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The Cheapest Way to Ship Anything

The Cheapest Way to
Ship Items

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 Items?

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

i. Boxes To Another State

ii. Packages

iii. Oversized packages

iv. Flat rate boxes

v. Large boxes

vi. Heavy items

2. Frequently Asked Questions

Get answers to the most frequently asked questions about shipping items.


“Items” can refer to just about anything, from a single light package to an oversized heavy box. Many of us are familiar with how to ship small packages and parcels through the USPS or parcel carriers like UPS and FedEx, but some items and cargo are more difficult to ship, such as heavy items, oversized packages, or large boxes.

There are a number of unique circumstances in which someone may need to transport a variety of difficult-to-ship items, such as:

  • You’re moving long-distance and shipping boxes of household goods or furniture to your home.
  • You’re moving to college in another state and don’t have room in your luggage or personal vehicle for some of the items you want to bring.
  • You’re shipping belongings to a loved one, such as gifts, heirlooms, or antiques.
  • You’re distributing an estate and shipping heirloom items to buyers, beneficiaries, or family members in another state.
  • You’re a business owner shipping items to customers, the next step in your supply chain, or another location in your network.

No matter what you’re shipping, there are a few special considerations that are common to most cargo to keep in mind before you select a shipping method.

  • Weight of item: Generally speaking, the weight of your item will have a more significant impact on your shipping costs than its size. The weight of your package determines how it is packed, which shipping providers can transport it, and how much your shipment will cost. Every shipping provider has a different threshold for what is considered a “heavy” package, and they each have their own maximum weight limits.
  • Size of item: Though it’s usually less important than package weight, the size of your package will also impact your shipping costs, especially if you’re shipping a very large or oversized item. Large or oversized items may be subject to dimensional weight pricing, especially if they’re light.
  • Quantity of items: The way you pack and ship a single item will be different than how you pack and ship a box packed full of items. The number of boxes you have to ship will also determine the best shipping method.
  • Item value: Particularly valuable items may need special consideration during the shipping process, which may increase your shipping costs. You may also want to purchase additional insurance to cover the cost of the item if it gets damaged in transit.

How much does it cost to ship items?

Three shipping options are generally available for transporting items:

  • USPS
  • Parcel shipping such as UPS or FedEx
  • Consolidated freight such as TSI

In this guide, we’ll take a look at approximate shipping costs for some of the most common difficult-to-ship items using estimated weights and box dimensions.

The Cheapest Way to Ship Items: Boxes To Another State

Boxed belongings are typically one of the most straightforward items to ship to another state. They can be shipped via USPS, parcel shippers, or consolidated freight.

  • USPS: If you’re shipping boxes to another state via USPS, the cost of your shipment will be determined by the size and weight of each box you need to ship. Flat rate and variable pricing are available. For overnight or next-day delivery, you will need variable pricing. If time is not an issue, USPS Retail Ground is ideal for less urgent packages that don’t need to be shipped using First-Class Mail.
  • Parcel shipping: The cost of shipping boxes to another state using parcel shipping services like UPS or FedEx will depend on the size and weight of the shipment, as well as speed and distance of travel. Flat rate and variable pricing is available.
  • Consolidated freight: With consolidated freight, your shipping costs will depend on the weight of what’s being shipped and how far it will travel. Freight shippers will price your shipment based on a minimum billable weight, making this shipping method ideal for shipments of multiple boxes. TSI’s minimum billable weight is 120 lbs (combined for your entire shipment). Flat rate shipping is also available.

Here’s an idea of how much you can expect to pay using these shipping methods:

Shipping method Estimated cost
USPS $182-$250 depending on weight, distance, and speed of travel
Parcel shipping (eg. FedEx) $184-$954 depending on shipper, weight, distance, and speed of travel
Consolidated freight (eg. TSI) $353-$735 depending on distance travelled

The Cheapest Way to Ship Items: Packages

The term “package” can apply to just about any type of shipment, including tubes, envelopes and padded mailers, and boxes. They can be shipped via USPS, parcel shippers, or consolidated freight.

