Pallet Freight Shipping – Can Size Affect Cost?

When shipping goods to your customers, there are many things you’re concerned about. Are the correct items and quantity of items being shipped? Has quality control done their job? How will you support the products if there is a problem? What is the price to ship them? Amongst all of that, have you thought about whether the size of your pallet affects pallet freight shipping costs?

When shipping less than truckload (LTL) freight, pricing is determined by several different factors. A few of those include how far it needs to go, how much it weighs, the type of product being shipped (fragile, hazardous, refrigerated, etc.), and its density.

What is Density?

Density, an important factor in shipping, has a direct correlation to the size of the load. If the load is stacked on plastic pallets, then the size of the pallet will determine the overall length and width of the shipped items.

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

UShip, a company that connects shippers and carriers, explains about 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.”


How a shipment needs to be handled also affects the cost of shipping. Generally, product loaded onto pallets, and which are compact and level, will fall into a lower cost category than ones that are piled into a pyramid so nothing can be stacked on top, or those that are fragile or require special handling. 

Pallets with product overhanging the edges are likely to incur damage because they are not protected properly. Loading pallets properly and packing them to condense volume will help reduce shipping costs. The goal is to increase the density so that the shipment falls into a less expensive freight class. At the same time, loading a pallet correctly can increase durability and decrease damage due to shipping.

Two Types of Pricing

There are two different types of pricing when it comes to pallet freight shipping—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 that calculation and, in turn, the price.

Standard pricing takes into account 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, so keeping in mind the different components that impact pricing will help you keep your costs down, as will getting multiple quotes.

Pallet Freight Shipping – Finding the Right Pallets

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!