UPS Ground vs. USPS Priority

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November 21, 2023

USPS (United States Postal Service) and UPS (United Parcel Service) offer courier services focusing on speed and reliability. Among the many services both companies provide, UPS Ground and USPS Priority Mail service are among the most popular.

But which mailing service is better, especially for small and medium businesses: UPS Ground or USPS Priority Mail? 

This article compares the two shipping companies based on the pros and cons of UPS Ground and USPS Priority Mail. It also tackles price rates and other factors that may affect the decision-making of small and medium businesses when choosing a carrier. 

Finally, this write-up expands the comparison to other services provided by UPS, USPS, and the services of another major shipping company in the United States, FedEx (Federal Express). 

The United States benefits from having three of the world’s most popular and biggest shipping carriers, namely, USPS (United States Postal Service), FedEx (Federal Express), and UPS (United Parcel Service). 

These three companies are often placed “neck and neck,” where their pros, cons, wins, and faults are compared and analyzed. 

However, despite their differences, these companies collaborate to complete the last-mile delivery service. UPS and FedEx work with USPS to deliver packages on the last leg of the delivery process. 

When using UPS and FedEx services that require the USPS network for last-mile deliveries, it’s best to have an online post office database ready for your reference. You can visit FindPostOffice.org to get the contact information and addresses of over 31,330 USPS retail offices in the country. 

Introduction: What Is the Difference Between UPS and USPS?

UPS and USPS are both household names when it comes to mail or package deliveries. USPS is the independent agency of the executive branch of the United States that handles the country’s mail system. USPS, also known as “The Post Office” and “U.S. Mail,” was founded in 1775 and was reorganized in 1971 by virtue of the Postal Reorganization Act of 1970. 

On the other hand, UPS is a publicly traded company that provides logistics and freight forwarding services to customers in America and abroad. The company was founded in 1907 and is based in Sandy Springs, Georgia.  

Overview of USPS and UPS Carriers in eCommerce Shipping

USPS and UPS provide eCommerce shipping services to their customers. eCommerce shipping is receiving, processing, picking, and packing purchased products from a warehouse, printing shipping labels, and managing returns.

The following topics tackle the similarities and differences between UPS and USPS in how both companies cater to millions of people needing cost-effective, reliable, and efficient courier services. 

About UPS (United Parcel Service) Shipping

UPS provides logistics services, transportation, air, ground, ocean freight, distribution, insurance, customs brokerage, and financing. UPS is one of the largest shipping providers in the United States. 

Additionally, UPS operates in different regions of the world, such as:

  • Asia-Pacific
  • Africa
  • Canada
  • The Indian subcontinent
  • The Middle East
  • Latin America

About USPS (United States Postal Services) Shipping

USPS offers various shipping services, including mailing options such as:

  • First-Class Mail
  • Priority Mail Express
  • Standard mail
  • International shipping
  • Package delivery

Aside from these, USPS is also the mail carrier of choice for services such as passport application processing and money order

UPS vs. USPS: Priority

UPS has established a reputation for its reliable tracking services. However, USPS provides a fast priority service with a delivery time of next day to two business days for Priority Mail Express. UPS Ground service may take one to five days.  

Price-wise, USPS rates are comparatively more affordable than UPS, particularly for packages that weigh up to 2lbs. USPS offers flat-rate boxes that allow more than one item to be delivered simultaneously. 

USPS vs. UPS Prices

According to consumers and reviews from independent sources, UPS generally costs more than USPS. The following is an example of the difference in price rates for a 5-pound package for USPS and UPS. 

