How Much Does Flatbed Shipping Cost? 8 Factors To Know

Flatbed Shipping Cost

Flatbed shipping, which involves hauling large or oddly shaped items on open trailers, comes with its own set of costs and considerations. In this blog post, we’ll break down the factors that influence flatbed shipping costs, using simple language that anyone can understand.

Whether you’re a business owner sending products to customers or an individual moving oversized items, knowing these factors can help you plan and budget more effectively.

Some factors, like the distance your shipment needs to travel and the size and weight of your goods, might seem obvious. But there are also less apparent factors, like the type of freight you’re shipping and whether you need special handling, that can significantly affect the price. Let us start and talk about these factors.

1. Distance and Destination

Distance and destination play a big role in how much it costs to ship something on a flatbed truck. The more distance someone needs to travel, the more petrol you’ll require. It’s a bit like that with shipping but with bigger trucks. If your stuff needs to travel a long way, it usually costs more. 

This is because the truck has to use more fuel and the driver has to spend more time on the road. So, the farther your cargo goes, the higher the price tag. Where your stuff is going matters too. Shipping to a big city might be cheaper than sending it to a remote area. 

But if your cargo has to go way out in the countryside, it might cost more because it’s harder for the truck to get there. Another thing is route complexity. Think of the route like a map. If the roads are straightforward and easy to drive on, it’s usually cheaper. 

But if the journey involves tricky twists, and turns, or going through busy cities with traffic jams, it can add to the cost. The driver might need more time, and there might be extra tolls or fees. So, in a nutshell, the farther your stuff needs to go and the trickier the roads, the more you might have to pay for flatbed shipping

2. Freight Weight and Size

When it comes to flatbed shipping, the weight and size of your stuff are super important in determining the cost. If your cargo is heavy, the truck has to work harder, and that means more fuel and effort. So, heavy stuff often costs more to ship.

Also, big items take up more space on the truck. If your stuff is bulky or oversized, it might not fit well with other shipments. That can mean the truck can’t carry as much other stuff, which makes your shipment more expensive.

Partial and Full Truckload Shipments

Okay, so there are two main ways to ship stuff on a flatbed truck:

Partial Truckload: This is like sharing a ride with others. If you have a smaller shipment, your stuff might share space with other people’s things on the same truck. It’s like a carpool for cargo. Since you’re sharing, it can be cheaper than booking the whole truck.

Full Truckload: On the other hand, if you have a lot of stuff, or it’s huge, you might need the whole truck to yourself. It’s like having a taxi just for you. This can cost more because you’re not sharing the expenses with others.

So, when it comes to weight and size, heavy and bulky items can make your shipping cost go up. And deciding between a partial or full truckload depends on how much stuff you have to send.

3. Freight Type and Special Requirements

What you’re shipping and any special needs it has can really change the cost of flatbed shipping. Let’s break it down:

Freight Type: Different things need different care. For example, if you’re shipping fragile glass, it might need special packaging to keep it safe. That can cost more. Or if you’re sending something hazardous, there are rules and safety measures that can add to the cost.

Special Handling Requirements: Sometimes, your cargo isn’t as simple as putting it on the truck. It might need special equipment or extra care. For instance, if you have really tall or heavy items, you might need a crane to load and unload them. That’s an extra cost. 

Also, if your stuff needs to be kept at a certain temperature, like frozen food, you’ll need a refrigerated flatbed, which costs more too.

Examples of Specialized Equipment and Their Costs

Here are a few examples of specialized equipment and what they’re used for:


  • Used for heavy or oversized items.
  • Cost varies depending on the crane’s size and usage time.

Refrigerated Flatbed:

  • Used for items that need temperature control, like food or pharmaceuticals.
  • Cost is higher due to the refrigeration system and energy use.

Flatbed with Tarps or Sides:

  • Used for protecting cargo from weather or dust.
  • Adds to the cost due to the extra materials and time needed for securing the load.

Conestoga Trailer:

  • Used for fragile or sensitive cargo.
  • Costlier due to the special rolling tarp system for easy loading and unloading.

So, remember, what you’re shipping and any special requirements it has can affect how much you’ll pay for flatbed shipping. Different cargo needs different care, and that can mean different costs.

4. Seasonal and Market Demand

During holidays like Christmas. Lots of people want to ship gifts, so there’s a higher demand for trucks. Prices can go up when there are a lot of people who need trucks, since there won’t be enough trucks available. In quieter seasons, like summer vacations, it might be cheaper because there are more trucks sitting around.

If there’s a boom in a certain industry or a big construction project, they might need a lot of flatbed trucks. When there’s a high demand for trucks in a specific market, it can drive up prices. It’s a bit like bidding for the last piece of pizza at a party – the person willing to pay more gets it.

Insights into Peak Shipping Seasons and Their Impact

Here are some examples of peak shipping seasons and how they can affect your costs:

Construction Season: Spring and summer are often busy times for construction. This means there are more people who will need flatbed trucks, and prices can go up because of the increase.

Holiday Rush: As mentioned, holiday seasons like Thanksgiving and Christmas can see higher prices due to the increased demand for shipping.

Agricultural Harvest: When farmers need to transport their crops, they may compete for available trucks, potentially raising prices.

Retail Sales Events: Big sales events like Black Friday can cause a surge in demand for shipping, leading to higher costs.

So, it’s important to be aware of these seasonal patterns and market demands because they can impact how much you’ll pay for flatbed shipping. 

