While it’s easy to get sticker shock when calculating shipping costs, making small changes, like printing a label online, or using a different box, can save you a substantial amount when you ship board games.
Why USPS Priority Mail?
USPS Priority Mail is widely available, and taking advantage of features like ordering free boxes online and requesting free package pick-up can make it accessible and convenient. But prices can vary; learn the tricks to save on your next shipment.
USPS Flat Rate Priority boxes
Flat Rate boxes are popular because they are the same price within the US, no matter the weight or destination. When sending coast to coast, they are often the most economical choice.
Small Flat Rate boxes can be a good option for card and dice games.
Small Flat Rate envelopes can be useful to send a magazine quickly.
Padded Flat Rate envelopes cost just a little more than a Small Flat Rate box, but can be useful in certain situations, like heavy game components, or a book going a long distance. Protecting the items with extra cardboard or bubble wrap is recommended.
Medium Flat Rate boxes come in two shapes; a taller, squarer box and a longer, flatter box. The longer, flatter Medium Flat Rate box is perhaps the workhorse of the person-to-person board game shipping world. It holds many common board games. The other Medium Flat Rate box will hold taller board games, or several smaller games.
Large Flat Rate boxes are usually seen in their square version, but did you know there’s a second “board game” Large Flat Rate box that can be ordered online? It was developed with long, thin vintage board games in mind (think Survive). It will fit two Ticket to Ride-sized boxes side by side (without much room for padding).
If you are selling an expensive item, a box that leaves room for packaging is recommended, but if you are sending along a couple of used games to some friends on the other coast, it’s hard to beat the price.
USPS Regional Rate Priority boxes
Regional Rate might be the “best kept secret” of shipping online.
Regional Rate A boxes come in two shapes; a taller, squarer box and a longer, flatter box. They are slightly smaller than Medium Flat Rate, but can be perfect when you don’t need the full space of a Medium Flat Rate. Regional Rate A boxes have a weight limit of 15 lbs.
Regional Rate B boxes come in two shapes; a taller, squarer box and a longer, flatter box. They are a little larger than Medium Flat Rate, and are best used when shipping items over 4 lbs to a nearby state. Regional Rate B boxes have a weight limit of 20 lbs.
Ordering free boxes from USPS.com
When sending with Flat Rate or Regional Rate, specific boxes must be used. Some styles may be available at your local post office, but for the full selection, order online from USPS.com.
Tip: Priority boxes are free and they will be delivered to your home for free – just remember that they must only be used for Priority Mail shipments.
Priority Mail by size and weight
Several other styles of Priority Mail boxes are available to order online, and you can also recycle regular brown corrugated boxes. You will need to weigh and measure the package, as postage will be calculated by size and weight.
Tip: A postal scale can help you to accurately calculate postage and find the best price for your shipment.
Printing postage online
To get the biggest discounts, you’ll want to print your labels online, preferably using a laser printer.
If you sell an item and accept PayPal for the payment, there will be a link to print a label for the order. Using this link will import the buyer’s address, and attach the tracking number to the sale.
You can still use PayPal to print certain labels, even when sending a gift or making a trade. PayPal.com/shipnow lets you print through PayPal at the discounted rates. It also allows you to send via First Class, for items under 16oz.
USPS.com no longer applies the online discount when users buy their labels, but it does offer some types of labels that PayPal.com/shipnow does not.
Tip: If you print a label on plain paper and need to attach it to a box, be sure to put tape all the way around the edges, and do not cover the barcode.
How much can I save on shipping?
You can save money when you ship board games, even sending the same item to the same place, at the same speed.
Imagine you have a 6lb 8oz game to send from NY to VA. If you were to walk into the post office and take a Large Flat Rate box off the shelf, you would pay $19.95. But is that the best price?
- If you printed the Large Flat Rate label yourself, it would cost $17.60 instead.
- If the item fit into a Medium Flat Rate box it would be $14.35 at the post office, and $12.80 if you printed the label yourself.
- If you put the item in a plain box, it would be $12.60 at the Post Office and $9.41 online.
- If the item fit in a Regional Rate B box, it would be $8.50 online.
- If the item fit in a Regional Rate A box, it would be $7.85 online.
Depending on the size and shape, you could expect to pay $7.85-9.41, a noticeable savings.
Examples quoted are for illustrative purposes only, and are not guarantees. Always compare available pricing.
Tip: while the low cost of Media Mail may seem tempting, be sure to read what qualifies for Media Mail (a Warhammer hardcover rules compendium may, a standard board game will not).
Can’t I just keep all of my games forever?
Selling games that aren’t getting played frees up shelf space and puts some money back in the gaming budget for new games. For ideas on ways to sell your board games, see How to Sell Your Board Game Collection.