USPS Flat Rate Boxes - How do they work?

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AntsOnTheMarch
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USPS Flat Rate Boxes - How do they work?

Post by AntsOnTheMarch » Sun Feb 11, 2018 11:30 pm

Say you want to ship some items across the country and the cost of a flat rate box is less than using your own packaging. You go to post office and buy a suitably sized box. Do you pay for the box and postage for said box at this time? Do you get the box for free and “buy the postage part” when you return to ship the box? Seems like a basic question but after reading a bunch of sites, I’m still not sure.

spoonfork
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Re: USPS Flat Rate Boxes - How do they work?

Post by spoonfork » Sun Feb 11, 2018 11:32 pm

The box is free. You pay for the postage either at the post office or you can pre-print the shipping label and pay for it online and just tape it on there.

You can just walk into any USPS place and walk out with a few boxes.

Traveller
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Re: USPS Flat Rate Boxes - How do they work?

Post by Traveller » Sun Feb 11, 2018 11:33 pm

The flat rate boxes are specific boxes that you can get for free at the postoffice. The big advantage is that there is no weight limit - if you can fit it in the box, you just pay the flat rate price for that box size. You pay when you ship it.

AntsOnTheMarch
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Re: USPS Flat Rate Boxes - How do they work?

Post by AntsOnTheMarch » Sun Feb 11, 2018 11:36 pm

Thank you spoonfork & Traveller! :sharebeer

flah
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Re: USPS Flat Rate Boxes - How do they work?

Post by flah » Sun Feb 11, 2018 11:36 pm

Actually, the weight limit is 70 pounds for domestic.

https://pe.usps.com/text/dmm100/flat-rate-reference.htm

mouses
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Re: USPS Flat Rate Boxes - How do they work?

Post by mouses » Mon Feb 12, 2018 12:14 am

Bring the stuff you're going to ship with you and pack it up then and there, save driving back. I usually pack in my car unless it's just one item, etc.

Or if you don't mind cluttering up your house, pick up several boxes and use as needed.

808
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Re: USPS Flat Rate Boxes - How do they work?

Post by 808 » Mon Feb 12, 2018 12:18 am

You can also purchase "prepaid" flat rate envelopes or boxes. This will lock in the price similar to "forever" stamps.

https://store.usps.com/store/results/sh ... /N-1u364ba

tev9876
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Re: USPS Flat Rate Boxes - How do they work?

Post by tev9876 » Mon Feb 12, 2018 8:43 am

You can also order the priority mail or flat rate boxes (not prepaid) for free and your mail carrier will drop them on your porch.

AntsOnTheMarch
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Re: USPS Flat Rate Boxes - How do they work?

Post by AntsOnTheMarch » Mon Feb 12, 2018 10:09 am

Thanks to all who replied. Just picked up some flat rate medium boxes at the post office. I use PayPal for shipping so I can create labels and pay postage from there. Will work well for me as I have some small but heavy items going cross country.

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Re: USPS Flat Rate Boxes - How do they work?

Post by iamlucky13 » Mon Feb 12, 2018 2:54 pm

If you're going to package a flat rate box at the post office, bring your own packing tape. Our local post office sells very small rolls of packing tape for a rather stiff price.

And I've learned to tape up my package in my car. If others see you have tape, in my experience, they'll ask if they can use it, because they didn't think to bring any. I'm happy to help with a few cents worth of tape, but I've ended up with a stream of folks doing the same. You could be there a while.

If I remember right, if it's below 1 pound for a small or medium box, you can get a lower rate with your own similar size box and paying for basic ground shipping, but a lot of items are actually cheaper with the Flat Rate Boxes, even though they're a faster shipping class.

When they first introduced flat rate boxes, they were even cheaper, but I guess they raised the price once it became a well-established service.

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Re: USPS Flat Rate Boxes - How do they work?

Post by nisiprius » Mon Feb 12, 2018 3:04 pm

One caveat. Always do a reality check to make sure that what you put into the box weighs enough that the flat rate costs less than the usual "weight rate."

I have twice used flat-rate boxes, and had the post office clerk tell me "do you realize that it would cost less to mail it in a regular box?" Both times, of course, having packed it and taken it to the post office I just shrugged and said, "oh, well."

He told me that a lot of people make that mistake. "Ah, those flat-rate boxes," he said. "People love free boxes..."

(I have not explored the ins and outs of whether you can just scribble over the "flat rate" markings with a broad-point Sharpie, I've just taken my lumps...)
Annual income twenty pounds, annual expenditure nineteen nineteen and six, result happiness; Annual income twenty pounds, annual expenditure twenty pounds ought and six, result misery.

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Re: USPS Flat Rate Boxes - How do they work?

