What is the Best Carrier for Shipping Heavy Items?

Learn which major carrier is the best choice for sending heavy items, and the different surcharges you may be subject to paying
Shipping heavy items

If you’re in the eCommerce game, most of the packages you’ve sent out are probably on the smaller side. After all, small parcels are the most popular packages for consumers, who often receive shipments from Amazon and other retailers containing one or two items that weigh less than a few pounds. That said, there are plenty of companies out there sending heavy items, such as packages containing bulky furniture (think couches, lounge chairs, etc). While heavy items are undoubtedly on the more expensive side to ship, one major carrier in particular offers the best rates for them.

UPS Offers the Best Rates for Shipping Heavy Items Over 70 Pounds

When seeking out a carrier to transport your heavy packages, look no further than UPS. UPS specializes in delivering larger, heavier packages, and allows for a maximum weight of 150 pounds per package. Be warned that some of the UPS expedited domestic services such as Next Day Air and 2nd Day Air can get pretty pricey for heavier packages…so, you should opt for UPS Ground service if you want to save the most money.

While FedEx has the same maximum weight threshold as UPS does, a quick price comparison will show that UPS rates come in at much cheaper prices than FedEx’s for sending the same package. In fact, some of FedEx’s expedited services for heavy packages (like FedEx Priority Overnight, for instance) can get well over $1,000 for shipping a single parcel! Similarly, FedEx Home Delivery offers a nearly identical delivery timeframe as UPS Ground, but still costs more money.

In general, UPS will always offer cheaper rates than FedEx for heavy packages, and at the same delivery standards. FedEx is the go-to carrier for business deliveries and niche shipments, such as packages containing frozen food.

Watch Out for Size and Weight Surcharges

While UPS is cheaper than FedEx for sending heavier items, they have been known to tack on surcharges that take shippers by surprise. The Additional Handling surcharge for weight—which UPS calls “Additional Handling – Weight”—is $17, and gets applied to the cost of your postage if your domestic package weighs more than 50 pounds. As a result, you don’t just pay for the cost of postage when sending heavy packages with UPS…though you’ll still often end up paying less than you would with FedEx.

UPS also imposes surcharges if your package dimensions are larger than “regular” sizes, as many packages containing heavy items are. The Large Package Surcharge is $73.50 for commercial addresses, and $81.25 for residential addresses. For domestic shipments, UPS applies the Large Package Surcharge when:

  • Your package has a length (longest side of the package) plus girth (2x width + 2x height) that exceeds 130 inches
  • Your package has a length (longest side of the package) that exceeds 96 inches

Pro Tip: If you think shipping with FedEx steers you clear of surcharges, think again! FedEx also applies surcharges on heavy and large packages, too…but they aren’t as clear on their exact pricing as UPS is.

Get Free Quotes from UPS and FedEx to Compare Your Options

Keeping track of all these different surcharges you might need to pay can get a bit tedious when figuring out which carrier will give you the best rates. The good news is, both UPS and FedEx include surcharges into their prices whenever you get a free quote. Just make sure your package info (like its dimensions, weight, and where you’re shipping to) is as accurate as possible, and you should be fine!

Here’s where you can plug in your package information and obtain quotes from UPS and FedEx:

Do you have any experience sending heavy items on behalf of yourself or your business? Drop us a comment and let us know which carrier you used, and why!


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