What Is The Cheapest Way to Ship Clothing?

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If you’re getting ready to ship clothing, you likely want to keep your postage expenses as low as possible.

Shipping costs for clothes can vary widely since some items can be heavy or bulky. Additionally, rates can differ by shipping speed and company. 

We found the cheapest way to ship clothing to another state so that you can save money.

How to Ship Clothing Under One Pound

Most single-item clothing shipments weigh less than one pound, and the United States Postal Service (USPS) is the cheapest option for lightweight packages. 

Whether you buy postage online or buy stamps at your local post office is a determining factor in shipping costs.

USPS First-Class Package Service

USPS First-Class Package Service

The USPS First-Class Package Service is usually the cheapest way to ship packages under 15.99 ounces. Plus, your shipment usually arrives within five days.

Consider using Stamps.com to save up to 26% on postage costs since you can pay the commercial rates instead of the retail rates. Additionally, the maximum weight limit is 15.99 ounces versus 13 ounces for retail customers.

Depending on the shipping zone, retail customers pay $7.35 to $8.25 for a 13-ounce package. In comparison, the commercial rate for a 15.999-ounce parcel is $5.74 to $6.68. 

Additionally, the platform lets you purchase this cheaper postage rate at home. Currently, the USPS website only lets retail customers buy Priority Mail shipping labels online, which is usually the most expensive option. 

If you’re selling clothes online through eBay or other selling sites, you may also be automatically eligible for the discounted commercial rate. 

The maximum size limit for a parcel cannot exceed 22 inches on a single side to avoid add-on fees. Better yet, you can provide your own envelope or box to ship your items. 

USPS Retail Ground

If you’re buying postage at a local post office, retail customers must pay the Retail Ground rate (previous USPS Parcel Select) for packages weighing more than 13 ounces. 

All Retail Ground packages weighing less than a pound cost from $8.80 (Zone 1) to $10.85 (Zone 9). You can view the current USPS shipping prices here

While the above rates may seem expensive, the retail Priority Mail rates are from $9.00 to $20.40. As a tradeoff, these pricier shipments are eligible for up to $100 in complimentary insurance and ship within three days.

How to Shop Clothing Over One Pound

Several cost factors are at play for clothing parcels weighing more than one pound. 

USPS can still be the cheapest way to ship clothing that tend to be lighter because FedEx and UPS charge fuel surcharges as well as extra fees to ship to a residential address.

However, private shippers can be more affordable if you have bulky or heavy packages since it’s challenging for USPS to offer competitive prices in these categories.

Related: What is the Cheapest Shipping Option: FedEx, UPS or USPS?

FedEx Home Delivery

FedEx Home Delivery

FedEx Home Delivery delivers seven days a week and bases your shipping rate on the package’s dimensional weight and destination. The shipping speed is one to five business days, and you can request evening or appointment deliveries.

The maximum dimensions for this service are:

  • Weight limit: 150 pounds
  • Length: Up to 108 inches
  • Length and girth: 165 inches (L+2W+2H)

You can also pay for FedEx Express if you need rapid delivery and are comfortable paying a higher rate.

Home pickup is available for a fee, or you can also drop off at FedEx Office locations for free.

UPS

UPS homepage

Most UPS Ground deliveries arrive within three business days and have a Monday through Saturday delivery window. The maximum weight is 150 pounds, and the maximum length is 108 inches. 

This carrier charges a home pickup fee, but you can also ship from a UPS Store location to avoid add-on costs.

USPS

USPS Priority Mail

Packages exceeding one pound must either ship by USPS Priority Mail or USPS Retail Ground. First-class mail service is only available for parcels lighter than 15.99 ounces.

In many situations, USPS is the most convenient option since you can ship the items directly from your mailbox instead of finding a drop-off location. 

To avoid oversized price penalties and ensure you are utilizing the service’s cheapest way to ship clothing, make sure your shipping dimensions meet the service’s limits.

These include:

  • Parcels don’t exceed one cubic foot (1,728 cubic inches)
  • The combined girth and length are less than 108 inches
  • No side is longer than 22 inches

USPS Priority Mail is pricier but faster and more convenient, with shipping speeds of one to three days and the ability to buy postage from home. 

Other Priority Mail benefits include: 

  • Shipping weights of up to 70 pounds
  • Complimentary insurance of up to $100
  • Schedule free front door pickups (not available with Retail Ground)
  • Request free shipping boxes from the USPS website

Depending on the weight and shipping distance, USPS Retail Ground can be worth the savings if you need to make a profit or have a tight budget. However, you will need to purchase shipping insurance.

One way to avoid shipping costs if you are selling your clothes is to use Poshmark. This is because the buyer pays shipping fees. USPS Priority Mail is the platform’s default shipping option.

Related: Poshmark Review: Is It Worth It to Buy and Sell Used Clothes? 

Flat Rate Shipping Options for Clothing

You might pay less when using a flat-rate shipping box from USPS instead of your own packaging for heavy items. It’s free to request these boxes and large envelopes. Otherwise, you can pick them up at your local post office.

USPS Priority vs. USPS Flat Rate

The flat-rate boxes are available in three different sizes, and you pay a fixed rate regardless of the shipping zone. The maximum weight is 70 pounds for all flat-rate Priority Mail box sizes.

Flat Rate Box SizeShipping Cost
Flat Rate Envelope$9.90
Small Flat Rate Box$10.40
Medium Flat Rate Box$17.05
Large Flat Rate Box$22.45

For instance, USPS Priority Flat-Rate can be the more affordable option for selling prom dresses and other bulky or heavy clothing articles.

Regional vs. Flat Rate (Up to 15 lbs)

USPS Regional Rate

Since clothing is lightweight, a Regional Box can be cheaper than a standard flat-rate box. There are two regional rates offering different weight limits, shipping costs and box dimensions.

Regional Rate Box TypeWeight LimitShipping Price
A15 lbs. (domestic), 20 lbs. (international) $8.63 (Zone 1) to $27.17 (Zone 9)
B20 lbs (domestic and international)$9.13 to $44.82

For example, it’s possible to use USPS Regional Rate boxes to sell shoes online and pay less than a medium flat rate box. 

However, USPS flat rate can still be cheaper if the recipient is far away. You can compare costs online to find the best rate before boxing up your item.

Summary

The cheapest way to ship clothing in most scenarios is via USPS. However, FedEx and UPS are competitive options for mailing a heavy box of clothing. 

If you’re selling clothes, consider using a platform like Mercari to automatically qualify for discounted commercial postage rates. This can be cheaper than going directly to the post office or your preferred shipping center.

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