Best Overnight Shipping

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March 17, 2024

In today’s fast-paced world, getting your packages where they need to be when they need to be there is essential.

 Overnight shipping has revolutionized how we send and receive packages, offering speed and efficiency like never before.

This guide will dive into the fundamentals of overnight shipping, covering everything from what it is and how it works to the best options available, cost considerations, benefits, and much more.

Whether you’re a business owner looking to improve your customer service or an individual seeking the fastest way to send a package, this article will provide all the insights you need regarding overnight shipping.

For more information on locating a convenient post office near you, visit FindPostoffice.org and streamline your shipping experience today.

What Is Overnight Shipping?

Overnight shipping services, provided by reputable carriers such as USPS, UPS, and FedEx, guarantee the delivery of packages on the next business day.

During the first quarter of 2022, around 37% of people who shop online worldwide were interested in purchasing items if they had the choice for next-day delivery. 

Meanwhile, about 35.9% of online shoppers in the United States favored a next-day delivery. 

These figures show a significant demand for overnight shipping. If you have an online business, consider offering this option to your customers.

What Is an Overnight Shipping Company?

An overnight shipping company or a courier service specializes in expeditious package delivery.

These companies are designed to meet the need for rapid transportation, ensuring your parcels arrive at their destination within a single night.

Partnering with renowned carriers like USPS, UPS, and FedEx, these companies offer a range of overnight delivery options to accommodate diverse shipping requirements.

Whether it’s a crucial business document, a last-minute gift, or any time-sensitive item, these overnight shipping companies play a pivotal role in ensuring your packages reach their destinations swiftly and reliably.

How Overnight Shipping Works

Overnight delivery is a swift and efficient way to send packages and letters. The process begins when you drop off your parcel at a shipping facility or the local post office before a designated cutoff time.

This early drop-off is essential to ensure your item arrives at its destination the next day. Afterward, the delivery service will sort your parcel based on its destination, the service type you picked, and its size.

A barcode is then placed on your parcel for easy tracking and identification. Finally, the postal service transports your package to the nearest station overnight.

The Order Must Be Placed Before the Overnight Delivery Cutoff Time

It’s crucial to order before a specific time of day to ensure your shipment qualifies for overnight shipping.

This cutoff time allows the courier to manage all the necessary steps, including processing, packing, pickup, and delivery.

For overnight shipping, couriers may set their local cutoff times at 4:00 PM.

Remember that cutoff times might differ depending on your location or specific situations, so it’s advisable to contact your courier to verify the exact cutoff schedule for overnight shipping.

You or Your Fulfillment Partner Prepare the Overnight Delivery Order for Courier Pick Up

This process involves packing the items and printing the shipping label. The label specifies that the orders are to be expedited for overnight shipping. These orders usually take priority.

The Courier Picks Up and Processes the Parcel

Once in transit, your parcel will be sent to the hub nearest to your customer. Overnight orders are transported by air or ground, ensuring they reach your customer on the following business day.

The Package Is Transported to an Overnight Delivery Hub

Once the routing is complete, the package heads to the nearest hub, ensuring a quick delivery to the end customer.

Overnight orders get shipped via either ground or air transport, aiming to reach the customer on the next business day.

The Customer Receives Their Order the Next Day

The delivery time for your package on the next day can vary based on the chosen courier and your preferred overnight shipping option.

For instance, with UPS (United Parcel Service), their Next Day Air Early service can deliver your package by 8:00 AM on the following business day.

Meanwhile, Next Day Air Saver packages might reach their destination by 4:30 PM the next day.

The Best Overnight and Next-day Shipping Options

Next-day delivery options can make all the difference regarding overnight shipping. Several reputable carriers offer a range of choices tailored to suit diverse shipping needs.

Whether you prefer an early delivery or are more flexible with the timing, services are tailored to your requirements.

