How to Get Low Freight Costs

If you are going to be making an LTL (less-than-truckload) freight shipment, you may experience “sticker shock” when you get shipping cost estimates. A lot of factors go into determining your final shipping cost — some, like fuel costs, are out of your control, but others are things you can do something about. Here are five freight shipping tips to reduce the bill.


Freight Savings Tip 1: Consolidate

By bundling, boxing or palletizing items, you make it easier for the LTL shipper to handle and stow your shipment, resulting in a lower cost. For example, shipping four chairs individually is obviously clumsier than stacking four chairs and banding them into a single unit — the shipper has one piece to handle instead of four, and uses less space in the trailer.

There is a point of diminishing returns, however. If the unitized shipment becomes too large or too heavy, you could incur an upcharge or stage a load for pickup the carrier can’t handle. Example: Putting 50 boxes of books weighing 50 pounds each on a pallet may be too heavy or large. Check with the carrier for guidance on how much consolidation is too much.

Freight Savings Tip 2: Give the Carrier Plenty of Time

LTL carriers must combine shipments from multiple customers into a truck trailer before setting up a delivery schedule. The more time a carrier has to pick up and deliver a load, the easier (and thus less expensive) it is to handle the order. If you have a “rush” shipment, you’re likely going to pay a premium. Sometimes rush situations are unavoidable, but if you can plan ahead, you’ll be rewarded with a smaller freight bill.

Freight Savings Tip 3: Get Multiple Estimates

LTL shipping is a competitive business, and carriers tend to specialize in certain types of loads and certain geographic areas. If your delivery matches a carrier’s “sweet spot,” you’ll get a lower rate. On the other hand, if your load doesn’t fit the carrier’s sweet spot, it will be less efficient and thus more expensive — in addition, you’ll increase the chance for damage. Doing research and getting competitive bids can be time-consuming, but it pays off in dollars and cents.

Freight Savings Tip 4: Make Sure the Shipment Is Properly Insured

All LTL carriers have liability insurance, but the terms are different. It pays to review those terms carefully, especially if you are shipping something valuable such as a piano or bedroom set. If the carrier is underinsured for your shipment, you can negotiate supplementary coverage or purchase your own. Sometimes the relatively minor upcharge to beef up insurance turns out to be worth thousands of dollars — and months of headaches trying to recover your losses from the carrier after the fact.

Freight Savings Tip 5: Package Your Items Like a Pro

This isn’t exactly news, but fragile items break! The better you package your glassware or protect the finish of your finely finished cabinet, the less likely you will incur damage in transit. Proper packaging means selecting the right materials for cushioning and surface protection, using stretch wrap or plastic banding to secure items to a pallet, removing protruding parts (knobs, handles, pedals, etc.), and more. Consult with a packaging professional or do research online to get DIY guidance. (Incidentally, our Transit Systems blog is chock full of advice on this topic!)

Why Transit Systems Delivers Low Freight Costs

Our company works with a nationwide network of top LTL carriers, and as a result, does the comparative shopping for you — matching the best possible carrier for your job, regardless of what the item is, where it is being picked up and where it is being delivered. We also offer value-added services, such as packaging your item(s) for shipment and handling all of the paperwork — perfect for people who are too busy to handle the prep work themselves.

Have an LTL shipment coming up? Please contact us now for an estimate or to discuss your options.