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The Cheapest Way to Ship Anything

The Cheapest Way to Ship
Flat Rate Boxes

Calculating shipping costs and choosing the most economical shipping method can be confusing. Our Cheapest Way to Ship Anything guides make it easy to compare shipping costs and choose the right method for your cargo, whether you're shipping common items like boxes or difficult-to-transport goods like antiques or artwork.

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1. How Much Does it Cost to Ship Flat Rate Boxes?

We've calculated shipping costs for three common shipping methods: USPS, parcel shipping, and consolidated freight.

i. USPS shipping costs

ii. Parcel shipping costs (eg. UPS or FedEx)

iii. Consolidated freight

2. Frequently Asked Questions

Get answers to the most frequently asked questions about shipping flat rate boxes.


Flat rate box shipping means that you’ll pay a single, fixed price to ship your boxed goods. Although there will typically be size or weight limits to consider, the cost of your shipment is not dependent on the weight or shape of your box, making flat rate box shipping one of the simplest shipping methods available.

Instead, the price of a flat rate box shipment is based on package size and occasionally speed and distance of travel depending on your shipping provider, making shipping costs easier to predict than variable pricing that is based on the size and weight of your cargo as well as the speed and distance of travel. This predictability and the ease of arranging a shipment makes flat rate shipping ideal for:

  • Businesses, particularly small businesses, shipping packages to customers. Flat rate shipping may be more economical because shipping costs are not based on weight or dimensional weight, especially for smaller but heavier items.
  • Homeowners shipping household goods long distance. Because the price of the shipment is not dependent on its weight, flat rate shipping is especially ideal for large or heavier household items that can be safely boxed.

While flat rate shipping is one of the simplest and most straightforward methods of transporting boxed cargo, there are a number of considerations to keep in mind when preparing your shipment:

  • Box size: Flat rate pricing only applies to certain box sizes, and packaging often needs to be purchased directly from your shipping provider to ensure it meets these size requirements. In general, the larger the box, the more your shipment will cost.
  • Weight: The weight of your shipment typically doesn’t matter as long as your cargo is under the weight limit specified by your shipping provider. If you have exceptionally heavy cargo (over 70 lbs), you’ll want to consider consolidated freight.
  • Packaging: You’ll need to use the correctly sized box to qualify for flat rate shipping, which typically means you’ll have to purchase your packaging directly from your shipping provider. To make sure your cargo stays safe in transit, use a box that is large enough to contain your cargo with adequate padding on all sides. If you need more space than the largest flat rate box will allow, flat rate shipping may not work for you.
  • Items to ship: As long as it’s not on your shipping provider’s list of prohibited items, anything you can fit into a properly sized box with adequate padding can be shipped using flat rate shipping. This includes sending goods to customers, as well as common household goods like linens, books, and decorative objects.

How much does it cost to ship flat rate boxes?

The cheapest way to ship flat rate boxes depends on the exact size of the box, and for some providers, the speed and distance it will travel. For single boxes, USPS is often the cheapest option. For larger boxes or shipments of multiple boxes, consolidated freight is one of the most cost-effective shipping methods.

Compare rates for shipping flat rate boxes using the most common shipping methods:

  • USPS
  • Parcel shipping (such as FedEx or UPS)
  • Consolidated freight

USPS

The United States Postal Service offers Priority Mail flat rate shipping in three box sizes:

  1. Small: 8 ⅝” x 5 ⅜” x 1 ⅝”
  2. Medium: 13 ⅝” x 11 ⅞” x 11” or 11” x 8 ½” x 5 ½”
  3. Large: 23 11/16” x 11 ¾” x 12” or 12” 12” x 5 ½”

Regardless of box size, packages cannot exceed 70 lbs.

Priority Mail flat rate shipments will be delivered in 1-3 business days, and you must use USPS packaging to qualify for flat rate pricing. The larger the box the more you will pay, but the distance your cargo will travel won’t impact your shipping cost.

USPS flat rate shipping includes tracking and $50 insurance coverage for each package, and there are no surcharges for delivery to residential addresses.