USPS’ Priority Mail Express, UPS’ Next Day Air Early, UPS’ Next Day Air Saver, FedEx’s Standard Overnight, Priority Overnight, and First Overnight services, as well as DHL, contribute to the selection of overnight options available.

UPS Overnight Shipping Options

UPS offers several overnight options if you need express shipping, including:

The shipping times range from 8:00 AM for Next Day Air Early to 10:30 AM for UPS Next Day Air and 3:00 PM for Next Day Air Saver.

UPS Next Day Air

As of 2023, the cost to send a letter using UPS Next Day Air begins at $30.56 and can go up to $76.42.

UPS Next Day Air Saver

The most affordable option to send a letter overnight is UPS Next Day Air Saver. Based on 2023 rates, prices start at $29.85 and can go up to $56.36.

UPS Next Day Air Early

According to 2023 rates, shipping a letter overnight using UPS Next Day Air Early starts at $60.56 and can go as high as $100.08.

USPS Overnight Shipping Options

The United States Postal Service (USPS) provides a range of overnight shipping choices, ensuring delivery in one to two days. These options include USPS Priority Mail Express and USPS Priority Mail Express Flat Rate.

USPS Priority Mail Express

USPS’s Priority Mail Express service offers a flat-rate shipping alternative, enabling you to send your mail piece at a consistent cost determined by the package’s size and weight.

This option can be budget-friendly, with shipping costs starting at just $28.75 for all states.

FedEx Overnight Shipping Options

Similar to UPS, FedEx’s express delivery alternatives differ according to the timing of the shipment, starting with early morning options such as FedEx First Overnight and extending into the late evening with FedEx Standard Overnight.

It’s important to note that the more urgently you require your package to be delivered, the higher the cost.

FedEx Standard Overnight

FedEx Standard Overnight ensures delivery to U.S. businesses by 5:00 PM on the following business day and to residences by 8:00 PM.

FedEx Priority Overnight

FedEx Priority Overnight guarantees next-business-day delivery. This service typically delivers by 10:30 AM to most businesses, by noon to residences, and 5:00 PM to some rural areas.

FedEx First Overnight

FedEx First Overnight is FedEx’s next-day delivery service, aiming to reach most destinations by early morning, with options like 8:00 AM, 8:30 AM, 9:00 AM, or 9:30 AM.

DHL

Known for its international reach and efficient services, DHL (Dalsey, Hillblom, and Lynn) provides various shipping options to meet your delivery needs. The company ensures timely shipping across different delivery areas with options like DHL Express Worldwide and DHL Express 12:00.

Overnight Shipping Rate Comparison Table: FedEx, UPS & USPS

Here’s a visual comparison of the overnight rates offered by different shipping carriers:

Shipping CarrierOvernight Delivery Cost
USPSStarting at $24.90
UPSStarting at $13.00
FedExStarting at $33.87

The initial costs mentioned are determined for small packages weighing less than 1lb and heading to nearby zones.

It’s worth noting that for UPS and FedEx, deliveries to residential addresses will include additional charges of $3.70 and $5.15, respectively.

Rate Considerations

There are several considerations to remember when determining overnight shipping costs. These factors can impact the final price of your shipment.

Package Dimensions

Shipping carriers often provide standardized box sizes to simplify your packaging process, eliminating the need for precise measurements.

However, it’s essential to be aware of size restrictions. If your parcels exceed specified size limits or have irregular shapes, couriers might impose extra charges.

For instance, UPS restricts package length to 108 inches. If your shipment exceeds these dimensions, UPS may necessitate overnight freight shipping rather than its standard next-day service.

Package Weight

The package’s weight plays a significant role in determining overnight shipping costs. Heavier packages require more resources for transportation, leading to surcharges and higher shipping fees.

USPS has a weight limit of 70 pounds, while UPS and FedEx allow packages weighing up to 150 pounds.

In addition to weight, carriers consider dimensional weight (DIM), which accounts for the parcel’s size. To calculate DIM weight in pounds, multiply the package’s length by width and height, then divide the result by 166.

