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LTL VS. FTL Shipping: Which Is The Better Option?

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Many freight companies offer two common transportation options: less than truckload (LTL) and full truckload (FTL). Unfortunately, no hard and fast rules are available that you should follow to select the option that suits your needs best. The best way to understand the more favorable option is to compare different factors. Below are five crucial factors to consider when you select a shipment option.

1. Cost

Because LTL shipments leave space for other goods, your freight company will only charge you for the space your goods occupy. Also, if your goods aren't delicate, you minimize movement that may cause damage when you fill the extra space with other goods. You will pay more for FTL because your items occupy all or almost the whole truck.

2. Size and Nature of Shipment

LTL shipments are for smaller loads that don't occupy the whole truck; hence space remains for other shipments. On the flip side, FTL shipments occupy most or all of the truck space. Yet, if your goods are irregular or delicate, even if the size is small, go for FTL shipment. Even if you leave room on the truck, you'll get a safer option for your delicate goods.

3. Accessorial Fees

In FTL, you have the undivided attention of a truck driver from pick up to delivery. So, detention and driver assistance aren't always a big concern. As a result, freight companies tend to forgo accessory charges. But, on the flip side, the fee you pay for LTL is distributed among different warehouses and drivers. So, delays and disruptions often result in additional changes.

4. Handling

Your freight company keeps your shipment on the same truck and doesn't transfer your goods elsewhere in FTL. So, you face less risk of lost or damaged items. On the flipside, LTL shipments can switch trucks or store your goods in different warehouses amidst transportation. So, even though most LTL shipments arrive in good condition, the increased handling poses more risk of damage.

5. Time

LTL shipments tend to be slower than FTL shipments because your freight company ships your goods with others'. The truck makes multiple stops and transfers before the final destination. You'll be lucky if the trick's first stop is at your premises, but that's not always the case. If speed is an essential factor for your goods, FTL is a better option regardless of the size.


The ultimate decision on which shipment to request from your freight company depends on your budget and needs. If price is the primary determinant, request a quote from your freight company for both options and choose the cheaper option. Nonetheless, never sacrifice the safety of your goods for a lower price because you might incur more in repairs and replacements.