Shipping Rates for a Five-Pound Package

CourierServiceDelivery Lead TimeCost
USPSUSPS Priority Mail 2-Day2 business days$22.80
USPSUSPS Priority Mail Express1-2 business days$78.60
UPSUPS Ground1-5 business days$21.87
UPSUPS Next Day Air1 business day$140.84

Here is an example of the shipping rate for both companies:

  • USPS Priority Mail 2-day (two business days): $22.80
  • USPS Priority Mail Express (one to two business days): $78.60
  • UPS Ground (one to five business days): $21.87
  • UPS Next Day Air (one business day): $140.84

For deliveries that take only two days, USPS Priority Mail 2-day may be a cost-effective option. However, UPS Ground may be cheaper, but the delivery time can take up to five business days. 

UPS vs. USPS Speed: Which Is Quicker, UPS or USPS?

Delivery speed is vital for the success of any eCommerce business. Nobody wants to wait weeks on end to receive items bought online that they need as soon as possible. 

Both UPS and USPS offer overnight deliveries. However, the average delivery time for USPS Priority Mail is 1.7 days, while UPS Ground is 2.75 days. 

UPS Services

The following are some of the standard services used by UPS customers:

  • UPS Ground: This mail service costs the least according to UPS rates.
  • UPS Next-day Air: A popular speedy delivery service that offers next-day shipping.
  • UPS 2nd-day or UPS 3rd-day Select: Provides a delivery time of two to three days typically used for nonurgent shipments. 
  • UPS Express Critical: The fastest delivery option provided by UPS. All shipping methods ensure packages arrive as soon as possible. 

USPS Services

Here are some of the popular services USPS provides:

  • Media Mail: A special mailing service specifically designed for delivering media files. Delivery dates can range from two to eight business days, and the maximum weight is 70lbs.
  • First-Class Mail: The standard mail for sending mail or small packages that weigh 13lbs or less. The estimated delivery time ranges from one to three business days. 
  • Priority Mail: A package with one to three business days delivery time.
  • Priority Mail Express: This is the fastest delivery option offered by USPS that delivers packages the next day or within two days. 
  • Retail Ground: This is a delivery option for oversized packages that’s not time-sensitive. 

Pros and Cons of UPS

Despite the positive reviews provided by UPS, it’s still prudent to check customer feedback on the services they’ve availed from this company. 

The pros of using UPS:

  • Offers volume discounts for regular customers
  • Known for secure and quick deliveries
  • Offers same-day deliveries and next-day deliveries
  • Provides guaranteed express shipping

The cons of using UPS:

  • Generally, UPS rates are somewhat higher compared to USPS
  • UPS charges a flat rate for pickup
  • Saturday delivery is listed as a value-added service, and you have to pay extra when shipping on this day

Pros and Cons of USPS

Here are the pros of USPS and the reasons why this company has become popular with many Americans:

Here are the pros:

  • USPS can deliver to mailboxes and P.O. boxes (post office boxes)
  • USPS provides free packing materials for customers
  • USPS strives to deliver even during harsh weather conditions
  • Provides flat-rate boxes for Priority Mail service
  • Cost-effective choice for small packages, especially those under 13lbs

Here are the cons:

  • Some reviews and customers say that UPS tracking is better than USPS
  • Customer service needs improvement

Is UPS Ground Better Than USPS?

Many criteria can be used to decide on this UPS vs USPS question. However, the answer depends on what factor you focus on. If talking about rates for smaller packages, then USPS offers better rates. However, if it’s for heavier packages, UPS provides the better choice. 

UPS Ground vs. USPS Priority: What Is the Difference Between UPS Ground Shipping and USPS Priority Mail?

Ground shipping is the delivery process that involves the use of land transportation, such as trucks and delivery vans. In comparison, USPS generally ships by air, especially for services like Priority Mail and First-Class Mail. However, some USPS services may also involve ground transportation. 

UPS Ground: What Is UPS Ground?

UPS Ground is one of the most cost-effective shipping options for domestic delivery. The estimated delivery time ranges from one to five business days. Also, as the name suggests, UPS Ground delivers parcels via ground transportation such as trucks and vans.

When Do You Need to Ship Ground?

Ground shipping can be practical when the package’s destination is local and relatively nearby. 