Post by DavidW » Mon Feb 12, 2018 3:12 pm

You might save a few bucks if you use your own box but if you use their tape or shipping label with "priority mail" printed on it, you are paying priority prices.

Also, you can pay for the shipping label at home (at the USPS site) and just drop the box off at the post office. You don't need to wait in line and there is usually a stack of pre-paid packages.

I think there is a small discount if you pay online also...

Useless info. If you ever noticed that the flatrate boxes have "priority mail" printed on the inside is that people at the beginning were flipping the boxes inside out and got to send packages without buying a box and using the less expensive rate. Now, some have gotten to a point where they wrap the box in brown paper to hide that it is a priority mail box but if the delivery person sees that it is their box (peel and peek), they will refuse delivery...

AntsOnTheMarch
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Re: USPS Flat Rate Boxes - How do they work?

Post by AntsOnTheMarch » Mon Feb 12, 2018 3:35 pm

Good advice, all. FYI: I just shipped ~15 items all over the country today (from northeast) and discovered the following:

Small heavy stuff going way down south, southwest, west = you can’t beat the flat rate boxes. A smallish box to Utah would have been ~$25 and it was $12.70 as a medium flat rate box. Stuff going down as far as North Carolina was cheaper with my packaging. It’s easy to check prices, create labels, and pay for postage from PayPal, so a little checking saved plenty of postage.

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Re: USPS Flat Rate Boxes - How do they work?

Post by arsenalfan » Mon Feb 12, 2018 3:47 pm

AntsOnTheMarch wrote:
Mon Feb 12, 2018 3:35 pm
Good advice, all. FYI: I just shipped ~15 items all over the country today (from northeast) and discovered the following:

Small heavy stuff going way down south, southwest, west = you can’t beat the flat rate boxes. A smallish box to Utah would have been ~$25 and it was $12.70 as a medium flat rate box. Stuff going down as far as North Carolina was cheaper with my packaging. It’s easy to check prices, create labels, and pay for postage from PayPal, so a little checking saved plenty of postage.
If you get an account on myusps.com, you can have packing boxes/materials sent for FREE to your postal address. The website is sometimes glitchy, but eventually works.

Then you can "click n ship", pay for postage, and schedule a pickup during your USPS delivery for free (just designate where you're leaving the package). Having a kitchen scale is handy for weighing.

I sold 20 items on eBay, and shipped 25 holiday packages in December, all without leaving my study, and without going to any packaging store like USPS or UPS. It was great.

AntsOnTheMarch
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Re: USPS Flat Rate Boxes - How do they work?

Post by AntsOnTheMarch » Mon Feb 12, 2018 4:13 pm

arsenalfan wrote:
Mon Feb 12, 2018 3:47 pm


If you get an account on myusps.com, you can have packing boxes/materials sent for FREE to your postal address.
The post office is 100 yards away and I need the exercise. :D

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BolderBoy
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Re: USPS Flat Rate Boxes - How do they work?

Post by BolderBoy » Mon Feb 12, 2018 6:54 pm

AntsOnTheMarch wrote:
Mon Feb 12, 2018 10:09 am
Thanks to all who replied. Just picked up some flat rate medium boxes at the post office. I use PayPal for shipping so I can create labels and pay postage from there. Will work well for me as I have some small but heavy items going cross country.
They also have "Regional Rate" boxes in "A" and "B" sizes. The "A" boxes around here ship <13 pounds for under $7. Such a deal.
"Never underestimate one's capacity to overestimate one's abilities" - The Dunning-Kruger Effect

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gasdoc
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Re: USPS Flat Rate Boxes - How do they work?

Post by gasdoc » Mon Feb 12, 2018 7:04 pm

arsenalfan wrote:
Mon Feb 12, 2018 3:47 pm
AntsOnTheMarch wrote:
Mon Feb 12, 2018 3:35 pm
Good advice, all. FYI: I just shipped ~15 items all over the country today (from northeast) and discovered the following:

Small heavy stuff going way down south, southwest, west = you can’t beat the flat rate boxes. A smallish box to Utah would have been ~$25 and it was $12.70 as a medium flat rate box. Stuff going down as far as North Carolina was cheaper with my packaging. It’s easy to check prices, create labels, and pay for postage from PayPal, so a little checking saved plenty of postage.
If you get an account on myusps.com, you can have packing boxes/materials sent for FREE to your postal address. The website is sometimes glitchy, but eventually works.

Then you can "click n ship", pay for postage, and schedule a pickup during your USPS delivery for free (just designate where you're leaving the package). Having a kitchen scale is handy for weighing.