5. Carrier Selection

Picking the right carrier for your flatbed shipping needs is a bit like selecting the right tool for a job. It’s very important! Here’s why:

Reliability: A good carrier can be counted on to deliver your cargo safely and on time. They provide well-skilled and knowledgeable drivers as well as good-maintained trucks.

Expertise: Some carriers specialize in certain types of freight or industries. Choosing one with expertise in your kind of cargo can make a big difference.

Communication: Good carriers keep you in the loop. They will tell you where your shipment is and when it will arrive. Communication is very important for a smooth delivery process.

Cost-Efficiency: The right carrier can also save you money. They might have lower rates or offer bundling options if you have multiple shipments.

How Carrier Choice and Availability Affect Pricing

The choice of the logistics company as your carrier will affect the pricing in the following ways:

Availability: If there are many carriers to choose from, it can create competition. That’s good for you because it can mean lower prices. But if there aren’t many carriers available, you might have to pay more because they have the upper hand.

Carrier Reputation: Well-known carriers with a good reputation might charge a bit more, but they often come with reliability and peace of mind. Smaller carriers might have lower prices, but their service may vary.

Location: Where the carriers are located matters too. If you’re in an area with lots of carriers, you’ll likely have more options and better prices. In remote areas, where carriers are scarce, you might pay more due to limited choices.

6. Freight Insurance

If your cargo, especially if it is expensive, gets damaged, lost, or stolen during transit, you could face significant financial losses. Freight insurance helps cover those losses, giving you peace of mind. Sometimes, customers or shipping contracts require you to have insurance. 

The inability to meet these requirements can end up in punishment or the loss of business.

How Insurance Options Can Affect Overall Pricing

The type of insurance and amount of coverage you choose can impact your flatbed shipping costs:

Coverage Level: The more coverage you want, the higher the insurance premium. You can opt for basic coverage or comprehensive coverage, depending on your cargo’s value and your risk tolerance.

Deductibles: Like car insurance, you might have to pay a deductible if you make a claim. A higher deductible can lower your insurance premium but means you’ll pay more out of pocket if something happens.

Cargo Value: The value of your cargo influences insurance costs. High-value items will naturally have higher insurance premiums because they represent a bigger risk.

While insurance of the goods to be moved increases the overall cost of using a flatbed for shipping, it is a wise decision to protect both your goods and your financial interests. 

Selecting the appropriate amount of coverage and deductible can assist you in striking a balance between safety and cost-effectiveness.

7. Fuel Prices and Regulations

Flatbed shipping costs are closely tied to the price of fuel and the regulations governing the trucking industry. When the price of fuel increases, customers have to pay more to fill their tanks. It’s the same for flatbed trucks but on an even bigger scale.

These trucks guzzle a lot of diesel fuel, and when fuel prices spike, it directly affects shipping costs. Carriers often pass on the increased fuel costs to customers in the form of fuel surcharges Fuel prices can be unpredictable, just like the stock market. 

Sudden jumps in oil prices due to geopolitical events or natural disasters can lead to rapid increases in shipping rates. 


To lower truck pollution from burning fuel, governments all around the world have passed stronger rules. This often means carriers need to invest in newer, more fuel-efficient trucks or retrofit existing ones. The cost of following these rules may result in increased shipping costs.

Regulations that limit the number of hours a truck driver can be on the road also affect shipping costs. These rules are made for the safety of the drivers and protection of what they carry, but the rules can make delivery times longer and also increase labor costs for the shipping company, which may, in turn, lead to an increase in the money the customer will pay.

8. Accessorial Charges

Accessorial charges are like extra fees you might encounter when you’re shipping something on a flatbed truck. They’re additional costs on top of the base shipping rate, and they can add up quickly. 

Common Accessorial Charges 

  1. Liftgate Service: If you don’t have a loading dock or forklift to load/unload your cargo, you might need a liftgate on the truck. 
  2. Inside Delivery: This is when the driver goes inside a building to deliver or pick up goods. 
  3. Residential Delivery: If the pickup or delivery location is a home rather than a business, expect a residential delivery charge. 
  4. Detention or Waiting Time: If the driver has to wait longer than expected at your location, you might incur detention charges. 
  5. Tarping and Untarping: For protecting your cargo from weather or debris, flatbeds may need tarps. 
  6. Hazardous Materials Handling: Shipping hazardous materials requires special permits, handling, and safety measures, incurring extra fees.
  7. Extra Stops: If your shipment involves multiple stops, each additional stop can result in extra charges. 
  8. Redelivery Fees: If the driver attempts delivery, and it’s unsuccessful, you may be charged for redelivery. 
  9. Overweight or Oversize Fees: If your shipment exceeds legal weight or size limits, you’ll pay additional fees, which can vary significantly depending on the violation.

To avoid surprises and plan properly for your goods, it is important to go over exactly what you want with the service.

Wrapping Up

Whether you’re a business owner sending products or an individual moving oversized items, these factors that we have discussed play a crucial role in determining how much you’ll pay for flatbed shipping.

From the distance your shipment needs to travel to the weight and size of your cargo, we’ve uncovered the basics. We have also discussed how the type of freight you’re shipping, special handling requirements, and even seasonal and market demand can all affect pricing.

So, whether you’re sending goods to customers or embarking on a personal move, you’re better equipped to manage the costs and ensure a smooth journey for your cargo.