UPS Ground may be your best choice if you plan to use ground shipping. This shipping service focuses on providing reliable overland deliveries in the United States. 

How Does UPS Ground Work?

The UPS Ground service starts when shippers schedule a pickup. The carrier’s facility scans your package and ships it via the vast delivery network of UPS.

How Long Does UPS Ground Take?

According to UPS, the delivery times for UPS Ground service may range from one to five business days. You can get free daily tracking information for your shipment. 

Is UPS Ground Faster Than Standard Shipping?

UPS and its customers agree that UPS Ground is faster than standard shipping. However, the delivery time may also be affected by the distance of the intended destination. 

For instance, if the mailer is from San Francisco, the delivery time may be faster if the destination is just downtown Los Angeles than for deliveries to New York

USPS Priority Mail: What Is USPS Priority Mail?

USPS Priority Mail is a popular shipping service for sending packages weighing up to 70lbs to destinations in the United States. 

USPS offers free pickup at the mailer’s home or office. Additionally, USPS includes a $100 insurance coverage for most shipments and tracking information service. 

USPS Priority Mail doesn’t have surcharges for the following: 

  • Fuel costs 
  • Rural or residential deliveries
  • Saturday delivery schedules  

How Does USPS Priority Mail Work?

USPS Priority Mail is for domestic deliveries that should get to the recipient in one to three business days. 

Your package then goes through the delivery process until it reaches its intended destination, whether it’s a post office, a P.O. box, or a residential mailbox. 

The shipping cost depends on your package’s weight, distance, and dimensions. You can request a home or office pickup, or you can drop off your package at the nearest post office. 

How Long Does USPS Priority Mail Take?

USPS shipping information states that Priority Mail delivery times may range from one to three business days. However, the estimated time is based on the destination and when USPS received the package. Note that the delivery data doesn’t include a money-back guarantee.

Which Is the Cheapest?

According to customers, USPS Priority Mail is the cheaper option than UPS Ground, especially for shipping 2-pound packages or less. Also, Priority Mail offers flat-rate boxes that allow shipping of multiple items. 

Secured Tracking

Tracking-wise, UPS Ground provides a better tracking service and has established a solid reputation in this delivery aspect. USPS provides tracking services, too, but UPS has garnered the praise of more customers with regular shipping needs.  

Speed: Which Is the Fastest?

USPS Priority Mail is the faster option as it can deliver packages in one to three business days. UPS Ground’s estimated delivery time is one to five business days. 

Comparison of Other Shipping Options

USPS and UPS are only two of the big names in shipping services in the United States. Another equally famous shipping option is FedEx. After comparing USPS and UPS, it’s time to add FedEx to the comparison to find out the better courier of the three. 

FedEx Ground: What Is FedEx Ground?

FedEx Ground, like UPS and USPS, is an affordable shipping option for businesses needing deliveries in the United States. FedEx Ground offers daily deliveries and can even ship to over 50% of the U.S. population on Sundays.

How Does FedEx Ground Work?

After receiving your package, a FedEx carrier brings your item into a hub to prepare it for delivery. After scanning, FedEx sends your package to its intended destination via a delivery truck. 

How Long Does FedEx Ground Take?

FedEx states that the delivery time for its Ground service ranges from one to five business days for destinations in the contiguous U.S. However, for Alaska and Hawaii, delivery times range from three to seven business days. 

FedEx Smartpost: What Is FedEx Smartpost?

FedEx has changed the name of this service from SmartPost to Ground Economy shipping. This service is also a cost-effective delivery option for small and medium businesses, ideal for outbound residential deliveries and returns that are nonurgent, low-value, and low-weight. 

How Does FedEx SmartPost Work?

FedEx Ground Economy (formerly SmartPost) first determines your package’s size, weight, shape, and destination. Packages must not exceed the weight limit of up to 70lbs and size limit of up to 130” in length and girth. However, it’s noteworthy that FedEx recommends that the ideal package weight is 1 to 10 pounds.  