When your package’s DIM weight surpasses its actual weight, you’ll be charged based on the DIM weight.

For instance, if your parcel weighs 41 pounds but has a DIM weight of 45 pounds, your shipping cost will amount to $135.50 instead of the standard $125.35 for USPS services.

Shipping Zones

Carriers categorize geographic areas into various shipping zones, and the pricing escalates as you move from one zone to another.

Shipping zones of major carriers like USPS, UPS, and FedEx look like this:

ZoneDistance (in mile radius)
1<50 
251 – 150 
3151 – 300 
4301 – 600 
5601 – 1,000 
61,001 – 1,400 
71,401 – 1,800 
8>1,801 miles

The more distance your parcel travels, the more you can expect to pay for overnight shipping. 

To illustrate, consider the cost of sending a 70-pound package via USPS’s Priority Mail Express, which guarantees next-day delivery.

Shipping to Zone 1 would set you back $206.65 while sending the same package to Zone 8 would cost $530.50.

Shipping Agreements With Carriers

Certain carriers provide special pricing arrangements for businesses with frequent shipping activities.

Whether you are a business owner or have substantial shipping needs, it could be advantageous to investigate these agreements, as they may offer more cost-effective shipping options.

What Are the Cheapest Overnight Shipping Options?

There isn’t a single shipping company that consistently provides the cheapest option for overnight shipping. Next-day delivery’s price is based on package size, weight, and shipping distance.

You can visit FindPostOffice.org and inquire about shipping rates through your nearby post office.

Overnight Letters

Based on the 2023 price list, the cost for sending flat-rate envelopes via Priority Mail Express is $28.75, equivalent to shipping a package weighing up to 0.5lb.

Overnight Packages

When using Priority Mail Express mailing boxes, you can send packages weighing up to 70lbs overnight. As per the 2023 rate structure, the pricing begins at $28.75.

International

USPS offers Global Express Guaranteed (GXG), their fastest international service, ensuring package delivery in one to three business days.

If you’re shipping to Canada, GXG can cover numerous destinations within one business day. The pricing begins at $71.10.

Calculate Your Overnight Shipping Costs

When computing the expenses for your overnight shipping, consider the following factors when determining your postage:

  • The next-day delivery time
  • The distance to the destination or delivery address
  • The packaging type and package weight, density, and size

Shipping Calculators

You can use the online calculators offered by carriers like USPS, UPS, and FedEx to obtain a precise cost estimate for your specific shipment.

Sending Multiple Overnight Shipments?

If you often dispatch numerous packages from a single origin to a common endpoint, establishing a FedEx account offers the advantage of activating multiweight pricing.

With this feature, FedEx can consolidate multiple overnight shipments into a single transaction, streamlining your shipping process and potentially reducing costs.

Tracking Your Overnight Shipment

FedEx provides package tracking services for anticipated shipments. You can oversee your deliveries through the FedEx Delivery Manager, receive notifications, and offer specific instructions.

Packaging for Overnight Shipments

If you require packaging materials for your overnight shipment, FedEx offers complimentary boxes and additional supplies you can use to pack your items.

Free FedEx Express Packaging

With FedEx packaging, you have a selection of 12 choices for your overnight shipments, including envelopes, tubes, packs, and boxes of various sizes, ranging from small to extra-large. Alternatively, you can use your own packaging if you don’t have express packaging materials.

Benefits of Overnight Shipping

By incorporating overnight shipping into your business strategy, you can gain a competitive edge and distinguish your business from the rest.

The following sections will discuss some advantages of overnight shipping for your enterprise.

Ability to Deliver Time-sensitive Shipments

Overnight shipping is ideal for delivering time-sensitive mail pieces, guaranteeing that your customers receive their orders on time.

Whether it’s crucial business documents, medical supplies, or a last-minute gift, overnight shipping ensures your parcels arrive promptly, helping you provide a reliable and efficient service to your customers.

