Shipping Courier vs Freight: What’s the Difference?

Choosing the right shipment method can mean the difference between making money, breaking even, or losing money. Did you know that 45 percent of companies actually make money on the shipping fees they charge?

The first thing to consider is what are you trying to ship so you can narrow down your options. If you are shipping individual items to customers, it is probably obvious you will pick a courier.

But what about your inventory shipments? Or what if your product is too large or heavy for regular parcel mail?

We will help you make the right choice for your bottom line with a comparison of shipping couriers and freight shipping.

What is Courier Shipping?

Think of courier shipping like standard parcel shipping. It works best with shipments that are 100-150 pounds or less. Your package also needs to be smaller 165 in combined length and girth and less than 108 inches in length alone.

Many local businesses provide courier shipping services. As you are probably already aware, they are fast in providing door to door service.

Courier shipments will travel by truck, but if you pay for expedited shipping they can also go by plane. Your shipment will also stay with one courier for the entire length of the journey.

What is a Freight Courier?

If your shipment is over 150 pounds, you should use a freight courier over a courier service. The shipment time will take longer with this method.

Freight shipping happens in a couple different modes, truck, train, air, and ocean. The most commonly used method though is truck.

For those shipping their item by truck, you will hear two terms used, LTL and FTL. An LTL shipment means it is “less than a truckload”. While an FTL shipment is a “full truckload”.

LTL shipments will typically be less than 10 pallets and under 15,000 pounds. If your shipment is more than this, it is more cost effective for you to pay for the whole truck with an FTL shipment.

Truck shipping will be a door to door service. Though this means that your shipment will end up at the curb or loading dock. You will have to pay for the extra service of inside delivery if you want further service than that.

Air, ocean, and train shipments are done to their hubs. This is because you can’t physically get a plane, train, or ship door to door. For these, you should expect shipments to be done from airport to airport, port to port, or station to station.

You will then need to arrange for truck shipping from these locations to the destination. This final shipment service will be final mile shipping from hub to door.

Benefits of Courier Shipping

Courier shipping gives you fast and reliable delivery times. This is in thanks to the extensive network that shippers have developed over time.

Your package can literally go from one front door to another front door in just days. You can also trust that your package will be safe during transit.

Benefits of Freight Shipping

Freight shipping can give you significant discounts once your shipment becomes large or heavy. It can also let you ship more at one time instead of breaking up your shipments into many different packages.

It is also easier to get a volume discount if you plan on making more than one shipment.

Downside of Couriers

Once your package becomes too large or heavy you will have to pay very high prices. Then at a certain point, a courier will refuse to ship your item.

Think about it this way, do you really expect your delivery guy to lift and carry a 300-pound box up to your front door? No, you don’t. They also don’t have room on their trucks to carry equipment to move these large shipments.

Downside of Freight

Freight is not known for being a reliable form of shipping. Your delivery date will be an estimation. Though you can pay extra for expedited shipping if you really need your package there on a certain date.

There is also a lack of security when it comes to your shipment. With LTL shipping, there are multiple shipments on one truck.

That truck then makes many stops delivering each shipment. This means your shipment can come on and off the truck many times before delivery.

You may also find that you need to use more than one freight carrier to get your shipment delivered. This is because many carriers have specific regions where they will deliver to.

Your shipment is now at risk for damage or theft. To address this you can pay extra for a sealed shipment or a full truckload. Both of these will secure your shipment for the entire shipment and only get opened once at the delivery site.

Hiring a Shipping Courier

If you have a shipment and you are trying to decide between courier and freight, you need to consider the distance and size of the shipment. Once your shipment reaches a certain physical size or weight it becomes cheaper to use freight.

Sure, a shipping courier is automatically door to door and is faster. They also provide a reliable regular schedule. But it is not the smart choice for large or heavy items.

Freight becomes the smarter choice even if it can take longer and be less reliable for timing. Freight shippers have the ability and equipment to move shipments well over 150 pounds. If your shipment is on a pallet, you will want freight.

Let us help you book your courier or freight shipping today.