How to Overnight a Letter

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March 25, 2024

In the first quarter of 2022, about 37% of global online shoppers were likely to buy products when offered a next-day delivery option.

At the same time, surveys showed that, in the United States, about 35.9% of online consumers preferred next-day delivery.

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

How do you mail letters or packages overnight? How do the overnight shipping services of different companies compare? What are the costs to send an item overnight?

This article tackles these questions and discusses the features of the different shipping companies’ overnight delivery services. This article also explains calculating and lowering shipping costs when sending letters and packages overnight.

Check out FindPostoffice.org for more information on the different services offered by various shipping companies. You can also search for post offices near you using FindPostOffice.org’s online search tool.

How Does Overnight Shipping Work?

Shipping a letter or package overnight starts when you drop off your parcel at a shipping facility or post office before the cutoff time to ensure your item reaches its destination the next day.

Afterward, the delivery service sorts your parcel based on the destination, service type you picked, and size. A barcode is placed on your package for easy tracking and identification.

Finally, the postal service transports your parcel to the nearest station overnight.

The Order Must Be Placed Before the Overnight Delivery Cutoff Time

For your shipment to qualify for overnight shipping, you must place an order before the cutoff time. A delivery cutoff gives the courier enough time to process, pack, pick up, and deliver your package.

Some couriers establish a cutoff of 4:00 PM, local time, for overnight shipping. Cutoff times can vary by location or circumstance, so contact your courier to confirm the cutoff schedule for overnight shipping.

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

When preparing your parcel for overnight delivery, ensure to package your item correctly and print the shipping label. When the label shows your order is for overnight shipping, the courier will usually prioritize this order.

The Courier Picks Up and Processes Your Parcel

After you drop off your parcel and the courier receives it, the company will sort your item with other overnight shipping orders. Afterward, the courier will route your package to its final destination.

The Package Gets Transported to an Overnight Delivery Hub

Once routed, your parcel will be sent overnight to the hub closest to your customer. As the name suggests, overnight orders ship via air or ground transit to reach your customer on the next business day.

The Customer Receives Their Order the Next Day

Depending on the carrier you work with and your preferred overnight shipping method, the courier can deliver your package in the morning, afternoon, or evening of the next day.

For example, UPS (United Parcel Service)’s Next Day Air Early can deliver your package by 8:00 AM the next business day. Meanwhile, Next Day Air Saver packages can arrive by 4:30 PM the next day.

What Is Overnight Shipping?

Overnight shipping is a mail delivery option that lets you or your recipient receive the order on the next business day. Because your item should arrive the next day, the order processing usually happens overnight.

What Is USPS Overnight?

Priority Mail Express is the U.S. Postal Service’s overnight delivery service. For domestic deliveries, this guaranteed service lets you send something urgent that must arrive the next day or within two days.

What Is FedEx Overnight Shipping?

FedEx’s overnight shipping service provides a fast next-day shipping option for delivering packages and freight in the United States. FedEx delivers your shipment after the courier picks it up from you, or you drop it off at a FedEx location.

Is There a Difference Between Next-Day Delivery and Overnight Shipping?

Even if they sound different, next-day delivery and overnight shipping mean the same thing. Despite this similarity, carriers’ overnight delivery services can differ based on pricing, cutoff times, and handling.

Next-Day Shipping Services Compared

As mentioned earlier, different carriers can vary in offering overnight shipping. Some offer guaranteed delivery by a specific time, and others implement different cutoff times.

The sections below compare the next-day delivery services between the United States Postal Service (USPS), Federal Express (FedEx), and UPS.

USPS Overnight Shipping

If you want to send an urgent package overnight, USPS offers Priority Mail Express as its next-day delivery solution. 

The following sections discuss this service’s features.

Priority Mail Express

Priority Mail Express is a next-day to two-day delivery service that guarantees delivery by 6:00 PM. This service offers competitive prices and fast delivery every day, with limited exceptions, to most U.S. addresses and P.O. boxes.

