The Cheapest Way to Ship a Package in 2024

Published on May 20, 2024
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Filed under Carrier Rates
Read time 20 Minutes

Finding the cheapest way to ship a package doesn’t mean sacrificing quality. Affordable shipping rates are available to anyone that knows where to look. And since you’re reading this, you’re already on the path to making shipping more affordable. ShipStation is all about saving you time and money on your shipping and fulfillment. And here, we’ll go over all the different ways you can find more affordable shipping options. You’ll discover new ways to use the services you use every day, new options you may have never heard of, and ways to create a better shipping workflow.

Breaking old habits can be hard, but once you find affordable shipping options and a simpler way to ship, you’ll wonder how you ever did things before. Sometimes a deal seems too good to be true. Other times, it’s better than you could’ve imagined. Here are the tricks and tips you’ll need to know to find the cheapest ways to ship your packages in 2024. 

How to Get the Cheapest Shipping Rates

Affordable shipping rates are available to anyone that knows where to look for them. And shipping software like ShipStation provide the tools you need to make it easier. From shipping calculators, to automated shipping tools, and so much more, you’ll soon be able to reduce shipping costs and get orders to your customers even faster.  Let’s go over how to create a shipping plan that sets you up for success. 

To access these savings, you simply need to sign up for ShipStation

Use Multiple Carrier Accounts

Sometimes, merchants become accustomed to using the same carriers and services. Unbeknownst to them, there can be substantially more affordable options that deliver in less time. Using a mix of carriers like UPS, USPS, DHL Express, and FedEx helps merchants find the best way to ship any parcel. Luckily, ShipStation gives you instant access to many of these top carriers through ShipStation Carrier Services. You get savings of up to 89% on shipping services and buy postage from a single balance. ShipStation also helps you rate shop for the most affordable option. You can then automatically apply these services to future orders. But let’s move on to what you really want to know: The shipping discounts!

Find the Cheapest Shipping Rates

You may not realize it, but anyone can be getting shipping rates that even Fortune 500 companies want. With ShipStation, you can save big on shipping—up to 89% on USPS Priority Mail® services, 77% on UPS® ground, 83% on UPS® International services, and many other shipping services. 

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Create A Shipping and Fulfillment Workflow

When you ship multiple packages per day, a fine-tuned shipping strategy is essential. For any business, time is money. And a good shipping and fulfillment workflow saves you a lot of time. As mentioned above, ShipStation simplifies shipping by offering rate shopping options that let you pick the best shipping services for any given package. But we also offer automation processes that apply these shipping services as soon as an order comes into ShipStation. 

Cheapest Shipping Options Based on Delivery Time

Different services ensure delivery within specific timeframes. From economy to express, providing customers with affordable shipping options requires merchants to also save money. These are the preferred services for some common delivery timeframes.

Cheapest Standard and 3-Day Shipping Options

Standard shipping options can vary based on a number of factors. For instance, if a parcel weighs under 16 oz, it’s likely you’re shipping it out with USPS First Class Mail®. But things begin to change when the weight goes up. Services like USPS Parcel Select® Ground take 2–8 days to reach the recipient and allow you to ship large parcels more affordably. Same goes with USPS Media Mail®. If you are sending approved materials, Media Mail is hard to beat. But other services like UPS® Ground, USPS Priority Mail®, and FedEx Ground® provide services that offer good ground shipping options. And depending on where they’re being shipped to, they may arrive sooner. UPS® Ground, for instance, may even arrive in as little as 24 hours. 

Cheapest Two-Day Shipping

Two-day shipping options are very popular thanks to Amazon and other market leaders. Many consumers expect quicker delivery. ShipStation found that delivery speed is the second most important factor behind price for delivery options. There are many great 2-day shipping services. When you open a UPS account on ShipStation, you get discounts of up to 73% off UPS 2nd Day Air® service, 17% lower USPS Priority Mail Express rates, and 81% off DHL Express international services. Other 2-day shipping services include FedEx 2Day®. 

Cheapest Overnight Shipping

Overnight shipping is a premium shipping service, but there are ways to save. When you ship UPS on ShipStation, you get access to discounts on UPS Next Day Air® services. There are also other great services that can deliver next day including FedEx Standard Overnight®. For even more premium overnight options, look for AM services. ShipStation offers the following services: 

Overnight Shipping ServiceNext-Day Delivery Time
UPS Next Day Air Saver®Arrives by end of business day
UPS Next Day Air®Arrives next day by noon
UPS Next Day® EarlyArrives by 8 am to major metro areas, 9–9:30 am in many cities
FedEx Standard Overnight®Arrives by end of business day
FedEx Priority OvernightArrives by 10:30 am to commercial addresses and 4:30 pm for residential
FedEx First Overnight®Arrives by 10:00 am for most areas and between 10:00 am and 2:00 pm for extended areas. 

