What is The Cheapest Way to Ship a Small Package? Costs and Options

As we move into 2024, online shoppers want faster and cheaper (or even free) shipping. While they might accept higher fees for large packages, they expect free shipping for small items. To keep your customers happy, you need to reduce the cost of shipping small packages so you can offer cheaper or even free shipping. Finding the cheapest way to ship a small package is key to attracting budget-conscious shoppers, staying competitive, and making a profit. In this article, we’ll compare the top carriers, give you free tools to calculate shipping costs, explain what affects these rates, and share tips to help you save money and increase your profits. Keep reading to learn how to improve your shipping strategy and meet your customers’ expectations!

How to Pick the Cheapest Way to Ship a Small Package?

First thing first, to save money, you must understand why it costs, starting with the package’s dimensions and weight. Shipping costs are calculated by both actual weight and dimensional weight (DIM weight), which is the size of the package. DIM weight is found by multiplying the package’s length, width, and height, and then dividing by a set number. If the DIM weight is higher than the actual weight, you pay for the DIM weight. Accurate measurements help avoid extra fees for incorrect sizes.

Next, different services have different limits. Smaller, lighter packages often qualify for cheaper rates. So knowing your package details helps you pick the best shipping option and choose the most cost-effective shipping method.

Lastly, following carrier size guidelines prevents penalties and delays. Carriers have specific rules, and following them can save you money and speed up delivery. Here are the limits from USPS, UPS and FedEx:

  • USPS: Packages under 12 inches on any side and weighing less than 20 pounds are considered small. USPS First-Class Package Service is designed for packages up to 15.99 ounces.
  • UPS and FedEx: Small packages are typically under 50 pounds and less than 130 inches in combined length and girth (2 x width + 2 x height + length).

For example, a box measuring 10 inches x 7 inches x 4 inches and weighing 2 pounds is typically considered a small package for most standard services. Now you have understood the basics, let’s move to its actual costs! 

How Much Does It Cost To Ship a Small Package Casually?

The cost of shipping a small package can vary a lot based on several factors. Generally, shipping a small package can range from $4.15 to $30, depending on the carrier, package weight, size, shipping speed, and destination. Here’s a simple breakdown of the typical costs of the most popular carriers like USPS, FedEx, and UPS for shipping small packages:

Carrier & Service Cost Delivery Time Best For


First-Class Package Service Starts at $4.15 1-3 business days Lightweight packages (e.g., clothing, books)
Priority Mail Starts at $9.65 (small flat-rate box) 1-3 business days Packages up to 70 pounds, flat-rate options
USPS Ground Advantage Starts at $3.79 (commercial rates) 2-5 business days Non-urgent deliveries of larger items


UPS Ground Starts at around $10 1-5 business days Cost-effective delivery with reliable tracking
UPS 3 Day Select Starts at $12-$15 3 business days Faster delivery without high overnight costs
UPS Next Day Air Saver Starts at $25-$30 Next business day (end of day) Urgent, time-sensitive deliveries


FedEx Ground Starts at around $9-$10 1-5 business days Affordable, reliable non-urgent deliveries
FedEx Express Saver Starts at $15-$20 3 business days Faster delivery at a moderate cost
FedEx Standard Overnight Starts at $25-$30 Next business day Urgent deliveries needing next-day arrival

How to Calculate Shipping Costs?

To find the cheapest way to ship a small package, calculating shipping costs is crucial, consider key factors like the package’s weight and size, shipping distance, delivery speed, carrier and service level, and any additional services you might need, such as insurance, tracking, and signature confirmation. You can also use online tools to calculate shipping costs. Here are 3 tools that support various carriers and provide accurate estimates:


calculate the cheapest way to ship a small package with shipstation

ShipStation is a comprehensive shipping software that integrates with USPS, UPS, FedEx, and DHL. It offers real-time rate calculations to help you compare costs and choose the best option.


  • Real-time shipping rate comparisons.
  • Integration with eCommerce platforms.
  • Batch shipping and label printing.
  • Automation rules to streamline shipping.

Key differences:

  • Extensive integrations with over 100 eCommerce platforms.
  • Robust automation features for setting rules based on shipping zones or order weights.
  • User-friendly interface for easy navigation.


calculate the cheapest way to ship a small package with easypost

EasyPost provides a powerful API for accessing shipping rates, printing labels, and tracking packages across multiple carriers.


  • Real-time rates from multiple carriers.
  • API integration for automated shipping.
  • Support for tracking and insurance.
  • Rate shopping to find the best prices.

Key differences:

  • API-driven for seamless integration into existing systems.
  • Supports a wide range of carriers globally.
  • Customizable shipping solutions for specific business needs.


calculate the cheapest way to ship a small package with shipping easy

ShippingEasy is a user-friendly platform offering discounted shipping rates and integrations with various carriers.


  • Discounted rates for USPS, UPS, and FedEx.
  • Integration with eCommerce platforms like Shopify and WooCommerce.
  • Automated shipping rules and batch processing.
  • Detailed reporting and analytics.

Key differences:

  • Significant discounts on shipping rates, especially for USPS.
  • Designed to be simple for ease of use.
  • Comprehensive analytics for data-driven decision-making.

What is The Cheapest Way to Ship a Small Package?

For most small packages, like boxes or mailer bags, USPS is usually the cheapest way to ship a small package.

Each shipping carrier has its own rules about what counts as a “small package”. The cost depends on the size and weight of your package, where it’s going, and how fast you need it delivered.