Features

Aside from having the fastest delivery times among USPS services, Priority Mail Express service has the following features:

  • Free package pickup service at your home or office
  • Sunday and holiday delivery in major markets for an additional fee
  • USPS Tracking and up to $100 of coverage for most shipments
  • Proof of delivery signature record upon request

Weight, Size, and Shape Requirements

For your package to qualify for Priority Mail Express delivery, your item must comply with the company’s size, shape, and weight requirements. The following sections discuss these requirements.

Use and Pay One Price for USPS Priority Mail Express Flat Rate Envelopes

Sealing a Priority Mail Express flat-rate envelope ensures the container flaps can close within the standard folds. 

Flat Rate lets you pay the same price for mail pieces weighing up to 70 pounds (lbs) anywhere in the U.S.

Use USPS Priority Mail Express Mailing Boxes and Pay by Zone (Distance) and Weight

Pay for your package based on how far the destination is and how much it weighs, up to 70lbs.

If you want to avoid measuring your boxes manually, consider using USPS Priority Mail Express mailing boxes in standard sizes.

Use Your Own Box and Pay by Zone (Distance) and Weight

If you prefer using your box, measure it to ensure it meets USPS’ size standards. The maximum weight is 70lbs, and the maximum combined length and girth (the distance around the thickest part) is 108 inches (in).

Other fees you may need to pay include:

  • Dimensional (DIM) weight rates for large, lightweight packages
  • A dimension noncompliance fee if you provide inaccurate dimensions, do not pay the applicable DIM weight rate, or both
  • An additional fee for sending a package in nonstandard size

Additional Information

Aside from weight, shape, and size considerations to qualify for Priority Mail Express, other information you should know is included in the following sections.

Mailing Restrictions and Prohibitions

Your package must comply with specific standards and regulations for mailing prohibited, hazardous, and restricted materials, such as smokeless tobacco and cigarettes.

Shipping to a Military Post Office (APO/DPO/FPO)

Suppose you want to ship packages to a military post office, such as an Army or Air Post Office (APO), Fleet Post Office (FPO), or Diplomatic Post Office (DPO). You must pay domestic prices for these destinations, fill out a customs form, and comply with specific restrictions.

Requesting a Refund

If your parcel does not arrive on the guaranteed delivery time or date, you can request a refund, citing service failure.

To ensure this request gets processed on time, file it within 30 days of the mailing date.

For Businesses

If you have a business, some essential things to consider regarding delivery are speed, affordability, customer service, and security. 

USPS strives to help your business by letting you provide these services to your clients at discounted rates.

Priority Mail Express Open and Distribute

Priority Mail Express Open and Distribute (PMEOD) can help expedite bulk mailing transportation. Prices use commercial rates based on weight and shipping zone to provide reasonable shipping costs.

PMEOD lets you ship items in an approved USPS container to an approved location where the Postal Service can open the container before delivering your package to the final destination.

Manage Incoming Mail

USPS’ cost-effective mail services help you manage your incoming and outgoing mail. This way, you can focus better on growing your business.

Next-Day Deliveries

You can use Priority Mail Express to get shipments to your customers the next day. Drop-off times can vary by post office, but you may easily find a convenient location if you know the ZIP codes to where you want to ship.

Priority Mail Express Flat Rate Products

You can save on shipping costs with lower commercial rates if you ship through the Click-N-Ship service (an application for customers to create postage labels online). 

