Cheapest Way to Ship Packages to California

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Shipping a package to California? The cost depends on the size and weight of the package, as well as the destination you're shipping from. Compare your options when looking for the cheapest way to ship packages to California.

United States Postal Service

The United States Postal Service (USPS) offers several ways to ship. In addition to cost variations due to size, weight and point of origin, the speed at which you want the package to arrive at its destination also affects the price you pay. For example, say you want to send a box from Boston to Los Angeles. The box weighs 10 pounds and measures 12 by 12 by 12 inches. Your options are:

  • Priority Mail One-Day Express Delivery: $105.20
  • Priority Mail 3-Day Delivery: $44.55
  • USPS Retail Ground (formerly Parcel Post):  $40.05

You can save money by shipping via Priority Flat Rate. As long as the contents fit in a flat-rate box, you can ship up to 70 pounds domestically (and up to 20 pounds internationally) for one price, as follows:

  • Small flat-rate box (approximately. 8 1/2 by 5 1/2 by 1 3/4 inches): $7.45

  • Medium flat-rate box (approximately 11 by 8 3/4 by 6 inches or 14 by 12 by 3 1/2 inches): $13.20

  • Large flat-rate box (approximately 12 by 12 x 6 inches or 24 by 12 by 3 inches): $18.30

Priority shipping includes package tracking and insurance up to $50. You can purchase extra insurance and add-ons such as signature confirmation.

Shipping via UPS

The speed with which you need the package to be delivered is the biggest factor affecting the price when you ship a package to California using UPS. Using the same 10-pound example package from the previous USPS example, the prices are:

  • UPS Next Day Air Early: $249.62
  • UPS Next Day Air: $217.75
  • UPS Next Day Air Saver: $214.25
  • UPS 2-Day Air: $149.76
  • UPS 3-Day Select: $109.39
  • UPS Ground: $52.91

UPS Flat Rate Shipping

Like the U.S. Postal Service, UPS offers flat-rate shipping, where pricing is based on box dimensions. With UPS Simple Rate pricing, the box can weigh up to 50 pounds. You pay extra for add-on services such as delivery confirmation or special handling for unusually shaped or irregular packaging.

The UPS shipping cost at the Simple Rate prices is calculated for size ranges measured in cubic inches. To determine measurement in cubic inches, multiply the package length by the width and then by the height. For example, the 12 by 12 by 12-inch package is 1,728 cubic inches because 12 x 12 equals 144 and 144 x 12 equals 1,728.

UPS Simple Rate sizes are as follows:

  • Extra-small: up to 100 cubic inches
  • Small: 101 to 250 cubic inches
  • Medium: 251 to 650 cubic inches
  • Large: 651 to 1,050 cubic inches
  • Extra-large: 1,051 to 1,728 cubic inches

Comparing the U.S. Postal Service and UPS

For the 12 by 12 by 12-inch package weighing 10 pounds, the UPS shipping cost could be less than the USPS price, depending on how soon you want the package to arrive. Second-day air service is the fastest option with flat-rate pricing of $61.50. The UPS 3-Day Select costs $44.00, and UPS Ground, with an estimated four-day delivery, costs $25.00.

FedEx Shipping Calculator

Use the FedEx Shipping Calculator at the FedEx website to determine shipping costs via this carrier. For the 10-pound package used in the examples, delivery cost ranges from $183.49 for same-day service to $27.09 for FedEx Ground, which typically takes four days from Boston to Los Angeles.