Understanding USPS Balloon Pricing

173005_EW_Understanding-USPS-Balloon-Pricing_200x290When it comes to USPS pricing, size matters. For the most part, heavier packages weigh more. However, certain exceptions exist … and that’s where USPS Balloon Pricing comes in.

What is USPS Balloon Pricing?

Is your Priority Mail package

– Lighter than 20 pounds?
– Measure between 84 and 108 inches in combined length and girth?
– Traveling to a local destination in Zones 1-4?


If you answered “yes” to all the three questions above, then your package is subject to balloon pricing. With balloon pricing, your package is treated as a 20-pound parcel and the actual weight of your package is no longer taken into consideration while determining the cost of shipping. (Dimensional weight pricing is applicable for packages traveling to Zones 5-8 that are greater 1 cubic foot in size.)

How is USPS Balloon Pricing Weight Calculated?

Let’s say you’re shipping a small handmade piñata or a vintage Stetson hat that weighs 5 pounds and fits in a box sized 45”x10”x15”. Add the length (45”) to the girth (15” + 10”  + 15” + 10”); your total is 95”, which is greater than 84” but smaller than 108”. Even though your item is very light, you are charged extra to take into account the extra space the package takes up in processing and shipping.


What Does This Mean for Me?

Knowing about USPS Balloon Pricing ahead of time gives you the opportunity to consider whether other packaging and shipping options are feasible. If you can find a way to cut down on the dimensions of your merchandise and/or your packaging without compromising quality or safety, that’s one method of avoiding the extra charge.

However, if you can’t get around the size issue, you can — and should — take the additional cost under consideration when you’re pricing your products. For example, if you offer “free” shipping, you may choose to increase the product price to help absorb the cost of balloon pricing. Otherwise, be upfront about the extra cost to your customers. Many buyers won’t balk at necessary shipping charges as long as they aren’t surprised about them at the end.

Remember, the combination of lightweight and large can end up costing you. Know what to expect if you sell this type of item, and balloon pricing won’t pop your profits!