The table below shows the price comparison between commercial and post office rates:

SupplyPriceExcellent for
Flat Rate Envelope$28.75 at the post office$24.90 with commercial pricingPassports and passport applications, documents, and manuscripts
Legal Flat Rate Envelope$28.95 at the post office$25.15 with commercial pricingLegal documents
Padded Flat Rate Envelope$29.45 at the post office $25.35 with commercial pricingClothing, books, and boxed Jewelry

UPS Overnight Shipping

UPS Next Day Air offers guaranteed, time-definite, next-day delivery with on-time performance for urgent shipments. This service has three options:

  • UPS Next Day Air Early provides guaranteed on-time overnight delivery by 8:00 AM to major U.S. cities in the 48 contiguous states.
  • UPS Next Day Air delivers to all 50 states and Puerto Rico by 10:30 AM, 12:00 PM, or the end of the next business day.
  • UPS Next Day Air Saver delivers by 3:00 PM or 4:30 PM the next business day within the 48 contiguous states.

FedEx Overnight Shipping

FedEx offers three next-day delivery services based on the time you want your parcel to arrive at your destination:

Early Morning Delivery

FedEx First Overnight is FedEx’s next-day delivery service that ships to most destinations by 8:00 AM, 8:30 AM, 9:00 AM, or 9:30 AM.

Mid-Morning Delivery

FedEx Priority Overnight delivers your item on the next business day by 10:30 AM to most businesses, by noon to residences, and by 5:00 PM to some rural areas.

Afternoon Delivery

FedEx Standard Overnight delivers by 5:00 PM of the next business day to U.S. businesses and by 8:00 PM to residences.

Need Your Freight Shipments and Packages Over 150 Pounds Delivered the Next Day?

For packages over 150 pounds (lbs), use FedEx First Overnight Freight to deliver to most primary service destinations by 9:00 AM or 10:30 AM the next day.

This freight service lets you ship individual skids (single-deck pallets) over 151lbs and delivers across the United States from Monday to Friday. Saturday delivery and pickup are also available in some areas for a fee.

How Much Does It Cost to Send a Letter and Package Overnight?

The cost to send a letter or package overnight depends on several factors, including the shipping carrier you choose, the destination, and the package’s weight and dimensions.

The following sections discuss these and other considerations when sending an item overnight.

Shipping Carrier

Depending on the business model and management decision, shipping carriers can offer overnight delivery at varying rates. You can choose a shipping carrier based on which one provides cheaper rates or has better reliability.

Shipping Agreements With Carriers

You may qualify for discounted shipping rates depending on what the carriers offer. Some companies offer exclusive discounts for small businesses, while others provide discounted rates on high-volume shipments.

Mail Dimensions

Your shipment’s dimensions can affect the shipping cost. For example, sending a letter through USPS Priority Mail Express requires your mail to measure 12.5in by 9.5in to fit in a flat-rate envelope.

Mail Weight

Weight can significantly impact shipping costs for overnight mail, with heavier items usually costing more.

For instance, sending a 1lb item through UPS Next Day Air can cost $37.44. Meanwhile, a 20lb package can cost $76.16.

Shipping Zones

Shipping zones refer to the distance between a package’s origin and destination. Your overnight delivery costs can increase as the shipping zone to which your package ships goes higher.

Overnight Shipping Costs by Carrier

As mentioned before, your choice of carrier can influence how much you pay for overnight delivery. 

UPS Overnight Letter Cost

The cost to send a letter overnight through UPS varies depending on the overnight service you choose and the distance from the origin to the destination. 

The following sections discuss these costs.

Cost to Send Overnight Letter UPS

UPS allows you to send an overnight letter at a different cost range than sending an item by weight. This letter rate applies only to correspondence, documents, and electronic media shipments sent in a UPS Express Envelope not exceeding eight ounces.

UPS Next Day Air Early

Based on 2023 rates, shipping a letter overnight through UPS Next Day Air Early starts at $60.56 and can go as high as $100.08.

UPS Next Day Air

The cost to send a letter in 2023 using UPS Next Day Air starts at $30.56 and can go up to $76.42.

UPS Next Day Air Saver

The lowest-priced option to send a letter overnight is UPS Next Day Air Saver. Prices start at $29.85 and can go up to $56.36 according to 2023 rates.

