Daily Tip: Initial and Final Contract Rates

Ashley McAvoyDaily Tips

Did you know? Contracted rates account for roughly 80%-85% of all dry van truckload moves throughout the year.

Each day we’ll send you a daily tip designed to guide you to become a SONAR expert. If you have any questions, please contact your Customer Success Representative or email the team at cs@freightwaves.com.

Initial and Final Contract Rates are a seven-day moving average of the daily median reported rates based on $20+ billion of annual freight invoices for van, reefer, intermodal and less-than-truckload (LTL) modes at a national level. The initial version is the average of invoices that have been reported within two weeks of the ship date, which represents roughly 50% of the total invoices on average. The final report value occurs anywhere from 28 to 56 days after the ship date (depending on the mode) and represents roughly 70% or more of the total invoices for the given ship date. The initial reports provide a quick look at the direction of long-term rates in the U.S. while sacrificing some accuracy. The final reports offer a more complete representation of the rates for validation and historical referencing.  



All modes except for LTL are represented in a rate per mile format. LTL rates are represented in revenue per hundredweight ($/CWT). All rates exclude fuel surcharge and accessorial fees. The following is a list of available tickers with their reporting lags.

Van Contract Initial – VCRPM1.USA (14 days)

Van Contract Final – VCRPMF.USA (56 days)

Reefer Contract Initial – RCRPM1.USA (14 days)

Reefer Contract Final – RCRPMF.USA (28 days)

Intermodal Contract Initial – IMCRPM1.USA (14 days)

Intermodal Contract Final – IMCRPMF.USA (28 days)

LTL Contract Initial – LCWT1.USA (14 days)

LTL Contract Final – LCWTF.USA (42 days)

Analysts: Analysts can use the contract rates to understand the general direction of prices in the four major modes of domestic transportation in the U.S.

Carriers: Carriers can similarly use the contract rates to understand the general direction of rates, while also getting the quickest available look at daily invoiced rate data in order to make faster tactical pricing decisions. 

Brokers: Brokers can use the direction of rates to help form realistic freight spend budgets for their managed transportation clients, as well as see the general direction of the market. They will also be able to see the relationship between the spot market and contracted rates more clearly.  

Shippers: Shippers have a similar use case to brokers in forming clearer expectations for long-term rate agreements, but can also see the relationship between modes when trying to make decisions on how to move their freight. 

The main purpose of viewing daily contracted rate movements is to view long-term pricing trends in transportation. Reported rate increases only tell part of the story. Seeing how route guide compliance is influencing the purchased transportation price for the various modes can help clarify decisions to move rates depending on your perspective in the transportation space. Shippers can use these rates to validate decisions to lever rates downward or move them higher to find the optimal price point that balances price and compliance. Carriers can use these rates to justify rate increases or take a more aggressive rating approach to gain more market share. Brokers possibly have the widest spectrum of use, looking at the rates as both shipper and carrier. 

1)  To view the values on a chart:

  • Click on the blue Plus (+) icon in the top right corner to open a new tab
  • Click on the Chart icon
  • Type in one of the desired tickers in the box in the top left corner of the tab
  • To compare another ticker, click on the +compare button and type in another ticker value

2)  You can view the contract rates in a gauge chart to see how the current values compare historically with 52-week high and low values.

  • Click the blue “Plus” (+) icon in the top right corner
  • Click on the Gauge Chart line in the Watchlist section
  • Name the symbol list by typing a label in the first box
  • Click Manage Symbols
  • Either type the tickers you need after clicking the Search box, or
  • Scroll down to the Trucking Supply/Demand category and click the + sign to expand the category
  • Locate the contract values in the list and press the + icon to expand the options
  • Check the box next to the tickers you wish to view in the gauges

Pro Tip: Compare the contract values with FreightWaves Scientific Rates and/or Truckstop.com spot rate values to see how spot market rates are influencing long-term rates. 

If you have questions about the Contract Rates, please contact us at cs@freightwaves.com. 

Happy Hauling,

The FW Team