5 Factors That Determine LTL Freight Shipping Rates

Recent trends in the transportation industry suggest that LTL freight shipping rates in the U.S. will rise more frequently and dramatically for the second year in a row in 2019. Finding ways to reduce shipping costs is always top of mind for freight shippers — but it's especially true as shipping rates continue to rise.

Despite the average LTL shipping rates rising, you can keep your shipping costs under control by understanding and managing the factors that impact your LTL freight shipments.

Determining LTL Shipping Rates


LTL freight shipments typically weigh between 150 and 20,000 pounds. And generally speaking, the heavier your shipment is, the more it will cost to ship. While you may not able to change the weight of your shipment, there are other things you can do to reduce your shipping costs — such as consolidating multiple small shipments into one larger shipment.

Origin and destination

Typically, the farther your shipment has to travel, the higher the price will be due to driver and equipment costs. However, LTL freight shipment rates also depend on the origin and destination of the freight. It also may cost more to ship to a rural, unpopulated area rather than a metropolitan area.

LTL freight density/class

LTL rates are largely determined by freight class, which is established by the National Motor Freight Classification (NMFC) system. Factors that impact freight class are density, value, stow-ability, handling and liability. And, the lower the class, the lower your freight shipping rate will be. Of all the factors that determine freight class, density plays a key role. Very dense freight that is hard to damage and easy to handle will be categorized in a lower class, whereas lighter (less dense) freight that takes up more space will be categorized in a higher class.

Negotiated rate

If you are partnered with a third-party logistics (3PL) provider like Unishippers, you receive the benefits of negotiated freight pricing. Your 3PL negotiates with freight carriers on your behalf to help you get the best LTL shipping rates. For example, Unishippers customers are able to leverage the combined shipping volume of our 125,000+ customers to secure significant savings on their shipping.

Accessorials and fees

The last factor to impact LTL freight shipping rates is accessorials and fees. Accessorials are additional services that incur an extra cost such as:

  • Lift gate service
  • Residential pickup or delivery
  • Limited access locations
  • Inside delivery
  • Required appointment
  • Guaranteed or accelerated service

Last — but certainly not least — a fuel surcharge

This is the most common additional fee, as it is included on every single shipment. While other accessorials are optional depending on your needs, there's simply no way out of a fuel surcharge.

If you think you may be paying too much for your LTL freight shipments due to any of these factors, it's time for a shipping assessment. Unishippers' shipping experts can help you identify opportunities to save money on your freight shipments.

Last Updated 1/9/2019

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