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Jaidyn Farar

How To Ship Large Items: Find the Cheapest and Quickest Options

by Jaidyn Farar
Three large packages in a row

Many ecommerce businesses ship small items to customers—things like clothing, electronics, household goods, and more. But what about the stores that sell large items such as kitchen appliances, furniture, and exercise equipment? 

If you sell large or heavy items like these, you need a way to ship them without cutting into your profits. In this article, we’ll review the best methods for shipping large items, whether you’re transporting them in bulk or shipping individual parcels to your customers.

What qualifies as a large item in shipping?

In shipping, a large item is any package that exceeds certain size or weight thresholds determined by shipping carriers. In general, any package over 150 pounds and 165 inches in combined length and girth is considered a large item and must be shipped as freight. 

The size and weight thresholds for USPS, UPS, and FedEx are as follows:


For most USPS services, parcels can’t be longer than 108 inches in combined length and girth.* USPS Ground Advantage™ shipments have a maximum limit of 130 inches in combined length and girth, but packages over 108 inches are charged an oversized fee. The maximum weight for a USPS parcel is 70 pounds

* Length is a package’s longest dimension. Girth is the distance around a package. You can find your package’s girth with this formula: Girth = (width x 2) + (height x 2)


UPS ships packages that weigh up to 150 pounds and are up to 165 inches in combined length and girth. Packages over 70 pounds are considered heavy packages and have additional fees. 


Like UPS, FedEx ships parcels that weigh up to 150 pounds and are up to 165 inches in combined length and girth. Oversized charges apply to packages over 96 inches long or 130 inches in combined length and girth.

Oversized packages vs. freight shipping

Oversized packages and freight shipping both deal with transporting large items, but they’re used in different situations. 

Oversized packages exceed standard shipping size or weight limits, but parcel carriers will still transport them for an additional fee. Freight shipping, on the other hand, is used for shipments over 150 pounds, which are too large or heavy for parcel shipping. It usually involves transporting goods in bulk using pallets or containers, though a freight shipment can consist of a single item.

Shippers often wonder, what is the cheapest way to ship something large? If you’re shipping very large items or sending bulk shipments, freight shipping is often the cheapest option. However, shipping oversized parcels can also be cost-effective if you choose the right carrier, use shipping software to get rate discounts, and optimize your packaging.

How to ship large items: Best practices and tips

Shipping large boxes can get expensive! As if that’s not bad enough, heavy items are also more likely to be damaged during shipping. To save money and prevent product damage (and the ensuing customer complaints and returns), follow these best practices. 

  • Use heavy-duty packaging materials. When shipping heavy items, sturdy packaging materials are a must. Use strong corrugated cardboard boxes, and make sure the seams are stapled or sewn. After packing an item, secure the box with reinforced tape using the H-tape method.
  • Add filler material. To prevent damage due to jostling or being dropped, choose the right filler material. This could include foam—molded foam inserts are very secure—bubble wrap, or other materials that won’t be easily crushed by a heavy product. Make sure the material reaches the box’s corners, as these are the most vulnerable to damage.
  • Rightsize your packaging. Use the smallest box possible that can still fit your item. Oversized boxes can lead to higher shipping costs due to DIM weight charges (which we’ll discuss in more detail below).
  • Divide shipments into smaller packages. If you’re sending a customer several products, it may be cheaper to ship them in multiple smaller packages rather than one oversized one. 
  • Consider both weight and size. Check your carrier’s specific requirements for weight and size, as both factors influence cost. 
  • Get shipping insurance. When shipping high-value, damage-prone products, shipping insurance is invaluable. Consider purchasing shipping insurance to act as a financial safety net in case a large package gets damaged due to mishandling or other circumstances. 

Now that we’ve covered the best way to ship large boxes, let’s take a look at the shipping options offered by three major carriers: USPS, UPS, and FedEx.

Best carrier for shipping large items

What is the best shipping company for large items? Generally, UPS and FedEx will provide the best value for large packages, but USPS can also be used to send parcels weighing up to 70 pounds. Each carrier has pros and cons, and you should carefully evaluate their rates and services before making a choice. 

We’ll explore the pros and cons, capabilities, and restrictions of each one. Keep in mind that size and weight restrictions may differ by service, so always double-check the specific requirements before sending a package.


