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How to Find the Best Flatbed Shipping Rates

Last Modified: October 4, 2022
Finding the best flatbed shipping rates can be complicated. The cost can vary by weight, distance, destination and fuel costs. Learn more about flatbed shipping rates and how to find the best rate for your business.

By

Jacob Lee
January 28, 2022
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Flatbed shipping rates vary from company to company. One thing that is certain is that large and bulk loads of freight can be very expensive. What many shippers don’t know is that they can negotiate their way to cheaper flatbed freight rates.

Flatbed shipping rates are dependent on the weight of the freight being shipped, distance, destination and fuel costs. The average shipping rate in the U.S. is $3 per mile but can fluctuate by region. To find the best shipping rate, it's critical that you find a carrier that meets the individual needs of your business.

Flatbed shipping rates can be difficult to understand which in turn makes negotiating cheaper ones more difficult. In this article, we will show you how rates are determined as well as the different types of flatbed trailers that are used to transport loads.  

How to Find the Best Flatbed Shipping Rates

Finding the best flatbed shipping rates will depend on the exact needs of your business, the freight you need shipped, and where that freight is being sent from and to.

When selecting a carrier, you'll want to find out exactly what cargo they're willing to haul and what routes they plan on taking. The higher the weight of the cargo, the more fuel it's likely to burn. Similarly, the route a carrier takes may have an impact on the mileage and ultimate cost of the delivery.

Other factors to consider include the region you're shipping within and the type of flatbed trailer being used. We'll go over each of these factors below to help you find the best shipping rates for your freight.

Heavy haul rates are often very similar to flatbed shipping rates. Check out our article to learn more.

What is the Average Flatbed Shipping Rate?

The average flatbed shipping rate in the U.S. sits at just above or below $3.00 per mile. However, in some regions of the U.S., these prices can differ by a few cents. In the table below we provide the different flatbed rates in each region of the country. 

RegionRates
West$2.95 per mile
Midwest$3.39 per mile
North$3.12 per mile
Southeast$3.19 per mile
Southwest$3.00 per mile
Information Is From 2021

These rates will be factored in the total cost of your shipment. Keep in mind, these are the average rates by region. Flatbed shipping rates and the specific rate can vary by state and the carrier that you choose to use. You should also keep in mind that the average shipping rate can fluctuate due to current events and other factors

When you ship freight there are eight different types of shipping zones that your freight could travel. Each zone represents a certain amount of miles.

To calculate how much it will cost to ship a certain distance, you would simply multiply your specific rate by the amount of miles it will travel. The miles for shipping zone is as follows:

  • Zone 1: 0-50 miles
  • Zone 2: 51-150 miles
  • Zone 3: 151-300 miles
  • Zone 4: 301-600 miles
  • Zone 5: 601-1,001 miles
  • Zone 6: 1,001-1,400 miles
  • Zone 7: 1,401-1,800 miles
  • Zone 8: 1,801 or more miles

For more information, consult our article that discusses how high freight rates are and what you can do about it.

What Factors Determine the Cost of Flatbed Shipping Rates?

A flatbed trailer carrying heavy construction equipment

Much of what determines flatbed shipping rates is the weight of the freight that is being shipped. Factors like fuel costs, destination and weight of the freight all have an impact on the expenses of flatbed shipping rates.

Weight of Your Freight and Fuel Costs

How much your freight weighs is a large factor that determines the flatbed shipping rates. The most common way that freight costs are calculated in the shipping industry is per hundredweight or (CWT).

Freight that weighs more requires specialized chassis and trailers in order to transport them, hence costs being higher for heavier types of freight. Flatbeds, for example, are typically used to transport heavier types of freight.

Heavier types of freight also burn more fuel to transport, requiring the driver to stop and refuel more often. Additionally, the price of fuel can affect rates as well.

Higher fuel rates will require carriers to raise rates in order to make up for what they will have to spend on fuel.   

Destination

Flatbed trucking requires the transportation of extremely large pieces of freight. Because of this, certain routes might not be usable to reach a certain destination. 

Driving on a highway often requires going under an overpass or through a bridge. Doing so while carrying freight that is too tall to fit under obstructions like those will require your carrier to find an alternate route. 

An alternate route that is more suitable to the dimensions of your shipment could be longer. A longer route will make shipping your flatbed freight more expensive.  

Looking for a solution to move truckload freight? R+L Global Logistics handles truckload shipping. Let us know when and we'll handle the rest.

How Do You Calculate Flatbed Shipping Rates?

Giving an exact amount to how much shipping flatbed freight should be is hard to do. However, we can show you how to calculate how much it will cost to ship using a flatbed. 

The average distance that a truck travels when it transports freight is around 206 miles. Freight that is shipped this distance would be traveling down a zone 3 shipping zone. 

The table below will show you what your flatbed freight shipment will cost if you ship the national average for shipping distance. 

RegionShipping Cost
West$607.70
Midwest$698.34
North$642.72
Southeast$657.14
Southwest$618.00

Methods to Use and Factors to Consider When Negotiating Flatbed Shipping Rates

As a customer, you have every right to fight for shipping rates that are fair to you. With these methods at your disposal you will be able to negotiate cheap flatbed shipping rates. 

