FedEx vs. UPS
February 7, 2023
In 2022, FedEx (Federal Express) had an average daily volume of 16 million shipments. On the other hand, UPS (United Parcel Service) had an average of 25.2 million daily shipments in 2021.
Aside from these figures, what are the differences between these two companies? Do they vary in terms of speed and shipping costs?
What are the benefits and downsides of shipping with UPS? What about FedEx? What do reviews say about FedEx and UPS?
This article discusses the differences between FedEx and UPS regarding shipping costs and delivery speed.
It explores the advantages, disadvantages, and shipping options these companies offer.
Additionally, this article looks into what reviews say about UPS and FedEx.
Shipping companies have varying strengths, weaknesses, and services that give customers options for their different shipping needs. FedEx and UPS are well-known couriers among these companies that often get compared.
By learning about these differences, customers can be well-informed on which courier, whether FedEx or UPS, will be the best for their specific shipping needs.
Check out FindPostOffice.org’s blog page to read more about mail, tracking, shipping, and other related topics to help with your shipping or mailing needs. You can also use FindPostOffice.org’s search tool to locate a post office near you.
UPS vs. FedEx: An Overview
UPS and FedEx are two well-known and competing delivery service companies in the United States. Although UPS and FedEx have similar services, these couriers have different strategies and business models.
While FedEx is widely recognized for its global air express freight, UPS is more known for its domestic ground package delivery. These companies also differ in how they serve customers, handle the eCommerce landscape, and organize their business structures.
Express service and package delivery are two areas where these couriers have established a strong presence. But UPS and FedEx also have similar delivery services, hence overlapping and comparable.
What UPS Is Best for and Why
If you’re familiar with UPS, you may have seen its iconic brown trucks going around town. UPS is a major courier in the shipping industry and specializes in fast and secure delivery. Additionally, the company’s tracking system provides eCommerce businesses with a reliable and comprehensive way to track shipments.
Advantages of UPS for Business Shipping
Shippers can consider sending their packages through UPS for the following strengths:
- Guaranteed express shipping: UPS provides guaranteed service for UPS Next Day Air and Worldwide Express deliveries.
- Affordable price for heavy shipments: USPS (United States Postal Service) is often the preferred option for shipping light packages due to lower costs, but the company’s prices increase significantly for heavier shipments.
If you’re shipping packages heavier than two pounds, consider looking at UPS’ shipping rates for delivering your packages quickly and securely at a lower price. You can also become eligible for volume discounts if you frequently ship large volumes through UPS.
- Comprehensive tracking: UPS offers comprehensive tracking services so that you can see your package’s status from origin to destination.
UPS’ detailed tracking can give you a sense of security and peace of mind since this service allows you to tell at any point where your packages are. Tracking services can help lower the chances of losing a package when you ship with UPS.
Disadvantages of UPS for Business Shipping
Despite its strengths, UPS isn’t perfect. If you ship with UPS, you may want to pay attention to the following disadvantages:
- More expensive for some services: UPS has affordable rates. Though in some cases, its services can have higher shipping costs. Higher costs may be attributed to surcharges and fees that UPS adds to its base rates.
These fees include fuel and extended area surcharges. So when shipping with UPS, especially for international shipments, consider these surcharges in your calculation.
- No free package pickup: UPS has no free pickup service and instead offers a flat fee for pickups.
- No free Saturday delivery: UPS offers Saturday delivery as a value-added service, so you’ll need to pay extra and use qualifying shipping services to have your package delivered on a Saturday.
UPS Shipping Options
UPS provides the following services for your shipping needs:
UPS Domestic Mail and Shipping
When you need to ship an item within the same city or across the nation, UPS provides the following domestic shipping solutions:
- UPS Ground is a cost-effective and reliable ground delivery service that ships your item in one to five business days. UPS Ground service also provides free 24/7 tracking information for your shipment.
- UPS offers two-day and three-day options like 2nd Day Air and UPS 3 Day Select, which are practical for important but non-critical shipments.
- UPS also provides time-definite next-day delivery that arrives by morning, noon, or end-of-day, which works well for urgent shipments.