I sold 20 items on eBay, and shipped 25 holiday packages in December, all without leaving my study, and without going to any packaging store like USPS or UPS. It was great.
+1. I only ship maybe two packages per month that are not UPS (Amazon returns are usually UPS for me.). I find it easy to not have to weigh the packages or measure them. I just throw it in the box, slap on a printed label, and "schedule a pickup" for the next day.

gasdoc

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Re: USPS Flat Rate Boxes - How do they work?

Post by Texgal17 » Mon Feb 12, 2018 7:10 pm

Former postal retiree, here....and just want to thank y’all for supporting the USPS...... I think it’s the best deal in the country!
I may be biased as I worked there for 30+ years, but compared to other countries, we are a good deal! Yes, there are issues that many have had in the past, but in my experience, they are few and far between......Anyways, thanks to those who support the postal service..
Texgal

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Re: USPS Flat Rate Boxes - How do they work?

Post by 9liner » Mon Feb 12, 2018 7:26 pm

nisiprius wrote:
Mon Feb 12, 2018 3:04 pm
One caveat. Always do a reality check to make sure that what you put into the box weighs enough that the flat rate costs less than the usual "weight rate."

I have twice used flat-rate boxes, and had the post office clerk tell me "do you realize that it would cost less to mail it in a regular box?" Both times, of course, having packed it and taken it to the post office I just shrugged and said, "oh, well."

He told me that a lot of people make that mistake. "Ah, those flat-rate boxes," he said. "People love free boxes..."

(I have not explored the ins and outs of whether you can just scribble over the "flat rate" markings with a broad-point Sharpie, I've just taken my lumps...)
Interesting. The post office I use will seal our boxes for us as long as the boxes were "purchased" at the post office - flat rate boxes included.
They don't require us to purchase their handsomely overpriced tape. YMMV

inbox788
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Re: USPS Flat Rate Boxes - How do they work?

Post by inbox788 » Mon Feb 12, 2018 7:42 pm

nisiprius wrote:
Mon Feb 12, 2018 3:04 pm
One caveat. Always do a reality check to make sure that what you put into the box weighs enough that the flat rate costs less than the usual "weight rate."
Yup, those flat rate boxes are best when shipping very heavy items like lead or gold bricks. For typical stuff, it's a toss up between flat rate and weighing the items. You can get free non-flat rate boxes for priority mail as well (good for things like small stuffed animals). One additional choice for lightweight items is simple First Class Package, which is even less expensive sometimes, and similar in delivery times. But no free boxes for this service.

https://pe.usps.com/text/dmm300/Notice123.htm#_c037

AntsOnTheMarch
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Re: USPS Flat Rate Boxes - How do they work?

Post by AntsOnTheMarch » Mon Feb 12, 2018 8:58 pm

Texgal17 wrote:
Mon Feb 12, 2018 7:10 pm
Former postal retiree, here....and just want to thank y’all for supporting the USPS...... I think it’s the best deal in the country!
I may be biased as I worked there for 30+ years, but compared to other countries, we are a good deal! Yes, there are issues that many have had in the past, but in my experience, they are few and far between......Anyways, thanks to those who support the postal service..
Texgal
:thumbsup I’ve always been a fan of USPS. I think some bad experiences relate to specific branches or mail carriers. Where I live, I encounter helpful and courteous employees 99 times out of 100. No complaints.


BolderBoy wrote:
Mon Feb 12, 2018 6:54 pm
They also have "Regional Rate" boxes in "A" and "B" sizes. The "A" boxes around here ship <13 pounds for under $7. Such a deal.
I did not know this. Will have to check it out. I don’t see a specific designation on the pull down menu for regional when I use PayPal shipping to create labels and pay postage.

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telemark
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Re: USPS Flat Rate Boxes - How do they work?

Post by telemark » Mon Feb 12, 2018 9:53 pm

inbox788 wrote:
Mon Feb 12, 2018 7:42 pm
nisiprius wrote:
Mon Feb 12, 2018 3:04 pm
One caveat. Always do a reality check to make sure that what you put into the box weighs enough that the flat rate costs less than the usual "weight rate."
Yup, those flat rate boxes are best when shipping very heavy items like lead or gold bricks. For typical stuff, it's a toss up between flat rate and weighing the items. You can get free non-flat rate boxes for priority mail as well (good for things like small stuffed animals). One additional choice for lightweight items is simple First Class Package, which is even less expensive sometimes, and similar in delivery times. But no free boxes for this service.

https://pe.usps.com/text/dmm300/Notice123.htm#_c037
I ordered a kettlebell once, I think it was 24kg, and got a note in my mailbox saying I needed to come to the Post Office to pick it up. When I got there I found the shipper had managed to squeeze it into a flat rate box :D

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BolderBoy
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Re: USPS Flat Rate Boxes - How do they work?