Box size Flat rate price
Small $8.30
Medium $15.05
Large $21.10

Parcel shipping (UPS or FedEx)

UPS and FedEx both offer flat rate box shipping.

UPS flat rate shipping is called “UPS Simple Rate”. Unlike FedEx and USPS, you can use your own packaging to ship cargo anywhere in the United States, with five pricing options based on package size and speed travelled. Package size is based on volume, not dimensions:

  1. Extra small: 1-100”3
  2. Small: 101-250”3
  3. Medium: 251-650”3
  4. Large: 651-1,050”3
  5. Extra large: 1,051-1,728”3

Packages can weigh up to 50 lbs regardless of box size.

Three speeds are available: UPS Ground, UPS 3 Day Select, and UPS 2nd Day Air. Additional surcharges will apply for packages that require signature or delivery confirmation.

Box size UPS Ground UPS 3 Day Select UPS 2nd Day Air
Extra small $9.25 $15.15 $21.25
Small $11.50 $18.50 $24.50
Medium $15.50 $25.50 $33.50
Large $21.00 $35.50 $50.00
Extra large $25.00 $44.00 $61.50

FedEx flat rate shipping is called “FedEx One Rate”. You must use FedEx packaging to qualify for flat rate shipping, but packaging is free and can be ordered online with free delivery.

FedEx One Rate shipping is available for 12 package sizes, including envelopes, paks, boxes, and tubes. There are four flat rate box sizes to choose from:

  1. Small: 10 ⅞” x 1 ½” x 12 ⅜” or 8 ¾” x 2 ⅝” x 11 ¼”
  2. Medium: 11 ½” x 2 ⅜” x 13 ¼” or 8 ¾” x 4 ⅜” x 11 ¼”
  3. Large: 12 ⅜” x 3” x 17 ½” or 8 ¾” x 7 ¾” x 11 ¼”
  4. Extra large: 11 ⅞” x 10 ¾” x 11” or 15 ¾” x 14 ⅛” x 6”

Packages can weigh up to 50 lbs regardless of size and include $100 of insurance coverage per box. Pickup can be scheduled from a home or a business, and there are no surcharges for residential delivery.

The price of your shipment will depend on the size of your cargo, as well as the speed and distance of travel. FedEx is the only flat rate shipper that considers distance of travel, with One Rate shipments priced by zone:

Local zone: 0-150 miles

Box size FedEx Express Saver FedEx 2Day FedEx 2Day A.M. FedEx Standard Overnight FedEx Priority Overnight FedEx First Overnight
Small $9.50 $20.95 $27.95 $34.60 $39.25 $81.25
Medium $12.35 $22.15 $28.55 $38.90 $45.25 $87.25
Large $19.05 $24.00 $29.70 $45.25 $50.45 $92.45
Extra large $30.85 $34.00 $34.90 $51.35 $59.95 $101.95

Regional zone: 151-600 miles

Box size FedEx Express Saver FedEx 2Day FedEx 2Day A.M. FedEx Standard Overnight FedEx Priority Overnight FedEx First Overnight
Small $10.90 $22.10 $28.55 $53.30 $68.85 $110.85
Medium $14.85 $24.55 $31.15 $56.25 $78.40 $120.40
Large $20.65 $30.20 $37.20 $67.70 $89.05 $131.05
Extra large $34.90 $41.25 $47.55 $91.70 $116.50 $158.50

National zone: 601+ miles

Box size FedEx Express Saver FedEx 2Day FedEx 2Day A.M. FedEx Standard Overnight FedEx Priority Overnight FedEx First Overnight
Small $12.05 $25.35 $47.00 $70.40 $94.55 $136.55
Medium $15.10 $44.25 $59.35 $73.20 $106.95 $148.95
Large $21.00 $55.50 $74.35 $101.45 $123.10 $165.10
Extra large $46.75 $86.00 $107.55 $141.00 $170.95 $212.95

FedEx also offers a flat rate pricing option for less-than-truckload (LTL) shipments up to 1,200 lbs. Two box sizes are available for flat rate freight pricing:

  1. 48” x 40” x 38” (requires palletization)
  2. 48” x 40” x 28” (includes integrated pallet)

Shipping costs range from $141 to $349 per box depending on the distance and speed of travel.