The package is then processed in a FedEx hub, scanned, and delivered via its vast transportation network in the country and abroad. 

How Long Does FedEx SmartPost Take?

FedEx Ground Economy may take two to seven business days for destinations within the contiguous United States (48 states, excluding Alaska and Hawaii). 

FedEx Home Delivery: What Is FedEx Home Delivery?

FedEx Home Delivery is also a ground shipping service that competes with UPS in providing fast deliveries to residential locations in the United States. FedEx Home Delivery focuses on shipping services to residential areas every day of the week.

How Does FedEx Home Delivery Work?

Like all FedEx delivery services, the process starts by determining the package’s weight, size, shape, and destination. FedEx Home Delivery accepts packages of up to 150lbs and dimensions of 108” (length) and 165” in length plus girth. 

How Long Does FedEx Home Delivery Take?

FedEx Home Delivery customers may expect their packages delivered to their homes in one to five days after being processed by FedEx. 

USPS First Class Mail: What Is USPS First Class Mail?

USPS First-Class Mail is one of the company’s most popular mail services. It’s one of the easiest and cheapest options to send envelopes and postcards weighing an ounce.

How Does USPS First Class Mail Work?

USPS weighs your mailpiece and checks the destination. First-Class Mail allows packages up to 13oz as anything higher gets bumped to package services or Priority Mail. 

After being processed in a post office, your package gets delivered via the USPS network of trucks and delivery vans throughout the country. 

How Long Does USPS Class Mail Take?

The typical delivery time for USPS First-Class Mail is one to five business days.

FedEx Ground vs. UPS Ground

FedEx Ground and UPS Ground are comparable when it comes to prices and delivery speed. However, FedEx is always known for its established package tracking services. Businesses may trust FedEx more because of its reliability. 

However, in some cases, UPS Ground may work better in delivering urgent package deliveries to specific U.S. destinations, like Alaska and Hawaii.  

FedEx Home Delivery vs. UPS Ground

When it comes to faster deliveries, FedEx Home Delivery may be faster compared to UPS Ground. However, it still depends on the destination of the recipient. 

FedEx Ground vs. USPS Priority Mail

USPS Priority Mail’s delivery time of one to three business days is faster than FedEx Ground’s one to five business days. Another advantage of USPS is that it can be delivered to P.O. boxes. 

FedEx SmartPost vs. FedEx Home Delivery 

Comparing the two services may be challenging as FedEx SmartPost (now FedEx Ground Economy) and FedEx Home Delivery differ on which one delivers the package to the recipient. 

FedEx Ground Economy (SmartPost) is a last-mile delivery partnership with USPS, which makes delivery to P.O. boxes possible. 

Meanwhile, FedEx Home Delivery personnel handle the shipping from pickup to final delivery without the help of USPS.

FedEx Ground vs. FedEx Smartpost

The main difference between Ground and Ground Economy (SmartPost) is the delivery time. Ground Economy usually takes longer compared to FedEx Ground. 

USPS Priority Mail vs. USPS First Class Mail

USPS Priority Mail has a faster delivery time of only one to three days than First-Class Mail, which takes one to five days. Also, Priority Mail has tracking information, while First-Class Mail does not offer this feature unless the customer pays extra as an added service. 

UPS Ground vs. FedEx Ground vs. USPS Priority Mail (Small Flat Rate Box)

These three shipping services have relatively affordable small flat-rate boxes. However, if delivery time is considered, USPS Priority Mail has a delivery time of one to three days, which is faster than UPS and FedEx. 

Which Service Is Best for Small, Lightweight Packages?

Cost-wise, USPS Priority Mail is the cheapest option at $10.20 for a small flat-rate box shipped from New York to California

Which Service Is Best for Shipping to Residential Addresses?

All three shipping companies offer residential deliveries and provide almost equal service. It may boil down to the destination’s location and the shipper’s preference when choosing a courier to go with. 

