Easter is just around the corner. Maybe there’s someone in your family, or a good friend, who would appreciate an Easter basket, a box of cookies, or a bouquet of flowers this year. If you need to ship your Easter present, you’re going to have to think fast, because Easter is fast approaching. However, even though you don’t have a lot of time, your options aren’t limited. It’s possible to get a nice present and save money on shipping this late in the game; you just need to know where to look. We’ve got six suggestions to make your life easier. Rest assured, your gifts will get there before the Easter Bunny does, and you won’t burn a hole in your wallet to make it happen.
1. Order early. Already know what you want? Don’t just sit there: Order it! The longer you wait to ship your package, the more you’ll have to spend to get it to its destination by Easter. For example, if you order a 28 Nibblers Easter Tin from Mrs. Fields, you’ll pay $8.95 for standard shipping, which may take as long as six days, depending on where you live. Not fast enough? Your cookies can arrive at their destination in two business days for $11.95 extra, and one business day for a minimum of $16.95 extra. You also need to order early enough to make sure your package arrives on Saturday. Most places won’t deliver on Sunday, so don’t wait until the beginning of Easter weekend to make your purchases. Order early to make it easy on yourself and save money.
2. Don’t pack perishables. Okay, maybe that’s common sense, but what does it have to do with saving money on shipping? It’s pretty simple: If you send perishables, you’re going to have to spend a lot more money to ship them properly. While there’s nothing inherently wrong with shipping Cadbury Creme Eggs from Arizona to your niece in Rhode Island, don’t be surprised if they arrive squishy and deformed, especially if you send them via standard shipping. Think of it this way: Would you offer someone a package of chocolate that had been sitting out in the sun and the snow for six days? Probably not, right? Packages may have to sit through all kinds of temperatures before arriving at their destination. If you don’t want to spend the extra money to pack it right and make sure it gets there in a day or two, just pack things that will travel well, like hard candy, snack mixes, Easter crafts and stuffed animals. All of these things will survive the journey just fine, even if you opt for cheaper shipping.
3. Order from a fast-shipping specialist. Ordering your Easter gift online? It’s probably too late for free shipping, but companies that specialize in quick shipping may be able to offer it to you for less. If you’ve got an Amazon Prime membership, all your Amazon.com purchases will arrive at their destination in two business days automatically, for free. You can also expedite the shipping for a reduced price: $3.99 per item for one-day shipping and local express delivery. To give you a sense of the savings, the price for everyone else is $8.99 plus $0.99 per item for local express delivery, and as much as $17.00 plus $1.99 per item for one day shipping. An Amazon Prime membership costs $79 a year, so it’s a much better deal for people who shop online regularly. If you’re really pressed for time, Amazon.com can help you with that, too: Just buy an e-gift card and send it via email. While they don’t have the same personal touch as a box of homemade cookies, an e-gift card will arrive immediately, and the shipping is free.
4. Stick with the post office. According to MoneyTalks News, the United States Postal Service (USPS) still provides the cheapest way (on average) to ship a package across the United States. The MoneyTalks staff wanted to find the cheapest way to ship a five-pound package overnight, and discovered it cost almost $30 more for FedEx, and almost $35 more for UPS compared to the USPS price. If you only need 2-3 days for the package to arrive, consider using a Priority Mail Flat Rate Box. The post office will charge you for the size of the box (which they provide), not the weight, so this is a great way to save money if you’re shipping something heavy, like jellybeans. The post office also gives discounts when you pay your postage online, usually 10-30 cents. Every little bit helps!
5. Buy your own box, or reuse an old one. If the box isn’t included in your overall shipping cost, it might be better to go out and buy it yourself. In many cases, you’re going to pay a lot more for shipping supplies at the shipping center. If you have the time, make a quick trip to your local office supply store to buy your own box, tape, and bubble wrap. If you don’t ship packages often, and don’t need large quantities of shipping material, just buy in smaller quantities. However, that’s still not the cheapest way to get shipping supplies. The next time you get a package in the mail, save the boxes and bubble wrap, and use them again. That’s a lot more eco-friendly, and it’s free.
6. Take advantage of online discounts. FedEx and UPS have a more flexible pricing structure than the US Postal Service, so you may be able to find shipping discounts by looking online. Try looking for shipping deals like FedEx Office discounts using NerdWallet’s coupon tool. Can’t find a shipping coupon? Consider saving money on your purchase instead. That’ll definitely bring down the overall cost of your shipment. Try shopping online through your credit card rewards mall. Your what? Most credit card companies partner with major retailers through an online shopping portal (or “mall”) that offers discounts automatically. Simply buy the things you normally would and earn an extra 1% to 20% back on your purchase, on top of whatever rewards your credit card already earns. The Chase Freedom, for example, gets you access to the Chase Ultimate Rewards Mall, which offers discounts at Easter-friendly vendors like ProFlowers.com, 1-800-BASKETS.com, and See’s Candies.
Tim Chen is the CEO of NerdWallet, an unbiased credit card comparison website dedicated to helping you find the best credit cards. Check out the NerdWallet online shopping tool to find out which rewards mall offers the best cash back deal at your favorite store.