The Cheapest Shipping Insurance

A major way to pay less for insurance is to use a third-party insurance provider, such as Shipsurance. When adding insurance to a shipment you pay the additional fees in increments of $100 insured value. Typically, carriers charge between $0.75-0.85 per $100 value, with a minimum cost of roughly $2.50. Shipsurance, however, only charges $0.55 per $100, and with no minimum cost. So you can save big by using this third party insurance. Applying Shipsurance to a parcel and filing a claim is very streamlined through ShipStation.

How to Ship a Package Based on Size

The size of a parcel is going to greatly determine your shipping rate. The more space a package takes in the back of a truck, the fewer parcels the carrier can transport at once. One way to maintain steady shipping costs is to opt for Flat Rate packages. But since this will not always give you the lowest rate, let’s explore some more packaging options.

How to Send a Small Package

First Class Mail offers amazing rates for small parcels under 16 oz. But UPS® Ground and USPS Priority Mail® have great rates too and deliver much more quickly. Small parcels weighing over 16 oz can be more affordable than you’d think with services like UPS® Ground. 

The Cheapest Way to Ship Large Packages 

If you are using ShipStation rates, UPS usually costs less than USPS for large or heavy parcels. UPS® Ground and USPS Priority Mail® are two commonly used services. But USPS Parcel Select® is another one to look for. If you use FedEx, FedEx® Ground is a good option. 

How to Find Cheaper Dimensional Weight Pricing

Even if a large parcel is lightweight, shipping it can be expensive. Large parcels cost more because of their dimensional weight. Dimensional weight is a pricing structure that increases the shipping rate if a parcel is deemed too large in relation to its weight—think things like a bike rim or a hula hoop. Since packages take up so much space in cargo vehicles and airplanes, etc., their shipping rate increases with their size. 

CarrierDomestic Dimensional Formula
UPS on ShipStation(L x W x H)/ 166
USPS(L x W x H)/ 166
FedEx(L x W x H)/ 139

The Cheapest Way to Ship Internationally

For parcels weighing 4.4 lbs and under, USPS First Class Mail® International and GlobalPost Economy will be the most economical way to ship internationally. However, keep in mind that there are no requirements for estimated delivery time on this, so it may take weeks to arrive at its final destination. For quicker delivery—or for parcels weighing over 4.4 lbs—ShipStation offers discounts on GlobalPost and USPS. And when you ship UPS on ShipStation, you get access to discounts of up to 83% off UPS international services* and 81% off DHL Express international shipping as well! For more information on affordable international shipping, read our cheapest way to ship internationally blog. We also have guides discussing how to ship to places as nearby as Canada and as far away as China

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Cheapest Shipping Options Based on Weight

Similar to size, the weight of a parcel can greatly impact its rate. Since we’ve already discussed size-based pricing and dimensional weight pricing, let’s take a look at what the most cost-effective shipping service is based on different weight groups and cubic pricing.

How to Ship Packages Under 1 LB

Again, USPS First Class Mail® is usually considered the most affordable shipping option for parcels weighing under 16 ounces unless USPS Media Mail rates can apply. However, when you ship UPS on ShipStation, you get discounts of up to 77%* off UPS® Ground that make it an attractive alternative—especially if the parcel needs to be delivered quickly. 

How to Send a 5 lb Package

For parcels between 1-5 lbs, UPS® Ground rates on ShipStation provide merchants with versatile nationwide coverage for parcels sent to any destination. Other domestic services to look at include USPS Priority Mail and Parcel Select. 

How to Mail Packages Weighing 10 LBs or More

UPS rates on ShipStation also offer a great option for domestic parcels over 10 lbs. There are always variables that change this, though, so it’s best to rate shop for the best option. An important factor in choosing a shipping service, particularly when shipping heavier parcels is the distance a package requires to be delivered. Distance also impacts shipping rates. Carriers break pricing down into shipping zones. Understanding how zone impacts shipping costs help you pay substantially less money on delivery. 

How Cubic Weight Impacts Pricing 

Smaller parcels usually cost less to ship because of their small cubic weight. Luckily, Cubic weight can decrease the shipping cost for small, heavy packages! Cubic weight is what allows smaller parcels to cost less than large ones that have the same weight. ShipStation offers great rates for these smaller packages through both USPS and UPS. 