Use Your Freight Volume As A Bargaining Tool

The main objective of every freight carrier is to fill their trucks with as much freight as possible. If you’re a shipper with bulk shipments of freight frequently then you can use that to your advantage with your carrier. 

Know What You Can Afford

Shipping freight shouldn’t cost you more money than you make from selling the goods you’ve sold. Before you begin to look into flatbed shipping rates for your load you should work out a budget of how much you can spend on shipping. 

You might come across carriers that have such high rates that even negotiating with them won’t be able to bring their costs down enough. Avoid carriers like these and find ones closer to your budget and start negotiating from there.

Pick A Good Spot Rate for One-Time Shipments

If you don’t bulk amounts of flatbed freight and only need a one-time shipment then it’s important you pick an affordable spot rate. You can use a loadboard to compare spot rates for different shipping lanes to find one that is affordable for you.

Understanding Load-to-Truck Ratio

The load to truck ratio takes how many loads there are and compares it to the available trucks that can transport those loads. Carriers that don’t have enough trucks to carry the loads that they have will tend to have higher rates. 

A good way to avoid these carriers is to look for carriers that have more available trucks and lower load requests to find rates that are more affordable.

Know About Fees

There might be additional fees on top of the rates you will have to pay to get your freight moved. These fees could come in the form of toll roads or special permits to have your load transported. Some of these fees like ones from toll roads can be avoided by picking a good shipping route. 

Always Obtain a Contract

Negotiations on shipping rates are never final until you obtain a contract that officiates everything. Once you have reached an agreement with your carrier, be sure to get it down on paper.

What Are the Different Flatbed Trailer Types?

A flatbed trailer truck hauling heavy machinery

There are many different types of flatbeds that are used to transport heavy freight. Each type of trailer is specialized to carry specific types of large and heavy freight. The different flatbed types are:

  • Flatbed Trailer
  • Lowboy Trailer
  • Step Deck Trailer
  • Double Drop Trailer
  • Removable Gooseneck Trailer
  • Conestoga Trailer
  • Side Kit Trailer

Standard Flatbed

The standard flatbed trailer is the most common one used in the shipping industry. Standard flatbeds tend to carry freight such as construction equipment and steel. 

What makes standard flatbeds so great for carrying freight of this type is how easy it is to load. Freight can be loaded onto flatbeds from either direction except for the front. Having multiple loading points makes loading large and longer types of freight easier.

Lowboys

The lowboy is a flatbed that is often used when extremely tall types of freight have to be shipped. Shipping requirements prevent freight from exceeding a certain height.

What makes lowboy trailers unique is that the bed is lower to the ground than the rear axle. Since the bed is lower to the ground, freight that sits up high is afforded some extra room below the height limit. 

 If you think your flatbed load needs the support of a lowboy then our article that discusses what lowboy trucks and trailers are used for can help you out.

Step Deck Trailer

Step deck trailers have a similar purpose as lowboy trailers. They allow for the transportation of taller goods that would normally surpass height limits if they were carried on a regular flatbed trailer. Step deck trailers are sometimes referred to as drop deck trailers.

Double Drop Deck Extendable Trailer

Double drop deck extendable trailers have the benefits of a lowboy trailer with added length. This trailer is used to transport freight that would normally surpass height and length standards. 

Additionally, the second rear deck of the trailer can be utilized as support for longer freight. This prevents freight from overhanging. 

Removable Gooseneck Trailer

The removable gooseneck is versatile and comes with many customizable options. The front of the trailer that attaches to the truck is removable. The amount of axles that gooseneck can have is flexible. The trailer can have anywhere from three axles to 20 axles.

Removable gooseneck trailers are extremely easy to load equipment and freight on. The deck of the removable gooseneck can be lowered to the ground. This allows for an operator to drive vehicles onto the bed.

Conestoga Trailer

The Conestoga is a flatbed trailer that comes with a tarp attached to it. The tarp can be extended and retracted. This simple addition makes wrapping freight with tarp much more convenient than it is. 

Rather than carrying traditional flatbed freight like construction equipment, the Conestoga trailer is usually used to transport heavy freight that needs added protection during transit. This could include freight like helicopters and robotics. 

Side Kit Trailer

Side kit trailers are similar in appearance to dry vans. The bed of the trailer has panels going all around it. The side kit is used to transport goods like corn, coal, or other types of goods that are broken up into small bits. They can also transport heavier types of freight that don’t require a crate.    

Another feature of the side kit trailer is the metal bars that arch over the bed and attach to the top of the left and right panels. Tarps can be placed on top of these metal bars and are secured on each side of the panels. 

Get a Flatbed Shipping Quote with USA Truckload

If you need a flatbed trailer to ship your freight then look no further than R+L Global Logistics to help you out.  There are numerous carriers that we conduct business with that can get your flatbed load to its destination.

Some of the carriers we partner with will ship just about any type of freight and use any type of trailer. Other carriers we have as partners specialize in flatbed shipping only. Whether you need to move construction equipment, a helicopter, or a whole flatbed of corn, we can find the perfect carrier for you. 

Navigate to our truckload page to fill out your free quote and be one step closer to finally getting your freight shipped.  

Looking for a solution to move truckload freight? R+L Global Logistics handles truckload shipping. Let us know when and we'll handle the rest.
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