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!

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, 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, let’s spearhead the process. If you’re interested in obtaining a USPS quote, simply plug your package information into this USPS rate calculator.

Two USPS Scenarios

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 E-commerce 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 clothing packages weigh less than 16 ounces. Therefore, USPS classifies them as lightweight.

If you’re shipping out a lightweight package, your most affordable option is to ship USPS First Class Package Service.

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’s five 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 a smaller, heavier parcel is a subscription box (think BirchBox, LootCrate, FitFabFun, etc). You’ll save tons of money in the long run, and you can thank us later!

Sending a Package with UPS

As a rule of thumb, shipping with UPS will almost never be cheaper than USPS. However, you’ll probably get better rates with UPS if you’re shipping larger, heavier boxes. They allow you to ship packages up to 150 pounds, whereas USPS only allows up to 70 pounds. If you want to get a shipping quote for your package, use 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 $40 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 Postage with Shipping Software

Here’s a simple truth: buying discounted postage via shipping software is by far the one of the cheapest ways to ship with USPS. If you’re running an eCommerce business, accessing these discounts is really the only shot you have at competing with larger companies! There’s a lot of options to buy postage online out there, and picking the right software can be a tough choice.


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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