Does FedEx charge by size or weight?

April 7, 2023 Chase Flashman


So you're ready to send out your package via FedEx. But you're not sure whether you'll be charged by the box size or the weight of the package. The short answer is that FedEx charges by size AND weight. Read on to find out more about parcel shipping costs.

Does FedEx Charge by Size or Weight?

FedEx considers both the size and weight of your package when determining how much to charge you to ship it. However, those two are only some of the factors it considers. Your FedEx rates also depend on your chosen service, delivery times, shipping distance, and additional services. 

How FedEx Uses Size and Weight To Determine Shipping Rates

The weight of a package is one of the most important pricing factors for FedEx since it directly affects the carrier's operation and shipping costs; the heavier a package is, the more energy (fuel) needed to carry it from the source to the destination. 

Dimensional Weight vs Actual Weight

In most cases, the actual weight of a package, its weight on a scale, is used to determine shipping rates with prices starting at 1 pound up to 150 pounds, with 1-pound increments.

Sometimes, however, pricing needs to be based on the density of a package rather than its actual weight. This kind of density-based pricing uses a measure known as dimensional (DIM) weight to determine rates rather than the actual weight. 

You see, if a shipping truck is filled with many large but half-full packages, FedEx will have to make more trips than if the packages were filled to the brim. By using dimensional weight, FedEx can take into account the empty spaces in the boxes and therefore avoid losing money. DIM weight pricing also encourages shippers to pack their items tightly to avoid paying higher rates than needed.

How Dimensional Weight Is Calculated

To calculate your FedEx dimensional weight:

Measure your package's length, width, and height in inches. Round each measurement to the nearest whole inch.
Multiply the length by the width by the height. The resulting figure is the cubic size of your package.
Dividing the cubic size by 139. Round up the result to the nearest whole pound to find your package's dimensional weight in pounds. 

You can also use centimeters instead of inches and kilograms instead of pounds. 
You can also use the FedEx dimensional weight calculator.

Dimensional Weight vs Rated Weight vs Actual Weight

FedEx will calculate the actual weight and dimensional weight of each package. Prices will be based on whichever of the two is higher. The weight on which shipping rates are based is the rated weight. 

What Does FedEx Consider an Oversized Box?

The dimensions of your package determine whether it is classified as oversized or not. 
FedEx U.S. Ground and Express services apply an oversized charge for shipping packages with a girth of more than 130 inches.

At What Weight Does FedEx Charge Extra?

Shipments over a certain weight are charged freight rates instead of standard package rates. Packages that meet or exceed at least one of the following criteria are considered freight by FedEx:

                 Weight heavier than 150 lbs.
                 Dimensions with a combined length and girth of more than 165 inches.

Also, additional handling surcharges may apply depending on your package's weight. 

How To Calculate Shipping Cost per Item

To calculate your FedEx shipping cost per item, follow the following steps: 

1. Determine actual weight and dimensional weight. Weigh your package on a scale to get its actual weight. Then use the package's length, width, and height to determine its dimensional weight. Use whichever is higher as your rated weight.  

2. Determine your shipping zones. Enter your source and destination zip codes in the FedEx Find Zones tool to get accurate shipping zones. 

3. Use the rated weight and zone to check your rate in the FedEx Standard Rates Guide. You can also get your rates by entering your shipment details in the FedEx shipping cost calculator.

In conclusion, when it comes to shipping with FedEx, the answer to whether they charge by size or weight is: it depends. Sometimes FedEx uses actual weight to price shipments. Other times they will use a dimensional weight pricing system that considers a package's size and weight. Charges are based on whichever is higher. 

By understanding how FedEx's pricing system works, you can package and ship your items in a way that saves you money.

How ShipSigma Can Help

Speaking of saving money, our team at ShipSigma has saved our customers over $100M in shipping fees. If you're a shipper interested in leaner shipping costs, guaranteed, speak to us today.

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