  • USPS: Shipping costs will depend on package weight and size, as well as speed and distance of travel. Regardless of speed or packaging, packages cannot exceed 70 lbs.
  • Parcel shipping: Flat rate and variable pricing are available. The cost of your shipment will depend on the size and weight of the package, as well as distance and speed of travel.
  • Consolidated freight: Freight shipping is not typically an option for small packages, but is ideal for large or heavy packages or palletized shipments of multiple items (such as more than 15 boxes). Shipping costs will vary based on the weight of the cargo, how far it will travel, and the level of service you need.
Shipping method Estimated cost
USPS Starting at $23.50 for commercial and $26.95 for non-commercial, up to $688.20 depending on weight and distance travelled

Retail Ground starting at $8.50 per package, up to $220.50
Parcel shipping (eg. FedEx) $12.05-$259.95 depending on size, weight, speed, and distance of travel
Consolidated Freight (eg. TSI) Starts around $355 for up to 5 large boxes weighing a combined total of 150 lbs

The Cheapest Way to Ship Items: Oversized Packages

Oversized packages are among the most difficult items to move or ship. To make things more complicated, there is no commonly accepted definition of what is considered an oversized package—every carrier defines it differently. Here’s what you need to know about shipping oversized packages via USPS, parcel carriers, and freight:

  • USPS: USPS defines an oversized package as any package over 108” in combined length and girth, but not more than 130”. No matter how large your package, it cannot exceed 70 lbs. Oversized packages can be shipped using Retail Ground or Parcel Select services with three pricing options: balloon pricing for large but very light parcels, oversized pricing for parcels not exceeding 70 lbs that are greater than 108” in combined length and girth (or up to 130” for Retail Ground), and dimensional weight for any package over 1 cubic foot.
  • Parcel shipping: UPS considers a package oversized when it is over 165” in combined length and girth, or if it weighs over 150 lbs. FedEx defines an oversized package as any over 130” in combined length and girth, or over 90lbs. Both shippers require special labelling, and both have different packing requirements for oversized packages.
  • Consolidated freight: Consolidated freight companies specialize in transporting difficult to ship items like oversized packages. There are typically no surcharges for the size or weight of the package unless special handling is required. At TSI, for example, an item will incur an additional fee if it’s over 8 feet in length, and heavy items (typically greater than 150 pounds), may require a lift gate fee. Oversized packages are often shipped using less-than-truckload (LTL) services, meaning the package will share space on the truck with cargo going in the same direction. You typically only pay for the space your item takes up on the truck.
Shipping method Estimated cost
USPS $140-$200+ per box depending on weight, distance, and speed of travel.

Packages cannot exceed 70 lbs.
Parcel shipping (eg. FedEx) $113-$700+ per box depending on shipper, weight, distance, and speed of travel
Consolidated Freight (eg. TSI) $353-$735 depending on distance travelled

The Cheapest Way to Ship Items: Flat Rate Boxes

Flat rate box shipping means you’ll pay a single, fixed rate to ship your boxed goods. USPS, parcel carriers, and some freight shippers offer flat rate shipping services. All providers typically have size and weight limits to consider, with the cost of your shipment determined primarily by the size of the box. Weight or box shape typically does not factor into the cost, making flat rate shipping one of the simplest shipping options available.

  • USPS: USPS offers three flat rate box sizes. Regardless of box size, your package cannot exceed 70 lbs. Distance travelled does not factor into your shipping costs.
  • Parcel shipping: Both UPS and FedEx offer flat rate shipping. With UPS, you supply your own packaging. With FedEx, you must use FedEx packaging to qualify. For both providers, your package cannot exceed 50 lbs.
  • Freight: Some freight providers, including TSI, offer flat rate pricing for boxed cargo. TSI’s maximum weight limit is 40 lbs per box, with shipping costs determined by the level of service chosen and the number of boxes you need to ship. Distance of travel does not factor into your shipping costs.
Shipping method Estimated cost
USPS $9.45-$21.50 depending on box size
Parcel shipping (eg. FedEx) $10.80-$259.95 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)

The Cheapest Way to Ship Items: Large Boxes

Every shipping carrier defines “large box” differently, but as a general rule, a large box is typically about the size of a large suitcase (roughly 18” x 18” x 24”). USPS, parcel shippers, and freight providers can transport large boxes.