USPS is one of the most affordable and reliable carriers for sending small, lightweight packages. That’s because USPS was originally designed for transporting mail, and its infrastructure is ideal for processing letters and small parcels. However, you can ship large packages with USPS too. Any parcel over 35 pounds should include a sticker identifying it as a heavy package.

Consider the following USPS services to ship large parcels:

Delivery time
USPS Priority Mail® Express
1-2 business days 
USPS Priority Mail®
1-3 business days
USPS Ground Advantage
2-5 business days

If you’re shipping an item that’s heavy but not large, consider Priority Mail® Express Flat Rate or  Priority Mail® Flat Rate. Both of these services allow you to send items weighing up to 70 pounds for a flat rate. 

Get a rate estimate using the USPS cost calculator.


If you’re looking to ship packages weighing up to 150 pounds, UPS is a great option. Exact costs will depend on travel distance and package size and weight, so make sure to use the UPS cost calculator to get an accurate estimate. 

Keep in mind that heavy packages (those over 70 pounds) will incur an additional fee. These packages also require a UPS Heavy Package sticker. 

Consider the following UPS services to ship large parcels:

Delivery time
UPS Next Day Air® 
1 business day 
UPS 2nd Day Air® 
2 business days
UPS 3 Day Select®
3 business days
UPS® Ground 
1-5 business days


FedEx is another solid choice for shipping packages that weigh up to 150 pounds. Oversized charges are applied to packages over 96 inches long or 130 inches in girth. You’ll need to attach a heavyweight label to any package weighing over 75 pounds. 

Consider the following FedEx services to ship large parcels:

Delivery time
FedEx Standard Overnight®
1 business day
FedEx 2Day®
2 business days
FedEx Express Saver®
3 business days
FedEx Home Delivery®
1-5 business days

Get a rate estimate using the FedEx cost calculator.

The cost of shipping large items

How much does it cost to ship large items? The cost of shipping large items depends on several factors, including the package’s dimensional and actual weight, shipping zone, and shipping method. Carrier rates and surcharges also affect the total cost.

Shipping APIs like EasyPost help lower shipping costs by providing rate discounts, optimizing carrier and shipping method selection, automating manual tasks, and eliminating costly errors like incorrect addresses. 

Dimensional weight vs. actual weight

Carriers often use dimensional weight, or DIM weight, to account for the space a package occupies in relation to its actual weight. Using DIM weight pricing allows carriers to transport lightweight, bulky items without losing money—but it can negatively affect your business if you’re not careful. 

Dimensional weight converts a package’s volume into a weight equivalent. This is compared to the actual weight of the package, and the higher of the two is used to determine the shipping cost. 

Why does this matter? Because if you’re shipping large but lightweight boxes, you’ll pay more for shipping. Let’s walk through an example. FedEx calculates DIM weight using the formula (length x width x height) / 139. Say you have a package that’s 36 inches by 24 inches by 24 inches and weighs 30 pounds

DIM weight = (36 x 24 x 24) / 139 = 149.2 pounds.

Because the DIM weight is significantly higher than the actual weight, FedEx would use the DIM weight to determine shipping cost.

To optimize your shipments and avoid high DIM weight charges, use the smallest boxes possible and pack items efficiently. 

Shipping zone

If you need to send a large item, the shipping zone (or the distance packages travel) plays a major role in determining cost. Implementing a distributed inventory strategy—where your inventory is located in distribution centers close to your customers—can help reduce costs by minimizing travel distances.

Shipping method

Ground shipping is usually the most cost-effective method for large items. Air shipping, while faster, is significantly more expensive due to higher fuel and handling costs. A good rule of thumb: unless a shipment is urgent, opt for ground transportation. 

Ship large items the easy way

And there you have it—now you know how to ship large items! While the tips and best practices in this article will help you streamline your large-item shipping, you can go a step further toward cost- and time-savings. 

EasyPost provides a suite of shipping APIs that help with every step of the shipping process, from carrier selection to label generation and package tracking. We offer discounted rates (up to 88% off) that are perfect for businesses that don’t want to negotiate contracts individually with multiple carriers.

The best part? EasyPost can help find the cheapest shipping methods for each of your packages, ensuring that even large packages don’t cost an arm and a leg to ship.

Sign up for free to ship packages of any size more efficiently.