Shipping companies help consumers get large and small packages from one location to another, whether domestically or internationally. Individuals, business owners and manufacturers all rely on shipping companies to deliver their packages and freight safely and quickly.
Different types of companies cater to different groups and offer features to satisfy customers from that group. The company you choose as your shipping provider will depend on what you are shipping and when you want it to arrive at its destination.
Top 9 Best Rated Shipping Companies
Pilot Freight Services operates globally and streamlines the process of shipping from the U.S. to Canada. Their logistics services make it easy for businesses to manage and track their transactions from anywhere in the world.
|Read 8 Reviews|
YRC Freight ships domestically and internationally. In addition to shipping freight for businesses, they offer special services and logistic solutions for unique circumstances.
|Read 11 Reviews|
R+L Carriers is a global shipping company with a focus on customer service. Their services include weekend service, ocean and air transport and trade show solutions.
|Read 78 Reviews|
The official postal service of the United States, USPS has been delivering mail domestically since 1775. Today, USPS ships domestically and internationally, including shipping to military overseas.
|Read 6229 Reviews|
DHL is an international shipping company with presence in 220 countries and territories worldwide. They provide service for businesses and consumers and feature online ordering, express shipping and multimodal transportation.
|Read 440 Reviews|
Since its founding in 1907, UPS has been delivering packages for consumers and businesses. Today, they ship domestically and overseas and have several options for businesses to simplify the process of overseas shipping.
|Read 2262 Reviews|
Since its inception in 1973, FedEx has been focused on making fast, efficient deliveries for homes and businesses. Today, it offers multiple options for consumers and businesses to ship domestically and internationally.
|Read 1716 Reviews|
Since 1989 Transit System has been providing shipping and moving services for businesses and consumers.
|Read Expert Review|
OnTrac Shipping is a regional shipping company that ships to select Western and Northwestern states. It offers convenient features like drop boxes, same-day messenger service and early morning delivery.
|Read Expert Review|
What features matter most?
The weight and size of your shipment will determine which shipping company makes the most sense for you to use.
- Lightweight parcels: Small parcels that don’t weigh a lot can be shipped relatively cheaply whether you need to ship them internationally or domestically. Express options allow you to ship packages as quickly as overnight for an added fee, while standard shipping can take anywhere from a few days to a week, depending on the carrier and how far your package or parcel needs to travel.
- Packages: Packages can range in size from small to large, and their weight will determine how much it costs to ship. Expect to pay more for expedited and international shipping. These are generally shipped using ground shipping when they are shipped within the United States.
- Freight: Businesses that need to ship freight and other cargo have options that include truck, rail, air and ocean transportation. Some companies offer discounts when you regularly ship freight using their services, so it is worthwhile to spend some time researching companies to find the one that will work best for your freight and on your timeline.
The supplies you need to ship an item can range from a simple envelope to an insulated truck, depending on what you’re shipping and how fragile it is. No matter what you’re shipping, you will need to be familiar with the supplies available that can protect your package and make sure it arrives at its destination safely.
- Envelopes: Small parcels that weigh less than 13 ounces can be mailed in standard envelopes. Many shipping companies sell flat rate envelopes for larger parcels, overnight and express deliveries.
- Boxes: E-commerce businesses and consumers frequently use boxes to ship small, medium or large packages. The size and type of box you need will vary depending on what you are shipping and include standard boxes, wardrobe boxes, dish pack boxes and picture boxes. You can buy boxes at hardware stores or directly through many shipping companies.
- Packaging materials: Keep your package safe, particularly when what you are sending is fragile. Packaging materials that can protect the items being shipped include encapsulated air and encapsulated air sheeting, loose fill materials (such as peanuts), foam and paper cushioning. Your shipper can make recommendations and sell you the packaging materials you need to keep your items safe in transit.
How quickly you need an item delivered will be a factor in choosing a shipping company. There are a few general types of transit times that shipping companies use to deliver products and packages.
- Standard: Standard transit time can vary depending on the method of transport. Ground and air transport, for instance, can take one to five days, while ocean transport will take longer. Standard time is the least expensive option and is best to use when you aren’t in a hurry to have a package delivered by a certain date and time.
- Expedited: Most shipping companies offer some form of expedited shipping for an added cost. Some freight shipping companies offer weekend and holiday delivery, but not all do so check first if this is a priority for you.
- Overnight: Overnight shipping is usually the most expensive option, but it can come in handy when you need a package delivered next-day.
- Same-day: Some regional or local shipping companies offer same-day shipping if you get your order in by a certain time.
The type of cargo you’re shipping will play in a role in determining which shipping company you choose.
- Parcels: Light parcels can be sent in flat rate envelopes through regular mail. If the parcel you are sending contains private and/or time sensitive information, you might consider adding on options like a receipt.
- Hazardous materials: Shipping hazardous materials is complicated, which is why you will want to ship them through a shipping company that specializes in shipping them. This will ensure safe delivery as well as compliance with any and all regulations and laws.
- Freight: Shipping freight has additional considerations, including whether you want your freight to travel by rail, truck, air or ocean. Many companies offer refrigerated shipping if you are shipping freight that needs to be temperature controlled.
Even the most reliable shipping companies encounter hiccups now and then that lead to your freight being damaged or lost. Knowing how the claims process works can make things easier when a situation arises.
- Loss: A loss claim is only official if you have notated and documented against the original bill of lading that the freight was picked up but failed to make it to its destination. Filing this claim means there is no proof of signed delivery. Your accuracy when filling out the original bill of lading will make it more likely that your loss claim gets paid.
