12 Ways to Ship Anything More Cheaply
Shipping can be expensive, and sometimes it's hard to know which option is best. In addition to the major shipping services -- the U.S. Postal Service, UPS, and FedEx -- there are nontraditional ways to ship that many people don't know about. These tips will help save money when shipping just about anything.
In a 2013 comparison of the Postal Service, UPS, and FedEx, Cheapism.com found that the Postal Service had the lowest rates in almost every case -- including international shipping. That being said, UPS or FedEx can be better in a rush.
Comparing costs takes time but saves money. The services have their own cost calculators, but comparison tool ShipGooder looks at more than one at a time. Enter information for a package or envelope traveling within the United States to see cost estimates for different services and different speeds.
If you have the storage space, or a lot of shipments coming in and out, keep shipping materials for reuse. Packing peanuts, bubble wrap, and those air-filled plastic packing pillows from online retailers can all be reused. Make sure boxes are sturdy and not too heavily labeled, though. UPS instructs customers reusing boxes to "remove any labels and all other shipment markings."
If you're moving without furniture, where everything is in boxes and time isn't of the essence, Busfreighter -- which ships on a space-available basis -- is even cheaper than Greyhound Package Express (its partner). A Huffington Post price comparison found that moving five large boxes across the country with Busfreighter would cost about $160. (Amtrak can be nearly as cheap but doesn't go as many places.)
Mailing exclusively books, sound recordings, video tapes, printed music, or CDs and DVDs? Use the U.S. Postal Service's Media Mail rate. The cost is based solely on weight, with the lowest price being $2.63 for an item up to 1 pound. Sending the same package at the Retail Ground rate would cost between $6.65 and $8.17. Make sure to follow the guidelines -- video games aren't included.
For shipping a car, the site Shipping Sidekick allows comparison quotes from up to 12 transport services. Using uShip is another good option for finding a cheap rate. Regardless, before picking a provider, it's a good idea to check them out through the Better Business Bureau or TransportReviews.com.