What is the Cheapest Way to Ship a Package?


Determining the Shipping Cost of a Package

Finding the lowest-cost service to ship a package to a domestic address is not always easy. Private carriers include many different additional costs such as fuel surcharges and rural area delivery fees in addition to the core delivery cost. The USPS provides a lot of great options for residential delivery, but what about delivery to a business?

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When looking to determine how shipping carriers generate a shipping rate, you will see there are four variables used in determining the cost to ship a package:


 What are the dimensions of your package?

The size of your package is a big indicator of your cost. Shipping carriers have limited space in their delivery trucks, and the more space your package takes up in the truck, the more you will have to pay.

The first step in determining the price of your package is to know the actual measurements of the box you’re using (such as 12″ length × 10″ width × 8″ height). Once you have this information, input the dimensions into your shipping software or the shipping carrier’s website. The dimensions will help determine the price.


 How heavy is your package?

The second variable that determines the shipping rate is the weight of the package. The weight should include the product you are shipping, the packing material (bubble wrap and tape) and the box used for shipping.

All national carriers round up to the next whole pound for the shipping cost. So if your package weighs 2 pounds, 4 ounces, you will be billed at the 3-pound rate.

After your package is prepared for shipment, including all filler/tape, place your package on a scale to determine the weight and input that weight into your shipping software or carrier’s website.

Beware of Dimensional Weight:

Since shipping carriers need to load their trucks to fit in as many packages as possible, the carriers charge more for a larger box that takes up more space on the delivery truck compared to a smaller box. This pricing program is known as Dimensional (DIM) Weight.

For example, a one-pound package that contains a pillow that is placed in a 28″ length × 20″ width × 6″ height box takes up significantly more real estate in the delivery truck compared to a one-pound package that contains shoes placed in a 14″ length × 8″ width x 6″ height box. National carriers will then charge a DIM Weight fee to compensate for the real estate the package containing the pillow is taking up on the delivery truck. That 1 lb. package with the pillow will be billed at the 20 lbs. rate due to DIM Weight. Get more info on Dimensional Weight.

UPS and FedEx use DIM Weight for all package sizes. The USPS uses DIM Weight only for packages that are larger than 1728 cubic inches (larger than 12″ length × 12″ width × 12″ height).


 Where is your package traveling to?

Another variable that impacts shipping rates is the amount of distance a package is traveling. Shipping carriers have split the U.S. into shipping zones based on this distance. The farther the shipping zone your package is traveling from its destination, the higher the cost.

1 lb. package: T-Shirt | 10″ x 10″ x 6″
Shipped from San Francisco

Delivery to:

USPS Priority Mail Cost*:

Delivery to::

Zone 2 ‐ within San Francisco Metro

USPS Priority Mail Cost*: : 

Delivery to::

Zone 4 ‐ Seattle

USPS Priority Mail Cost*: : 

Delivery to::

Zone 8 ‐ New York City

USPS Priority Mail Cost*: : 

If you are using shipping software such as Stamps.com, the software will automatically determine the shipping zone for you. Likewise, if you purchase postage at the Post Office, the USPS computer system will determine the appropriate shipping zone.


 How quickly does your package need to reach its destination?

The final variable that determines shipping rates is the speed of delivery. Some people need their packages to be delivered overnight. Others need their packages delivered within 3 days and still others can wait up to 7 days. The speed of package delivery has a big impact on the cost of shipping with overnight delivery costing up to five times the amount of ground delivery.

1 lb. package: T-Shirt | 10″ x 10″ x 6″
Shipped from San Francisco to New York (Zone 8)

Delivery Speed:

Shipping Cost*

Delivery Speed::

Delivery overnight

Shipping Cost* : 

Delivery Speed::

Delivery within 3 business days

Shipping Cost* : 

Delivery Speed::

Delivery in up to 5 business days

Shipping Cost* : 

$6.99 and up

How can Stamps.com help?

Stamps.com makes determining the shipping cost of a package very simple. Once you input the delivery address, box dimensions, and weight, Stamps.com’s shipping calculator will automatically determine the correct shipping zone and provide multiple shipping options based on cost and delivery speed for all USPS mail classes. Plus, you’ll get discounts up to 30% off Post Office rates.

$60 in free postage and supplies when you sign up!

  • $5 in free postage added to your account
  • 5 lb digital scale (only pay for S&H)
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