Package Forwarding vs Couriers - Which One Is Cheaper?

Some package forwarding companies claim that they offer up to 80% discounts on shipping prices compared to prices you get from a courier. Is that even true? We decided to find out!

Table of Contents


What Is A Package Forwarding Company and How Does It Work?

Package forwarding companies are companies that usually have a few warehouses in a country like the US, or in several countries for example, in the US, and in the UK. They provide its customers with the address(es) that can be used for receiving goods from online stores, family, friends, simply from whatever subject.

Note: A package forwarding company doesn’t offer packages pick up. This means you have to send the package to its warehouse first before they can forward it.

Once the package forwarding company receives the package addressed to its customer, it is connected to his or her account. Of course, the customer is notified by an email that he received a package in the package forwarding company warehouse. The packages are then linked to customers’ accounts based on a unique suite ID that they receive upon registration. This makes the process very smooth.

The customer then can take advantage of some additional services. Most of the package forwarding companies offer special requests, additional photo requests, repack requests, package consolidation, etc. Once the customer decides to ship the package from the US to his/her country, or to the country of the addressee, it is necessary to fill in the customs declaration and select the delivery method and wait for the delivery of the package.

The question is, how does the package forwarding ship the packages? Well, they use courier companies (more about them later). But, thanks to their contracts the prices of the shipping are much lower than shipping with the courier directly. Why is that possible? Skip to How Much Package Forwarding Costs section to find out.

Package forwarding companies also offer branded shipping methods like Planet Mail. These methods are usually limited to small packages only and takes up to 30 business days to deliver. On the other hand, they are often much cheaper than its alternatives.

Examples Of Package Forwarding Companies

Package forwarding business attracted a lot of companies. Based on the Trustpilot rating*, below are the top 5 US-based package forwarders.

Package forwarderTrustpilot rating
PlanetExpress 170x70pxPlanet Express4.4
MyUS 170x70pxMyUS4.6
Ship7 170x70pxShip74.4
ShopUSA 170x70pxShopUSA4.2
Stackry 170x70pxStackry4.5
Trustpilot ratings of selected package forwarding companies were compared on the 16th of April, 2020.

What Is A Courier And How Does It Work?

A courier has warehouses and sorting centers across the whole country. The main difference is that if you want to ship a package from the US to Japan, for example, directly with a courier, you need to schedule a pick up at someplace (compared to package forwarding company that ships packages from its warehouse only).

Do you see the difference? Courier may seem more convenient because you don’t have to send the package to the warehouse address of the package forwarder but when you want to shop in the US stores that don’t offer international shipping, things get complicated.

Examples Of Courier Companies

There are a lot of couriers on the market, among the most popular are DHL, FedEx, DPD, UPS, USPS, TNT, Aramex. Planet Express package forwarding company works with DHL, FedEx, USPS, and Aramex.

dhl logo square
fedex square logo
usps square logo
aramex square logo

How Much Does The Package Forwarding Costs?

Some package forwarding companies claim that they offer up to 80% discounts on prices of the shipping compared to those you can get from the courier. Is that even true? We are going to compare the shipping rates of the DHL, FedEx, USPS, and Aramex.

UStoJapan 1

Example #1: Shipping A Handbag From The US To Japan with Planet Express

Let’s say that you would like to ship a $300 handbag from the US to Japan from Michael Kors online store. The price of the shipping from the Michael Kors online store is $5 flat fee. This means that in order to get the package to Planet Express warehouse, you have to pay $5.

We estimated the following package details:
Value – $300
Weight – 5 lbs
Dimensions – 12×12×5 inches
From – Gardena, the US, 90248 (90247)
To – Tokyo, Japan, 100-0012

Planet Express methodPrice of the shippingDelivery timeFinal price
USPS: Priority$31.0010-12 business days$38.00
FedEx: International Economy$35.904-7 business days$42.90
FedEx: International Priority$41.893-5 business days$48.89
USPS: Express$44.297-10 business days$51.29
DHL: Express Worldwide$71.392-4 business days$78.39

The prices of the shipping were calculated using the Planet Express calculator on the 8th of Mai, 2020.

The final price includes the $5 Michael Kors shipping and $2 handling fee. The price is customs duty & tax excluded.

UStoAustralia

Example #2: Shipping BoxyCharm Box From The US To Australia

Subscription boxes like BoxyCharm are really popular, especially in the US. Unfortunately for Aussies, BoxyCharm doesn’t offer international shipping there. However, you can use the Planet Express package forwarding company in order to get Boxycharm from the US to Australia (find out how with our BoxyCharm guide here).