  • USPS: USPS can transport large boxes using Priority Mail, Priority Mail Express, and Retail Ground services. Priority Mail and Priority Mail Express packages must be under 70 lbs and less than 108” in length and 165” in girth. Retail Ground packages must be under 70 lbs, but can be up to 130” in combined length and girth. Large packages may be subject to oversized pricing.
  • Parcel shipping: Parcel shipping services like UPS and FedEx will accept large packages up to 150 lbs with the same measurements as USPS—up to 108” long or 165” in combined length and girth. The cost of your shipment will depend on the weight of the box and the distance it will travel. Large boxes will be subject to oversized pricing, and large light packages will be subject to dimensional weight pricing.
  • Freight: Freight shipping providers specialize in transporting difficult-to-ship cargo like large boxes and won’t apply the same surcharges as USPS or parcel shippers. The weight of your shipment will have the largest impact on your shipping costs, and the size of your item doesn’t actually impact your shipping costs until the box reaches 8 feet or more on one side. Most freight providers, including TSI, have minimum billable weights. While these carriers are capable of carrying lighter cargo, the cost of your shipment will be based on the minimum billable weight. Flat rate and variable pricing are available.
Shipping method Estimated cost
USPS Flat rate shipping for a large box will cost $21.50.

A large 10 lb package sent using variable pricing services will cost between $21.50 and $115.85 depending on the weight of the speed and distance of travel.

Shipping costs may be lower for lighter packages or shorter distances.
Parcel shipping (eg. FedEx) Flat rate shipping for a large box will cost between $24.20 and $201.45 depending on the distance and speed of travel.

A large 10 lb package sent using variable pricing services will cost between $56.79 and $222.79 depending on the weight of the speed and distance of travel.

Shipping costs may be lower for lighter packages or shorter distances.
Consolidated Freight (eg. TSI) Flat rate shipping begins at $319 for up to 5 boxes weighing less than 40 lbs each (approximately $64 per box). Distance of travel does not impact shipping costs.

The Cheapest Way to Ship Items: Heavy Boxes & Packages

Heavy items such as auto parts, mattresses, gym equipment, or pallets of packed boxes can be one of the most difficult and costly items to ship or move. Every carrier has a different definition for what is considered “heavy”, and some are unable to transport heavy items.

  • USPS: USPS cannot carry packages over 70 lbs and is therefore not ideal for shipping heavy items.
  • Parcel shipping: UPS and FedEx consider anything between 70-150 lbs “heavy”, and both have special packaging requirements for heavy cargo. Packages over 150 lbs must be shipped using either UPS Freight or FedEx Freight.
  • Freight: Freight shippers specialize in transporting difficult-to-ship items like heavy cargo. Items are typically considered heavy when they exceed 125 lbs, but there are no special requirements for heavy items. There are also no surcharges to worry about unless your heavy cargo requires special handling such as use of a liftgate or if it can’t be carried by forklift.
Shipping method Estimated cost
USPS Cannot ship packages over 70 lbs.
Parcel shipping (eg. FedEx) $551.48-$2,727.00 for a single item weighing 300 lbs, depending on speed and distance of travel.

$799.65-$5,667.90 for a pallet of 15 boxes weighing 525 lbs total depending on speed and distance of travel.

Shipping costs may be lower for shorter distances or lighter items.
Consolidated Freight (eg. TSI) $588.08-$873.25 for a single item weighing 300 lbs

$781.82-$1,119.43 for a pallet of 15 boxes weighing approximately 525 lbs

Shipping costs may be lower for shorter distances

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's the cheapest way to ship small items?

The cheapest way to ship small items is typically USPS flat rate shipping. If you need faster delivery, parcel shippers offer speedier delivery timelines.

Here's how much you can expect to pay for flat rate shipping:

  • Small box: $9.45
  • Medium box: $16.10
  • Large box: $21.50

What's the cheapest way to ship overnight?

The cheapest way to ship overnight is often parcel shipping like UPS or FedEx. These providers have the most flexibility with delivery timelines.

FedEx Overnight

  • Extra small: n/a
  • Small: $98.95-$166.55 depending on distance of travel
  • Medium: $106.30-$181.70 depending on distance of travel
  • Large: $112.60-$201.45 depending on distance of travel
  • Extra large: $124.25-$259.95 depending on distance of travel

UPS starting at

  • Extra small: $9.45
  • Small: $12.40
  • Medium: $14.95
  • Large: $19.60
  • Extra large: $24.30

Shipping items to another state?

Learn more about TSI's long distance moving and shipping services.

Learn more

Keep reading

The Cheapest Way to Ship Boxes to Another State

Boxes are typically one of the most straightforward items to ship to another state.

Read More ›

The Cheapest Way to Ship Heavy Items

Thanks to their heft, heavy items can be difficult to ship or move. To complicate matters further, there is no commonly accepted definition of what is considered a “heavy package”.

Read More ›

The Cheapest Way to Ship Oversized Packages

Oversized packages can be awkward to ship or move, and every carrier defines "oversized" differently.

Read More ›