Greater Customer Satisfaction

As fast delivery becomes the norm and customer demands rise, overnight shipping can enhance customer satisfaction and foster strong brand loyalty.

Increased Sales and Revenue

Satisfied customers are more likely to rely on your fast shipping service and return to your store. This, in turn, can boost your sales and ultimately lead to increased revenue.

Reduced Storage Costs

Overnight shipping can reduce storage costs by freeing up warehouse space and reducing the risk of unsellable inventory due to obsolescence or dead stock.

Tips: What To Consider When Choosing A Next-day Shipping Carrier

When choosing the suitable next-day shipping carrier for your business or personal needs, there are several essential factors to consider.

Each carrier has unique services, rates, and features, making the decision significant.

To ensure you make the best choice, you’ll want to examine factors such as pricing, delivery speed, reliability, coverage areas, customer service, and any additional services or perks the carrier offers.

By carefully evaluating these aspects, you can make an informed decision that aligns with your shipping requirements and budget.

Let’s look at some of the best things to consider when choosing a carrier:

Reliability

The reliability of your chosen next-day shipping service can often be determined by exploring online reviews and seeking recommendations from others.

Nevertheless, it’s worth noting that the dependability of a shipping service may differ depending on the location. In general, major urban areas tend to experience more delivery issues.

As an illustration, New York City is renowned for its challenges in ensuring timely package deliveries. According to a 2019 report by The New York Times, 15% of shipments fail to reach their intended destinations within New York City, let alone on schedule.

Shipping Rates

While there’s no cheap overnight shipping, the cost can vary among carriers based on the delivery method (air or ground), package size, and weight. Most carriers calculate prices using dimensional weight.

If you send small packages, USPS at the local post office is usually your most budget-friendly option.

However, UPS and FedEx offer tiered overnight shipping choices tailored to different package sizes and weights. If your shipping needs vary, they might be your best choice.

You can check consumer pricing on their websites, but for volume-related one-day shipping discounts, contacting your business contact at your preferred carrier is your go-to strategy.

Cutoff Times

For successful and on-time overnight shipping, it’s essential to be aware of a carrier’s cutoff times, which are typically earlier than standard end-of-day deadlines.

If you deliver packages to a carrier, consider arriving well in advance, at least an hour before the cutoff time, to factor in potential wait times.

When scheduling pickups from your warehouses or storage facilities, ensure your packages are prepared and ready for shipping when the carrier arrives.

Additionally, in the case of unexpected or last-minute overnight shipments, it’s advisable to reach out to your chosen carrier as early as possible to explore available options for prompt delivery.

Adhering to these guidelines ensures a smoother and more reliable overnight shipping experience.

Package Integrity

When choosing a next-day shipping carrier, it’s crucial to consider package integrity, which involves the following:

  • Selecting appropriate packaging materials
  • Understanding the carrier’s handling practices 
  • Utilizing tracking and monitoring services 
  • Evaluating insurance options 
  • Checking for delivery guarantees 
  • Reviewing the carrier’s reputation
  • Ensuring accessible customer support 

Guarantees and Insurance

In addition to timely delivery, having a delivery guarantee is essential. While not all carriers provide such guarantees, major ones like USPS, FedEx, and UPS do.

 Priority Mail Express is USPS’ guaranteed option, offering a refund overnight deadlines missed. As of 2023, FedEx also promises a refund for select services.

If you opt for a smaller carrier, it’s important to inquire about their guarantees and compensation for late deliveries.

 Remember that pandemic-related challenges have affected delivery guarantees, particularly for U.S. to Canada shipments. So, checking your carrier’s current guarantee and delivery-time policies is advisable, and UPS provides updates on its website.

Offering Transparent Shipping Options to Customers

When selecting a next-day shipping carrier, make sure you know what shipping options are available and practical for your business. 

