Courier vs. Carrier: What’s the Difference & Which Should You Choose?

If any part of your daily work involves shipping packages, you’ve likely already put quite a bit of thought into the shipping and logistics services that you use. However, there are almost certainly options out there that you haven’t considered — and they might be able to save you some serious time and money.

Two popular shipping services used by all types of businesses are courier and carrier services. Despite having similar names, these methods are far from identical. Read on to get an in-depth look into these two separate ways to transport goods!

Courier Services

If you send out mostly small shipments, chances are you’ve used courier services in the past. This is because courier services almost exclusively handle smaller shipments — typically 1-15 packages per shipment. These companies often travel door to door dropping off packages to separate locations. UPS and FedEx are both examples of popular courier service companies. The US Post Office also operates as a courier services company. 

Pros of Courier Services

  • Can be an affordable way to send small orders.
  • Drop box services and printable labels make “do-it-yourself” mailing easier.

Cons of Courier Services

  • Shipment weight and size limits.
  • Lack of individualized service (a big company that transports goods this way rarely offers “one-way” or individual services unless you’re willing to pay a hefty price for air shipping or another similar method).
  • Minimal package tracking/insurance without extra payment.

Carrier Services

If you’re shipping a large number of packages or something heavier than 150 lbs, you’ll be better off relying on a carrier company. While courier services have limits on item weight and size, there’s almost no cost or size limit for this method of delivery. The shipment needs to be able to fit onto a delivery vehicle! Carrier services are fast and efficient since they usually travel from “point A to point B” rather than door-to-door. Because of this, carrier shipping can usually allow for more precise delivery times. Our box truck delivery is an example of carrier services.

Pros of Carrier Services

  • Infinite possibilities for shipment size, shape, and weight.
  • Truckload-based payment (“less-than-truckload,” “partial truckload,” or “full truckload” specifications mean you only pay for the space you use).
  • More specific delivery time windows.
  • Precise shipment updates from truck drivers.

Cons of Courier Services

  • May not be cost-effective for small shipments.
  • Not always well-suited to remote or rural residential deliveries.

Which Works for You?

If you only mail out small shipments, it may not be cost-effective to consider carrier services. Meanwhile, if you regularly need to split up shipments into several bulky packages, you may be better off choosing carrier services. At the end of the day, you’re better off choosing based on which option your business uses more frequently — but don’t be afraid to hire the other type of company when necessary.

To partner with a logistics company that truly cares about making your business better, (or to get the answers to questions like “What is a box truck?”) contact Wanner’s Transport & Delivery today. Helping your business run is our business, and we’re serious about our work. We hope to hear from you soon!