2017 Guide: Move Your Shipments with These Top LTL Freight Carriers

Did you know that there is a way around pooling goods and waiting until you have a full truckload to ship? It’s called LTL shipping and it can save you time, energy, and money. Doesn’t that sound like a great option in the costly world of shipping by truck?

While it’s a great thing that LTL freight carriers are so widely available, the drawback is that there are so many options, almost too many options of LTL companies.

It’s hard to narrow down to just one company, and let’s face it, having one company handling your shipping needs is most ideal for many reasons.

Best LTL Shipping Companies

Award Emblem: Top 6 Best LTL Shipping Companies

However, while it is ideal to have one company, that doesn’t mean the search process is easy or even straightforward. When you are looking to choose an LTL transport company, you likely have questions, including:

  • What does LTL shipping mean?
  • What constitutes as LTL shipments?
  • What should you look for in LTL companies?
  • What are the top LTL freight companies?

Throughout this 2017 guide, we will answer the questions you have surrounding LTL trucking. We will explain what LTL shipping is and what to look for in LTL trucking companies. Finally, we will provide a detailed review of the six best LTL companies.

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AdvisoryHQ’s List of Top 6 Best LTL Carriers

List is sorted alphabetically (click any of the LTL transport companies below to go directly to the detailed review section for that LTL trucking company):

Top 6 Best LTL Shipping Companies | Brief Comparison & Ranking

Best LTL Shipping Companies

Annual Revenues

(in millions, USD)

Best Feature

Con-Way Freight


FedEx Freight


Two Options Provide Flexibility
Old Dominion Freight Line


Top End Technology
R + L Carriers


Offshore Options
UPS Freight


On-time delivery guarantee
YRC Freight


Strong customer service
Table: Top 6 Best LTL Freight Carriers | Above list is sorted alphabetically

Detailed Overview: What Is LTL Freight?

LTL stands for “less than truckload” and refers to a shipment that does not require an entire trailer to be shipped. This generally refers to shipments that are too large for a normal parcel carrier, but that are too small to require an entire freight truck to ship.

Falling in the middle size-wise puts these shipments in an awkward position, where companies are looking to minimize costs.

Companies turn to LTL trucking companies for many reasons, but the main reason is that LTL can be a more cost-effective method to shipping. Since LTL carriers pool multiple shipments in one truck, the cost is split between all the different shippers.

This is great for minimizing expenses and also for adding on more options like residential delivery, lift gate services, and reduced size restrictions.

Another benefit that some don’t consider is that LTL freight options allow them to reduce pooling costs. Shipping is a cost-effective way to disperse products, but if you have to pool them in a central warehouse until enough orders have been placed to justify shipping via full truckload (FTL), then you are paying for warehouse space and slowing down delivery speeds.

Though these are just a few benefits, it is clear that less than truckload shipping can offer a creative, cost-effective way to ship goods and materials.

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Detailed Overview: What to Look for in LTL Shipments

If you are looking for a way to lower your shipping costs, LTL shipments might be the way to go. Not only are the actual shipping costs lower with LTL, but you also have the ability to decrease pooling costs and benefit from increased flexibility.

While you might be 100% aware that LTL shipping is the right choice for you, it can often be a struggle to choose the best LTL shipping companies.

Truth be told, there are so many options, and it is quite easy to become overwhelmed. The search process can be confusing, and you can quickly become bogged down with routes, rates, and options that you struggle to make sense of.

ltl freight

Image Source: Pexels

That is why it is a good idea to have an idea of what you are looking for in LTL freight carriers before you start searching. This can help eliminate some of the contenders from the ever-growing list of LTL trucking companies. However, do you know what you are looking for when analyzing different LTL carriers?

There are many different factors that come into play with LTL companies, and it is important to know what you are looking for in top-notch carriers. When you are looking at LTL companies, it is important to consider the following:

Cost: One of the things that people often jump to first is cost, but while cost is important, it isn’t the only thing that should be considered with LTL carriers. You could find the cheapest shipper in the world, but if your shipments arrive damaged or weeks behind schedule, you will find yourself wishing that you paid a bit more for a top-tier freight carrier.

Reliability: This is a huge factor to take into consideration when comparing LTL trucking companies. It is essential to choose a reliable shipping that has a high percentage of on-time deliveries. One of the benefits of LTL is that you have increased flexibility, but if your shipper is not reliable that benefit quickly disappears.

Tracking: You will be sending out more frequent shipments with LTL shipping companies because there is no need to pool and wait for a FTL shipment. That means there are many more shipments flying about and you will want the ability to track these LTL shipments to see where they are and that they are being delivered on time.

Size & Weight Restrictions: Another thing that will come into play is if the LTL freight carriers place size and weight restrictions on your shipments. This is crucial, especially if you are shipping larger or heavy goods. You will want to get a rough idea of the size and weight of your shipments and ensure that the carrier you are considering can accommodate you.

As apparent from the list above, there are many things that need to be taken into consideration when you are trying to find the best LTL freight carriers for you. Be sure that the carriers you are looking for deliver in your area, that they can handle your shipment size and weights, and that they are reliable.

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Detailed Review—Top Ranking Best LTL Freight Carriers

Below, please find the detailed review of each LTL transport on our list of top LTL shipping companies. We have highlighted some of the factors that allowed these LTL trucking companies to score so high in our selection ranking.

