The Cheapest Way to Ship to Alaska

Learn the cheapest ways to ship to Alaska (hint: it's not so different from the rest of the United States)
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Similar to shipping a package to Hawaii, people often wonder what the cheapest way to ship to Alaska is. UPS and FedEx are both notorious for charging extremely high rates when shipping to Alaska. In addition, delivery times tend to be incredibly slow for both of these carriers’ more cost-effective options. Luckily, there is one shipping carrier that’s far and away the best option for fast delivery times and affordable rates when shipping to Alaska. Care to take a guess what it is?

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USPS is the Best All-Around Carrier to Ship to Alaska

You got it! USPS is the best choice when shipping packages to and from Alaska. Actually, USPS is the only shipping carrier that prices shipping to Alaska exactly the same as shipping to any other state. The Postal Service classifies Alaska as either USPS Zone 7 or Zone 8, depending on where you’re shipping from. Therefore, you’ll simply pay the regular domestic prices for all USPS mail classes shipping to Zone 7 or Zone 8!

Should I Ever Use UPS or FedEx?

That’s a good question. Hopefully you don’t have to! However, in all likelihood, you may run into a situation where you have no other option but UPS or FedEx to send a package to Alaska. Let’s talk about those scenarios for a second.

Use UPS to Ship a Package Too Heavy for USPS

Unfortunately, USPS only allows a maximum weight up to 70 pounds per package. Therefore, if your package weighs more than that, you’ll need to explore your various shipping carrier options. UPS will be the best choice for shipping heavy packages up to 150 pounds, with rates cheaper than FedEx. However, you’ll still end up paying WAY more for UPS’ cheapest service than you would with USPS.

Pro Tip: UPS imposes heavy surcharges for Alaska-bound shipments, since they consider this area a remote location. USPS, on the other hand, doesn’t impose any surcharges when you ship there!

Use FedEx for an Overnight or Emergency Delivery

Sometimes you might need a parcel delivered to Alaska overnight or on the next flight out. FedEx is the only carrier that offers emergency delivery services like that, so they will be your best bet if you ever find yourself in that situation. However, be prepared to shell out a TON of money. FedEx’s overnight and emergency shipping services don’t come cheap—especially not to Alaska. Plus, they also impose surcharges for Alaska-bound packages, just like UPS.

Shipping Software Will Save You the Most Money on Shipping to Alaska

Whether you’re shipping to Alaska or the rest of the world, you should always use shipping software to buy postage. When you buy postage online, you’ll end up saving way more money than if you bought it directly from any of the shipping carriers. Some shipping software solutions even offer a special USPS mail class called Priority Mail Cubic, which is a total money saver.

What’s Priority Mail Cubic, you ask? Simply put, it is hands down the cheapest and fastest way to ship parcels up to 20 pounds with USPS. Similar to all other Priority Mail services, delivery only takes 1-3 days to all 50 states in the US—including Alaska. If you are shipping packages to Alaska that are over 16 ounces but under 20 pounds, you’ll always save the most money by shipping them Priority Mail Cubic!

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7 Comments

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  1. Jack

    Using a consolidator is one of the best and cost-effective to ship to Alaska. Alaska Traffic Company has been around for years and is a good company. They communicate and follow up on your shipment.

    Reply  
  2. Jon

    I found the best company to ship to Alaska is Alaska Traffic Company. They will take your UPS or any shipping companies’ shipments they consolidate and send via a twice-weekly ocean service. Visit them at http://www.alaskatraffic.com

    Reply  
  3. Jason Aristides

    Thanks for posting! For heavy-lift cargo or commercial shipments, here is a platform that lets you get connected to a large majority of marine operators that service Alaska. https://opentug.com/ allows a shipper to send one request which is broadcasted to all marine operators. You can get competitive bids and compare prices from all the different service providers.

    Reply  
  4. Bob Gengler

    Thank you for sharing this information. I just sent it to an eBay seller who was freaking out about sending a purchase up to me. I have been saying this for years but nice to see it spelled out so clearly;)

    Reply  
  5. John

    There are several freight consolidators out of the Seatle, WA area. The best one we have found is the Alaska Traffic Company. They have been doing this for over 60 years. Affordable and service is the best. They are located in Kent,WA.

    Reply  
    • Janet

      Is it expensive to send packages to Naknek Alaska? This area is only reached by plane I believe –

      Reply  
  6. Monica Thornton

    I agree on small shipments – but for large shipments that are considered LTL or “freight” you will always get the best price by going directly to one of the Freight Consolidators that service the offshore US destinations. Most freight carriers hand off to the consolidators – and the consolidators will give better pricing than the handful of LTL carriers that actually load containers to AK.

    Reply  

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