 Ensure you communicate the available next-day shipping options, costs, and expected delivery times to your customers. Additionally, make any relevant terms and conditions easily accessible.

If you’re an eCommerce entrepreneur, you understand that transparency builds trust and helps customers make informed decisions about their shipping choices, resulting in an enhanced overall shopping experience and loyalty to your business.

Best Practices for Handling Overnight Shipping

If you’re looking to offer overnight shipping for your business and need guidance on how to get started, consider the recommended practices outlined in the following sections.

These practices will help ensure your packages reach their destination on time, in good condition, and at the right location.

Set a Clear Cutoff Time

When providing overnight shipping for your business, it’s crucial to establish a clear policy that defines your brand’s cutoff time.

This ensures ample time to process and fulfill orders within the overnight delivery date.

Communicate this cutoff policy effectively to your customers to set clear expectations and prevent potential misunderstandings.

Operate From Multiple Warehouses

You can expedite customer deliveries and efficiently handle urgent shipments by strategically distributing your inventory across multiple warehouses. This is possible because your inventory is closer to the shippers and the delivery locations.

Establish a Centrally Located Warehouse

While operating multiple warehouses offers benefits, it can also introduce complexities in inventory management and potentially increase operational costs if not handled strategically.

 A centralized warehouse can provide a more efficient and cost-effective approach to fulfilling overnight shipments in such a situation.

Work With Reliable Partners

Building solid relationships with dependable partners is essential for ensuring the reliable and seamless delivery of overnight shipping.

When customers consistently receive their overnight shipments safely and on time, it increases the likelihood that they will continue to choose your services for their needs.

The Worst Overnight Shipping Options

When evaluating the least ideal options for overnight shipping, it’s essential to consider that even key players in the industry like FedEx, UPS, and USPS, have their challenges.

Still, the worst overnight shipping options are those that are too expensive, inconsistent in delivery, and have inaccurate systems. Avoid them at all costs.

When exploring overnight shipping solutions, choose a carrier that aligns most closely with your business’ unique needs and customer expectations.

I Want It, I Got It

As your online business expands and experiences increased sales, consider overnight shipping a must-have service for your eCommerce operations.

With various overnight delivery choices USPS, UPS, and FedEx provide, you can select the service that best matches your eCommerce businesses’ requirements.

FAQs 

1. What does “guaranteed” really mean?

“Guaranteed” implies that the shipping company commits to refunding you if your item is not delivered on time. However, instances of guaranteed shipments not being delivered as promised are infrequent.

If your chosen overnight shipping service offers such a guarantee, you can confidently ship, knowing their commitment backs your delivery.

2. Is FedEx One-day, Overnight, and SameDay shipping the same thing?

Although these terms are often used interchangeably, it’s important to note that FedEx distinguishes between its one-day, overnight, and same-day shipping services.

 One-day and overnight shipping commit to delivering your package by the next business day. Meanwhile, same-day shipping guarantees delivery on the day you send your package.

3. Are next-day delivery and next-day shipping the same?

Even if they sound different, “next-day delivery” and “next-day shipping” essentially refer to the same service, ensuring delivery on the following day.

However, it’s important to recognize that various carriers may offer overnight delivery services with variations in pricing, cutoff times, and handling practices.

4. What is the fastest shipping?

Several shipping companies, including USPS, DHL, UPS, and FedEx, provide speedy same-day delivery services. To ensure your package qualifies for same-day shipping, review and meet the cutoff times specified by these carriers.

5. Does weekend delivery cost extra?

USPS and UPS provide weekend delivery services for Saturdays and Sundays, including the option for overnight shipping. In contrast, FedEx exclusively offers Saturday deliveries and does not support overnight shipping on Sundays.

 It’s worth noting that while weekend and holiday overnight shipping is an option, it often involves surcharges and may be limited to specific major regions or states in the U.S., such as New York.

To confirm whether your location or the destination you have in mind permits weekend deliveries, consider a visit to your local post office. You can easily locate nearby post offices using the FindPostOffice.org facility locator tool.

