How to Ship Heavy Items Cheap

If you have ever sent a package anywhere, you will know that shipping can cost a lot of money. Especially when it comes to heavier items, the heavier the package, the more it can cost. However, that does not have to be the case. In this post, we will give you tips on how to ship heavy items affordably by maximizing the services and rate options that are out there.

We will go over shipping tips and tricks to ensure that you are getting the best rates available. Additionally, we will go over different weight classes, different shipping options, and tricks that are legal and will get you the best rate. Make sure you have a shipping scale though!

USPS First Class for Weight Under 1 Pound

The first rule of thumb you should keep in mind is that shipping classes are separated into whether a package is under 1 lb or over. Therefore, if your package is under 1 lb, the best rate is through USPS first class.

Platforms like Mercari and Depop use tiers for USPS First Class rates. Each tier is priced according to three main weight classes for packages under 1 pound. 

  • 4oz and under – Tier 1
  • 8 oz and under – Tier 2
  • 8oz to 16 oz (1lb) – Tier 3

So if you are between each tier, you will need to round up to the closest tier. In other words, a 3.2 oz package, for example, would be rounded up to 4 oz. Likewise, a 5.8 oz would be round up to 8oz and a 9oz package would be rounded up to 16 oz.

If you are selling on Depop or Mercari, it will be cheaper to ship on your own through PirateShip. Both actually use Shippo as their choice of shipping software. We will go over more information on Pirate Ship below.

Take Advantage of USPS Flat Rate for Heavy Items

Some of the best tools to ship heavy items are USPS flat rate envelopes and boxes. They are able to handle up to 70 lbs and you can get these absolutely for free from your local USPS store. But, if your local store does not have the size you need you can order them online from You will only need a USPS account to have it shipped to your door. For more information, read here to get packaging materials for free.

Flat Rate Envelopes

We have shipped dumbbells, kettlebells, and weight plates on these USPS flat rate boxes. We have even shipped a set of 10lbs dumbbells on a USPS flat rate padded envelope! You can see it here.

The key to shipping heavy items is to make sure that the envelope or boxes are reinforced with tape all around to prevent spillage or breakage. Then, make sure that all empty spaces are padded with bubble wrap, paper, or air pillows.

Regional Boxes

For Regional A and Regional B boxes, the price varies by the distance of where you will be shipping to from where you are. Regional boxes are only recommended for zone 1 and 2. Otherwise, they may not be cheaper than using the next size up or using other methods like a box in a bag. To find out what zone that you will be shipping to, you can enter them here.

The price for flat rate envelopes and boxes can vary upon where you are buying the postage from. If you are selling on eBay, they actually have the best rate. Unless you are able to get a commercial rate, Pirate Ship will have the next best rate. Going into your local USPS store and buying directly from them is more expensive than buying through a platform or shipping software that has negotiated rates with them. Here is a comparison below.

Priority Mail® Flat Rate OptionsMaximum Weight 
Cost* thru eBay shipping
(Oct 2020)
Cost* thru
(Oct 2020)
Cost* at Post Office & Online
(Oct 2020)
Priority Flat Rate Envelope70 lbs$6.94$7.15$7.75
Priority Legal Flat Rate Envelope70 lbs$7.23$7.45$8.05
Priority Flat Rate Padded Envelope70 lbs$7.52$7.75$8.40
Priority Small70 lbs$7.42$7.65$8.30
Priority Medium – Top Loading70 lbs$12.80$13.20$15.05
Priority Medium – Side Loading70 lbs$12.80$13.20$15.05
Priority Large70 lbs$17.75$18.30$21.10
Priority Regional A15 lbsVaries by zoneVaries by zoneVaries by zone
Priority Regional B20 lbsVaries by zoneVaries by zoneVaries by zone

*Note that USPS may increase price from time to time and are subject to change. Prices can also vary upon the holiday season.

Use PirateShip for Best Cubic Rates 

If you are selling on other platforms such as Amazon, Etsy, or Depop or you will not be using flat rate postage through eBay, has the best rates. In case you are not familiar with PirateShip, they are a shipping software that lets you purchase USPS postage at the cheapest possible rates and print your shipping label.

So if your package is between 1 and 20 pounds, Pirate Ship’s cubic rate will be the cheapest and fastest option. It also comes with $100 USPS insurance included with the rate. The only thing to note with using Pirate Ship is that the dimensions cannot exceed 12” x 12” x 6” or 18″ maximum in any dimension.

You can enter your package dimension here and Pirate Ship will calculate your exact cubic volume. You can then determine how much it will be based on the package’s destination. Here is a price chart directly from Pirate Ship for prices 2020.

Use Box In a Bag

Another great trick for shipping heavy items is that shipping packages in a bag or envelope can be cheaper than shipping as a box. If your item is fragile or oddly shaped it requires a box, you can still use a box and then place the box inside an envelope, a flat rate envelope, or a polybag. You will be able to save quite a bit without adding additional weight. 

An important thing to note here is that you cannot use a USPS priority box and ship with another service like UPS, FedEx, or any other shipping service. Priority boxes and envelopes must be shipped with USPS priority mail. You can even use a priority box that can fit inside a priority envelope and ship at the priority envelope price if you need to save an additional 50 cents or so.

The same rule applies when you are using Pirate Ship. Choose the option with “Envelope, Padded Envelope, Poly Bad, Soft Pack or Box in a Bag” and place your box inside a polybag. You can find larger poly bags to fit bigger boxes here and here. Cut down your poly bag to the closest dimension as your box inside to reduce the length and width as much as possible. Doing this will reduce the rate. Go ahead and try it yourself!

What About FedEx or UPS?

If USPS is not your shipping service provider of choice, can you ship heavy items with UPS or FedEx? Both UPS and FedEx has affordably ground options for larger, bulkier items. So if your dimensions are too large for Pirate Ship’s cubic rates, UPS Ground or FedEx ground will be the cheapest option. However, keep in mind that it will not be a speedy service.

Depending on your location, another option to ship heavy items is with Greyhound. You heard that right, greyhound buses offer shipping with their package express. We would not use them for fragile, breakable, or expensive items. However, they are a great option for awkward, bulky items.

If you are looking to ship heavy equipment though, that will be beyond the scope of shipping with your day-to-day carriers. You may want to turn to freight services such as Uship. You can post what you are needing to ship and you will get quotes from different freight carriers.

Main Takeaways

Knowing how to ship heavy items and what your options are important so that you do not waste money on overpriced services. If you sell items online, it will help determine to charge for shipping and factor it into pricing your item. 

There you have it. Main takeaways are:

  • Take advantage of USPS priority flat rate envelopes and boxes.
  • Use Pirate Ship’s cubic rate for small, heavy items.
  • Put your box in a bag for a cheaper rate.
  • See if Greyhound shipping is available in your area
  • Use UPS ground or FedEx ground for items too large for Pirate Ship.

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