UPS 3 Day Select vs. Ground


March 23, 2024

UPS (United Parcel Service), the global mail and package delivery leader, has earned its renowned status through unwavering dedication to providing efficient, reliable, and affordable services.

This commitment shines through in every aspect of UPS, from the rigorous training that its drivers undergo- learning 340 precise steps for precise package delivery- to the careful planning of how mailpieces are loaded and unloaded from delivery trucks.

But the true testament to UPS’ unwavering commitment to excellence can be seen in its two popular shipping options: UPS 3 Day Select and UPS Ground.

While you can’t go wrong with either choice, selecting the appropriate shipping service for your delivery needs can significantly impact your mailing experience.

This article discusses the differences between UPS 3 Day Select and UPS Ground, including the cost, delivery time, and service limitations, helping you decide the best move for your unique shipping needs.

Are you looking for other mailing solutions? Check the U.S. Postal Service’s (USPS) offerings at your local post office. Visit to find your area’s nearest and most convenient post office locations. 

Shipping Inside the United States

Although UPS (United Parcel Service) is known for its global reach, operating in over 200 countries and territories, it calls the U.S. its home. Therefore, it offers various shipping options tailored to the ever-changing requirements of Americans.

In other words, whether you’re a small business owner sending packages to customers or an individual shipping a gift to a loved one, UPS has a domestic delivery service for you.

What Is UPS 3 Day Select?

If you need a mail and package delivery option that flawlessly balances respectable transit times and economical shipping rates, consider UPS 3 Day Select.

As its name implies, it’s a UPS service offering one- to three-business-day delivery for mailpieces up to 150lbs and 108” long to the 48 contiguous states.

Apart from these features, UPS 3 Day Select also has Saturday delivery, making it the go-to choice for shippers who need to send their packages promptly without breaking the bank.

How Much Does UPS 3 Day Cost?

Like other UPS mailing options, UPS 3 Day Select’s shipping cost varies depending on the package’s weight and destination. However, if you compare it to UPS’ other offerings, you’ll see how UPS 3 Day Select combines affordability with speed.

Let’s assume you want to send a package weighing 10lbs from New York to Los Angeles. When UPS determines the shipping cost, it considers the distance a parcel must travel or its zone.

In this scenario, a shipment from New York (postal code 10001) heading to Los Angeles (postal code 90001) falls under the UPS 3 Day Select 308 zone. The delivery will cost you $81.74, as of October 2023.

However, if you ship via a faster UPS service like UPS 2nd Day Air A.M., the same 10-pound mailpiece falls under zone 248. For a one-day difference in delivery time, you’ll pay $125.26- an additional $43.52.

If you take it further and pick a faster mailing solution, such as UPS Next Day Air, expect to pay even more. According to UPS, a package from New York to Los Angeles via Next Day Air belongs in zone 108 and will cost you $170.23.

To determine how much UPS 3 Day Select will cost for your deliveries, visit the UPS website at or contact its customer service hotline at 1-888-742-5877. Conversely, you can talk to a UPS representative at a The UPS Store near you.

Why Is UPS 3 Day Select Important?

There are several reasons why UPS 3 Day Select stands out as one of the most essential UPS shipping options for individuals and businesses. These reasons include the following:

Faster Delivery

As mentioned, one of the fundamental features of UPS 3 Day Select is the shipping timeframe. When you need your packages to arrive within three business days, you can count on this UPS service, especially considering that it offers a money-back guarantee.


While UPS has faster delivery options than UPS 3 Day Select, including UPS 2nd Day and UPS Next Day Air Saver, its shipping costs can quickly add up, as we demonstrated earlier. If you’re looking for a cost-effective mailing solution that offers timely deliveries, choose UPS 3 Day Select.

Customer Satisfaction

On-time deliveries are essential for customer satisfaction, particularly if you’re running an e-commerce business. With UPS 3 Day Select guaranteed one- to three-business-day shipping, you can meet customer expectations and maintain a high level of service.

UPS 3 Day Select Limitations

Despite its various benefits, the UPS 3 Day Select service isn’t perfect. In other words, it may not be the most suitable mail and package delivery option for all situations.

Here are some of UPS 3 Day Select’s shortcomings:

  • Package restrictions: A package can only be 150lbs and 108” long to be eligible for UPS 3 Day Select. Depending on the zone, you’ll pay a per-pound surcharge between $1.23 and $5.52 if your mailpiece exceeds these limits.
  • Unspecified arrival date: Although UPS 3 Day Select guarantees delivery within three business days, it doesn’t let you specify a preferred arrival date. In contrast, UPS Next Day Air provides a definitive next-business-day delivery.
  • Some features are unavailable for some states: As cited, UPS 3 Day Select only delivers to the 48 contiguous states. In other words, this UPS service may not be available to business and residential addresses in Alaska, Hawaii, and other territories like Puerto Rico.

Moreover, the availability of some UPS 3 Day Select service features, such as Saturday shipping and package pickup, varies depending on the specific area.

When Do UPS 3 Day Select Packages Arrive?

UPS 3 Day Select promises shipping within three business days. However, whether that delivery occurs on the first, second, or third day depends on the distance your mailpiece must travel to reach its intended destination.

