How Much Does Shipping a Package Cost?

A quick guide on determining how much your package costs to ship
calculating the cost of shipping a package
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Do you ever get annoyed when you ask a question and somebody answers, “Well…it depends?” Well, brace yourself. If you’re wondering how much shipping a package costs, that’s exactly the answer: it depends. The fact of the matter is, the cost of shipping a package is based on a variety of factors. Such factors include which shipping carrier to choose, how much your package weighs, its dimensions, and where you’re shipping to. We could go on all day outlining the cost of every different scenario, but it’d be no use. Every package is different. Therefore, we decided to hook you up with some shortcuts and rate calculators so you can find out how much shipping YOUR package costs. Into the fray, we go!

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Sending a Package with USPS

We all know the United States Postal Service (USPS). We’ve all sent mail, we’ve all gotten mail, and we’ve all probably stood in line at the Post Office at some point. The truth is that the cost of shipping a package with USPS varies with each mail class.

It would take WAY too long to go through each mail class and find out how much your particular package costs to ship. So, if you’re interested in obtaining a USPS quote, the best way to do so is to plug your package information into this USPS rate calculator.

Meanwhile, let’s go over two of the most common scenarios of shipping with USPS: shipping a lightweight package (like a T-shirt) and shipping a smaller, heavier package (like books or most eCommerce orders).

Shipping a Lightweight Package

Lightweight packages are shipped all the time. The most common example we can think of is purchasing clothes online (we’ve all done it). In this particular instance, clothing companies are shipping out T-shirts, jackets, jeans…you name it. And guess what? Most packages containing a single piece of clothing weigh less than 16 ounces. USPS classifies these types of shipments as lightweight, and the lighter a package is, the cheaper it will be to ship.

If you’re shipping out a lightweight package, your most affordable option is to ship USPS Ground Advantage Service. In fact, this is the most common service we find shippers to use whenever they send clothes.

Shipping a Small, Heavier Package

If you’re shipping out a small, heavier parcel under 20 pounds (like a subscription box or a care package for your brother across the country), you NEED to know about a “secret” mail class USPS offers called Priority Mail Cubic.

Sometimes called “Cubic” for short, this mail class is the cheapest and fastest way to ship small parcels up to 20 pounds and under a half cubic foot in total size with USPS. There are several different pricing tiers depending on the size of your package. Learn how to determine which cubic pricing tier your package falls into.

Pro Tip: If you do enough digging, you’ll come to learn that you’ll NEVER beat Priority Mail Cubic prices for the value, speed, and reliability you get. Therefore, you should always use Priority Mail Cubic to ship small packages. A great example of smaller, heavier parcels are subscription boxes that are sent in batches to customers all over the country. You’ll save tons of money in the long run when shipping with Priority Mail Cubic, and you can thank us later!

Sending a Package with UPS

In terms of the cost, shipping with UPS can be comparable to USPS. However, the main difference is that you’ll enjoy faster service with more time-specific delivery options with UPS. You’ll also be able to send heavier shipments, since UPS allows you to ship packages up to 150 pounds each. USPS, on the other hand, only allows up to 70 pounds. If you want to get a shipping quote for your package, use the UPS rate calculator and fill in the required information.

Sending a Package with FedEx

Generally speaking, shipping a package with FedEx gets pricey. Their core competency is overnight shipping, and we’ve even seen lightweight overnight shipments run well above $50 with FedEx. Therefore, we generally don’t recommend shipping with FedEx unless you absolutely NEED to have a package delivered overnight. If that’s the case, check out FedEx’s rate calculator to obtain a quote.

Save Money on USPS & UPS Postage with Online Shipping Software

Here’s a simple truth: buying discounted postage via online shipping software is by far one of the cheapest ways to ship with both USPS and UPS. If you’re running an eCommerce business, accessing these discounts is really the only shot you have at competing with larger companies!

The way it works is that USPS and UPS both partner with third-party shipping software companies to offer their postage to customers at deeply discounted rates. These rates are typically reserved for huge commercial shippers sending thousands of packages every month, but since shipping software companies have so many customers, they are able to enter into “economies of scale” agreements with USPS and UPS.

Anyone who has ever run an eCommerce business knows that shipping can be one of the biggest expenses that eat into profit margins. Keeping these expenses as low as possible is often the difference between running a profitable company and losing money…and buying discounted postage online through shipping software is the way to do just that.

Looking for the right shipping software for you?

To get the deepest discounts on all shipping labels, check out our guide:

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