6. What is FedEx Overnight shipping?

Like UPS, FedEx offers a range of express delivery choices that vary based on the timing of your shipment.

These options include early morning services like FedEx First Overnight and extend to late evening with FedEx Standard Overnight.

7. Who has the fastest overnight shipping?

When weighing the options between FedEx, UPS, and USPS, assessing your small business’ specific pricing and shipping speed requirements is essential.

USPS often stands out for its competitive pricing, while FedEx and UPS provide faster shipping at a premium. Between UPS vs. FedEx, UPS seems to excel in delivering international packages ahead of the promised schedule.

8. Is FedEx or USPS better for overnight shipping?

FedEx seems to stand out for time-sensitive and specialty items when considering overnight shipping, but it’s generally more expensive.

Meanwhile, USPS offers affordability and nationwide accessibility, making it a practical choice for many. However, its international shipping and customer support can still improve.

The choice between FedEx and USPS for overnight shipping depends on your specific needs and budget.

9. Is UPS or FedEx better for overnight?

Your choice between UPS and FedEx hinges on your priorities for overnight shipping. UPS is valued for its reliability, guaranteed delivery, and customer support, which is ideal for eCommerce and high-value items.

Meanwhile, FedEx excels in emergency services and specializes in shipping perishables. FedEx is also pricier. 

So, if reliability and value for high-value shipments matter most, go with UPS. Choose FedEx for specific needs and special items.

References

  1. FedEx Overnight Shipping for Next Day Delivery
    https://www.fedex.com/en-us/shipping/overnight
  2. USPS Priority Mail Express
    https://www.usps.com/ship/priority-mail-express
  3. Saturday UPS Delivery and Pickup Options
    https://www.ups.com/us/en/business-solutions/pickup-dropoff-options/
  4. UPS Checking Shipment Size and Weight
    https://www.ups.com/us/en/support/shipping-support/
  5. USPS Price List
    https://pe.usps.com/text/dmm300/notice123
  6. What Are Postal Zones? Understanding Distance, Time in Transit, & Shipping Costs
    https://www.jaygroup.com/understanding-postal-zones
  7. UPS delivers overnight to more ZIP Codes than FedEx
    https://www.ups.com/assets/resources/media/en_US/UPS_Next_Day_Air.pdf
  8. 2023 UPS Rate & Service Guide Daily Rates
    https://www.ups.com/assets/resources/webcontent/en_US/daily_rates.pdf
  9. FedEx® Standard List Rates
    https://www.fedex.com/content/dam/fedex/us-united-states/services/
  10. USPS Priority Mail
    https://www.usps.com/ship/priority-mail
  11. Flat Rate Shipping – UPS Simple Rate
    https://www.ups.com/us/en/support/shipping-support/shipping-costs-rates/
  12. USPS Global Express Guaranteed
    https://www.usps.com/international/gxg.htm
  13. UPS International Shipping
    https://www.theupsstore.com/pack-ship/international-shipping
  14. FedEx International Delivery in 1, 2 or 3 Business Days
    https://www.fedex.com/en-us/shipping/international-1-3-business-day.html
  15. What is the Fastest Way to Ship Internationally
    https://www.dhl.com/discover/en-sg/logistics-advice/logistics-insights/
  16. Share of online shoppers who are more likely to purchase due to faster delivery options worldwide as of the 1st quarter of 2022, by country
    https://www.statista.com/statistics/1343029/share-online-shoppers-likely-purchase-delivery-options/
  17. Mail and Shipping Services
    https://www.usps.com/ship/mail-shipping-services.htm
  18. Priority Mail Express
    https://www.usps.com/ship/priority-mail-express.htm
  19. Price List
    https://pe.usps.com/text/dmm300/Notice123.htm
  20. International Mail & Shipping Services
    https://www.usps.com/international/mail-shipping-services.htm