Many competitors in the shipping services industry exist, both nationally recognized brands and smaller, independent shippers. Whether you mail packages on a daily basis or every once in awhile, finding the best shipping rates can have a positive impact on your wallet. Some shipping services operate every day of the week, while others operate only five or six days a week. When finding a company to ship your packages, you need to consider speed, price and the reliability or reputation of the service you're considering.
Go to each shipping vendor's website that you want to compare, such as USPS, FedEx, DHL and UPS. Navigate to the "Calculate Rates" section of each of the sites (see Resources).
Enter the destination information. Input the ZIP codes and/or cities and states for the "From" and "To" locations. Enter other details the shipping tool requests, such as dates of shipment and whether the mailing destination is a residence.
Enter the weight and dimensions of the package. Select the package type or shape -- e.g., box, enveloping, tubing -- and enter the quantity of the mailing. Enter the declared value or worth of your shipment.
Select the type of shipping service, such as "Overnight," "Express" or "Standard." Add any extra services, if desired, such as requiring an adult signature for the package when it's delivered.
Click the "Continue" or "Calculate" option. Review the rates each shipping vendor lists to determine the best one.
Package the items you're mailing into an envelope, box or other type of package you want to use for shipping. Label the shipment with the mailing and return address.
Take the package to at least one shipping vendor, such as a USPS post office. Let the shipping clerk weigh the package, and ask him for the exact weight. Tell him the destination ZIP code and the type of shipping service you want -- e.g. "Standard," "Overnight" or "Least Expensive." Write down the shipping rate the clerk gives you.
Call each of the other shipping vendors with whom you want to compare rates. Describe your package and give its exact weight. Tell the representative the origin and destination ZIP codes. Ask to get the shipping rate for the same or similar type of shipping service as you received from the vendor to which you originally took your package.
Invest in a postage scale so you can weigh your package before getting shipping rates from vendors' websites.
Ship your package in a box or container with enough room for cushioning around the items.
You may actually have to pay more for shipping if you underestimate package weight when using the online shipping calculators on vendors' websites.
Matthew Schieltz has been a freelance web writer since August 2006, and has experience writing a variety of informational articles, how-to guides, website and e-book content for organizations such as Demand Studios. Schieltz holds a Bachelor of Arts in psychology from Wright State University in Dayton, Ohio. He plans to pursue graduate school in clinical psychology.