The standard BoxyCharm package details are the following:
Value – $50
Weight – 2.5 lbs
Dimensions – 11×10×5 inches
From – Gardena, the US, 90248 (90247)
To – Canberra, Australia, 2601

Planet Express methodPrice of the shippingDelivery timeFinal price
Planet Mail: Economy$20.53up to 30 business days$22.53
Planet Mail: Express$25.3920-28 business days$27.39
USPS: ePacket$28.3810-12 business days$30.38
FedEx: International Economy$34.554-7 business days$36.55
Aramex: Priority$36.455-8 business days$38.45
FedEx: International Priority$38.463-5 business days$40.46
USPS: Express$40.907-10 business days$42.90
DHL: Express Worldwide$65.652-4 business days$67.65

The prices of the shipping were calculated using the Planet Express calculator on the 8th of Mai, 2020. Source

The final price includes the $2 Planet Express handling fee. The BoxyCharm shipping across the US is free. The price is customs duty & tax excluded.

UStoSaudiArabia

Example #3: Shipping Consolidated Package From The US To Saudi Arabia

Let’s say you wanna ship 8 packages from the US to Saudi Arabia because you would like to resell some goods. You can take advantage of the Planet Express consolidation service. To simplify this example, we calculate 1 big package (that would contain several packages consolidated together).

The final price includes the activation of the Premium Mail Box $10 (needed for consolidation), consolidation fee of $21 ($5+8×$2=$21), and mailout fee ($2). The price is customs duty & tax excluded.

Premium Mail Box$10.00
Consolidation fee$5.00
Consolidation fee for packages$16.00
Mailout fee$2.00
Total$33.00

The package details are the following:
Value – $500
Weight – 50 lbs
Dimensions – 36×24×20 inches (maximum size of the consolidated package)
From – Gardena, the US, 90248 (90247)
To – Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, 11543

Planet Express methodPrice of the shippingDelivery timeFinal price
FedEx: International Economy$181.884-7 business days$214.88
FedEx: International Priority$263.623-5 business days$296.62
Aramex: Economy$439.438-12 business days$472.43
Aramex: Priority$636.095-8 business days$669.09
DHL: Express Worldwide$647.412-4 business days$680.41

The prices of the shipping were calculated using the Planet Express calculator on the 8th of Mai, 2020.


How Much Does The Courier Costs?

The price of the shipping you get from a courier is usually higher than from a package forwarding company. The question is, is this difference significant? And if so, how much? The final comparison between the package forwarding company and couriers is available in the comparison section.

UStoJapan 1

Example #1: Shipping A Handbag From The US To Japan with Couriers

Do you remember our previous example with a Michael Kors handbag? We calculated the price of the shipping from the Gardena, the USA to Japan. This time, we got a quote from the courier’s calculator tools.

Shipping methodPrice of the shippingDelivery timeFinal priceSource
USPS: Priority$70.9510-12 business days$75.95DHL
USPS: Express$94.907-10 business days$99.90FedEx
DHL: Express Worldwide$143.522-4 business days$148.52FedEx
FedEx: International Economy$183.114-7 business days$188.11USPS
FedEx: International Priority$219.653-5 business days$224.65USPS

The prices of the shipping were calculated using the postage calculator tools on the 8th of Mai, 2020.

UStoAustralia

Example #2: Shipping A BoxyCharm Box From The US To Australia with Couriers

the prices

Shipping methodPrice of the shippingDelivery timeSource
Planet Mail: Economy$20.53up to 30 business daysPlanet Express
Planet Mail: Express$25.3920-28 business daysPlanet Express
USPS: Priority$64.0510-12 business daysUSPS
Aramex: Priority$70.005-8 business daysAramex
USPS: Express$85.707-10 business daysUSPS
DHL: Express Worldwide$129.582-4 business daysDHL
FedEx: International Economy$169.724-7 business daysFedEx
FedEx: International Priority$196.043-5 business daysFedEx
USPS: ePacketn/a10-12 business daysUSPS

The prices of the shipping were calculated using the postage calculator tools on the 8th of Mai, 2020. Sources

UStoSaudiArabia

Example #3: Shipping A Consolidated Package From The US To Saudi Arabia with Couriers

This example is very specific and we simplified it already. In reality, you would have to consolidate the 8 packages we talked before together because the couriers usually don’t offer the consolidation service as Planet Express does. Of course, the consolidation that you would have to do by yourself if you live in the US (or in even worse, somebody in the US would have to do it for you), costs time and money. Thus, the following costs are just the costs of the shipping.

Shipping methodPrice of the shippingDelivery timeSource
Aramex: Priority$655.055-8 business daysAramex
FedEx: International Economy$1 359.894-7 business daysFedEx
DHL: Express Worldwide$1 539.632-4 business daysDHL
FedEx: International Priority$2 150.613-5 business daysFedEx

The prices of the shipping were calculated using the postage calculator tools on the 8th of Mai, 2020. Sources


Prices Of Package Forwarding Company vs Courier Compared Side By Side

We did the detailed price breakdowns in the previous sections. Now, we can do the price comparisons of our examples. Please, remember, that the current prices may vary, however, the differences are pretty much the same.

Example 1 – Planet Express vs Couriers Compared

Shipping of the Michael Kors handbag from Gardena, California to Tokyo, Japan may cost you a lot of money, or you can save dozens to hundreds of percent. Take a look at the table below. You can see the price of the shipping you get for the same shipping method. One is provided by the package forwarding company (Planet Express) and the second by the couriers themselves).

