Get the cheapest freight rates out there using these 5 important tips

2 + 2 RARELY = 4 the world of freight…

If you’re at all like me, you have to feel like you’re getting a great deal when it comes to making big purchases. Even when it’s not my own money, I feel compelled to negotiate and deal until I feel confident that the price point I’m paying is not only competitive financially, but also that I’m getting more than their typical customer.

On the flip side, I also want to make sure that I’m not low-balling, because I don’t want to end up with a cut-rate solution that doesn’t ultimately save me money, because I either end up spending more of my own time dealing with it than I normally would, or they only partially deliver, causing me to incur extra charges elsewhere… Or worse, they don’t care about my business because they’re not making any money off of me, or even worse than that… they’re cut-rate because they have no idea what they are doing…

So, to make it easier for you, I came up with these 5 tips on how to get the cheapest freight shipping rates from door-to-door without taking unnecessary, and often costly risks.

Think end-to-end

When it comes to international freight shipping, the risks are already high enough to make somebody pause before taking the leap of faith with their shippers… So, when one is looking for the cheapest freight shipping rates out there, my suggestion is to look at every single cost involved from their door to yours, regardless of who is responsible throughout the process.

And I mean EVERY cost… Cargo insurance, ground transportation, packing & crating, dealing with customs, warehousing, you name it.

Click HERE if you’re interested in learning more about ownership, risk, and the transference thereof throughout the shipping process.

1. Buy your own container

This may intuitively seem like the wrong direction to go, especially for those of you not making regular shipments. For most, rental is the way to go, but there are very specific cases when it can actually make the MOST sense to buy.

Here are a few of those examples:

  1. No demurrage and detention fees
  2. Reduced trucking/drayage costs
  3. Eliminate costs & delays due to shortages

For more information about costs related to buying your own container, check out this article: Container Shipping Rates May Be Cheaper if You Buy the Container.

2. ATA carnet

ATA carnets are one of my favorite ways for achieving the cheapest freight rates out there, but they don’t apply to everybody.

They work when you are shipping to countries that agree to the rule, and when your products are intended for a round trip.

As you can probably imagine, this means you won’t have to pay import taxes or tariffs, which really start to add up, especially if your products are making multiple stops in multiple countries, or if you’re dealing with auto transport.

Some quick facts:

  1. ATA carnets are valid in over 90 countries
  2. Valid up to 1 year on multiple shipments
  3. Acts as US registration of goods
  4. Applies to a broad range of products

For more information about qualifying for an ATA carnet, including a complete list of participating countries and the opportunity to get a rate quote, click here:

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3. TSA certified

What does it mean to be TSA certified?

In response to the events of 9/11, TSA created a program called “The Known Shipper Management System.”

What this means is that you have to go through a certification process to become “known” in order to have the broadest route access available.

One area this impacts is air freight, particularly when shipping on airplanes that are also carrying passengers. Without a TSA certified known shipper, your cargo simply won’t have access to those flights.

MORE options can mean several things:

  1. Fewer problems rerouting when there are delays or cancellations due to weather, strikes, regional holidays, etc.
  2. Fewer price and availability restrictions
  3. Less need for warehousing and other costs tied to delays
  4. Faster overall delivery

The bad news is that it is a bit of a process to become certified. The GOOD news is that YOUR COMPANY doesn’t actually need to become certified in order to take advantage of these great perks. As long as your approved freight forwarder is certified along with their network, you’re good to go!

Click here to read more about TSA Certified Known Shippers.

4. Use approved freight forwarders

One would think that in order to practice freight forwarding, one would have to be up to date with their licensure and certifications. And, one would be absolutely correct!

However, that doesn’t stop madness completely.

Make sure you do your homework and only work with approved freight forwarders who have gone through the vetting and certification process with the Federal Maritime Commission (FMC) for ocean freight and the International Air Transport Association (IATA) for air freight.

More on approved freight forwarders here.

5. TAKE CONTROL of your shipments!

There are a lot of businesses in freight that are not telling you why your quote looks so much cheaper than some of the others out there. They’re not telling you that they’re leaving out cargo insurance, or that you’re going to have no control over your shipment, which means they might (and probably will) take a route that doesn’t make the most financial sense to you.

So, if you’re importing, I suggest that you go with an FCA Incoterms shipment (more on incoterms 2010), so you have control over the shipment as soon as it arrives to the departing port.

Doing so means that you take ownership early. This is GREAT for you because YOU get to pick the route and the shipping agent responsible for representing you! This is how you ensure that you end up with a TSA Certified Known Shiper, an Approved Freight forwarder, and that it’s going to have the most direct, cheapest route possible, and one that is actually in-line with your objectives.

I cannot tell you how many times a new customer comes to us in desperation because they don’t know where their shipment is, and their costs continue to sky-rocket… and nobody seems to care.


Cheap freight isn’t just about the quote you get from your freight forwarder. It’s easy to get caught in that bidding war mentality, and I am definitely guilty of it.

But when it comes to international freight, there is no replacement for the steps that need to be taken in order to successfully ship your goods from one country to the next. So, when you see those quotes that seem “too good to be true,” it’s likely because they are leaving out pieces that YOU are now responsible for, or that something much fishier is going on.

Conversely, there are folks out there who will walk you through your costs from tooth to tail, so you aren’t blind-sighted, and you truly ultimately will get the cheapest freight shipping rates available to you because it covers EVERYTHING.

For a free freight quote, click HERE:

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