The United States Postal Service (USPS) has one of the most popular and well-run flat rate shipping programs in the industry, which is why it is no surprise that it is as popular as it is today! Giving everyone (not just business owners, but anyone) the opportunity to send packages via flat rate shipping services, you’ll be able to eliminate a lot of the headache and a lot of the hassle in calculating shipping costs with this approach.
At the same time, though, there are certainly some things you’ll need to understand about the USPS flat rate box program, how to make the most of these offers, and any of the restrictions or drawbacks this program might have. That’s why we have put together this detailed breakdown. Armed with all of the inside information highlighted in this quick guide you’ll have a much better idea of how to use USPS flat rate box shipping effectively, how to dramatically reduce your shipping costs with these services, and how to guarantee that all of your flat rate boxes ship (or get shipped to you) with little headache or hassle along the way.
Ready to get right into it? Let’s do this!
Thinking About Sending a Box via USPS Flat Rate?
Straight out of the gate, it’s really important to reinforce the fact that anyone – and we mean anyone – looking to take advantage of flat rate shipping options from the USPS has the opportunity to do so. Plenty of people (understandably, too) operate under the impression that flat rate shipping services are only available to high-volume shipping partners, medium and large businesses, or small businesses that have created long-term relationships with the USPS.
And while all of those entities can certainly take advantage of USPS flat rate box shipping options, everyone else has the opportunity to do so as well! Whether you send one box a week, one box a month, or one box a year – or even less frequently than that – you’ll still have the potential to take advantage of the inexpensive, speedy, and reliable flat rate shipping services from the USPS. That’s a huge advantage, especially in the modern shipping industry today where these kinds of offers aren’t always available from every shipping company.
Benefits of Using USPS Flat Rate Box Shipping
Right out of the gate, the biggest benefit of using USPS flat rate box shipping options is that you eliminate a lot of the variability of your shipping costs completely. Traditionally, your shipping costs (the USPS or anywhere else, for that matter) would be calculated by figuring out what you were sending, how big and how heavy the box was, where the package was being sent to, and how fast you needed it to get there. Packages going across town that were relatively light would cost you a whole lot less than boxes that were significantly heavier and to be sent clear across the country.
Well, with USPS flat rate box shipping options that whole calculation is thrown right out the window! Instead you are provided with a flat rate fee and “if it fits, it ships” and you don’t have to pay a single penny extra! It doesn’t get a whole lot better than that. Another big advantage of using USPS flat rate box shipping options is that you also get a couple of “extras” added in for free, rolled right into the overall cost of this flat rate shipping service.
For starters, you get premium USPS tracking information on all of your packages sent via the flat rate service. This gives you and the intended recipient access to up to date information about the package of your location almost everywhere along its travels, right up until the moment it is dropped off and delivered at its ultimate destination.
Secondly, you also get to take advantage of expedited shipping as part of the flat rate service from the USPS. No, these packages aren’t going to ship quite as quickly as Priority Express or overnight shipping options from the USPS would. But they are definitely going to get to their intended destination faster than they would have if they were being sent via First Class mail, for example.
Finally, you don’t have to pay for packing! The USPS is going to provide you with packing for your flat rate item – the right size envelope or the right size box/container – and you don’t have to pay a penny extra for that service. Anyone that has sent a lot of packages in the past understands just how expensive packing can get. Being able to eliminate that cost altogether just by taking advantage of USPS flat rate box shipping options can change the cost structure of your business in a big way. That’s definitely something to consider!
Drawbacks of Using USPS Flat Rate Shipping
There aren’t too many downsides or drawbacks to using USPS flat rate shipping services, though there are certainly a couple of things you’ll want to be aware of. For starters, there is a hard 70 pound weight limit on anything that ships via flat rate services from the USPS. This means that even if you were somehow able to squeeze an item into the largest flat rate box but it was still over the 70 pound weight limit you wouldn’t be able to send it via the flat rate service. You would have to pony up extra money for a more traditional shipping service from the USPS instead.
Secondly, some items are actually more expensive to ship via the USPS flat rate box shipping service than they would be dropping them into First Class mail (or something similar). We are talking specifically about really small items, items that do not have to be delivered quite as quickly, or items that can even be sent via something like Media Mail. This is why it’s such a good idea to decide whether or not flat rate is right for your needs on a case-by-case kind of basis.
