Courier contracts are a great way to move items around between stations. You don't even have to be in the same region to view items in assets and set up contracts to move them around.
Just a few reasons you might want to use courier contracts are:
- They save you from the tedium of making long flights between hubs.
- Collateral transfers the risk of being ganked and losing the shipment from you to the courier pilot. If he gets ganked the shipment is lost but you get paid the collateral.
- They allow you to move large volume shipments without you having to train skills for flying big cargo ships.
Of course there is a cost, couriers don't work for free. The courier I use, Red Frog Freight (aka RFF), comes out to approximately 500k ISK per jump for hisec only routes. RFF will accept contracts for up to 860,000 m3 volume and covered by up to 1 billion ISK in collateral. They also run Blue Frog Freight and Black Frog Freight for higher collateral and low/null sec contracts respectively.
Personally I never use Blue Frog because it costs about the same as sending multiple contracts to the same destination via Red Frog and Red Frog has a 3 day contract expiration requirement while Blue Frog is 7 days. Usually the same guy will pick them all up and deliver them at the same time anyhow.
As for delivery times, I find RFF delivers most of my contracts within 24 hours, contracts between major hubs usually take less than 12 hours and contracts originating from or being delivered to Jita often only take an hour or two.
Here's how I set up courier contracts using Red Frog Freight as the courier.
1. Send items via private contract (not a courier contract, that comes later) to the character on the destination station.
2. Accept the contract(s) on the destination character and transfer any funds by right clicking the name of the character who sent the items.
3. Open assets on the destination character. The items should be showing on the origination station now. If they aren't you probably opened assets before accepting the contract. In that case simply wait a few minutes for assets to refresh again, or log out and back in to force an immediate refresh.
4. Select all the items (in assets) you want to move and click "create contract" to begin setting up a courier contract to the destination station.
The reason for setting up courier contracts on the character who will be receiving the contents is that way the items will automatically appear in his inventory upon delivery without having to log onto the sender to check for delivery, create another contract and accept it on the receiver.
5. In the contract window check "courier" and "private".
6. Enter "Red Frog Freight" in the name field.
If you don't want to use a courier corps like RFF don't check "private" and leave the name field empty. You can get cheaper service that way but it might not be as quick or as reliable.
7. Click the Next button to go on to the next part of creating a contract
8. A "Pick Items (2/4)" window opens showing all the items in inventory on the contract originating station. Items in the contract will have an X in the box beside them indicating they are in the contract. Assuming you selected everything you wanted in the contract in the first place you don't need to change anything here just click next.
9. "Select Options (3/4)" window opens.
10. Enter the name of the destination station here. Note you can enter partial names like Amarr and hit "Search" which will find all stations in amarr and pop up another window allowing you to select one of them.
11. Enter the courier payment in the "Reward" field. If you're using RFF go to Red Frog Freight to calculate the fee.
Another alternative courier corps with a good reputation is PUSHx
12. Enter the collateral amount in the "collateral" field. With RFF the maximum allowed is 1 billion so enter 1 billion. It doesn't cost anymore to enter high amounts than low amounts so always enter the maximum 1 billion. Make sure collateral isn't less than the value of the cargo, otherwise you're just tempting the courier pilot to default on the contract and keep the contents for himself.
13. Set "Expiration" to 3 days. That's the standard for RFF contracts, other couriers may have different standards.
14. Set "Time to deliver" to 1 day. That means after a courier pilot accepts the contract he has 1 day to deliver it. If he doesn't deliver on time, the contract defaults and you receive the collateral payment as compensation. I've never had RFF default on a courier contract.
15. Click next.
16. "Confirm 4/4" opens. Double check you entered all of the information correctly. If something is wrong use the "Previous" button to back up and fix it. Pay particular attention to the Reward and Collateral fields. Once you're sure everything is good click Finish.
17. A final "Are you sure" type window pops up. Click Yes.
18. The actual contract opens up. Triple check everything is correct. If not Delete the contract immediately and redo it.