take 1-5 days to deliver, depending on the departure location and destination point. Prices depend on the weight of the package but start from $118.69 for UPS ground and $115.12 for FedEx Ground service.

Cheapest Way to Ship Based on Weight

The weight of a package also plays a substantial role in determining its shipping cost. These are the cheapest ways to ship packages based on the weight:

Cheapest Way to Ship Packages Under 1 LB

The postal service is the cheapest way to ship packages that weigh less than a pound. You can use the USPS first class package, which provides a convenient way of sending lightweight packages with deliveries made between 1-3 days anywhere in the US. 

This service comes with a starting price of $6.25. For media-related materials such as CDs and DVDs, you can use USPS Media Mail at a starting price of $3.19.

FedEx Ground and UPS Ground come next with prices starting from $12.78 and $13.18, with deliveries between 1-3 days.

Best Shipping Services for Packages Under 5 LBs

USPS Priority Mail offers the best rates for parcels up to 5 lbs in weight. Priority mail packages are typically delivered in 1-3 days. Under this service, deliveries are made six days a week with no additional charges for Saturday delivery.

You can send packages based on weight and dimension or use flat rate envelopes or boxes. The service comes with free USPS tracking and includes insurance. Packages under 13 0z USPS First Class Mail work best. The USPS Priority Mail service prices start at $8.70 and $0.60 for First class mail.

The Cheapest Way to Ship Heavy Items

For packages above 10 lbs, UPS and FedEx Ground services offer the cheapest prices. This is a cost-effective domestic shipping option within the US. this service offers definite-day delivery within 1-5 days. 

Under this, packages are transported on the ground using trucks and not airplanes. UPS ground shipping also offers free tracking to keep you updated on your shipment’s status 24/7. Prices under this service start at $31.08.

FedEx Ground shipping is a good alternative to UPS ground as it offers comparable prices. However, delivery with this service may take more than 3-7 days. It also offers international shipping services. Prices start at $30.14

How to Ship Even Heavier Items Over 70 Pounds

UPS and FedEx are your best bets to ship heavy items that are over 70 pounds but less than 150 pounds. You can use UPS Ground service with delivery timeframes of 1-5 days. To use this service, you must meet the specific guidelines and have a heavy package sticker indicating the weight of the package on the box.

The maximum allowable weight for UPS Ground is 150 pounds, and the maximum size is 165 inches for length and girth.

Cheapest Way to Ship Based On Delivery Speed

Most customers demand fast delivery of their orders. As such, it’s important to consider a carrier’s shipping speed. These are the best ways to ship based on delivery speed.

Best Rates for 2-3 Day Delivery

USPS shipping offers the cheapest 2-3 day shipping. While UPS and FedEx offer similar delivery timeframes, they come with higher shipping rates than USPS. Additionally, USPS Priority Mail does not guarantee delivery.

For packages over 5 lbs, UPS and FedEx have begun to offer more competitive rates for 2-3 day shipping. An added advantage of using these two services is that they always guarantee their deliveries.

Best Rates for Next-Day Delivery

Regarding next-day delivery, FedEx and UPS are the to-go choices. While USPS Priority Mail Express is the cheapest option, with a starting price of $26.95 for a half-pound package, delivery under this service is not guaranteed and ranges from the next day to two days.

You can use the UPS Next-Day Air Saver delivery service, which promises overnight delivery between 3.00 pm and 4.30 p.m to commercial and same-day delivery to residential addresses. The cost for this service starts at $29.66 for a 1-pound package.

FedEx Standard Overnight guarantees next-day delivery by 4.30 p.m for locations within 150 miles. The price starts at $31.22 for a 1-pound package.

Best Next Day AM Shipping Options

The best service for next-day AM shipping options is FedEx First Overnight and UPS Next Day Air Early. The UPS next-day air early service guarantees early morning delivery for time-sensitive shipments. 

It offers a guaranteed delivery by 8.00 a.m; to all the major cities and by 8.30, 9.00 a.m, or 9.30 a.m; to most cities. It also offers Saturday delivery to some locations by 9.00 a.m.

FedEx First Overnight offers guaranteed overnight delivery the following business day at 8.00 a.m, 8.30 a.m, 9.00 a.m, and 9.30 am.

Cheapest Way To Ship Packages Internationally

Standard International Delivery Options

USPS First Class Mail International offers the least expensive option for sending packages weighing less than 4 lbs to international borders. 

However, this service does not specify the projected delivery time and can thus take up to weeks for a package to reach its final destination. 

Retail prices for this service start at $14.85. For packages weighing above 4 pounds, USPS Priority Mail International offers the most affordable option.

Affordable Fast International Shipping Options

USPS Priority Mail Express often has the best rates for packages that need quick delivery to international destinations. You can use free flat rate envelop for packages weighing below 4 lbs or ship by weight for shipments up to 70 lbs. Delivery is expected in 3-5 days.