UPS International Shipping
If you have a growing business, UPS’ international shipping services provide an excellent opportunity to expand your market outside your country’s borders. You can choose from any of the following services:
- UPS Express Critical: Provides time-specific delivery based on the time provided during order placement
- UPS Worldwide Express Plus: Arrives in one to three business days, usually by 8:30 AM or 9:00 AM
- UPS Worldwide Express: Arrives in one to three business days, usually by 10:30 AM or noon
- UPS Worldwide Express Freight Midday: Arrives in one to three business days, usually by noon or 2:00 PM
- UPS Worldwide Express Freight: Arrives in one to three business days, often by the end of the day
- UPS Worldwide Saver: Arrives by the end of the day in one to three business days
- UPS Worldwide Expedited: Arrives by the end of the day in two to five business days
- UPS Standard: Provides day-specific delivery by the end of the day
- UPS Worldwide Economy (enrollment required): Arrives in 5 to 12 business days
UPS Freight Shipping Services
UPS’ freight services are a great choice for businesses or supply chain experts interested in entering new markets. The courier provides the following freight shipping options:
- International air freight: Provides urgent, door-to-door, and next-flight-out services for packages that must arrive within one to five business days.
- North American air freight: Provides efficient and economical next-day, two-day, and three-day options to send packages within the U.S., Canada, and Puerto Rico.
- Ocean freight: Services more than 160 countries and more than 2,300 shipping lanes. UPS’ ocean freight services offer full container load (FCL), less-than-container load (LCL), and freight forwarding.
- Multimodal freight: Provides a less expensive option to air freight and faster delivery than ocean freight. Multimodal shipping combines different delivery modes like air, sea, ground, and rail transport.
- Ground freight: Coordinates fleets of truckload and less-than-truckload (LTL) vehicles through UPS Supply Chain Solutions and Coyote Logistics to move goods across town, country, or borders.
Other UPS Services
UPS offers flat-rate shipping through the company’s Simple Rate service. This option lets you choose from five flat packaging rates and four shipping speeds when sending items anywhere in the U.S.
Simple Rate flat packaging rates include:
- Extra small: Starts at $10.20
- Small: Starts at $13.35
- Medium: Starts at $16.05
- Large: Starts at $21.05
- Extra large: Starts at $26.05
Meanwhile, the four shipping speeds you can choose from include the following:
- Next day delivery
- Second day delivery
- Delivery within three business days
- Delivery within five days
What FedEx Is Best for and Why
FedEx is great for businesses that prefer express deliveries and large shipments. The company provides tracking for merchandise shipments and has several international shipping options with a range of delivery times and pricing.
Advantages of FedEx for Business Shipping
FedEx has many advantages similar to UPS, including tracking and speedy delivery. Here’s what you can expect from FedEx:
- Precise tracking system: FedEx’s robust tracking system lets you view your shipment’s progress from start to finish.
You can also use FedEx Delivery Manager to customize delivery preferences, like scheduling a delivery for a specific time or holding packages at a FedEx location.
- Saturday delivery: FedEx Home Delivery includes Saturday delivery for no additional charge. This feature allows your items to arrive earlier, especially when shipping through the weekend.
If you’re running a business, this early delivery service can significantly impact customer satisfaction.
- Available discounts: FedEx grants you access to the company’s discounted shipping rates when you sign up for a personal or business account.
So if you’re selling products and shipping with FedEx, consider signing up for a business account to access the courier’s rewards program.
Disadvantages of FedEx for Business Shipping
FedEx also has the following downsides that you must consider before deciding to ship with this courier:
- Higher shipping rates: Shipping costs are often variable by nature, and FedEx’s rates are no exception. Some of FedEx’s services can cost high, depending on factors like speed, weight, and destination.
Another factor why FedEx costs are higher in some cases is due in part to surcharges, like fuel and delivery area surcharges.
- No free package pickup service: FedEx doesn’t have a free package pickup service besides its recurring Express pickup services. Other shipping carriers like USPS provide free pickup.
- Fewer store locations: FedEx Office, the company’s printing and shipping service, has 2,200 locations only.
Meanwhile, The UPS Store, UPS’ retail shipping, postal, printing, and business service center, has more than 5,400 stores.
These numbers suggest that FedEx is a less convenient option for many small business owners.
FedEx Shipping Options
FedEx also offers domestic, international, freight, and flat-rate shipping. Each of these categories has the following shipping options:
FedEx Domestic Mail and Shipping
FedEx Ground has the following features that businesses can find helpful for shipping packages to their customers:
- Shipping or transit time: Ground delivery within the contiguous U.S. takes one to five business days. On the other hand, shipping to and from Alaska and Hawaii takes three to seven business days.
- Weight limit and maximum package size: You can ship packages weighing up to 150 pounds (lbs) and measuring 108 inches (”) in length and 165” in length plus girth (length + (2 x width) + (2 x height)).
