What Is The Cheapest Way To Send A Parcel?

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Sending parcels efficiently and cost-effectively is a critical concern for individuals and businesses alike. Whether you’re shipping a gift to a loved one, running an e-commerce business, or sending important documents, finding the cheapest method to send a parcel can save significant money over time. Navigate here at this article delves into various strategies, services, and considerations to help you identify the most economical way to send parcels.

Understanding Shipping Costs

Before diving into specific methods, it’s essential to understand the factors that influence shipping costs. These include:

  • Weight and Size: Heavier and larger parcels typically cost more to ship.
  • Destination: International shipping is generally more expensive than domestic shipping.
  • Delivery Speed: Expedited shipping services are pricier than standard delivery.
  • Shipping Carrier: Different carriers have varying rates and service levels.
  • Shipping Volume: High-volume shippers may receive discounts from carriers.
  • Insurance and Tracking: Adding these features can increase the cost but offer additional security.

Domestic Shipping Options

For domestic shipping, several carriers offer competitive rates. The most common ones include:

  • USPS (United States Postal Service)
  • UPS (United Parcel Service)
  • FedEx (Federal Express)
  • DHL Express

United States Postal Service (USPS)

USPS is often the go-to choice for affordable domestic shipping. Here are some key options:

  • First-Class Mail: Ideal for parcels under 13 ounces. It’s one of the cheapest options for lightweight packages, with delivery usually within 1-3 business days.
  • Priority Mail: Suitable for parcels up to 70 pounds. It offers flat-rate boxes, which can be cost-effective for heavier items. Delivery is typically within 1-3 business days.
  • Media Mail: Specifically for books, CDs, and other media. It’s a low-cost option but has slower delivery times.

USPS also offers a free pick-up service, making it convenient to send parcels without visiting the post office.

United Parcel Service (UPS)

UPS is known for its reliability and extensive tracking capabilities. It offers several cost-effective options:

  • UPS Ground: One of the most economical choices for domestic shipping. Delivery times vary based on distance but are generally within 1-5 business days.
  • UPS SurePost: A hybrid service that uses UPS for the initial transportation and USPS for the final delivery. This service can be cheaper than standard ground shipping.


FedEx provides various services catering to different needs. For budget-conscious shipping:

  • FedEx Ground: Comparable to UPS Ground, it offers economical shipping with delivery typically within 1-5 business days.
  • FedEx SmartPost: Similar to UPS SurePost, it combines FedEx and USPS services to lower costs, particularly for residential deliveries.

DHL Express

While DHL is more known for international shipping, it also offers domestic services in the U.S. Its rates are competitive, particularly for heavier packages.

International Shipping Options

Sending parcels internationally involves additional complexities and costs. However, there are still ways to minimize expenses:

  • USPS
  • UPS
  • FedEx
  • DHL Express


USPS is often the most economical choice for international shipping. Key options include:

  • First-Class Package International Service: Best for small, lightweight parcels (up to 4 pounds). Delivery times vary widely depending on the destination.
  • Priority Mail International: Offers flat-rate pricing and delivery within 6-10 business days.
  • Priority Mail Express International: Faster but more expensive, with delivery typically within 3-5 business days.


UPS provides reliable international shipping with several service levels:

  • UPS Worldwide Saver: An economical choice for delivery within 1-3 business days.
  • UPS Worldwide Expedited: Slightly more expensive but offers faster delivery.


FedEx’s international services include:

  • FedEx International Economy: A cost-effective option for delivery within 2-5 business days.
  • FedEx International Ground: Available for shipments to Canada and Mexico, providing a budget-friendly choice for these destinations.

DHL Express

DHL is renowned for its international reach and efficiency. Its services include:

  • DHL Express Worldwide: Offers quick delivery (typically within 1-3 business days) and comprehensive tracking.
  • DHL eCommerce: Designed for e-commerce shipments, providing a balance between cost and delivery speed.

Tips for Reducing Shipping Costs

Apart from choosing the right carrier and service, there are additional strategies to further reduce shipping costs:

  • Compare Rates: Use online tools and shipping calculators to compare rates across different carriers.
  • Optimize Packaging: Use appropriately sized boxes to avoid dimensional weight charges. Lightweight packaging materials can also help reduce costs.
  • Bulk Shipping: If you ship regularly, inquire about bulk shipping discounts from carriers.
  • Print Labels Online: Many carriers offer discounts for printing shipping labels online.
  • Use Flat-Rate Boxes: These can be cost-effective, especially for heavy items.
  • Consolidate Shipments: If sending multiple packages to the same destination, consolidating them into one shipment can save money.
  • Leverage Shipping Software: Tools like ShipStation, Shippo, and others can help you find the best rates and streamline the shipping process.

Alternative Shipping Solutions

Beyond traditional carriers, several alternative shipping solutions can provide cost savings:

  • Regional Carriers: Companies like OnTrac and LaserShip operate in specific regions and can offer lower rates for local deliveries.
  • Crowdsourced Delivery Services: Platforms like Roadie and Deliv use networks of local drivers to deliver parcels, often at lower costs.
  • Freight Brokers: For large or heavy shipments, freight brokers can negotiate better rates with carriers on your behalf.
  • Parcel Consolidators: Companies like Parcel Monkey and Sendle consolidate shipments to get bulk shipping rates, passing on the savings to you.

Case Study: Small Business Shipping Strategy

To illustrate these principles in action, consider a small e-commerce business that ships products domestically and internationally. Here’s a hypothetical strategy:

Domestic Shipping:

  • Lightweight items: Use USPS First-Class Mail for parcels under 13 ounces.
  • Heavier items: Utilize USPS Priority Mail Flat-Rate boxes for items up to 70 pounds.
  • Frequent shipping locations: For regions where the business ships frequently, negotiate discounted rates with regional carriers like OnTrac.

International Shipping:

  • Lightweight items: Opt for USPS First-Class Package International Service for parcels under 4 pounds.
  • General items: Use USPS Priority Mail International for reliable delivery within 6-10 business days.
  • High-value items: For faster delivery and better tracking, consider DHL Express Worldwide.

Additional Measures:

  • Packaging: Use lightweight, durable materials to minimize weight and reduce the risk of damage.
  • Shipping Software: Implement ShipStation to compare rates and streamline label printing and tracking.
  • Customer Communication: Offer multiple shipping options at checkout, allowing customers to choose based on cost and delivery speed.


Finding the cheapest way to send a parcel requires a balance between cost, speed, and reliability. By understanding the factors that influence shipping costs, comparing rates among different carriers, and employing cost-saving strategies, you can significantly reduce your shipping expenses. Whether you’re an individual sending occasional parcels or a business shipping regularly, the insights provided in this article can help you make informed decisions and optimize your shipping process.

By leveraging the services of USPS, UPS, FedEx, DHL, and alternative solutions like regional carriers and crowdsourced delivery services, you can find the most economical and efficient way to send your parcels, ensuring they reach their destination safely and on time.

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