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What does LTL mean in shipping?

By Last updated on: July 24, 2023

LTL shipping offers a cost-effective and flexible solution for businesses that involve transporting small to medium-sized quantities of goods, varying from a few pallets to a few thousand pounds. LTL stands for “less than truckload.” It is a type of shipping where a shipment of goods does not require a full truckload. 

Often used by small and mid-sized businesses with insufficient freight to fill an entire truck, LTL is a cheaper alternative to hiring a whole semi truck. Or if the company doesn’t have the resources to operate its transportation logistics to reduce the overall cost of transportation.

Benefits of LTL shipping

Here are some benefits of LTL shipping:

  • Cost savings
    • LTL shipping is considered cost-effective since shippers are only required to pay for the space they use rather than an entire truckload. Thus, making it an affordable alternative for small and medium-sized businesses that do not have large cargo volumes.
  • Flexibility
    • The size and frequency of shipments are flexible with LTL shipping, and shippers can dispatch minor shipments as frequently as necessary without paying a lot of money.
  • Reduced risk of damage
    • Compared to full truckload shipments, the risk of damage is lower with LTL shipments because they are often packaged separately and handled carefully. This is due to the decreased amount of movement the package experiences during transit.
  • Improved tracking
    • With LTL carriers always providing real-time tracking information, shippers can monitor their shipment’s location and estimated arrival time. This degree of visibility enables shippers to better plan their operations and give accurate delivery estimates to their customers.
  • Environmental benefits
    • LTL shipping ensures fewer trucks on the road, which helps reduce carbon emissions and alleviate traffic congestion.

What’s the difference between LTL and FTL freight and parcel?

Less than truckload (LTL) shipping is a style of transportation to move small cargo shipments that do not necessarily need an entire truckload space. Usually, freight in this category weighs about 150 to 15,000 pounds.

Full truckload (FLT) shipping generally refers to a type of maritime or road shipping that involves using an entire shipping container for a single shipment. FLT shipping is usually used when a shipper has a large amount of cargo. FLT is more cost-effective than other shipping options for larger volumes of goods. Usually, freight in this category weighs above 15,000 pounds.

Compared to LTL freight, LTL parcel shipping is considered cost-efficient for packages over 150 pounds. An FTL parcel refers to a shipment that requires an entire truck to transport it due to its size or weight.

How much does it cost to work with LTL carriers?

Weight is not the only price-determining factor when working with LTL carriers. Some of the factors that determine the cost include:

  • Route distance
  • Lanes
  • Volume
  • Weight
  • Density
  • Fuel cost
  • Shipment items.

Typically, an LTL freight shipment costs around $50/hundred pounds in ranges between 0 to 499 pounds. While the cost per hundred for shipments between 500 to 999 pounds drops to $40/per hundred, offering discounts for even heavier loads. 

Finally, the choice between LTL and FTL shipping will depend on the shipper’s specific needs, including the shipment size, the budget, and the desired delivery time.

Brian Gibbs

Author Brian Gibbs

More posts by Brian Gibbs

Brian Gibbs | President of Refund Retriever

Brian Gibbs founded Refund Retriever in 2006 while running his first eBay-based business and seeing the shortcomings of other shipment auditing companies. Refund Retriever's primary focus is FedEx and UPS parcel invoice auditing. After graduating from Texas A&M University in 2001, he graduated from the University of Houston in 2004 with a JD and MBA. Gibbs has been featured in Forbes, Entrepreneur, and other publications discussing parcel auditing, shipping, e-commerce, and more. Learn more at or call (800) 441-8085 for more information.

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