Consolidated freight (TSI)

Some consolidated freight providers, including TSI, offer flat rate pricing for boxed cargo.

Our flat rate box-and-ship solution is designed to be as simple as possible. You tell us how many boxes you need (up to a maximum of 15) and we’ll send the empty boxes right to your door to pack, then we’ll return when you’re ready for us to pick them up.

Boxes measure 18” x 14” x 12”, and must weigh less than 40 lbs when packed.

The cost of transporting your boxes using TSI’s flat rate shipping depends on the level of service you choose. The rate applies for shipments anywhere in the continental US regardless of how far your boxes will travel. We offer three service levels: Silver, Gold, and Platinum.

Service level What you get Shipping costs
Silver Boxes delivered to your door
Curbside pickup and delivery
Pickup and delivery scheduled by the carrier in a 4 hour window
$50 insurance per box
Starts at $367 for up to 5 boxes
Up to $1,102 for 15 boxes
Gold Boxes delivered to your door
Door-to-door pickup and delivery
Pickup and delivery scheduled by the carrier in a 4 hour window
$100 insurance per box
Starts at $414 for up to 5 boxes
Up to $1,229 for 15 boxes
Platinum Boxes delivered to your door
Indoor pickup and delivery
Pickup and delivery scheduled by the customer in a 2 hour window with options for weekends or evenings
$200 insurance per box
Up to 30 days of storage
Starts at $574 for up to 5 boxes
Up to $1,724 for 15 boxes

If you have more than 15 boxes to ship, we can help with that, too. Learn more about our custom box shipping services.

COVID-19 Precautions

TSI is carefully monitoring all of our shipments nationwide. We have seen minimal delays thus far, and are in constant contact with transportation industry leaders in order to be as proactive as possible. All members of the logistics chain are using the safety precautieons recommended by the C.D.C.:

  • Clean your hands often (washing for 20 seconds or using hand sanitizer)
  • Avoid touching your face
  • Avoid close contact
  • Stay home if sick
  • Cover coughs and sneezes
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched surface

NOTE: Shipping cost estimates are calculated using individuals providers’ online cost estimator tools. Details, exact prices, and shipping times are not guaranteed.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is flat rate shipping?

Flat rate shipping simply means that certain variables such as the size or weight of your box or the distance it will travel will not impact your shipping costs. Each shipping provider takes different factors into consideration:

  • USPS flat rate shipping is based on the size of your box and does not factor weight (as long as it’s under 70 lbs) or distance of travel into your shipping costs.
  • UPS flat rate shipping is based on package volume (not dimensions) and speed of travel. Package weight (as long as it’s under 50 lbs) and distance of travel will not affect the flat rate price.
  • FedEx flat rate shipping is based on box size, as well as speed and distance of travel. Weight (as long as it’s under 50 lbs) will not impact your shipping costs.
  • TSI flat rate shipping costs do not depend on box size or the distance of travel. One standard large box size is available for all flat rate shipments and must not exceed 40 lbs.
USPS UPS FedEx TSI
Size (based on volume)
Weight (max. 70 lbs) (max. 50 lbs) (max. 50 lbs) (max. 40 lbs)
Speed of travel
Distance of travel

As long as your cargo fits the requirements of your shipping provider, you’ll pay a single flat price.

How much does it cost to ship a flat rate box?

The cost of shipping a flat rate box depends on your shipping provider. Some providers, such as USPS, price your package only on size, while others, including parcel and freight shippers, will also consider speed and distance of travel.