- Delivery area: FedEx Ground delivers to all business addresses across all 50 U.S. states.
If you’re sending items to residential areas, consider using FedEx Home Delivery. This service delivers every day of the week, including Sundays.
FedEx International Mail and Shipping
For international shipments, FedEx provides the following services:
- FedEx International Next Flight: For shipments that must get on the next available flight to most international countries and territories for delivery within 24 hours.
- FedEx International First and FedEx International Priority: For international shipments that must arrive within one to three business days. These services allow delivery to up to 220 countries and territories.
- FedEx International Economy: For shippers who must deliver items to select countries in two to three business days. This option is also excellent for shipping to more than 215 countries and territories in two to five business days.
- FedEx International Ground: For delivering packages to any Canadian business or home in two to seven business days.
FedEx Freight Shipping
FedEx considers any shipment weighing more than 150lbs as freight. The company’s freight shipping solutions can provide automatic pallet-level tracking that gives great visibility for your large multiple-pallet shipments.
FedEx simplifies freight shipping through the company’s nationwide courier network, so you don’t have to use multiple carriers to ship your freight across regions.
Other FedEx Services
FedEx One Rate offers flat-rate shipping for packages under 50lbs and envelopes under 10lbs, so you don’t need to weigh packages to determine your shipping costs.
When to Use FedEx vs UPS
Whether to use FedEx or UPS for shipping your mail or packages depends on many factors, like how heavy or large your item is, when you want it to arrive, and how much your preferred shipping option costs.
But there are other factors you should consider when picking a courier of your choice, which will be discussed in the next section.
FedEx vs. UPS for Domestic Shipping in the U.S.
A sample comparison below shows the differences between FedEx and UPS shipping rates for sending a 10-kilogram (kg) (22lbs) package from New York to Los Angeles (prices can vary depending on the shipping date):
|Shipping Service||Days in Transit||Timeframe||Price|
|UPS Next Day Air Early||One||By 8:00 AM||$221.94|
|UPS Next Day Air||One||By 10:30 AM||$186.39|
|UPS 2nd Day Air||Two||By the end of the day||$132.92|
|UPS Ground||Four||By the end of the day||$33.22|
|FedEx Priority Overnight||One||By 10:30 AM||$202.66|
|FedEx Standard Overnight||One||By 4:30 PM||$198.68|
|FedEx 2Day||Two||By 4:30 PM||$147.19|
|FedEx Ground||Five||By the end of the day||$31.92|
FedEx vs. UPS International Package Shipping
For international shipments, the following sample table compares FedEx and UPS when sending a 10kg (22lbs) package from New York, USA, to Kowloon City, Hong Kong (prices can vary depending on the shipping date):
|Shipping Service||Days in Transit||Timeframe||Price|
|UPS Worldwide Express||One to three||By 12:00 PM||$317.30|
|UPS Worldwide Expedited||Two to five||By the end of the day||$295.39|
|FedEx International Priority||One to three||By 6:00 PM||$322.52|
|FedEx International Economy||Two to five||By 6:00 PM||$310.16|
FedEx vs. UPS International Envelope Shipping
The following table compares international shipping services between UPS and FedEx for sending a one-pound mail or envelope from New York, USA, to Kowloon City, Hong Kong (prices can vary depending on the shipping date):
|Shipping Service||Days in Transit||Timeframe||Price|
|UPS Worldwide Express||One to three||By 12:00 PM||$113.87|
|UPS Worldwide Saver||One to three||By the end of the day||$112.30|
|FedEx International Priority||One to three||By 6:00 PM||$89.73|
|FedEx International Economy||Two to five||By 6:00 PM||$144.18|
FedEx vs. UPS: Which One Is Better for Small Businesses?
Before deciding whether FedEx or UPS is better, don’t just check the shipping costs. Whether you’re operating a small business or a large eCommerce store, you should also consider the business solutions and customer support these couriers provide to determine which one fits your needs.
UPS vs. FedEx Reliability: Which One Is Safer?
UPS and FedEx are among the most trusted logistics providers worldwide. Both couriers offer insurance and shipment tracking, allowing shippers to know their packages’ status anytime.
When comparing FedEx and UPS, you should consider the following:
- FedEx and UPS have pioneered the express package delivery service
- FedEx specializes in time-sensitive international air freight
- UPS’ strength is in domestic ground delivery services
Comparison Chart: Which One Is Better, FedEx or UPS?
