Posted on 04/08/22

LTL Shipping vs TL Shipping

LTL Shipping vs TL Shipping

It can be difficult to ship, especially if you are doing logistics for e-commerce. There are always new rules in this industry. Even if you no longer ship physical goods, it is still valuable to be familiar with all the nuances.

There are many things that businesses need to think about when it comes to shipping. These are the Truckload (TL) and Less-than-truckload (LTL). It can sometimes be difficult to compare seemingly identical shipping methods.

Do not be afraid to ask questions about shipping terms (LTL and TL). These differences can be both fascinating and cost-effective, and they can also help you to become a more savvy business owner. Let's take a look at the reasons you should care about each shipping method before choosing one.

This post is intended to help you save time and money as you begin your logistical journey.

What's the difference between TL and LTL, exactly?

The differences between LTL and TL can be as simple as pallets rather than boxes. Or they could be as complex as shipping containers depending upon the load. You will need to get to know them first before you can use them to your advantage.

Let's now see the differences.

LTL - Less-than Truckload:

LTL stands for palletized freight. LTL shipments make up more than half of the business that shippers do. LTL is also less expensive because freight trucks use multiple hubs to pick up and deliver the shipments.

These are some characteristics of LTL freight:

  • LTL shipments can be consolidated with several small shipments in order to fill up the truck.
  • It is less than 4000 pounds.
  • This mode allows you to pack in skids or pallets.
  • There may be additional charges depending on which carrier you use.
  • Because the carrier makes multiple stops at different terminals, the goods' transit time is longer.
  • It's cost-effective.

LTL: When should you choose it?

If you're a small business owner, shipping freight via LTL can be the most cost-effective way to ship your freight. Your freight shipment will be handled by your third-party logistics provider.

LTL shipments can also be palletized. The shipper pays only for the space used in the trailer.

LTL is also well-suited for oddly shaped items or shipments that need extra handling at their destination. When multiple parcels need to be shipped to the same destination, LTL is a great shipping option.

TL Truckload:

Truckload, or Full Truckload as it is often called, is a term that describes a shipment in which one truck is responsible to ship all freight from point of origin to delivery. This shipping method is faster, but more expensive.

These are some characteristics of TL freight:

  • The entire truck is filled with cargo from one company.
  • Shipments to TL weigh more than 15,000 lbs.
  • There are many packaging options. You can use boxes, pallets or skids to pack your goods.
  • The transit time for freight is shorter because it travels directly to its destination.
  • This shipping method has fewer weight and size restrictions.
  • Freight handling is less. There are fewer freight handling problems.

How to Choose TL?

If you have large freight items, TL is the best option.

If your freight is more than ten pallets, you should ship through TL. If you need to ship a delicate item and don't want to risk it being lost in transit, you might consider using TL shipping. TL shipping is time-sensitive. Although this shipping method is more costly than LTL, the prices are more predictable and fixed than LTL's complex pricing structure.

What is the difference between LTL and TL?

It is important to understand the differences between LTL and TL shipping in order to choose the right shipping route and carrier. It is important to be able to distinguish between the different service levels of freight carriers as there is no one right way to go.

Shipping costs can be affected by understanding the differences between carriers. It's not about cutting every cent off your shipping costs. However, it is important to understand the differences between shipping costs and the cost of shipping.

Shipping Freight: Which LTL or TL?

Your company may be able to benefit from either full truckload or less than truckload shipping, depending on how much freight you are transporting. Both shipping methods have their pros and cons. However, these guidelines will help you decide which method is best for your specific circumstances.

These are some things you should consider when deciding whether LTL shipping or TL shipping is right for you.

LTL and TL shipping options have their advantages and disadvantages. The freight cost and other services required will determine which shipping method is best for you company.

Freight weight/size

Are your goods larger than a standard pallet? Two pallets, for example, stacked on top one another, would require TL transport because they won't fit in a standard LTL truck vehicle.

You need to determine how much freight your trailer can hold before you decide whether LTL or TL shipping is necessary. If you have enough cargo for at least half of your 53-foot trailer, then you might consider TL shipping. It's usually cheaper than LTL. LTL shipping may be more cost-effective for smaller shipments, as shippers can pool their loads and reduce their costs.

LTL shipping and TL shipping don't always have to be related to freight. The choice between LTL shipping and TL shipping is influenced by cost and other services.


How much do you have to spend on shipping freight? LTL may be cheaper if you have low-value freight, such as expensive products, or need to use specialized services. LTL is more cost-effective if you have large quantities of pallets with a weight less than 10,000 pounds (4,536 kilograms).

Additional services required

Do you require expedited shipping? You might need temperature control, which may not be possible in an LTL terminal. However, it could be provided in TL service at an additional freight shipping price.

Because TL shipping offers guaranteed delivery times, it is ideal for urgent or time-sensitive shipment. LTL shipping has a longer transit time.

Remember that not all freight can be shipped as LTL. If the shipment is too heavy or large, it will be sent via TL. LTL carriers will not accept cargo that isn't within the LTL shipping guidelines. But, even if your goods are large enough to fill a truckload, it doesn't necessarily mean that you have to ship them via TL.


Freight shipping is an important and complex part of a business. This can lead to a maze of regulations, restrictions, hidden costs, and complicated rules. Knowing what you are up against and how to navigate it all is the first step to success in freight shipping.

LTL freight is generally more practical and economical for smaller loads. TL freight, however, tends to be cheaper for larger shipments. Both shipping options have their pros and cons. LTL carriers, for example, offer more flexibility and superior service, but can be more expensive than TL carriers. Conversely, TL carriers offer less benefits for a lower cost but have fewer restrictions regarding the size and weight your shipments.

Because every company has different rates and requirements, there is no one way to determine which shipping method suits you best. Before making a decision, it is important to fully understand the pros and cons of each shipping method.