Shipping methodPlanet Express priceCourier pricePackage forwarding savings
FedEx: International Priority$48.89$224.65359.50%
FedEx: International Economy$42.90$188.11338.48%
USPS: Priority$38.00$75.9599.87%
USPS: Express$51.29$99.9094.77%
DHL: Express Worldwide$78.39$148.5289.46%

The prices of the shipping were calculated using the postage calculator tools on the 8th of Mai, 2020. Sources

example1 couriers vs planet express
Price comparison between Planet Express and Couriers when shipping to Japan

Example 2 – Planet Express vs Couriers Compared

Shipping of the BoxyCharm box is again much cheaper when using the package forwarding company. The cheapest option is the Planet Mail delivery method that is cheaper compared to the USPS.

Shipping methodPlanet Express priceCourier pricePackage forwarding savings
FedEx: International Priority$40.46$196.04384.53%
FedEx: International Economy$36.55$169.72364.35%
USPS: ePacket | USPS: Priority$30.38$64.05110.83%
USPS: Express$42.90$85.7099.77%
DHL: Express Worldwide$67.65$129.5891.54%
Aramex: Priority$38.45$70.0082.05%
Planet Mail: Express$27.39
Planet Mail: Economy$22.53

The prices of the shipping were calculated using the postage calculator tools on the 8th of Mai, 2020. Sources
*Note: USPS doesn’t offer ePacket to individual persons so we compared USPS: ePacket method available at Planet Express with USPS: Priority that is available for individuals.

example2 couriers vs planet express
Price comparison between Planet Express and Couriers when shipping to Australia

Example 3 – Planet Express vs Couriers Compared

When we compared the prices of the shipping of the bulky package, we find out that the savings with the FedEx method are again the most noticeable. However, If you want to ship with Aramex (which is still twice as expensive as FedEx), it may seem like it is better to ship it with Aramex directly. Well, we still recommend using a package forwarding company that will save your time especially thanks to its consolidation service.

Shipping methodPlanet Express priceCourier pricePackage forwarding savings
FedEx: International Priority$296.62$2 150.61625.04%
FedEx: International Economy$214.88$1 359.89532.86%
DHL: Express Worldwide$680.41$1 539.63126.28%
Aramex: Priority$669.09$655.05-2.10%
Aramex: Economy$472.43n/a*

The prices of the shipping were calculated using the postage calculator tools on the 8th of Mai, 2020. Sources
*Aramex: Economy shipping method was not available when using Aramex Calculator.

example3 couriers vs planet express
Price comparison between Planet Express and Couriers when shipping to Saudi Arabia

Final Thoughts

The last important question remains…

How is it possible that the package forwarding company can offer so low prices for the shipping?

The answer follows from the way how the package forwarding companies, eventually couriers work. The package forwarding company handles hundreds to thousands of packages to courier from one place (from the package forwarding company warehouse). This means that the courier has much lower costs when picking up these packages than collecting them individually on different addresses.

Thanks to this simple principle, the package forwarding companies can negotiate much better deals with the couriers than an individual person that has little to none bargaining power.

average savings PlanetExpress
Average savings you get with Planet Express for individual carriers (*the values has been rounded)

But (there is always ‘but’ right?) ‘where are the additional costs of shipping across the US?’ Good question. The answer depends…

  • In Example 1, the buyer pays for the shipping ($5).
  • In Example 2, the shipping costs across the US are already included in the subscription price but the shipping is marketed as ‘FREE’.
  • And finally, in Example 3, you either have to pay to the courier to pick up your package, or you have to bring it to their center so they can send it. Also remember, that couriers usually don’t consolidate packages, this means you have to consolidate it by yourself which costs time and money.

We hope this short case study will help you when deciding whether to choose a courier or a package forwarding company. If you want to take advantage of the lower prices we offer, feel free to sign up and start shipping.


Package Forwarding FAQ

📦 How does package forwarding work?

Package forwarding works in 3 simple steps:
Step #1: You get the address (for example, in the US).
Step #2: You can receive packages to this address from your family, friends, online stores.
Step #3: Once the package forwarding company receives your package, you will get an email. You can manage the package and choose the delivery method.
Read more…

💵 How much does package forwarding cost?

The short answer would be that the package forwarding is cheaper than shipping with the courier directly. The prices vary from forwarder to forwarder, however, there are more factors to consider like the weight of the package, its dimensions, the delivery method, etc.
Read more…

⏱ How long does it take for a package to be forwarded?

Once the package forwarding company has your package and you place the request for the mailout, the package is handled to a courier usually within 24 hrs. In the busy season, this time may extend to 48–72 hrs.


Sources

Planet Express Calculator – https://planetexpress.com/postage-calculator/
DHL Calculator – https://mydhl.express.dhl/us/en/shipment.html#/rate-and-quote
FedEx Calculator – https://www.fedex.com/en-us/online/rating.html
USPS Calculator – https://postcalc.usps.com/
Aramex Calculator – https://www.aramex.com/us/en/ship/check-shipping-rates

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