How USPS Flat Rate Boxes Work: Sizes, Prices, Etc.
How USPS Can Help You Save Money on Shipping
USPS Flat Rate boxes provide a great cost-effective option for anyone who ships a substantial number of packages. The known cost and flexible shipping choices give you many ways to get your packages to their destination. So how do these boxes work?
To take advantage of USPS flat rate, you will need the right supplies. USPS offers their priority mail boxes and envelopes for free. There is no cost for picking up these boxes, but you must use them for the proper form of priority mail shipping.
You can pick up flat rate boxes in-person from any post office. Authorized USPS shippers may also have the boxes available. You can also order the boxes from the USPS website. So long as you create an account and have a physical address that can receive packages, USPS will deliver boxes to you for free. Other online ordering options for flat rate boxes include USPS affiliates such as eBay and Stamps.com.
When ordered online, USPS flat rate boxes come in packages of 10 and 25. Flat rate envelopes come in sets of 10 and 100.
What You Can Ship
A Priority Mail box will allow you to ship anything at the set mailing rate, as long as it fits within the box or envelope. The box must be able to close within its normal folds and cannot have modifications that enable the box to hold more than intended. There is also a weight limit of 70 pounds for standard Flat Rate boxes and a limit of 20 pounds for Flat Rate Express services.
Besides these basic requirements, any shipments in Flat Rate boxes must follow all USPS shipping restrictions. This includes airbags, ammunition, explosives, gasoline, marijuana, cigarettes, and other forms of tobacco.
How to Ship
After you’ve packed your boxes, you can mail your box at the post office, where you’ll pay the cost of shipping for your selected box. You can also pay for your costs of shipping in advance at the post office and then mail your box from home.
You can also print shipping labels and pay postage online. When you do this, you want to make sure the label you use matches the type of box you have. You may not use USPS Priority Mail boxes for anything but Priority Mail, and you must pay Express rates if you are using an Express box.
When paying for postage online, you can simply place the package in your mailbox for pick up. If the package is larger, you can also schedule a free pickup for USPS to collect the package.
Where You Can Ship To
Using flat rate boxes allows you to ship packages to anywhere within the United States. The range of available addresses is wider than what may be available to other shipping services with flat rates, like UPS and FedEx.
USPS flat rate boxes and envelopes are all a form of Priority Mail. Regular Priority Mail delivers within 2-3 business days. Priority Mail Express is the expedited service, and these shipments reach their destination in one business day.
Available Boxes and Prices
The biggest benefit to flat rate boxes is that, so long as you follow the shipping guidelines, you will pay the same price for every box you ship, every time. Unlike regular shipping, you do not have to account for weight in the price of your delivery. Available USPS flat rate box sizes include:
- Small Flat Rate Box. 8 11/16” x 5 7/16” x 1 3/4”. Ships for $7.20.
- Medium Flat Rate Box, Top Loading. 11 1/4" x 8 3/4" x 6. Ships for 13.65.
- Medium Flat Rate Box, Side Loading. 14” x 12” x 3 1/2”. Ships for $13.65.
- Large Flat Rate Box. 12 1/4” x 12 1/4" x 6”. Ships for $18.90.
- APO/FPO Large Box. 12 1/4” x 12 1/4" x 6”. Ships for $17.40.
APO/FPO boxes also allow for shipments to military personnel overseas.
In addition to boxes, USPS Flat Rate envelopes work under the same shipment standards. The available sizes are:
- Gift Card Envelope. 10” x 7”. Mails for $6.70.
- Flat Rate Envelope. 12 1/2" x 9 1/2". Mails for $6.70.
- Legal Flat Rate Envelope. 15” x 9 1/2". Mails for $7.00.
- Padded Flat Rate Envelope. 12 1/2" x 9 1/2". Mails for $7.25.
Flat Rate Express boxes and envelopes have a higher cost than standard Flat Rate shipping. For example, a 12 1/2" x 9 1/2" Express envelope would mail for $24.70 at retail price. The weight limit is also lower, 20 pounds instead of 70.
The pricing of flat rate boxes is superior to most of the same shipments at the FedEx and UPS Ground Rate. FedEx’s One Rate boxes vary in price for the distance to the delivery, while USPS boxes are the same, no matter where you ship in the US.
How Flat Rate Works for E-Commerce
The main advantage to this shipping method is that you don't have to pay for boxes, plus you have a known price of shipping, which is a big boon for any e-commerce business that incorporates shipping costs into the budget. The options for free delivery of boxes and other shipping supplies and paying for postage online also provide an added convenience for running operations.
E-commerce businesses can also take advantage of Commercial Base Pricing, which provides an even lower shipping cost than the flat rate. These rates are accessible through USPS approved online shipping solutions. Commercial Plus Pricing is also available for shippers who spend more than $50,000 per year. Different shipping discounts are available and require different qualifications for each USPS service.
Other benefits to using flat rate shipping for e-commerce include priority shipment and secure delivery. USPS is the only service authorized to place packages in mailboxes. Mail carriers may also attempt to redeliver larger packages instead of abandoning them on the porch, ensuring that all deliveries make it to customers safely.