Freight Broker vs. Freight Carrier: What are the Differences?

What is a freight broker?

A freight broker is an intermediary between a transportation company and a shipper. A freight broker does not own equipment. Instead, they arrange loads for shippers by contacting a partner carrier and booking an available truck or trailer on behalf of the shipper. 

What is a freight carrier?

A freight carrier owns and operates a fleet of trailers, trucks, and/or tractors. A freight carrier also employees drivers who move the freight. When they have freight that needs to be moved, shippers can work directly with carriers. 

Can you be a freight carrier and a freight broker?

It is not common for transportation providers to be both freight carriers and freight brokers, but these kinds of providers do exist. The benefit of working with a provider that offers both carrier and brokerage services is that you can ensure all of your freight needs are met with a singular provider. The freight brokerage department can provide the flexibility and adaptability you may need, while offering the cheapest prices. The carrier department can provide the control and quality assurances that you need. Both asset-based and freight brokerage services provide distinct and meaningful advantages. In fact, many shippers benefit from harnessing the power of both asset-based carriers and freight brokerage teams.

First Star Logistics is a unique asset-based global logistics provider with an in-house freight brokerage department. With their comprehensive logistics solutions and specialized services, First Star Logistics consistently prioritizes their responsibility to every client to ensure safe, secure, and timely deliveries.

What are the main differences between a freight broker and a freight carrier?


Freight carriers control their coverage areas; however, shippers are at the mercy of where the trucks are located when they are needed. For example, if a shipper needs a load picked up in Columbus, Ohio tomorrow, but the carrier’s closest available truck is in Tampa, Florida, that could be an issue. 

In contrast, a freight broker can utilize their extensive network of carrier partners to locate the correct equipment with the right availability for every shipping job. Through technology tools and a multitude of contacts, the freight broker may have a dozen trucks in and around Columbus, Ohio that are available and suitable for moving your load. 


Freight carriers own their assets and have direct control over the route and instructions. If something arises and a change needs to be made, a freight carrier can call the driver and give them new instructions. 

In contrast, a freight broker will not have the same degree of control over every truck. A freight broker can ask the driver if they are willing to change directions. If the driver is not able to change directions, the freight broker can arrange a new carrier to complete the remainder of the assignment. 


In order to adjust to an increase in demand, a freight carrier would need to purchase more equipment and hire additional drivers. This increases overhead which increases risk if the demand decreases sometime in the future. 

Alternatively, freight brokers do not need to acquire more assets in order to adjust to an increase in demand. Whether the demand increases or decreases, freight brokers can adjust more easily and quickly than freight carriers who are tied to the capabilities of their assets. 


Asset carriers own their equipment and directly employ their drivers. This gives asset carriers a significant amount of control over the quality of their services as they can work directly with the drivers to make sure that they have everything they need to provide the safest and most efficient delivery, and directly oversee the maintenance and care of their trucks and trailers. 

The quality of services that freight brokers deliver is contingent upon the quality of carrier providers they have in their network. While freight brokers do not have direct control over assets or drivers, they often do have sophisticated, internal systems for monitoring insurance levels, authority status, and performance records of each carrier. 


Freight carriers set their own prices and there is no middleman markup. When working with a freight carrier, shippers are more likely to receive expeditious and firm quotes.

Freight brokers may need to negotiate and leverage their wide network to provide a low price. This may lead to some variability in quotes. However, an experienced freight broker will know the market and their carrier partners so they can stand behind their prices. 

Join The First Star Logistics Team as a Freight Broker Today! 

First Star Logistics is a global logistics provider with over 60 years of experience. As a comprehensive, asset-based provider, First Star Logistics has an in-house freight brokerage department that serves the United States. Through a unique freight broker training program, First Star Logistics offers competitive opportunities to logistics professionals and ensures every team member meets the highest standards. To join the First Star Logistics team as a freight broker, apply now!