UPS Ground vs. FedEx Ground vs. USPS Priority Mail (Weight and Zone)

Like small flat-rate boxes, USPS Priority Mail may deliver packages faster than UPS and FedEx Ground services. Priority Mail delivery time ranges from one to three days, while FedEx and UPS Ground may take four to seven days. 

That said, USPS Priority Mail doesn’t guarantee the estimated delivery time. There are instances where deliveries are delayed due to unforeseen circumstances, some of which are out of the company’s control. 

Which Service Is Best for Heavy or Oversized Packages?

Priority Mail offers a delivery time of one to three days if delivery speed is the concern. It’s considerably faster than FedEx and UPS.  

Which Service Is Best for Cross-Country Shipping in 2 or Fewer Days?

Priority Mail still offers a fast delivery schedule, but it isn’t guaranteed. FedEx offers an expedited delivery service, which may rival the Priority Mail schedule depending on the destination. 

Which Service Is Best for Shipping to Nearby Zones in 2 or Fewer Days?

It depends on the preference of the shipper. If they’re only concerned about speed, they may use Priority Mail. However, always remember that delivery times provided by USPS are not guaranteed, and delays may happen. 

UPS Ground Is Often Cheaper and Faster Than USPS Ground

Customer feedback shows that UPS Ground may not be the cheaper option, but it’s said to be the better choice for large packages. However, USPS often has more affordable rates but is better for small packages as long as they don’t require fast delivery. 

UPS Ground Also Comes With Built-In Insurance, While USPS Ground Does Not

Both USPS Ground and USPS Ground have built-in insurance. USPS has a $100 built-in insurance, with coverage you can expand up to $5,000. UPS also offers the same $100 built-in insurance for package deliveries

If you need the contact information of post offices near you, visit FindPostOffice.org. Our website gives you access to over 31,330 USPS retail facilities in the United States. 

Frequently Asked Questions

  1. Is UPS or USPS better for shipping mid-to-large size packages?

USPS may be better for small packages that don’t require fast delivery. Meanwhile, UPS is the go-to carrier for larger packages. 

  1. Which courier is best for your eCommerce store?

The decision must be based on your preferences and needs. USPS has access to P.O. boxes, which may be a critical factor when choosing a courier company. 

  1. What is the best way to compare shipping rates from USPS and UPS?

You can use the online calculators of both sites to compare shipping rates. Remember that prices may fluctuate, and many blogs or articles that compare prices may feature outdated prices. 

  1. Which shipping company is cheaper for overnight packages?

Based on prices, USPS overnight shipping via Priority Mail Express may be the cheapest option. However, remember that affordability is not the only deciding factor for your business, so choose accordingly. 

  1. Which is the best Shipping Company between UPS and USPS?

The answer to this depends on your preferences, needs, and requirements. Some businesses focus on shipping deliveries to P.O. boxes. If this is the case, USPS may be the shipping company of choice. 

  1. Which has better package tracking?

Many argue that FedEx is popular for its detailed tracking service. So, if you’re to base your choice on tracking services, FedEx may be the right courier. 

  1. How do you save even more on shipping?

The best way to save on shipping is to constantly compare rates between the big shipping companies in the country. UPS, FedEx, and USPS are all doing their best to provide shipping services to millions of customers in the country and abroad. 

  1. Which provider is best for international shipping?

According to customer feedback, UPS may have the best delivery schedule for international shipping as they offer one to five business days.

References

  1. United States Postal Service
    https://www.britannica.com/topic/United-States-Postal-Service
  2. Priority Mail Express
    https://www.usps.com/ship/priority-mail-express.htm
  3. Domestic Shipping
    https://www.ups.com/us/en/support/shipping-support/shipping-services/domestic.page
  4. Priority Mail
    https://www.usps.com/ship/priority-mail.htm
  5. What is FedEx Ground shipping?
    https://www.fedex.com/en-us/shipping/ground.html