Post by BolderBoy » Mon Feb 12, 2018 11:35 pm

AntsOnTheMarch wrote:
Mon Feb 12, 2018 8:58 pm
Texgal17 wrote:
Mon Feb 12, 2018 7:10 pm
Former postal retiree, here....and just want to thank y’all for supporting the USPS...... I think it’s the best deal in the country!
I may be biased as I worked there for 30+ years, but compared to other countries, we are a good deal! Yes, there are issues that many have had in the past, but in my experience, they are few and far between......Anyways, thanks to those who support the postal service..
Texgal
:thumbsup I’ve always been a fan of USPS. I think some bad experiences relate to specific branches or mail carriers. Where I live, I encounter helpful and courteous employees 99 times out of 100. No complaints.


BolderBoy wrote:
Mon Feb 12, 2018 6:54 pm
They also have "Regional Rate" boxes in "A" and "B" sizes. The "A" boxes around here ship <13 pounds for under $7. Such a deal.
I did not know this. Will have to check it out. I don’t see a specific designation on the pull down menu for regional when I use PayPal shipping to create labels and pay postage.
My buddy told me about this. I had to do a search on the USPS website to find it. Ordered a bunch of the "A" boxes so I'd have some on hand. Local UPSP branch doesn't have them.
"Never underestimate one's capacity to overestimate one's abilities" - The Dunning-Kruger Effect

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Re: USPS Flat Rate Boxes - How do they work?

Post by forgeblast » Tue Feb 13, 2018 2:33 pm

I sell eBay and etsy and my own art site a lot.
I use USPS flat rate and priority very often.
Flat rate is not cheap, but like they say if it fits it ships.
Most often Priority is a better way to go, plus you have
delivery conformation and insurance ($50) included.

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Re: USPS Flat Rate Boxes - How do they work?

Post by MotoTrojan » Tue Feb 13, 2018 2:42 pm

iamlucky13 wrote:
Mon Feb 12, 2018 2:54 pm

And I've learned to tape up my package in my car. If others see you have tape, in my experience, they'll ask if they can use it, because they didn't think to bring any. I'm happy to help with a few cents worth of tape, but I've ended up with a stream of folks doing the same. You could be there a while.
This gave me a good laugh :). Pictured Larry David getting stuck doing this, Curb Your Enthusiasm style.

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Re: USPS Flat Rate Boxes - How do they work?

Post by mariezzz » Tue Feb 13, 2018 10:35 pm

flah wrote:
Sun Feb 11, 2018 11:36 pm
Actually, the weight limit is 70 pounds for domestic.

https://pe.usps.com/text/dmm100/flat-rate-reference.htm
Is there anything >70 pounds you can fit in the priority mail, flat-rate box? Maybe a solid lead chunk that completely fills the box?

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Re: USPS Flat Rate Boxes - How do they work?

Post by mariezzz » Tue Feb 13, 2018 10:40 pm

Texgal17 wrote:
Mon Feb 12, 2018 7:10 pm
Former postal retiree, here....and just want to thank y’all for supporting the USPS...... I think it’s the best deal in the country!
I may be biased as I worked there for 30+ years, but compared to other countries, we are a good deal! Yes, there are issues that many have had in the past, but in my experience, they are few and far between......Anyways, thanks to those who support the postal service..
Texgal
+1. I absolutely agree! (Although some people behind the counter in the post office aren't as knowledgeable as they all used to be! That reflects the lower pay new USPS employees face.)

As a note: the regional rate boxes others mention above require you to have an account with USPS to buy postage online & print the labels yourself.

Texgal17
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Re: USPS Flat Rate Boxes - How do they work?

Post by Texgal17 » Wed Feb 14, 2018 3:04 pm

mariezzz wrote:
Tue Feb 13, 2018 10:40 pm
Texgal17 wrote:
Mon Feb 12, 2018 7:10 pm
Former postal retiree, here....and just want to thank y’all for supporting the USPS...... I think it’s the best deal in the country!
I may be biased as I worked there for 30+ years, but compared to other countries, we are a good deal! Yes, there are issues that many have had in the past, but in my experience, they are few and far between......Anyways, thanks to those who support the postal service..
Texgal
+1. I absolutely agree! (Although some people behind the counter in the post office aren't as knowledgeable as they all used to be! That reflects the lower pay new USPS employees face.)

As a note: the regional rate boxes others mention above require you to have an account with USPS to buy postage online & print the labels yourself.
Sad but true, on the newer employees..... they don’t get half the training and education as in years past. I’ve known of instances during my time there, they hire someone straight off the street, who know absolutely nothing about how mail works! :shock:
Then expect them to work the counter and have all the answers :confused .....
I’m glad I made it to the end and I’m enjoying my retirement so far, but I sure don’t miss it!!!! :D

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