Con-Way Freight Review

Con-Way Freight, a subsidiary of XPO Logistics, is one of the top LTL trucking companies in the country. What’s great about Con-Way Freight is that they have an extensive shipping network and industry knowledge to get the job done.

Con-Way Freight offers LTL shipping services throughout the world. They are the second largest LTL shipper in North America, and they have more than thirty years of experience backing them.

The shipper offers next-day and two-day services, and they deliver to 99% of all U.S. zip codes, which means remote area delivery is entirely possible. This is one of the LTL carriers that offers a variety of additional features, like exemplary tracking and proof of delivery.

Bottom Line

When it comes to LTL shipping in the United States, Con-Way Freight, which is run through XPO Logistics, is hard to top.

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FedEx Freight Review

If you are looking for reliable LTL shipping companies, FedEx Freight must be one of the companies that you give a glance. FedEx knows that one size does not fit all, which is why they offer two unique LTL options—FedEx Freight Priority and FedEx Freight Economy.

FedEx Freight Priority is for those with time-sensitive LTL needs. They still provide economical shipping options, but if time is no issue, FedEx Freight Economy will save you even more financially.

FedEx also has a vast shipping network that is able to be scaled up or down to meet your needs. With a massive fleet, they can accommodate varying size and weight shipments and can meet extremely time-sensitive demands that other LTL trucking companies might falter with.

Bottom Line

If you want an LTL trucking company that is backed by a wide network and able to handle lofty demands, give FedEx Freight a look.

Old Dominion Freight Line Review

When it comes to LTL, Old Dominion Freight Line is another of the top LTL freight carriers. They offer their LTL shipping services throughout the United Stated, specifically regions as Northeast, Southeast, Midwest, Central States, Gulf States, and the West.

The Super Regional Service provides LTL shipping both intra and inter-regionally throughout the country. They have a large network, with more than 226 service centers and 32 transfer points. These are serviced by 18,000 employees looking to help get your shipments delivered on time and in pristine condition.

Aside from reliable service, Old Dominion Freight Line also offers additional benefits, like shipment tracking via their online portal, SAP and RFID capabilities, and the ability to handle shipments of any type, size, or weight.

Bottom Line

Old Dominion Freight Line might be a good choice for you if you are looking to ship within the United States. With Old Dominion you are getting a reliable network and top-end technology that supersedes some other LTL shipping companies.

R + L Carriers Review

R + L Carriers is another one of the top LTL carriers that you will come across during your search. Though it isn’t a household name like FedEx or UPS, that doesn’t meant R + L Carriers should be overlooked.

This is one of the LTL freight carriers that understands the importance of cutting down shipping costs, which is why they offer LTL shipments that are reliable. They are so sure of their delivery times, boasting a 98% on-time delivery rate, that these shipments are actually backed by a guarantee.

If you need regional or long-haul LTL, R + L Carriers can accommodate. They also offer offshore and Canadian shipping options, as well as residential and business delivery and logistic solutions.

Bottom Line

R + L Carriers might not be a household name, but they are one of the top LTL freight carriers offering strong services with plenty of advanced features to match. A 98% on-time delivery is nothing to balk at.

UPS Freight Review

UPS Freight is another one of the best LTL carriers that you may want to look into. As far as LTL trucking companies go, they are one of the top options. UPS guarantees speed, coverage, and flexibility, along with guaranteed reliability with their LTL services.

They offer a day-definite, on-time delivery guarantee that lets you rest assured that your shipments will be arrive on time. That is not something that all LTL shipping companies, and is definitely worth noting.

If you need regional, interregional or long-haul services, UPS has got you covered. They offer more than 20,000 on and two day lanes, with the ability to get cross-continent in three to four days, which other LTL freight carriers cannot always guarantee.

Bottom Line

If you want exemplary reliability with advanced tracking and fast delivery rates, UPS is one of the LTL trucking companies to consider for your LTL shipping needs.

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YRC Freight Review

If you are looking for LTL trucking companies that go above and beyond, YRC Freight is yet another company to consider for your shipping needs.

This trucking company offers Standard LTL services that are cross-country, regional, and even dispersing through all of North America. This is one of the LTL shipping companies that offers routes to Mexico and Canada and can be tasked with taking your shipments cross-border.

They also deliver offshore to locations like Hawaii, Alaska, Guam, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands. With good tracking features and strong customer service, YRC Freight is one of the top LTL freight carriers.

Bottom Line

When it comes to shipping offshore and across North American borders, YRC Freight is one of the LTL carriers that you can trust to get the job done right.

Conclusion—Top 6 Best LTL Carriers

It’s no secret that LTL trucking companies are widely used to increase flexibility and decrease the cost of shipping. Many utilize LTL freight for those exact reasons.

The only trick is trying to find the top LTL shipping companies when there are so many to choose from. You might become overwhelmed with options when a simple Internet search reveals pages and pages of LTL shippers.

(ltl) shipping

Image Source: Pexels

When you are searching, it is important to know what you are looking for so that you can find a shipper that meets your needs. Be sure to ask the following questions:

  • Does the LTL shipper fall within my budget?
  • Is the LTL trucking company reliable with good tracking features?
  • Is the LTL company able to handle the specific size and weight of my shipments?
  • Is this one of the LTL carriers that delivers into the areas that I require?

These are all important questions to know the answer to as you work your way toward a final decision. When it comes down to the wire, a few LTL shipping companies might really stand out to you. If that’s the case, choose the one that offered you the best customer service before you became a customer, because they will likely treat you just as well once you’ve signed on.

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