Determining whether FedEx or UPS is better is challenging because there is no single factor that decides which courier is the best between the two. But you can consider comparing these companies based on the following categories:
|Next-day delivery||UPS Next Day Air (within the U.S.)||FedEx Express (within the U.S.)|
|Low-cost ground delivery||UPS Ground||FedEx Ground|
|Time-guaranteed international delivery||UPS Worldwide Express||FedEx Express|
|Freight services||UPS Supply Chain Solutions||FedEx Freight|
|Market share (as of the fourth quarter of 2022)||39.3%||37.11%|
|Fleet||Over 120,000 ground vehicles|
|More than 215,000 motorized vehicles|
|Facilities||More than 1,800||More than 5,000|
|Service area||More than 220 countries and territories||More than 220 countries and territories|
|Revenue||$97.3 billion (2021)||$83.95 billion (2021)|
|Net income||$12.89 billion (2021)||$5.23 billion (2021)|
How Does UPS Differ From FedEx?
When comparing UPS and FedEx in terms of shipping services, you should look into the costs, speed, tracking, and other relevant factors depending on your needs.
Shipping Cost and Surcharges
When comparing shipping costs and surcharges between FedEx and UPS, use a shipping calculator to get an approximate rate of the service you want to use.
Both couriers have their respective calculators, so you’ll likely get the closest, if not the exact, cost estimate for shipping your item.
Which Is Cheaper: UPS or FedEx?
If you check the price comparison tables in the previous sections, you’ll notice that some FedEx services cost less than their UPS counterparts. In other cases, UPS is the cheaper choice.
Thus, determining which of the two couriers is cheaper depends on the item you’re shipping, its destination, and the service you’re purchasing.
Which One Costs Less for Large or Heavy Packages?
UPS specializes in small package delivery, while FedEx provides relatively cheaper rates for shipping large or heavy packages.
Thus, businesses that regularly send large or heavy packages should consider FedEx for relatively cheaper rates.
Which One Is Cheaper for Overnight Shipping?
FedEx and UPS have a variety of options for overnight shipping services. Prices usually depend on the route, but UPS overnight shipping solutions cost lower than FedEx’s.
FedEx vs. UPS: Speed
If you’re choosing a courier based on delivery speed, UPS and FedEx have shipping services that deliver by 8:00 AM, 10:30 AM, or the end of the day.
Is FedEx Faster Than UPS?
FedEx is an excellent option if you need time-sensitive delivery. But for ground transportation, you can consider UPS as a fast alternative.
FedEx vs. UPS: Ease of Use
Both couriers have many locations for dropping off packages, but doing so usually requires that you have pre-packed your package and pre-paid postage.
FedEx and UPS also have shipping calculators, making it convenient for you to calculate the estimated real-time costs before shipping.
Pickup and Drop-Off Locations
FedEx allows you to schedule package pickup for a small fee. If you need a regularly scheduled pickup, FedEx can also quote you a weekly pickup fee.
You can also drop off your packages at any FedEx Office location or participating retailer like Walgreens.
FedEx also provides drop boxes for FedEx Express, FedEx Ground, and FedEx SmartPost services.
Meanwhile, UPS lets you schedule one-time and recurring pickups for any package. UPS also offers flat rate pricing for weekly and scheduled pickups for future dates.
Customers can drop off their packages at a UPS store, UPS Access Point, UPS drop box, or UPS customer center.
FedEx allows its users to track up to 30 orders at a time. Small businesses can also sign up for FedEx Delivery Manager, which provides additional tracking capabilities, delivery notifications, and pickup management.
On the other hand, the UPS website provides free tracking for up to 25 orders. Businesses can sign up for the free UPS My Choice for Business program to monitor inbound and outbound packages or create a branded tracking page for customers who want to track orders.
Electronic Commerce and Logistics
UPS acknowledges the role of logistics in retail success. Online sellers rely on package delivery companies to connect to customers. So UPS’ core business of small package delivery can help the company thrive in the eCommerce environment.
The two companies have their strengths in different business niches, with FedEx focusing on time-sensitive express service and UPS specializing in small package delivery.
Express and Long-Haul Delivery
FedEx often does well with express and long-haul deliveries over local and regional ones. But many online merchants are likely to sell through local chain stores or regional fulfillment centers to avoid cost-laden and time-consuming long-distance deliveries.
Thus, FedEx may need to realign its business model and focus more on FedEx Ground to catch up with shorter-distance delivery demands.
Both FedEx and UPS offer insurance of up to $100, depending on the shipping service the customer purchased.
