How Much Is Shipping on Amazon, and When Can You Get It for Free?

You've probably heard of the free shipping offer for orders over $25. But beyond that, Amazon's shipping rates can get complicated.
Amazon Prime box

Despite Amazon's offer of free shipping for orders over $25, it can be challenging to figure out what shipping from the site will cost. If you're looking for free (or cheap) Amazon shipping, you want to know the ins and outs of the company's shipping policies.

Ready to cut your shipping costs? Here's everything you need to know.

How Much Is Shipping on Amazon?

Shipping costs on Amazon vary by the weight and size of your order, and the speed you choose for delivery. Slower shipping is cheaper or free. Eligible orders over $25, and most Prime orders, ship for free.

But that's just the basics. Shipping on Amazon can cost nothing or it can cost hundreds of dollars. If you don't need your packages in a rush and aren't buying bulky items, careful shoppers can get most of their Amazon packages shipped for free — even without Amazon Prime membership. Read on for more.

Whom You Buy From Affects What You Pay

Amazon may look like one big store, but shopping on Amazon doesn't always mean you're buying from Amazon. A multitude of third-party resellers and special Amazon stores are on the site, each with their own shipping rules and prices. Where you shop makes a big difference in what you'll pay for shipping. When adding things to your cart, look below the item's stock information (typically green text reading "In Stock") to see who's selling and shipping the item.

Even if you're buying from a third party, your order may be fulfilled by Amazon — meaning it ships from an Amazon warehouse and follows Amazon's shipping rules.

Any item sold by Amazon itself will say "sold by" and will follow Amazon's usual shipping rules, including free shipping for orders over $25. But unfortunately, you can't get everything directly from Amazon. If the item is sold by anyone else, those shipping rules can go out the window.

Still, that doesn't necessarily mean you're stuck paying for shipping. Right next to an item's seller information, you can see who's shipping the order. Even if you're buying from a third party, your order may be fulfilled by Amazon — meaning it ships from an Amazon warehouse and follows Amazon's shipping rules.

If your item isn't sold by or shipped by Amazon, shipping costs are entirely at the discretion of the seller. Some sellers will offer free shipping and others won't; check individually to see the exact rate.

How to Find Cheap Shipping on Amazon

The easiest way to get a good deal on shipping from Amazon is to search for orders that are sold by or fulfilled by Amazon itself. The quickest method is to search for Amazon-Prime-eligible items — yes, even if you aren't a Prime member. After searching for your item, check "Prime" in the left-hand toolbar. Now you'll only see the items Amazon ships itself, which follow all of Amazon's regular shipping rules.

But even with this search trick, watch for a few terms when adding an item to your cart. If all you want is quick, low-cost shipping, you probably want to avoid these options:

Add-on item: Typically low-cost items, add-ons are marked with a blue logo reading "Add-on Item." They will not ship unless you have more than $25 worth of goods in your cart; checking out will automatically save them for your next order. Be sure to fill your cart before picking up any add-ons.

SEE ALSO: How I Save $600 a Year on Cat Food Using Amazon Prime

Subscribe & Save: You can subscribe to regular deliveries of certain products on Amazon, typically for a discount. These items only ship once a month on your selected subscription date. If you want your item to ship immediately, select "One-time Purchase" instead of "Subscribe & Save" when adding it to your cart.

Prime Pantry: Many grocery staples are available through Amazon's Prime Pantry program, which has a flat $5.99 shipping fee per box.

Prime Now: Available only to Amazon Prime members, Prime Now offers groceries (including perishables) with free two-hour shipping or $7.99 one-hour shipping (in select areas).

How Does Amazon Ship Items?

At checkout, you'll select how you want your items shipped — one-day, two-day, standard, or no-rush — but not who ships them. In the end, your package should arrive on your doorstep without issue, but there are more than 20 different carriers who might deliver it. Who handles your package will depend on your order — with bulky items often requiring special shipment — and which carriers service your area. Still, you're most likely to get deliveries from UPS or Amazon Logistics.

Your package should arrive on your doorstep without issue, but there are more than 20 different carriers who might deliver it.

You're probably familiar with the big brown UPS truck pulling up in your driveway, but Amazon Logistics is a little different. This is Amazon's own fleet of delivery drivers, and they could show up in any type of vehicle. Though Amazon Logistics doesn't ship everywhere, it handles an increasing number of deliveries in metro areas, including same-day (and same-hour) Prime Now deliveries.

These drivers a harder to spot, but your packages should arrive just fine.

How Does Amazon Prime Shipping Work?

If you don't want to mess with shipping times and costs, you can upgrade to Amazon Prime. For $99 per year, you get free two-day shipping (and, for some orders, free two-hour or same-day shipping), plus plenty of other perks. If you're a frequent Amazon shopper, the convenience can be well worth the cost.

Readers, how do you save on shipping at Amazon? Let us know in the comments below!

Contributing Writer

Originally working in IT, Elizabeth now writes on tech, gaming, and general consumer issues. Her articles have appeared in USA Today, Time, AOL, PriceGrabber, and more. She has been one of DealNews' most regular contributors since 2013, researching everything from vacuums to renters insurance to help consumers.
DealNews may be compensated by companies mentioned in this article. Please note that, although prices sometimes fluctuate or expire unexpectedly, all products and deals mentioned in this feature were available at the lowest total price we could find at the time of publication (unless otherwise specified).
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Or you have to be a Prime member?
michael bonebright (DealNews)
In order to receive free one-day shipping, you've got to (a) be a Prime member placing an eligible order of $35 or more, and (b) be located in select service areas. My guess is that you're
probably not located in an eligible area. Details here:
I can't figure out free one day shipping over $35. I bought an item for $30 and tried 10 different $5 items from Amazon and none gave me the one day free shipping.