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The rates generated and displayed on this site are for labels purchased through an online account.The discounted rates are through these programs: UPS discount, FedEx discount. The rates you receive when going to a physical shipping location will often differ in significant amounts.
Purchasing a label from a physical FedEx Office location can be nearly $20 more!. As an example, shipping a package, from Philadelphia to Los Angeles, with a shipping box that is 19" x 15" x 12" and 21 pounds would cost $53.19 if you purchased a label from a FedEx location. On the other hand, if you bought a label through a FedEx.com online account would cost $34.64 for the same package and destination (as of October 2019). You'd have to print your own label, but can still drop the package off at a FedEx locaion.
Online accounts through carriers are free and you only get charged when you create a label.They often require you to store your credit card info in the account, but there is no monthly charge. Pay for only the postage you buy.
You do not need to be a business to open an online account with shipping carriers such as UPS, FedEx or USPS. Individuals are able to open up accounts and even apply for discounts. Some services, like Shippo, have discounts built-in(up to 40% off). They are able to negotiate better rates since they handle so much shipping volume. We have an article on Shippo here for promo codes. The discounted USPS rates displayed on this site also come from Shippo.
Aside from better rates, having a shipping account allows you to charge shipments to the account and receive one weekly bill. Instead of paying per package and having to keep track of individual receipts, you get one nice single invoice that you can pay at once. You'll also have a record of all your tracking numbers online. No more digging through a pile of receipts. Scheduling pickups can also be done quickly and easily online through your account.
Buying from a physical, brick and mortar UPS, FedEx, or USPS location near you can be convenient if you rarely ship. They will provide a box and pack your shipment for you, but all that comes with extra fees. If you do decide to print shipping labels from home, a scale and measuring tape are good investments. Printing labels can be done on any home printer then taped to the shippping box. For convenience, you can purchase a label printer to use with self adhesive labels. If you find yourself making more frequent shipments, these items will save you time and money by avoiding costly in-store postage purchases.
Note: Rates shown in the above article are examples used for demonstration purposes. The actual shipping rates are updated periodically by carriers, and may not be an accurate representation of actual rates at this current time period.