When friends and families live far away and holiday travel expenses are not an option, many people turn to shipping services like the Postal Service, UPS, and FedEx to send Christmas presents to the four corners of the country and all over the globe. Shipping charges, however, can rack up as fast as frequent flier miles if a shipper does not go into the holiday season prepared with knowledge of services available, costs of services, and limits of services. This article is going to discuss a few different ways to shop around and save money depending on what kind of presents are being shipped out.
If a family member loves to read, then a book or several books is a likely Christmas present. The best way to save on shipping costs with not only print books but also audio books, DVDs, CDs, CD-ROMs, and other forms of media is to purchase early and send them out into the world a few weeks ahead of time via USPS media mail with delivery confirmation added. Media Mail is not the slug of a service it is sometimes depicted as and the savings are significant. Even with the added cost of optional delivery confirmation, mailing a 2lb media item is still going to cost less than $3.60.
Should Media Mail not be an option, then the best thing to do is buy presents, package them, weigh them at home (even a bathroom scale will provide a ballpark figure), then go online and shop around for the best rate. When dealing with a 2lb plus parcel item (anything not media), the cost discrepancies between USPS, UPS, and FedEx begin to disappear. They become pretty much even if USPS insurance ($1.75 and up) and delivery confirmation (.75) will be purchased as both UPS and FedEX automatically insure to a certain price level depending on the delivery method chosen.
Shopping for postage online will carry a few benefits if cutting costs is necessary as all three carriers do have discounts available online if postage is printed at home. Add in the benefits of a carrier pickup and the value rises!
When time is short, a swift service like Priority Mail should be utilized to give packages every opportunity to arrive by Christmas. Any post office is going to have a ready selection of Priority Mail flat rate boxes in various sizes available for immediate use, so walking in with your gift and packaging it at a side counter will always be an option in a serious time crunch. Depending on the weight of the present, these boxes will not only provide Christmas shipping convenience but pocketbook relief as well due to the fixed postage cost.
An important thing to consider, however, when shopping for Christmas presents is to assess the cost of mailing before buying an item in store. Often the same item can be purchased online at a comparable price with either free shipping or significantly reduced costs vs. mailing from home.