Tips and Reminders for UPS 3 Day Select

While you can rely on UPS 3 Day Select for your shipping needs, it’s essential to consider some things to ensure a smooth and hassle-free experience. Here are some valuable tips and reminders:

  • Package size and weight: Remember that UPS 3 Day Select has specific limitations regarding package size and weight. To qualify for this service and avoid additional surcharges, ensure your package doesn’t exceed 150lbs and should not be longer than 108”.
  • Saturday delivery and pickup services: One notable advantage of UPS 3 Day Select is that it includes Saturday delivery and offers package pickup.

If these features are critical for your needs or the expectations of your recipients, it’s best to contact UPS to determine if they’re eligible for your shipment.

  • Track your mail: UPS offers an online monitoring tool to get location and status updates for up to 25 packages. Utilizing this tool allows you to monitor your shipments, giving you progress reports on a parcel.

UPS Ground Shipping

If UPS 3 Day Select combines speedy delivery with economical prices, UPS Ground focuses on affordability and takes it to the next level. Compared to other UPS services, UPS Ground shipping is the cheapest, with prices starting at only $10.10 as of October 2023.

However, UPS Ground isn’t a slouch regarding transit times, offering one- to five-business-day delivery, including UPS standard Saturday shipping, for packages up to 150lbs and 108” long to all 50 U.S. states and Puerto Rico.

Depending on Where You’re Shipping From and To, UPS Ground May Be the Better Option

UPS Ground shipments take two days longer to arrive than UPS 3 Day Select. The former mailing option makes up for its longer transit times with cheaper prices.

Unfortunately, if you only consider both services’ starting prices, the difference is minimal: $10.10 vs. $14.59. But depending on where you’re shipping from and to, the price difference can be substantial, making UPS Ground the better option.

To explain, let’s use our previous example of mailing a 10-pound parcel from New York to Los Angeles. Shipping via UPS 3 Day Select costs $81.74.

On the other hand, the same mailpiece will fall under zone 8 if you send it through the UPS Ground service. In this scenario, you’ll pay $22.40- over three times as much for potentially two fewer days.

Did You Know? 90% of UPS Ground Packages Are Delivered in Three Days or Less

Despite UPS advertising UPS Ground as a mail and package delivery service that offers delivery within five business days, 90% of shipments arrive within three days, or maybe the next day if you’re lucky.

In other words, UPS Ground can be as fast as UPS 3 Day Select and, at the same time, significantly more affordable. Therefore, you can assume that UPS Ground packages took a substantial portion of UPS’ 6.2 billion shipments in 2022.

When Should I Choose Ground Over 3 Day Select?

With UPS Ground’s several options over UPS 3 Day Select, you may be forgiven for thinking that the former is the superior choice. While that can sometimes be true, choosing the former over the latter only benefits packages heading to a relatively close destination.

The principle behind this statement is that UPS Ground mailpieces won’t require the full five days to get to a location a few miles away, making UPS Ground the more cost-effective service.

However, if you’re sending a parcel from one end of the U.S. to another, such as from New York to Los Angeles, 3 Day Select will be the better option, as it offers a two-day head start over UPS Ground.

UPS 3 Day Select vs. UPS Ground

While UPS Ground and UPS 3 Day Select have similar package requirements, their distinctions can make one the better UPS service for your unique mailing needs.

Let’s break down their unmistakable differences to help determine which one is more tailored for you or your business.

Which Is the Cheapest?

In general, UPS Ground is the more economical package delivery option. However, depending on the delivery origin and destination, the extra cost for UPS 3 Day Select’s shorter delivery window can be negligible.

Which Is the Fastest?

The UPS 3 Day Select guarantees one- to three-business-day shipping. On the other hand, UPS Ground offers delivery within five days. The former is faster, with two fewer days in transit.

Note that UPS Ground shipments may arrive within three days, nine out of ten times, especially if your mailpiece only needs to travel a short distance to reach its intended destination.

Which Is the Best Option?

Ultimately, the ideal UPS service depends on your specific mailing requirements. If you value affordability, UPS Ground wins in that category. Conversely, if you need your shipments to arrive within three days, such as time-sensitive documents, consider UPS 3 Day Select.

Understanding UPS Shipping Delivery Options

While UPS 3 Day Select and UPS Ground are excellent mail and package delivery options, they aren’t the only UPS services you should consider.