USPS Express Mail Cost

 With USPS Priority Mail Express’s free flat-rate envelopes, you do not need to weigh your mail if it weighs 70lbs and below. The costs to send flat-rate envelopes under this service are as follows:

  • Flat Rate envelope: $28.75
  • Legal Flat Rate envelope: $28.95
  • Padded Flat Rate envelope: $29.45

FedEx Overnight Letter Cost

FedEx offers three options for shipping a letter under eight ounces overnight, each with a different cost. These options and their rates are as follows:

  • FedEx First Overnight: $61.25
  • FedEx Priority Overnight: $30.25
  • FedEx Standard Overnight: $29.54

How Much to Overnight a Package With FedEx

If you send a package overnight via FedEx, you can do so by weight from 1lb to 150lbs. The 2023 rates for overnight package shipping start at the following prices:

  • FedEx First Overnight: $68.04
  • FedEx Priority Overnight: $37.04
  • FedEx Standard Overnight: $33.87

Cheapest Overnight Shipping Options

When sending letters and packages overnight, one factor to consider in choosing a service is picking the cheapest option. The following sections discuss the low-cost considerations when choosing an overnight service.

The Cheapest Way to Ship Using USPS Overnight

One of the ways to keep your costs down when shipping overnight with USPS is to use flat-rate shipping. Doing so allows you to send mail pieces up to 70lbs anywhere in the U.S. for the same price.

Overnight Letters

Based on the 2023 price list, flat-rate envelopes sent through Priority Mail Express cost $28.75, the same price as sending a package weighing up to 0.5lbs.

Overnight Packages

As mentioned earlier, you can pay to send packages overnight up to 70lbs when using Priority Mail Express mailing boxes. Prices start at $28.75 according to 2023 rates.

International

Global Express Guaranteed (GXG) is USPS’ fastest international service that delivers packages in one to three business days. 

When you ship to Canada, GXG can cover many destinations in one business day. Prices start at $71.10.

Calculate Your Overnight Shipping Costs

When calculating your overnight shipping costs, 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

Sending Multiple Overnight Shipments?

Suppose you frequently send multiple parcels from the same location to the same destination. When you open a FedEx account, the company allows you to enable multiweight pricing.

This feature lets FedEx treat multiple overnight shipments as one to help simplify your shipping transactions and save you money. This feature is also convenient because it is automatic.

Packaging for Overnight Shipments

If you need packaging for overnight shipment, FedEx provides free boxes and other supplies to help pack your items appropriately.

Free FedEx Express Packaging

Using FedEx packaging, you can choose from 12 options for your overnight deliveries. FedEx provides envelopes, tubes, paks, and different-sized boxes, from small to extra large.

You can also use your own package if you do not have express packaging.

Tracking Your Overnight Shipment

FedEx lets you track your package if you are expecting a shipment. The FedEx Delivery Manager enables you to manage your deliveries by allowing you to receive alerts and provide special delivery instructions.

Why Your Business Needs an Overnight Shipping Service

As you run your eCommerce business, you will likely encounter customers looking for lower shipping rates before purchasing from you.

Therefore, offering cheaper shipping options, especially overnight deliveries, can attract more customers, leading to business growth.

4 Benefits of Overnight Shipping

By offering overnight shipping, you can position yourself in a more competitive advantage and set your business apart. 

The following sections discuss some benefits of overnight shipping to your business.

Ability to Deliver Time-Sensitive Shipments

Overnight shipping is among the fastest delivery options and lets you extend more options for customers needing urgent delivery. By providing this option, you can attract more customers, including those who prefer faster delivery.

Greater Customer Satisfaction

As fast shipping becomes standard and customer expectations increase, overnight shipping can help increase customer satisfaction and brand loyalty.

Increased Sales and Revenue

When customers are satisfied, they will likely count on you for speedy delivery and return to your store. In turn, your sales will likely increase, leading to higher revenue.