Here’s a rough idea of how much you can expect flat rate boxes to cost to ship using some of the most popular shipping methods:

Shipping Method Estimated Cost
USPS $8.30-$21.10 depending on box size
Parcel shipping (eg. FedEx) $9.25-$212.95 depending on size of box and speed of travel. FedEx also considers distance of travel
Consolidated freight (eg. TSI) Starts at $319 for up to 5 large boxes ($63.80 per box)

Where can I get flat rate boxes?

You can often get flat rate boxes directly from your shipping provider. USPS, FedEx, and some consolidated freight providers supply their own flat rate boxes, and you must use this packaging to qualify for flat rate pricing. Other providers, such as UPS, allow you to use your own boxes as long as they are the correct volume. TSI includes the empty boxes as part of our flat rate shipping service and will deliver them to your door.

How do flat rate boxes work?

Flat rate box shipping works by charging a single price regardless of how much your box weighs (as long as your box is under the weight limit of your preferred shipping provider). Some flat rate pricing is based solely on the size of the box, while other flat rate pricing is based on size as well as speed and distance of travel. Either way, you’ll simply pack the box and pay the flat rate price.

Is it cheaper to use a flat rate box or your own box?

It can be cheaper to use a flat rate box instead of your own box, but it depends on what you are shipping. For most shipping providers, you must use their packaging to qualify for flat rate shipping. If you use your own box, your shipment will be priced using variable pricing, which may be more costly depending on what you’re shipping.

For small, heavy items, flat rate shipping can be more economical because the weight of your cargo doesn’t impact the shipping cost (as long as it’s under your provider’s weight limit), but there are also times when variable pricing may be cheaper than flat rate—very light shipments, for example.

Convenience is another factor to consider when evaluating price. For example, while it is our most expensive DIY box-and-ship program, our Platinum service is our most convenient. You can do it all without ever leaving your home—not only are the empty boxes delivered to your door, but once they are packed and ready, they will be picked up from your home without requiring you to carry them to the curb or to your doorstep.

For businesses, one of the primary advantages of flat rate shipping is the predictability of pricing. The convenience offered by a simple flat rate price is often more beneficial than calculating variable rate shipping costs, even if they’re cheaper.

What sizes do flat rate boxes come in?

Flat rate boxes come in a range of standard sizes:

Shipping provider Box sizes
USPS

You must use USPS boxes.

Small (8 ⅝” x 5 ⅜” x 1 ⅝”)
Medium (13 ⅝” x 11 ⅞” x 11” OR 11” x 8 ½” x 5 ½”)
Large (23 11/16” x 11 ¾” x 12” OR 12” 12” 5 ½”)
UPS

Supply your own boxes. Size is based on volume rather than dimensions.

Extra small (1-100”3) < br/> Small (101-250”3)
Medium (251-650”3)
Large (651-1,050”3)
Extra large (1,051-1,728”3)
FedEx

You must use FedEx boxes.

Small (10 ⅞” x 1 ½” x 12 ⅜” OR 8 ¾” x 2 ⅝” x 11 ¼”)
Medium (11 ½” x 2 ⅜” x 13 ¼” OR 8 ¾” x 4 ⅜” x 11 ¼”)
Large (12 ⅜” x 3” x 17 ½” OR 8 ¾” x 7 ¾” x 11 ¼”)
Extra large (11 ⅞” x 10 ¾” x 11” OR 15 ¾” x 14 ⅛” x 6”)
Consolidated freight (eg. TSI) One size (18” x 14” x 12”)

Does UPS have flat rate boxes?

UPS offers flat rate pricing, but they do not provide the packaging. Instead, you provide your own packaging and your cost will depend on the volume of the box.

How much is Priority Mail Flat Rate?

USPS Priority Mail Flat Rate pricing ranges from $8.30-$21.10 depending on the size of the box. Distance of travel and the weight of your cargo do not matter, as long as each box does not exceed 70 lbs.

How do I order flat rate boxes?

How to order flat rate boxes depends on your shipping provider. Often, packaging can be ordered online and delivered to your door, or picked up at the nearest location if you’re using USPS or parcel shipping.


Shipping flat rate boxes?

Learn more about TSI's flat rate box shipping service.

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