How to Ship a Cell Phone with UPS

Learn how to pack and ship a cell phone with UPS, and how to save the most money doing it
ship a cell phone with UPS
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If you need to send a cell phone, you have plenty of options outside of USPS. One such option is the big brown competitor: UPS. Truth be told, UPS is one of the best shipping carriers you can choose to send a cell phone. While UPS is generally more expensive than the Postal Service, they make up for it in reliability and relatively affordable Ground service…which makes them the perfect carrier for shipping a high-value item such as cell phone. Here’s how to go about doing that!

Use a Brand New Cardboard Box to Ship a Phone with UPS (the Smaller, the Better)

First thing’s first: when you ship a phone, it’s critical that you get a brand new corrugated cardboard box for your packaging. You want it to be sturdy, so that it protects your phone from any potential damage during transit. Also, make sure it isn’t too big! The bigger your box is, the more your phone will move around inside of it, and you don’t want that to happen. From our experience, our favorite box for cell phone shipments is this 4x4x6″ box from ULINE. That box size isn’t too big, nor too small—for most cell phones out there, it’s just right.

Pro Tip: If you’re sending a brand new phone, keep it in its original packaging! Then, pack that smaller box inside your larger box. You’ll receive another layer of protection that way.

Include Enough Packing Material to Keep the Phone from Moving Around

Once you’ve got your packaging together, you’ll want to fill it up with enough insulating packing material that will reduce shocks, prevent damage from drops, and keep the phone from moving around, in general. Packing peanuts are a good kind of packing material to accomplish this. You can also use air pillows, foam sheets, or even colored crinkle paper if you want your packaging to look super fancy. The more packing material you can stuff inside your box, the better.

A good test to see whether you’ve packed your box properly is to tape it shut, then toss it up in the air a few times. If you can toss it and turn it over without feeling or hearing motion inside of it, then you’re good to go. On the other hand, if you’re still feeling the phone move around, then it’s time to load up the inside of your box with more packing material. Don’t be shy about it!

UPS Ground is the Cheapest Service to Ship a Cell Phone with UPS

Out of all the UPS services, the cheapest service available for sending a cell phone is UPS Ground. You can also use their air-based services to ship a phone, such as 3 Day Select, 2nd Day Air, and Next Day Air…but these will be way more expensive than Ground, and unless you’re paying for expedited shipping, they won’t be all that much faster! UPS Ground is actually now faster than it’s ever been in the past, with delivery only taking between 1-5 business days. In some cases, UPS even delivers Ground packages overnight, if the destination is close enough to your origin shipping point! So, it’s not just the cheapest service that UPS offers…it’s also way faster than similar ground services from other carriers, such as USPS Parcel Select Ground (aka Retail Ground at the Post Office).

Learn more about UPS Ground, and how it compares to the Postal Service’s ground service.

Follow the Proper Labeling for Lithium Ion Batteries

One last thing before you ship: cell phones contain lithium ion batteries, which makes them rechargeable…but also makes them more complicated to ship. The good news is, like the process for shipping lithium ion batteries with UPS isn’t so different from USPS. Your safest option is to stick to UPS Ground service, and then, you’ll need to apply the proper labeling to the outside of your box, to signify that lithium ion batteries are inside the package. That’s about all there is to it!

In this particular case, you need to affix the UN 3481 label to your box.

Don’t Forget the Shipping Insurance

Here’s an indisputable fact of the world we live in today: cell phones are fairly fragile. Also, did we mention they can be insanely expensive? Unless you’re sending one of those old flip phones, chances are the one that you’re shipping costs at least a few hundred dollars. UPS Ground comes with $100 of built-in carrier liability when you purchase your postage, but that’s nowhere near enough coverage. So, since phones are inherently high-value items, it makes sense to protect your packages with shipping insurance.

When you purchase shipping insurance, you give yourself the ability to get reimbursed for your full declared value, in the event of a lost or damaged package. It only costs a few extra bucks to cover a cell phone, and in our experience, it’s always worth investing in extra protection.

Use Shipping Software to Save the Most Money on UPS Shipping Labels

Here’s one final tip before you go sending your cell phone: don’t buy your postage at the UPS Store! When you do that, you’ll end up paying way more to ship it than you have to. Instead, purchase your label online with shipping software, and print it right from the comfort of your own home.

When you use shipping software to buy postage online, you get to access special discounts that carriers like UPS typically reserve for huge commercial shippers that send more than 50,000 packages per year. In some cases, you can save up to 76% off Daily UPS Rates with these discounts! For UPS shippers, this special level of pricing is called the UPS Digital Access Program, and the best shipping software companies offer these deeply-discounted rates for free.

Another perk of shipping software is that once you buy your label and slap it on your box, you don’t even have to drop your package off at a UPS location if you don’t want to. Instead, you can schedule a pickup where UPS comes right to your front door to scoop up your package. This way, you save both time and money, and shipping all of a sudden becomes a piece of cake. Talk about a deal to phone home about!


Looking for the right shipping software for you?

To save the most money on shipping labels, check out our guide:

Choose the Best Shipping Software

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