How Much Does Freight Shipping Cost?

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How Much Does Freight Shipping Cost?
How Much Does Freight Shipping Cost?

Estimating The Cost For Your Shipment

Looking to ship a large load with freight shipping? Not sure how much you’ll need to pay? In this guide from A-1 Transport, we’ll discuss the basics of both LTL and FTL freight shipping, two of the most common methods of freight shipping – as well as further details about the costs that will impact your shipment. Learn more below. 

What Is Less-Than-Truckload (LTL) Shipping? 

In less-than-truckload shipping (LTL), you contract with a freight company to send your shipment using one of their trucks, but you do not use the entire volume of a trailer. Instead, you share it with a few other clients who are shipping items to nearby destinations – and you’re charged based on the weight and volume of your items. 

This type of shipping is also used in ocean freight, but it’s called LCL (less than container load). It works in the same basic way – you pay based on the volume and weight of the items you’re shipping, and you share a single container with other companies that are also shipping using LCL services. 

LTL and LCL help you save money if you do not have a large volume of goods to ship, since the cost of shipping is defrayed by sharing the space with other companies. However, this type of shipping can take a little bit longer – and though it’s cheaper for smaller loads, FTL shipping is a cheaper overall option if you are shipping enough goods to fill up an entire truck trailer. 

What Is Full Truckload (FTL) Shipping?

Full truckload shipping (FTL) is exactly what it sounds like. You pay a shipping company to haul your goods, which are contained in a single standard semi-trailer. Usually, you’ll be charged a flat rate based on the mileage your shipment must travel, with other fees and costs leveraged based on the specifics of your shipment.

Again, this is also used in ocean shipping, where it’s called Full Container Load (FCL) shipping. The concept is identical. You pay to ship a container, which exclusively contains your goods, and nobody else’s.

Even if you can’t quite fill the entire volume of a trailer or cargo container, FTL and FCL shipping are usually more cost-effective if you’re nearing about 75% of the capacity of the container or trailer. This is because the added complexity of LTL and LCL shipping makes it more expensive overall – with these freight shipping methods, you only save money because you’re shipping a lower volume of goods. 

What Factors Affect The Cost Of Shipping My Freight?

There are a wide variety of factors that affect the overall cost of freight shipping. To name a few, these include whether your shipment is being sent overseas, if it must be transported using multiple modes of shipping (air, ocean, trucking, rail, etc.), the total distance of the shipment, the type of freight you’re shipping. Let’s take a deeper look at the factors that affect the cost of shipping freight now.

  • Distance of shipment – Shipping rates are typically based, at least in part, on a per-mile basis. Usually, the cost per mile of a short-distance shipment will be higher than a long-distance shipment. Perhaps counter-intuitively, the per-mile rate will usually be lower for a long-distance job, though the longer distance traveled will result in a higher overall cost.
  • Domestic vs. international – Domestic freight shipping is always cheaper than international shipping. International shipping may require the use of multiple modes of transport including air or ocean shipping, and also has costs related to clearing customs and arranging transportation in a foreign country. 
  • Mode of transport – Typically, road transport is the cheapest method of domestic shipping. In some cases, though, you may opt for rail freight, air freight, or even ocean freight for domestic shipments. Using multiple modes of transport will usually result in higher overall costs due to the added complexity of moving the freight between each mode.
  • Type of freight shipped – All types of freight are assigned an NMFC (National Motor Freight Classification) code based on the type of items that are being shipped, and different classifications have different rates.
  • Shipment volume & weight – Rates for LTL freight are usually calculated per 100 lbs, though very bulky but lightweight items may be charged by volume, rather than weight. The larger and bulkier your shipment is, the more you’ll pay. 
  • Additional services – If you need loading and unloading, temperature control, delivery to a residential area or another area with limited access, lift gate service, dry van, and other special additional services from your freight carrier, you’ll typically need to pay extra fees.

These are just a few of the factors that affect the cost of shipping your freight, so we recommend consulting with multiple experienced logistics providers to learn more and get an informed quote.

How Can I Estimate The Cost Of My Freight Shipment? 

It can be almost impossible to estimate the cost of freight shipping on your own, given how many factors are involved. If you’re shipping your car or household goods, A-1 Auto Transport has a helpful shipping estimator that can help you get a reasonable quote. Click here to access the tool and get an accurate estimate.

Another good option is to find a few freight providers near your area and contact them on your own with information about the goods you’re shipping. They should be able to give you a quote right away based on the information that you’ve been given.

However, it is important to note that the cost of freight shipping services should only be one factor you consider when picking a logistics provider – particularly if you are shipping very valuable or time-sensitive goods. Choosing a cut-rate provider may save you a few dollars – but if something goes wrong and your shipment is damaged, delayed, or otherwise mishandled, you could end up with a serious problem on your hands.

That’s why we highly recommend consulting with multiple logistics providers, learning more about their credentials, and reading past customer reviews to get a better understanding of the level of service you can expect from each one. Then, weigh the experience, cost, and track record of each company to make sure you pick the right freight shipping provider for your needs.

A-1 Auto Transport Makes It Easy To Arrange Freight Shipping Worldwide 

Whether you’re shipping your car or household goods, or you have any other large freight that needs to be shipped domestically or internationally, A-1 Auto Transport is here to help. Our team of experienced logistics providers can help you get the freight shipping services you need to ensure your freight gets to its destination safely, on time, and on budget.

To learn more and get started, just contact us online or give us a call at (800) 452-2880. Our team is here 24/7, 365 to help with your freight shipping and logistics needs throughout the United States.

Joe Webster
Written By:Joe Webster
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Joe Webster began his journey in the auto transport field by attending the University of Southern California (USC), where he graduated with a Bachelor of Business Marketing. 

After college, he started his career in the auto transport industry from the bottom up and has done virtually every job there is to do at A-1 Auto Transport, including but not limited to: Truck Driver, Dispatch, Sales, PR, Bookkeeping, Transport Planner, Transport Manager, International Transport Manager, Brokering, Customer Service, and Marketing. Working with his mentor Tony Taylor, Joe Webster has learned the ins and outs of this industry which is largely misunderstood. 

With over 30 years experience in the industry, we've been helping people ship their vehicles, motorcycles, RV's, heavy equipment, household goods and more across the country or overseas without a hitch. Ask us anything.

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A-1 Auto Transport is a disclosed agent for the following shipping companies:

Trans Global Auto Logistics, Inc.
3401 E Randol Mill Rd
Arlington, TX 76011
NO. 018191NF
CFR Rinkens
15501 Texaco Avenue
Paramount, CA 90723
NO. 013055NF
ABC Worldwide LLC
2840 NW 2nd Ave #105
Boca Raton, FL 33431
NO. 025472F
CSI Logistics
435 Division Street
Elizabeth, NJ 07201
FMC 22206
Intl Cargo
45 Campus drive
Edison, NJ 08837
NO. 17858N
ShipYourCarNow LLC
1160 South Rogers Circle Suite 1
Boca Raton, FL 33487
NO. 025646
Merco Air & Ocean Cargo, Inc.
6 Fir Way
Cooper City, FL 33026
NO. 021869F
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