FedEx operates from 9:00 AM to 8:00 PM, seven days a week. But some locations have different closing times.
Meanwhile, UPS is open from 9:00 AM to 7:00 PM, Mondays to Fridays. Some areas operate on weekends and can have different closing times.
Label Printing Options
All FedEx Office locations allow label printing. But you can also print FedEx labels on a regular or thermal printer.
If you’re shipping with UPS, you can print shipping or return labels at a UPS store after creating a shipment. UPS provides step-by-step instructions on its website if you prefer printing the labels yourself.
FedEx has a reward and savings program for small businesses that sign up for a free account. This offer allows eligible businesses to receive the following:
- Up to 40% discount for FedEx Express for domestic, international, and return shipping
- 20% off on FedEx Ground and Home Delivery services, including returns
- 70% off on FedEx Freight
Meanwhile, UPS offers discounted shipping rates and deals for small businesses that sign up for a UPS account. These discounts include:
- Up to 50% off on shipping rates for all UPS shipments
- Free shipping supplies
You can call FedEx customer support at 1-800-GOFEDEX (1-800-463-3339). You can also fill out a form or access the FAQs (frequently asked questions) on the official FedEx website’s customer support page.
The UPS website has an online form and virtual assistant for tracking number inquiries and other questions. You can also contact customer service at 1-800-742-5877 from Sunday to Saturday, 6:00 AM to 1:00 AM, Eastern Time (ET).
Competition and Controversy
In the past, FedEx claimed that UPS tried to receive a government bailout to limit competition for overnight deliveries.
UPS’ ground workers are covered by the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA), making it easier for them to form local unions. UPS suggested that FedEx’s ground employees should also have NLRA coverage so that employees performing the same function despite belonging to different companies have the same rights.
But FedEx argued that UPS tried forcing the coverage to expose customers to local work stoppages. These stoppages could prevent FedEx from delivering time-sensitive shipments, potentially lowering the competition.
FedEx vs. UPS Reviews
The following sites provide ratings and reviews of FedEx and UPS based on customer experience and how these couriers resolve customer complaints.
The Better Business Bureau (BBB) gives UPS an A+ rating, although customers rate the courier a 1.08 out of 5.
FedEx also has a BBB rating of A+ but rates lower at 1.05 out of 5 for customer reviews.
Most complaints for both companies were about delivery problems or customer service issues.
UPS scores a 1.2 out of more than 26,000 reviews. Complaints include damaged and delayed packages, confusing tracking, and untimely refunds.
Meanwhile, FedEx scores a slightly higher 1.3 from more than 30,000 reviews. Lost, damaged, and delayed mail are among the most frequent complaints.
On the website, UPS rates 2.8 based on more than 700 reviews. Most complaints are about package delivery issues.
For FedEx, Consumer Affairs gives a score of 2.8 based on 1,993 ratings. Many of the complaints are about delivery delays.
FedEx vs. UPS: FAQs
- What is the best shipping company?
Figuring out whether FedEx or UPS is the best is challenging because you must consider many factors, like delivery speed, shipping cost, guarantees, and customer satisfaction.
- Why is FedEx better than UPS?
FedEx may be better than UPS for shipping large packages, but UPS has a comprehensive tracking system that eCommerce clients prefer. Thus, whether FedEx is better than UPS depends on the package you’re sending and how you want to track your item.
- Which courier is better for express delivery?
FedEx excels in express deliveries and tracking shipments for merchants. But UPS provides affordable express delivery rates. Still, customers may have different experiences, so it’s unclear whether FedEx or UPS is better for such deliveries.
- Which courier is better for overnight shipping?
FedEx provides different time frame options for packages to be delivered the next business day. Such options give this courier the flexibility that customers need for overnight shipping.
- Can I drop off FedEx packages at a UPS facility?
UPS and FedEx are different courier providers with their respective drop-off areas, codes, and systems. The bottom line is that you can’t drop off a FedEx package at a UPS location or a UPS package at a FedEx facility.
- Is UPS or FedEx better for shipping fragile items?
UPS employees specialize in packing high-value and fragile items, like electronics and artwork. So customers can consider UPS over FedEx when shipping fragile items.
- Where can I find cheap shipping labels for UPS and FedEx?
The UPS Store and the FedEx Office provide affordable shipping label services. FedEx and UPS also provide guides on printing shipping labels for your convenience.
- UPS vs. FedEx: What’s the Difference?
- FedEx vs UPS vs USPS: 2023 Shipping Comparison