“How Much Does it Cost to Ship 500 lbs” is Asking the Wrong Question

A loaded pallet mounted on a pallet jack

There are many factors in determining a freight shipping price. Here are the right questions to ask to get a good deal

We’re here to help you figure out the right questions to ask when you’re looking for a freight shipping quote. A common question we get asked is how much it costs to ship a certain weight from A to B. Another one is how much it costs to ship a specific commodity such as a hairdresser or car engine from one city to another.

These are the questions that can get you, for the lack of a better word, ripped off, for several reasons:

Pricing types in freight shipping

The reason you can be taken advantage of if you only ask how much it costs to ship a certain weight is due to pricing types in freight shipping. 

There are two common types of quote types in freight. One is based on standard pricing and the other is based on dynamic pricing

Standard pricing, although it fluctuates, is fairly steady. Standard pricing means that a carrier has a lane (or usually many lanes) that they service regularly. That means that they can keep their pricing fairly steady and adjust specific rates based on the details of specific shipments. 

These standard rates used to be valid for up to 30 days at which point they had to be changed due to fluctuations in fuel prices. These days, it’s more common for quotes to be valid for up to 7 days for the same reasons.

Dynamic pricing, on the other hand, fluctuates heavily based on demand which allows carriers to control demand by raising or lowering prices. 

That means that you can get an excellent price one day (that is usually valid for up to 3 days) and three days later you could get an astronomical quote due to a rise in demand and fuel prices.

Freight classification

In Canada most (if not all) carriers use density-based classification for freight. Since it’s standardized, it’s rarely going to be a factor for you. All you need to know are your shipment’s dimensions and weight and you’re good to go.

In the USA, however, the story is a little different, and much more complicated. In the USA, most carriers use the NMFC (National Motor Freight Classification) standardized by the NMFTA (National Motor Freight Traffic Association). 

This system uses many more factors other than the weight and dimensions of your cargo to determine its class. Some of the additional factors are fragility, maneuverability, stowability, etc. 

That means that if you’re shipping bricks from Chicago to New Jersey (just as an example), you might get an excellent price. But if you’re shipping lightbulbs on the same lane, you might get charged much more. 

If you want to get an accurate class for shipping within the USA, your safest bet is to reach out to our knowledgeable staff via online chat or email at [email protected]. The only way to get a correct class is through ClassIT: a subscription-based website that we use regularly. We don’t charge for this service since you entering the correct class while quoting for freight on our website is doing everyone a favor.

A freight truck moving by road

Freight lanes

You may have already known this, but it won’t hurt to go over it again! Shipping lanes are a major factor in determining a shipping price. 

Generally, transporting freight between large cities or large shipping hubs will be cheaper than shipping to remote locations. High competition keeps those prices in check. However, if you’re looking to or from small towns from one end of the USA to another end of Canada, you might find that it’s a seller’s market. 

As we already mentioned, carriers don’t raise prices only because they can. After all, they want your business. However, some lanes are barely worth the trouble (for the carrier and their drivers) which is why demand is controlled by price in such cases. 

That leads us to carrier availability. That’s probably a term you’ve heard before. Carriers have a certain number of employees which they have to use as best as they can. Demand is often high and carriers come in to positions where they have to refuse business even if they don’t want to. 

That’s why shipping to remote locations has to be worth their while. Luckily, with Freightera, you will always have a number of options available to you. Even if a single carrier is unable to fulfil your order, our team of specialists will find a solution and coordinate with multiple parties if necessary for such situations.


As you can see, the question of shipping X lbs from one city to another is the wrong question. There are numerous factors that go into determining a freight shipping price. If you’re shipping within the USA, there’s finding the correct class. If you’re shipping anywhere at all, there are the commodity, dimensions, weight, distance, and carrier availability, among others.

We hope we’ve made your shipping experience a bit more streamlined and a little less confusing. All that’s left to do now is to get some of the best freight rates that you’ll ever find online!

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