Finally, because you’re going to have to use the free packaging provided by the USPS you won’t be able to custom brand your packing materials. Your customer or your intended recipient is going to receive a box absolutely swimming in USPS branding, with huge “flat rate” lettering all over the box. You’ll be able to drop in a stick letter or other marketing materials, but customers aren’t going to get completely personalized boxes shipped to them when you use the flat rate service. That may or may not be an issue for you. But it is still something to consider all the same.
Important Requirements to Understand
As we highlighted a moment ago, anything that ships in a USPS flat rate box needs to weigh less than 70 pounds. Anything over 70 pounds (though some post offices are a little more lenient than others) is going to immediately trigger and elimination of the flat rate box pricing and instead subject you to more traditional USPS shipping costs. It’s really important that you do everything in your power to slide underneath that 70 pound weight limit if you want to capitalize on all of the USPS flat rate benefits.
On top of that, the maximum combined length as well as the girth of your package (the distance around the widest part of your package) has to add up to no more than 108 inches. Again, some post offices are going to be a little more lenient with this than others – but as a general rule anything north of 110 inches or so (total combined measurement) isn’t going to be able to be shipped via the USPS flat rate box service. Other than that, though, there really aren’t too terribly many requirements or restrictions you have to meet that aren’t in place for pretty much any other USPS shipment.
We are talking of course about restrictions and prohibitions on sending things like:
- Prohibited materials
- Hazardous materials
- Dangerous materials
… And more!
For more information about those restrictions and prohibitions on what can and cannot be sent via the USPS, jump on their website (www.usps.com) and review these details.
How Fast Will USPS Flat Rate Boxes Be Delivered?
As far as delivery speed on USPS flat rate boxes are concerned, you are (usually) looking at a delivery window of anywhere between one day and three days. The overwhelming majority of flat rate boxes and envelopes are going to be dropped off at their final destination two days after they were dropped in the mail. Some packages can be delivered even earlier than that (when the delivery location is especially close to the origination location), and others may take up to three days (or possibly even longer). It is very rare – very rare – for USPS flat rate box shipping options to take any longer than five days to reach their ultimate destination, though. If you have sent something (or are expecting something) via flat rate services from the USPS and it hasn’t been delivered within a week or so you’ll want to get a hold of USPS customer service ASAP to figure out what’s going on.
Will I Get Free Tracking with My USPS Flat Rate Box?
Absolutely you will! This is another one of those big benefits of using this service that we mentioned above, and it’s a benefit that is important not to overlook. Tracking data has become part and parcel of our modern day lives in a lot of ways, and so many of us take this for granted. However, if you have ever had a package sent to you via First Class mail (or shipped out without any tracking information) you know exactly how stressful that kind of waiting game can be. The ability to know beyond a shadow of a doubt exactly where your USPS flat rate box is that pretty much any part in time is a huge advantage, and the fact that tracking is included totally free of charge is another reason to consider going in this direction.
What Kinds of USPS Flat Rate Box Prices Can I Expect?
Prices for USPS flat rate box shipping options are set every year, though the USPS may decide to keep prices the same on a year-to-year basis. For the year 2022, though, small flat rate boxes are going to start at about $8.45, medium-sized boxes are going to bump up to $15.50, and large flat rate boxes are going to run about $21.90
There is a little bit of variance in these prices, however, but these are pretty good ballpark figures to work from moving forward. The USPS has a total breakdown of their flat rate shipping prices on their website, where you’ll be able to find those pricing figures. It’s not a bad idea to double check prices here before you pop down to the local post office or print out a flat rate shipping label from your computer.
Do I Have to Go to the Post Office to Send a USPS Flat Rate Box?
You don’t necessarily have to go to the post office to send a USPS flat rate box thanks to some pretty cool technological advances from the USPS and other third-party shipping partners. Even still, though, going down to the post office can be a surefire way to get your USPS flat rate box in the mail with as little headache or hassle. This is also a great approach for getting your hands on the flat rate boxes and packaging material you need to comply with the USPS rules, too.
Simplify Your Mailbox with US Global Mail – The Ultimate Virtual Mailbox Service
At the end of the day, though, you may be dissatisfied with the way that the USPS handles your mail and your packages on a regular basis. If that’s the case you’ll want to have a closer look at everything that US Global Mail brings to the table as one of the premier virtual mailbox services in the country.
With more than 20 years of experience under their belt, and thousands and thousands of happy customers in the US and around the world, there are a lot of big advantages to having US Global Mail modernize your mailbox. For starters, you’ll be able to have packages accepted on your behalf from all of the major shipping companies – including USPS flat rate boxes, FedEx and UPS boxes, and even packages from companies like DHL and the like.
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