The Cheapest Way to Ship Crutches & Canes

Learn how to save the most money when sending crutches and canes, where to find the right packaging, and why these items are often subject to dimensional weight (DIM) charges
the cheapest way to ship crutches
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Crutches and canes are some of the most common items in the medical supplies industry. From helping people recover from broken bones to helping them walk in the later stages of life, the uses for both items are virtually limitless. This means there are plenty of opportunities for eCommerce businesses to enter the market! However, selling canes and crutches is only half the battle; the hardest part is shipping them without eating into your margins. This guide covers the cheapest way to ship crutches and canes, including how to find the right packaging for them, the types of surcharges you may incur, and how to save the most money on labels. Let’s hop right in!

Table of Contents

Which Carrier Offers the Cheapest Rates for Shipping Crutches & Canes?

When comparing rates from the major carriers in the U.S. (USPS, UPS, and FedEx), there’s a clear winner for shipments containing crutches and canes: UPS.

Crutches and canes are both long, thin, and lightweight, and since they require lengthy packaging, each carrier imposes additional handling charges on these types of shipments. However, you won’t find more affordable rates than what UPS offers.

Let’s look at an example. Imagine you’re sending a pair of crutches from New York to San Francisco in a long corrugated box with dimensions 60 x 10 x 10″ and a total weight of 5 pounds. In 2024 prices, UPS and USPS give the following rate quotes* for their two most affordable services:

  • UPS: $69.12 for UPS Ground
  • USPS: $123.36 for USPS Ground Advantage

*Note: These rates are based on USPS Commercial Pricing levels and pre-negotiated UPS discounts found on shipping software providers, which we talk about in the final section of this article.

As for FedEx, a rate quote on their website shows $150.21 for FedEx Home Delivery, their slowest and most affordable service.

UPS Ground is the Most Affordable Service UPS Offers

UPS has a variety of services you can choose from, and the delivery timeframes vary based on how much you pay. While UPS Ground is the slowest service UPS offers, it’s undoubtedly the most affordable. Crutches and canes don’t require time-sensitive delivery in most cases, and when there’s no need to rush the shipping, it makes sense to opt for the most affordable service!

Finding the Right-Sized Outer Packaging to Fit Canes and Crutches

As long and thin items, finding the right-sized packaging for crutches and canes can be tricky. You won’t exactly find boxes that fit their size at your local Home Depot or Target. However, if you run a search for a “box supply store” near you and call around, you might find an establishment that has the proper packaging!

In our experience, we prefer having access to a variety of options for packaging sizes—not just what local places have on hand. To browse several different options for tall, corrugated boxes that will fit crutches and canes, check out the ULINE website.

Understanding How Dimensional Weight Charges May Affect Your Shipment

One thing to note when sending crutches and canes is you’ll likely pay rates based on your package’s dimensional weight, rather than its total weight. If you’re wondering why it costs quite a bit of money to send such a lightweight item, dimensional weight is the answer.

In layman’s terms, dimensional weight (or “DIM,” as it’s commonly called) refers to the total amount of space your package takes up on a carrier’s delivery truck. Carriers charge whichever is greater: either a package’s total weight or its dimensional weight…and the packages most susceptible to dimensional weight charges are large boxes with lightweight items. They do this because a large and lightweight package takes up space inside the truck that other boxes could have occupied, so the carrier is theoretically forgoing some revenue by transporting it.

That said, even after DIM weight charges, UPS still offers the most affordable rates for these shipments, compared to USPS and FedEx.

Learn more about how dimensional weight is calculated and how to avoid these charges.

Consider Purchasing Extra Shipping Insurance for Your Crutches & Canes

Let’s talk about insurance. The truth is that millions of packages pass through the networks of all the major shipping carriers every day, and accidents happen. Shipping insurance exists for shippers to file claims if their shipments go missing or arrive with damaged contents. In our experience, it’s always a good day to make sure the cost of your items is fully covered by insurance before you send them.

All UPS Labels Come with $100 of Carrier Liability

On top of the affordable rates and fast delivery, another benefit of shipping with UPS is that all their labels come with $100 of carrier liability. This means you’re protected for up to $100 in declared value per UPS shipment! You can file a claim with UPS if your shipment goes missing in transit, or if any of the contents arrive damaged.

Of course, if the crutches or canes inside your package are worth more than $100, you can always choose to insure your shipment for additional declared value.

Learn more about protecting your packages with shipping insurance.

Buying Labels with Online Shipping Software is the Absolute Cheapest Way to Ship Crutches

Once you’re ready to send your package, don’t go to your local UPS Store! Instead, buy your label at the deepest discounts possible with online shipping software that sells UPS labels.

When you use shipping software, you gain access to all the same UPS services, but at a fraction of the price. In some cases, the discounts you enjoy through shipping software can save you up to 89% off what you’d pay to send the same box at the UPS Store! Shipping software companies can offer their customers these discounted rates due to their economies-of-scale agreements with the shipping carriers.

On top of the money savings, you also save time by buying and printing your own labels from the comfort of your home or office. Nearly all shipping software providers also give you the ability to schedule pickups for your packages directly on their platform. This way, a UPS worker will come to get your package once you’ve labeled it!

Some Shipping Software Providers Offer Even More Discounted UPS Ground Rates

Here’s a well-kept secret about shipping software: only a select few offer a sub-service of UPS Ground called UPS Ground Saver. UPS Ground Saver is a specially discounted offering that lets you ship with UPS Ground service at even more affordable rates. Since most packages containing crutches and canes will be hit with dimensional weight charges, these extra savings from UPS Ground Saver are critical to keeping your costs as low as possible!

UPS can offer these specially discounted rates because they hand off a portion of UPS Ground Saver packages to USPS, who then goes on to carry out the last-mile delivery. This effectively lowers transportation costs per package for UPS. Since UPS takes on lower costs for these packages, they pass those savings on to their customers.

As we said before, though, not all shipping software providers sell UPS Ground Saver labels…and you’ll never find this service at your local UPS Store, either. If you want to keep the absolute most money in your pocket when shipping crutches and canes, it’s up to you to determine which shipping software companies offer these special rates.

Looking for the right shipping software for you?

To access specially discounted UPS Ground Saver labels, see our guide:

Choose the Best Shipping Software

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