How to Offer Customers the Cheapest Shipping Rates

Finding ways to make shipping more affordable for your customers means you’re less likely to see cart abandonment. ShipStation makes shipping much more affordable—allowing you to pass the savings on to your customers. 

Offer Checkout Shipping Rates

One way to capitalize on the affordable rates available in ShipStation is to use In-Cart Delivery Options. This exposes live rates to your customers in checkout. Fears of overcharging or undercharging can be a huge pain point for many ecommerce merchants. ShipStation lets Shopify, Wix, Magento, and BigCommerce merchants provide live-rate shipping options to their customers during checkout. These can be adjusted to include or decrease based on dollar amounts or percentages.

Offer Free Shipping for Cheaper

Typically you don’t want shipping to eat into more than 10-20% of your profit margins. A good way to offset free shipping costs is to incorporate shipping costs into the item cost. Merchants commonly utilize this method when selling through marketplaces like Amazon—since they require free shipping options for qualified orders. However, if you add too much of the shipping cost into the item price, you run the risk of losing more customers than if you charged separately for shipping. As a result, there are always factors to keep in mind when planning a pricing and shipping policy. 

Offer Flat-Fee Shipping for Cheaper

Flat-fee shipping is a common practice for many merchants. One reason this option is so common is that it keeps prices stable. Surprises during checkout can deter customers. Flat-fee shipping allows you to cover shipping costs while making shipping cost low for customers. Knowing that shipping will cost $5 before placing an order is a lot less surprising then seeing an added $5 appear in checkout. 

Offer Free Shipping Above a Threshold 

A common practice of “having your cake and eating it too” is to offer free shipping above a certain price. This is commonly used in conjunction with flat-fee shipping. The way it works is to charge a single rate for shipping for any order (domestic, usually) below a price threshold. For instance: “$10 shipping for all orders under $75.” If the order total exceeds $75, shipping is free. Many companies incentivize larger purchases by offering free shipping above this threshold. 

Where to Find the Best Shipping Rates and Carrier Discounts

ShipStation offers discounts on a range of carriers and label providers. While we’ve gone over many of these already, it’s always nice to hear how much money you can save. 

UPS® Discounts Available on ShipStation 

ShipStation users who ship with UPS on ShipStation can print UPS® labels with discounts of up to 83%* off Daily Rates. With this reduced pricing, you can view real-time UPS® rates, print postage, and simplify the returns process directly within ShipStation.

The UPS® Advantage for ShipStation Merchants

  • 83% off UPS international services 
  • 77% off UPS® Ground shipments
  • 73% for UPS 2nd Day Air®  service*
  • No minimum shipping volume requirements
  • Discounts on common delivery surcharges
  • Guaranteed delivery for applicable services
  • Updated UPS® tracking and delivery alerts
  • Domestic and international delivery services

*Discounts off UPS daily rates. Rates are limited to shipping from the U.S. only. Rates and any applicable discounts are subject to change at any time without notice.

USPS Discounts Available On ShipStation

USPS is a great place to start for shipping discounts. They offer great rates and have an amazing delivery network. And if you’re a ShipStation user, you’ll receive a free PC Postage account (ShipStation Pro Plan) through simply by having a ShipStation account (a $15.99 value). There’s no contract, you’ll receive this deal for as long as you have an active ShipStation account. Take advantage of rate discounted up to:

  • 89% off Priority Mail
  • 18% off First Class Mail Package
  • 13% off Priority Mail Express
  • 5% off International First Class, Priority Mail, and Priority Mail Express
  • 40% off USPS Package Insurance Rate

ShipStation offers discounted USPS rates that you can take advantage of simply by signing up.

DHL Express Discounts On ShipStation 

ShipStation customers can now save up to 81% on DHL Express international shipping. Get your products delivered across the world in 2-3 business days to most international destinations. 

DHL Express Benefits

  • No minimum shipping volume requirements
  • Fast door-to-door delivery service to your customers
  • On Demand Delivery®– shipment visibility and delivery management for your customers
  • Digital Customs document generation with DHL Paperless Trade®

GlobalPost Discounts On ShipStation

With GlobalPost you can create a more robust and affordable international shipping workflow. With consolidation services and standard parcel fulfillment, you can save big on shipping.

  • Up to 78% off GlobalPost Economy
  • Up to 72% off GlobalPost Standard
  • Up to 74% off GlobalPost Plus
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Written by

James Messer

James Messer is a copywriter specializing in shipping, logistics, and ecommerce.

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