6 Ways to Cut Small Package Shipping Rates

It should be a simple process. You need to get a package from point A to point B. You pay a standard fee, send it off, and get back to your business. Case closed, right?

Unfortunately, it rarely works that way. Shipping can be a complex process, and there are numerous factors that affect your rates, delivery times and more.

The good news: A little knowledge can help you navigate that realm — and save you time, money and headaches in the process. This guide walks you through some common small package shipping fees that can quickly add up.

And it offers practical tips on how to deal with those shipping fees so you can get accurate quotes and keep your shipping rates under control.

Parcel Shipping Fees & How to Deal with Them

Step #1: Beware the residential surcharge

Commerce doesn't only happen in commercial areas. Have your package delivered to a non-commercial address or to a business that operates out of a home, and you'll be subject to a shipping fee commonly known as the residential surcharge.

Before you ship, it pays to determine if the destination address is residential or commercial. And it's wise to err on the conservative side here. Say you don't designate the address as residential, but the carrier decides that it is upon delivery. If that happens, the residential surcharge will still apply to your final bill.

Tip: Always check the "residential" box when you get a quote for a residential delivery. That'll help ensure you get an accurate quote — and help you avoid unwanted fees. And for B2C ground residential shipping, check out UPS SurePost®.

Step #2: Factor in package pickup fees

You now have a variety of convenient pickup options for getting your packages out the door. But you'll often pay a premium for that convenience. Case in point: Having a driver pick up a shipment typically adds a pickup fee. Do that often enough, and your costs will stack up quickly.

Tip: Avoid pickup fees by taking your packages to the nearest drop box or designated drop-off location such as a UPS Store. If you have bulk parcel shipments bound to the same destination, consolidate them with UPS Hundredweight Service to save on pickup fees and avoid common freight surcharges. Another point to consider: Because Worldwide Express is an authorized UPS reseller, we can request to have a UPS drop box installed near your office*. Contact us for more information.

Step #3: Check on address correction fees and charges

Here's where accuracy pays. An incorrect address can delay delivery and increase shipping costs for the carrier. And that additional cost? It'll get charged back to you as an Address Correction Fee.

Address Correction Fees apply to incomplete addresses, such those with a missing suite or unit number. In a similar vein, shipments addressed to a P.O. Box or P.O. Box ZIP code are subject to what's known as an Address Correction charge.

Tip: Verify the address is correct on your shipments. Yes, it's a small step. But it's one that'll pay off over time.

Step #4: Avoid the additional handling fee

An Additional Handling fee is exactly what the name implies — an extra charge for irregular or heavy packages that demand special handling. What types of packages require that special handling? Here are a few examples:

  • Those that measure more than 48 inches on the longest side or more than 30 inches on its second-longest side
  • Shipments with an actual weight per package of more than 50 lbs.
  • Packages with non-standard packaging — e.g., ones not fully encased by the outer shipping container, packaged with an outer container not made of cardboard, or packages only covered in shrink or stretch wrap

Additional Handling fees can also apply to packages that jam up a carrier's conveyor belts, slides and sorting machines. And here's another point to note: Packages that require special handling aren't subject to service guarantees.

Want more complete guidance? UPS lists complete guidelines on its website. You can also find information on the UPS Shipping Tools page.

Tip: Check the "Additional Handling" box if necessary when preparing your shipment. That'll ensure the charge gets included in your rate and your pickup driver is prepared to accept your package.

Step #5: Account for the oversized or large package surcharge

Every carrier has strict weight and size restrictions. Exceed those limits, and you'll probably rack up additional fees. What qualifies as a large or oversized package? Different carriers have different criteria (including weight thresholds), but here's a general rule of thumb: Total up the package's length plus girth. If it's more than 130 to 150 inches, it'll qualify for a Large or Oversize Package Surcharge.

Tip: Here's where a transportation management system (TMS) can come in extremely handy. In a nutshell, a TMS is a platform that can detect whether your shipment will hit the surcharge limit and also factor additional costs into your quote. Enter your package's accurate weight and dimensions into a TMS like SpeedShip™ from Worldwide Express, and you can quickly see if your shipment meets the surcharge criteria, along with the kinds of extra costs you can expect.

Step #6: Don't forget dimensional weight

Dimensional weight is another element that can pad your final shipping bill with unexpected fees. The phrase refers to your package's density — i.e., how much space it takes up in relation to its actual weight. When calculating your shipment's billable weight, a carrier will use the greater of its dimensional or actual weight.

Tip: Use the smallest possible packaging and avoid over-boxing. Those two steps will help lower your shipment's dimensional weight. It also pays to provide accurate dimensions — and not estimates. Why? By doing so, the carrier won't adjust your billable rate higher than the price you were originally quoted.

Learn how to save more on your small package shipping costs

Our guide to small package shipping rates and fees gets you started with the most-common price factors, but there are a range of other common fees and charges that can inflate your shipping rates. Check out our additional parcel shipping cost saving tips

And that's where Worldwide Express can help. We know both small package and freight shipping. And we understand your business has unique shipping needs. So we'll take the time to understand them and create solutions to help you meet your goals and boost your bottom line.

Our experts are standing by to help. Are you ready to get started? Request a quote today

* Restrictions and conditions apply. This option may not be available for all locations and is subject to UPS approval.