To compare shipping rates for small packages, here’s an example of how much it costs to send a small box from New York to California using standard services:

Carrier Service Cost Delivery Time
USPS Priority Mail $10.00 1-3 business days
UPS UPS Ground $12.00 1-5 business days
FedEx FedEx Ground $13.00 1-5 business days

How To Ship Small Package With Least Expensive Way?

What is The Cheapest Way To Ship A Small Package

Minimize Package Size

Reducing the size of your package is the cheapest way to ship a small package. Carriers often use dimensional weight pricing, which means they calculate costs based on the package’s size and weight. So, smaller packages cost less to ship. Here are some suggestions for you:

  • Use the smallest box that still protects your item. Avoid oversized boxes since they cost more to ship.
  • Use bubble wrap, air pillows, or packing peanuts that protect your items without adding bulk.
  • For items you ship often, consider custom-sized packaging. It ensures your packages are as small as possible, saving you money.

Negotiate Discounted Rates

Negotiating discounted rates with carriers can save your business a lot of money, especially if you ship items frequently. To find the cheapest way to ship a small package, there are 3 options: 

Leverage your shipping volume

Carriers are often more willing to offer discounts to businesses that ship a lot of packages. It’s also smart to check out rates from different carriers and negotiate with several to make sure you’re getting the best deal possible.

Join shipping programs offered by carriers

Carriers often have special programs that offer significant discounts to businesses. These programs are designed to make shipping more affordable for high-volume shippers.

For example, UPS has a program called the Digital Access Program, which gives businesses significant discounts on shipping. Overall, negotiating rates can lead to substantial cost savings, particularly for businesses that ship large volumes of packages regularly.

Use third-party shipping services

Why? Well, carriers and third-party services often offer discounts to new users, for bulk shipments, or during special promotions. Keeping an eye on these deals can help you save a lot of money. We’ll explain more about this in the next part.

If you want to save money on shipping, using third-party shipping services like ShipStation and Pirate Ship can help a lot. These services get special deals with shipping companies, so you pay less. For example, with Pirate Ship, you can save up to 89% compared to regular rates

Pirate ship the cheapest way to ship a small package

Further, these tools can help you manage all your shipping in one place. It connects with many online stores and lets you print shipping labels in bulk. However, it mainly works with USPS and UPS, so you won’t have as many carrier choices. So give it a try! 

Track Your Shipping Costs Over Time

Did you know many store owners have a team to check the shipping costs over time? It helps them see which carriers offer the best deals and where they might be overspending. Then, finally, they made their shipping decisions. Also, tracking costs can help you spot billing mistakes, ensuring you only pay for what you actually use.

For example, every month, you can review how much you spent on shipping. If you notice one carrier is cheaper for certain types of packages, adjust your shipping strategy to use that carrier more often. This continuous adjustment can lead to more savings over time.

Use Flat Rate Shipping

Using flat rate shipping whenever possible can make shipping easier for both you and your customers. With flat rate shipping, the cost is based on factors like size, weight, or destination, making it easier to predict. This straightforward approach reduces uncertainty at checkout and lowers the chances of abandoned carts.

Carriers like USPS and UPS offer flat rate shipping options, which have set prices for specific box sizes. This simplifies cost estimation, especially if you often ship items of similar sizes. With flat rate shipping, you’ll know upfront exactly how much shipping will cost, making it easier to manage expenses.

Shopify allows you to set flat shipping rates for your customers either. You can create flat rates for orders within shipping zones, as well as for orders within specific price or weight ranges. For example, you could charge a flat rate of $5 for domestic orders and offer a discounted rate of $3 for orders over $50.

Poly Mailers for Lightweight Packages

Poly mailers are a great option for shipping lightweight, non-breakable items. They’re durable, waterproof, and cheaper than boxes, making them perfect for items like clothing, accessories, and small electronics. 

To prevent delays or misdeliveries, make sure your shipping labels are clear and securely attached. For a personalized touch, use custom-printed poly mailers with your logo and brand colors, or branded stickers or labels if custom printing isn’t possible. This adds a personal touch to your packages without breaking the bank. Also, you can buy poly mailers in bulk, save money and ensure you always have enough on hand for your shipping needs. 

Reduce Return Orders

Reducing returns is important for businesses to make more money and keep customers happy. But there are some problems to overcome, like meeting customer expectations, getting the right size for products, and making sure things get delivered on time and in good shape. Everything has a solution! Here are our recommendation:

Synctrack Order Tracking by Omega

track order now - a cheapest way to ship a small package

Synctrack Order Tracking by Omega is a handy tool that keeps customers up-to-date about their order status, making it easier to manage delivery expectations and cut down on returns.


  • Detailed tracking: Gives thorough tracking details for all shipments.
  • Automatic updates: Sends automatic notifications to customers regarding their order status.
  • Seamless integration: Works smoothly with your Shopify store and supports various carriers.


  • Enhances customer satisfaction by providing timely updates.
  • Reduces inquiries and returns by keeping customers informed about their order status.


Now that you’ve discovered the cheapest ways to ship a small package, it’s time to put these tips and tricks into action. Use our strategies to minimize costs, then utilize free online tools to calculate your shipping expenses. Shipping small packages affordably requires smart strategies and choosing the right carriers. These methods not only save you money but also enhance your overall shipping efficiency and customer satisfaction. Start optimizing your shipping process today to enjoy the benefits of lower costs and happier customers!