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Is the Cheapest Freight Quote Always the Best?

No individual or business wants to pay more for something than is absolutely necessary. Stay in budget by knowing which types of quotes lead to the most shipping savings. 

While the cheapest freight quote is likely to be the most attractive at the moment, knowing a few more details will either validate that choice or let you know that the cheapest freight quote is not always the right choice.

How do you find those details? Here are a few factors you will want to take a look at:

Transit Time

For some quotes, the transit times can vary by two weeks or more. Why the big difference?

When quoted transit times are measured in weeks, it often is because the freight will be transported (at least partly) by train. Shipping by train can be the least expensive and most environmentally friendly way to ship, but it usually takes more time than shipping solely by truck. If you have the time to ship by train, it’s a great way to save money. Otherwise, stick with exclusively truck carriers.

Even with truck carriers, there will be differences in transit time estimates. Note the word “estimates.” Pickup and delivery estimates are not guaranteed. Also, transit times are measured in workdays, not consecutive days. Freight does not move on the weekend.

Here’s a real-world example. One carrier is estimating a two-day transit time. A different carrier is estimating a three-day transit time with a less expensive quote, but the third day falls on a Saturday. The costlier quote anticipates delivery on the previous Friday, but the less expensive quote will be scheduled to be delivered on Monday.

Working with a 3PL and dedicated experts can help explain all of this, so you can make an educated choice.

Does the Best Shipping Savings come from a Dimensional-Weight Carrier?

While most carriers charge based on the standardized national freight class system, some have switched to a dimensional-weight-based system that factors into consideration how much space the shipment takes up on the truck.

With a dimensional-weight carrier, the actual weight of the shipment may not matter. The carrier will determine how much the package should weigh based on its dimensions. If the dimensional weight is greater than the actual weight, the carrier will use the dimensional weight to calculate your bill.

If you choose a dimensional-weight carrier but use the actual weight, you could end up receiving a costly billing adjustment after the shipment has been delivered. Like all billing adjustments, this will be generated by the carrier, not FreightCenter.

Once again, speak with an account manager to make sure what type of carrier you’ve selected. It could be that the cheapest freight quote you received was from a carrier that will raise the price once they know that the dimensional weight is greater than the actual weight.

Learn more about dimensional weight vs. actual weight. 

Special Requirements

Your shipment may require a refrigerated truck or one with an air-cushion suspension. Not all carriers will have this equipment available. 

If you are shipping something greater than eight feet in length, most carriers will charge an overlength fee. Again, when working with a shipping partner like FreightCenter, our experts will help walk you through the ins and outs of overlength or oversized shipping

Terminal Distance from Pickup and/or Delivery Locations

Sometimes the cheapest freight quote comes from a carrier whose nearest terminal is far away from the pickup or delivery location. In those cases, they may sub-contract that part of the shipment to a regional carrier rather than send one of their trucks to a location where they will make only one stop and return to the terminal with nothing to show for the trip.

You may be uncomfortable with the idea of having a second carrier handling one of the legs of your shipment, especially a long leg. It’s true that some carriers will hire partners to do pickups and deliveries even for a short distance, but would you rather have the partner carrier handling your cargo for 12 miles or 120 miles? Choosing a carrier that charges a little more but handles all but a small portion of the shipment might be preferable to you.

Filter Your Options Through the Experts

Your first look at your freight quote may show you 20 carriers or more that can handle your shipment. By working with your shipping partner to help you filter your options, what started off as a list of 20 could be whittled down to two or three. The provider of the cheapest freight quote might be among those two or three finalists, but not necessarily.

We are always here to help you determine the best, most cost-effective way to ship your freight. Get started comparing freight rates with an instant freight quote.

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