How to Estimate Shipping Charges

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The U.S. Postal Service delivered Parcel Post packages in fewer than five days on average, according to the Postal Service's 2010 third quarter financial report. First Class packages were delivered in less than two days. Consumers want quick delivery and value in a mailing service. When it comes to estimating the cost of shipping items, whether through the Postal Service, UPS or FedEx, on-line calculators make the shipping process more convenient.

Put the item(s) you want to mail in an envelope or box but do not seal it.

Place the package on a postal or bathroom scale. Round the weight of your item up to the next ounce or pound. For example, if your item weighs 1.2 oz., round up to 2 oz. If the weight is 4 lb. 3 oz., round up to 5 lb.

Measure the height, length and width of your package. Skip this step if you are using a Priority box for the U.S. Postal Service.

Go to the appropriate website of the mailing service you plan to use. Click "Calculate Shipping" on the U.S. Postal Service page. Click "Shipping" and "Calculate Time and Cost" if you're using UPS. Click "Ship" and "Get Rates and Transit Times" for FedEx.

Fill in the information requested. You'll get a detailed list of the shipping options available to you and the cost for each.


  • When shipping with the U.S. Postal Service, Priority shipping is often cheaper or only a few cents more than parcel post. Priority boxes and flat rate envelopes from the U.S. Postal Service are free. You can pick up these boxes at any post office lobby.


  • Do not tape a Priority Flat Rate envelope shut because it ruins the "integrity of the seal," and no longer qualifies for flat rate prices.