This service also comes with free tracking and a money-back guarantee to some select destinations. Prices under this service vary based on the delivery destination but start at $47.95. FedEx Economy International follows with almost comparable costs and delivery times.

Best Expedited International Delivery Options

FedEx International Priority is the best choice for expedited international shipment. This service allows you to ship packages up to 150 lbs to over 220 countries. Delivery is between 1-3 days, from Monday to Friday, and Saturdays in some areas. UPS Worldwide Express follows closely with up to 3 days delivery time frame.

Tips to Keep Shipping Costs Down

High shipping costs can eat into your profits which can, in turn, run your business down. It’s thus important to properly research and compare different carriers and rates to ensure cost-friendly and hassle-free shipping. 

You can also try negotiating the rates with the companies to keep the costs minimum. Besides this, the following tips can help you minimize shipping costs.

  • Use poly mailers: Switching from shipping boxes to mailer envelopes or poly bags can help you save on shipping costs. These have a smaller dimensional weight, so they occupy less space in the truck.
  • Utilize the right-sized packaging: Ensure that your products perfectly fit in the boxes without leaving any space. Using the right-sized packing boxes will reduce your package’s size and weight, resulting in lower costs.
  • Get discounted shipping rates: Look out for carriers offering volume discounts and take advantage of them. You can also try to negotiate volume discounts in exchange for loyalty to one carrier.
  • Opt for local delivery and pickup: Local delivery and pick-up is typically the cheapest shipping option. The more the distance between the package’s point of origin and its destination, the higher the shipping rates and vice versa.
  • Go for flat rate shipping: Flat rate shipping allows you to pay a fixed price for packages regardless of size or weight in the flat rate box. With this shipping method, you can make accurate price predictions. It’s a great way for business owners to save money, especially if you ship packages in different sizes. The small flat rate box has an $8.45 retail postage rate, but with discounts, you can pay $7.90.
  • Look for discounted supplies: All major shipping companies like FedEx, USPS, and UPS offer certain boxes and envelopes for free. Other shipping supplies come at a discount. Find these supplies and save on shipping costs.

Best Carrier Discounts Available

Most carriers often offer discounts to their customers on different services. Check out some of the best carrier discounts available.

UPS Discounts

UPS offers significant discounts via its Digital Access Program. This offers its shippers discounts at pre-negotiated rates. UPS created this program to reach more shippers by partnering with shipping software companies.

Shippers and small businesses can access big UPS discounts at pre-negotiated rates using the shipping software. With this program, you can save up to 76% on UPS services.

Customers signing up for UPS account via Shipstation, for example, can enjoy the following discounts:

  • 88% off Daily Rates
  • 77% off UPS Ground shipping
  • Up to 72% for UPS 2nd Day Air and UPS Next Day Air services on eligible packages.

USPS Discounts

USPS offers the lowest rates for many packages. Additionally, the carrier gives discounts on both new and old accounts. For new accounts signed up via its partner shipping software companies. You can enjoy the following discounts on new accounts:

  • 40% off USPS package insurance rate
  • 40% off Priority Mail
  • 13% off Priority Mail Express
  • 18% off First Class Mail Packages
  • 5% off International First Class, Priority Mail, and Priority Mail Express

How Cubic Rates are Determined

Cubic pricing is a special service USPS offers for shipping small but heavy packages under 20 lbs at lower rates using USPS Priority Mail. Follow the following steps to calculate the cubic rates:

  • Measure your package’s height, length, and width in inches and round to the nearest ¼ or 0.25 inches to determine the size in cubic inches.
  • Multiply the length by the width and by the height and divide the resulting figure by 1728, i.e. L*W*H/1728

Cubic pricing, therefore, = L* W* H / 1728

Do I Pay UPS Surcharges like Residential Surcharges and Fuel Surcharges?

Yes, if the residential surcharges apply when you use UPS to ship to residential addresses that are not validated as residential in the carrier’s platform. This may cost you an extra $3-$4on your shipping costs. You may not notice these extra charges until you get your invoice.

The Cheapest Way to Ship a Package Isn’t Always with a Single Provider

Shipping costs can eat into your profits and run down your business. It’s, therefore, crucial to come up with effective shipping strategies that will ensure minimum shipping costs while still maintaining quality service.

You should research and compare different carriers in terms of their rates and service to settle for the one that best suits your needs. Consider the various factors that affect shipping costs and work around them.

Additionally, no matter the shipping partner you choose, incorporating a tracking solution can make your experience better. With a tracking tool like Parcel Panel or TrackingMore, you’ll get:

  • Real-time information on your shipment’s status allows you to solve any arising delivery issues promptly
  • Timely shipping notifications that enable you to engage with your customers proactively
  • Powerful and actionable insights allow you to assess your shipping and upsell performance for better decision

Cheap shipping will vary based on many factors. You may find it’s best to use the post office for some packages, and other services for large boxes. Negotiating with carriers and using fulfillment services can get you the best rates.