Reduced Storage Costs

Overnight shipping can help lower storage costs by freeing up your warehouse space and minimizing the chances of obsolescence and dead stock (unsellable inventory).

Best Practices for Handling Overnight Shipping

Suppose you want to provide an overnight shipping option for your business but are unsure where to start. Consider following the best practices discussed in the following sections to help ensure your packages arrive on time, undamaged, and at the correct location.

Set a Clear Cutoff Time

When offering overnight shipping for your business, you must set a clear policy outlining your brand’s cutoff time. This way, you can have sufficient time to process and fulfill orders that meet overnight delivery times.

Ensure to communicate this cutoff policy to set expectations and avoid customer misunderstandings.

Operate From Multiple Warehouses

Distributing inventory across multiple warehouses lets you reach customers more quickly. Multiple warehouse distribution also helps you complete urgent shipments since your inventory’s location is closer to the delivery area.

Establish a Centrally Located Warehouse

Although managing multiple warehouses has some advantages, doing so can complicate inventory management and increase costs if not done strategically.

In this case, you can use one centralized warehouse instead. This way, you have a more efficient and cost-effective way of fulfilling overnight shipments.

Work With Reliable Partners

Establishing relationships with trustworthy and reliable partners can help you deliver overnight shipping smoothly. Customers will likely continue ordering from you when they consistently receive their overnight shipments safely and on time.

I Want It, I Got It

As your online business grows and earns more sales, consider overnight shipping a must-have service for your eCommerce operations. With overnight delivery options from USPS, UPS, and FedEx, you can choose what service best aligns with your needs.

FAQs

  1. What is the best way to overnight a letter?

A flat-rate shipping service is one of the best ways to send a letter overnight. This way, you can send a letter for the same price regardless of destination.

For example, USPS Priority Mail Express Flat Rate lets you ship items up to 70lbs at the same price to any U.S. state to arrive the next day or within two days.

  1. Why do people pay for overnight shipping instead of sending an email?

Although emailing or sending a text message can be more convenient and largely inexpensive than overnight shipping, sending physical mail can be the only option in some cases. For example, sending legal documents may require you to mail them physically.

  1. What does guaranteed shipping mean?

“Guaranteed” means the shipping company assures you of a refund if the courier cannot deliver your item on time. However, this nondelivery of guaranteed items happens rarely.

If the overnight shipping service you choose has such a guarantee, you may ship overnight with confidence.

  1. Is snail mail convenient?

The process of sending snail mail can be inconvenient for some people because of various elements to worry about, such as the following:

After addressing these factors, you must go to the post office to drop off your mail. If the line is long, you may need to wait until the postal worker processes your mail.

  1. What is the fastest shipping?

Many shipping companies, such as USPS, DHL (Dalsey, Hillblom, and Lynn), UPS, and FedEx, offer fast shipping in same-day delivery. Check these companies’ cutoff times to make your parcel eligible for same-day shipping.

  1. What is USPS Overnight’s cutoff time?

The cutoff time for USPS Priority Mail Express, the Postal Service’s overnight service, is between 5:30 PM and 5:45 PM. Bring your package before this period to ensure it goes with the other overnight shipments for the day.

  1. How do you save on overnight shipping costs?

Ways to reduce your overnight shipping costs include the following:

  • Keep your parcel’s weight as low as possible.
  • Check the item’s dimensions as rectangular, oddly-shaped, and large-sized items cost more than small, regular-shaped ones.
  • Opt for overnight options that deliver items during the late afternoon or early evening.
  • Consider printing your own shipping labels.
  • Consider using flat-rate shipping.

References

  1. 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/
  2. Mail & Shipping Services
    https://www.usps.com/ship/mail-shipping-services.htm
  3. Priority Mail Express
    https://www.usps.com/ship/priority-mail-express.htm
  4. Price List
    https://pe.usps.com/text/dmm300/Notice123.htm
  5. International Mail & Shipping Services
    https://www.usps.com/international/mail-shipping-services.htm