Here’s a quick overview of UPS mailing solutions for domestic and international shipments:

UPS Domestic ServiceDelivery CommitmentDelivery Time
UPS Next Day Air EarlyNext business dayAs early as 8 AM
UPS Next Day AirNext business dayBy 10:30 AM
UPS Next Day Air SaverNext business dayBy the end of the day
UPS 2nd Day Air AMWithin two business daysAs early as 8 AM
UPS 2nd Day AirWithin two business daysBy the end of the day
UPS 3 Day SelectWithin three business daysBy the end of the day
UPS GroundWithin five business daysBased on the distance to the destination
UPS SurePostTwo to six business daysBased on the distance to the destination
UPS International ServiceDelivery CommitmentDelivery Time
UPS Worldwide Express PlusNext business day to Canada
Within two business days to Europe
Two to three business days to Asia
By 8:30 AM to Canada
By 9 AM to all other destinations
UPS Worldwide Express Next business day to Canada
Next business day for documents to Mexico
Second business day to Europe and Latin America
Two to three business days to Asia
By 10:30 AM or noon
UPS Worldwide SaverNext business day to Canada
Next business day for documents to Mexico
Second business day to Europe and Latin America
Two to three business days to Asia
By the end of the day
UPS Worldwide ExpeditedNext business day to Canada
Next business day for documents to Mexico
Three to four business days to Europe
Four to five business days to Asia and Latin America
Day-definite based on distance destination
By the end of the day
UPS StandardDay-definite based on distance destinationBased on the distance to the destination

When Do You Need It Delivered?

For most shippers, the deciding factor that affects whether to choose a domestic UPS service is the delivery window. Fortunately, UPS provides various options to fit the diverse mailing needs of Americans.

Fast: One to Five Business Days

If you need a cost-effective option with one- to five-business-day delivery, consider UPS Ground. It’s ideal if you value affordability over speed.

Faster: Second or Third Business Day

For mail and packages requiring faster delivery, UPS 2nd Day Air AM and UPS 3 Day Select are options. Pick the former for two-day shipping and the latter for one- to three-business-day delivery.

Even Faster: Next Day

UPS’ Next Day Air, Next Day Air Early, and Next Day Air Saver are excellent time-definite solutions for urgent mail. All of these UPS options offer overnight shipping, guaranteeing next-business-day delivery.

UPS Next Day Air: UPS Delivers Earlier to More ZIP Codes and Businesses Than FedEx

UPS and FedEx (Federal Express) are industry rivals. Hence, both carriers offer similar services. To match UPS’ Next Day Air lineup, FedEx has its FedEx overnight options.

Like UPS Next Day Air, Next Day Air Early, and Next Day Air Saver, FedEx’s First Overnight, Priority Overnight, and Standard Overnight offer time-definite deliveries.

However, UPS’ next-day shipping solutions have an advantage over FedEx’s. They deliver earlier to more ZIP codes, including territories like Anchorage in Alaska and Puerto Rico.

U.S. Postal Service

Although UPS is an excellent courier service for mail and package deliveries, it’s not your only option. Enter the United States Postal Service (USPS).

This federal government agency is known for its reliable and fast mailing options, such as Priority Mail, which offers comparable features like one- to three-business-day delivery at affordable rates.

For additional information on USPS offerings, visit the USPS website at or call its customer care center at 1-800-ASK-USPS (1-800-275-8777).

If you want to inquire in person and talk to a Postal Service representative, head to your local post office. Use to narrow the over 31,000 post office locations nationwide to those in your area.


  1. How reliable is UPS 3 Day Select?

You can count on UPS 3 Day Select to deliver your mailpieces within three days. UPS is confident it can accomplish this task, even offering a money-back guarantee.

  1. Does UPS 3 Day Select include Saturdays?

One of the advantages of choosing UPS and its UPS 3 Day Select service is that you or your recipients can expect deliveries on Saturdays. However, the availability of this weekend shipping feature varies on the origin and destination area.

  1. Is UPS Ground better?

The UPS Ground service can be better, particularly if you need an affordable package delivery option. However, it has a delivery window of up to five business days, so it may not be ideal for time-sensitive shipments.

  1. Why is UPS Ground faster than 3 Day Select?

Although UPS Ground shipments can arrive within three days, UPS Ground isn’t necessarily faster than UPS 3 Day Select. For one, the latter offers shipping in two fewer days. Another is the total transit time hinges on the distance a parcel must travel.

  1. How late does UPS deliver?

The delivery time for UPS shipments can vary depending on various factors, such as mail volume and the weather. However, UPS strives to complete all its daily deliveries by 7 PM.

  1. What days does UPS deliver during the holidays?

UPS considers the following holidays as non-shipping days:

  • Independence Day
  • Labor Day
  • Thanksgiving
  • Christmas Eve
  • Christmas
  • New Year’s Day
  1. Do customers commonly misunderstand UPS 3-day shipping?

Some shippers assume that the count for UPS’ three-business-day shipping happens after they hand over a package to UPS. However, the three-day count usually begins the next business day after your package enters the UPS system.

To explain, if you drop off a mailpiece at UPS on Monday, expect it to arrive on Thursday. If you leave it on a Thursday, the delivery will generally occur the following Monday.


  1. UPS Company Profile
  2. 5 Facts About UPS
  3. UPS Company Facts
  4. What is UPS® 3 Day Select?
  5. Domestic Shipping
  6. UPS 3 Day Select: What You Need to Know
  7. 2023 UPS® Rates
  8. Contact Us
  9. What is the Difference Between the Continental and Contiguous United States?
  10. UPS Tracking
  11. USP 3 Day Select vs Ground
  12. Shipping Outside the United States
  13. Priority Mail
  14. Contact USPS
  15. How Late Does UPS Deliver?
  16. Understanding UPS® Shipping Delivery Options
  17. UPS 3 Day Misunderstood?