- Damage: The most common type of freight claim is damage. This is relevant when there is visible physical damage to freight upon delivery and noted the proof of delivery document. Filing a claim for obvious damage is fairly straightforward, but filing for concealed damage can be more complicated. Concealed damage refers to damage that isn’t readily visible upon receipt, including damage you discovered only after opening or uncovering a package. Concealed damage is often discovered only after the POD has been signed, making it more difficult to get your money back. The best way to avoid this scenario is to examine everything inside boxes before signing the POD.
Most freight shipping companies include some form of liability insurance with their quote, but it isn’t all-inclusive. Whether or not to add on additional coverage will depend on several factors, including the value of your shipment, shipping origin, shipping destination and the mode of transportation. There are several different types of shipping insurance you can choose from, and they can be purchased from your shipper or through a third-party insurance company.
- Carrier liability: Carrier liability insurance is included by many shipping companies, including parcel and freight shippers. This provides minimal coverage and won’t cover you in the event of catastrophic damage or loss.
- Insurance of goods only: Buying insurance of goods only will pay you for the total value amount of the lost or damaged goods without including extras like the cost of shipping.
- Insurance of goods plus shipping: Buying insurance of goods plus shipping protects you and will reimburse you for the cost of the goods shipped plus the amount you paid for shipping.
- International shipping insurance: International shipping often isn’t included in carrier liability, so you will need to add this on separately when you ship something internationally.
What are different types of shipping companies?
Freight shipping companies focus on moving freight for businesses by rail, truck, air and/or ocean. Many of them also work with special shipments, including hazardous materials, trade shows and military-related freight and cargo.
Parcel services cater to consumers and small businesses, including e-commerce websites, who need to ship small packages and parcels domestically and internationally.
Many freight and parcel shipping companies ship domestically and internationally. If you frequently ship items overseas, look for companies who can streamline the process of international shipping for you, including filling out customs forms and handling payments.
Air shipping companies move products solely using airplanes. These companies are somewhat limited in what they can ship, as they cannot transport cargo beyond a certain size and weight limit. Shipping by air, however, is a faster means of travel, making air shipping companies more efficient for many businesses.
Who's it for?
Small businesses often need to send packages, parcels and cargo to clients and customers around the country or around the world. E-commerce businesses especially should look for a shipping company who offers discounts and/or memberships to streamline their shipping process.
Manufacturing businesses need to move heavy cargo and are often on tight timetables for delivery. They will want to work with a shipping company who can guarantee on-time delivery, including weekends, mornings and holidays, to make sure their business keeps running.
People who are moving
Many shipping companies work with people who are moving to transport furniture and other household items. Some will also take care of extra work like packing to simplify the process.
Individuals often need to send parcels and packages to friends and family members around the world. They will want to work with a shipping company that offers convenient access to shipping materials along with pickup.
R+L Carriers is a global shipping company with a focus on customer service. Their shipping services include rail service, air transport, ocean transport and truckload service.
- Best for R+L Carriers is best for businesses.
DHL has a presence in 220 countries and territories around the world, making it an easily accessible shipping option no matter where you are or where you need to send something. They offer solutions for businesses of all sizes, from eCommerce to manufacturing.
- Best for DHL is best for eCommerce and larger businesses, particularly those that ship internationally.
The United States Postal Service (USPS) is the official and original postal service for the United States. Ever since Benjamin Franklin was appointed as the first postmaster general in 1775, USPS has been delivering mail to people across the country. Today, USPS has expanded its services to also include international shipping, package shipping and priority mail.
- Best for USPS is best for eCommerce businesses and consumers.
UPS was founded in a Seattle basement by two teenagers in 1907 as a home delivery packaging service. Today, UPS is an international company that utilizes technology to make it easy for consumers and businesses to send and receive packages when and where they need them.
- Best for UPS is best for small businesses, particularly those that regularly ship overseas or domestically.
Since it’s official opening in 1973, FedEx has been focused on delivering products for consumers and businesses efficiently and quickly, utilizing air transport for express shipping. It has evolved since then to include international shipping, ground shipping, FedEx Freight and FedEx Office, which is a physical location where consumers and businesses can pack, ship, print, copy and perform other important tasks.
- Best for FedEx is best for individuals and businesses that need to ship items fast.
Transit Systems has been in the business of shipping and moving consumers and small businesses since 1989. Their services include ground, air and international shipping of furniture and other large household items, speciality or high-value items, boxes and crates and small long-distance moves.
- Best for Transit System is best for individuals who are moving along with small and large businesses.
YRC Freight is the largest subsidiary of YRC Worldwide Inc. with corporate headquarters in Overland Park, Kansas. The company transports industrial, commercial and retail goods, and it specializes in solutions for businesses across North America through a full-service network. There are also options for international shipping of imports and exports.
- Best for YRC Freight is best for commercial and retail businesses who need to ship domestically or overseas.
Established in 1970, Pilot Freight Services is a full-service transportation and logistics company that operates globally. With over 75 locations throughout North America and operations and administration offices in Western Europe, Netherlands and Spain, Pilot Freight Services offers businesses a worldwide network of overseas partners.
- Best for Pilot Freight Services is best for large businesses that ship domestically and internationally.
Founded in 1991, OnTrac Shipping offers regional overnight package delivery service within California, Arizona, Nevada, Oregon, Washington, Utah, Colorado and Idaho. Their regional focus allows OnTrac Shipping to offer businesses an efficient and cost-effective alternative to national and international shipping companies.
- Best for OnTrac Shipping is best for small businesses that frequently ships to and from California, Arizona, Nevada, Oregon, Washington, Utah, Colorado or Idaho.
Information in this guide is general in nature and is intended for informational purposes only; it is not legal, health, investment or tax advice. ConsumerAffairs.com makes no representation as to the accuracy of the information provided and assumes no liability for any damages or loss arising from its use.