Pallet Shipping Rates – Can Size Affect Cost?

There are many factors that impact your ability to ship goods to customers that you may be concerned about. Are the correct type and quantity of items being shipped? Has quality control done their job? What measures are in place to handle product issues? Are your shipping costs outweighing your profit margins? One additional factor you may want to add to this list of considerations is whether or not the size of the pallet you use to store your goods is affecting your shipping rates.

Pallet shipping rates are determined by several different factors when shipping less than truckload (LTL) freight. A few of those include:

  • How far your shipment needs to travel
  • How much the shipment weighs
  • The type of product being shipped (fragile, hazardous, refrigerated, etc.)
  • Density

What is Density?

Taking both the mass and the volume of a shipment into account, density is an important shipping factor and is directly correlated with the size of the load. When we add plastic pallets to the mix, the size of the pallet will determine the overall length and width of the shipped items, which will also impact the density of the load.

For example, a shipment of coffeemakers might be loaded onto a plastic pallet that is 40”x48”, a standard size for shipping. Freight density is calculated from the ratio of weight to volume. This is expressed as a measurement of weight per cubic foot (PCF).

UShip, a company that connects shippers and carriers, explains the relationships between density, weight, and freight class, saying:

“Shipments that take up a lot of space for their weight will be in a higher freight class and generally cost more to ship. Shipments that are heavy and compact will be in a lower freight class and generally less expensive to ship.”

The end result? The size of your pallet will have an impact on your shipping rates. Smaller pallets with more product on them will generally be cheaper to ship. However, overloading your pallets in an attempt to cut shipping costs could have the opposite effect on liability, so be sure to use common sense and reason when making a decision.


The handling requirements of a particular shipment also impact the cost of shipping. Generally, products loaded onto pallets compactly and levelly will fall into a lower-cost category than ones that are piled into a pyramid style. This prevents more products from being stacked on top, which will incur greater costs. Additionally, products that are fragile or require special handling will also be more expensive.

There are even more additional considerations when it comes to product handling during shipping. Pallets with product overhanging the edges are likely to incur damage because they are not properly protected. Instead, loading a pallet correctly can increase durability and decrease damage during the shipping process. It may also help to lower shipping costs, as proper packing tends to condense the volume and help your shipment fall into a less expensive freight class.

Two Types of Pallet Shipping Rates

There are two different types of pricing when it comes to pallet shipping rates—standard freight pricing and dimensional weight pricing. Both pricing types use volume (length x width x height) when calculating costs, so the size of a pallet will affect the calculation and, in turn, the price.

Standard pricing considers freight class, density, travel distance, travel speed, lane balances, fuel costs, shipment weight, shipment timeframe, and any special needs requirements.

Dimensional weight pricing, also known as density-based, cubed-weight, and volumetric weight pricing, is becoming more common and is based on how much volume the shipment occupies as opposed to its gross weight. Overall, this type of pricing is least friendly to high volume, low-density shipments.

Pricing for pallet freight shipping can vary widely from one carrier to another. Therefore, remembering to consider the different components that impact pricing will help you keep your costs down, as will getting multiple quotes.

Pallet Shipping Rates: Finding the Right Pallets with Plastic Pallet Pros

Let Plastic Pallet Pros get you started today by choosing the best plastic pallet for your needs. Whether you are in an open loop or closed loop environment, exporting or just shipping to the next state, our sales team is here to make sure you get exactly what you need at a fair price.

Contact us today, and let’s talk about your needs and how we can help!