USPS vs. UPS vs. FedEx

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November 22, 2023

In 2022, the United States Postal Service (USPS) delivered a total mail volume of 127.3 billion and generated $78.8 billion in operating revenue.

In comparison, United Parcel Service (UPS) delivered 6.2 billion packages that year. Meanwhile, Federal Express (FedEx) had a daily average of 16.5 million in package volume.

With such numbers, mail and package delivery in the U.S. appear indispensable. If you run an online business, you will need the services of one or more of these companies to deliver goods to your customers.

When choosing which shipping company should send your packages, which one should you pick? What factors must you consider when selecting a courier for shipping your parcel? How do these companies and their services compare with one another?

This article discusses the differences between USPS, UPS, and FedEx and the services these companies offer to help you decide which carrier fits your delivery needs.

The article also details what each company is good for and compares the different services in terms of cost and speed.

FindPostOffice.org offers an extensive resource of shipping-related topics to help turn you into a more informed shipper or recipient. FindPostOffice.org has an online search tool to help you look for the nearest post office.

When to Use USPS vs. FedEx vs. UPS

If you want an affordable option for media mail and small, lightweight, and less fragile packages, consider using USPS. Some of the well-known services are USPS Retail Ground and Priority Mail.

If detailed tracking and fast delivery are more important to you, FedEx can be an excellent choice. FedEx’s time-sensitive delivery is suitable for shipping perishable items like food and beverages. The company’s popular services include FedEx Ground and FedEx International Priority.

On the other hand, consider UPS if you want to send freight packages and oversized shipments. Some of the widely used services are UPS Ground and UPS Worldwide Express.

Things to Consider in Choosing UPS vs. FedEx vs. USPS

Clients have different reasons for choosing a courier, including the ability to track packages and accommodate pickup or drop-off services, delivery speed, and whether insurance is available.

The following sections briefly discuss these factors to help you make an informed decision.

Tracking

USPS, FedEx, and UPS provide competitive tracking services, allowing you to monitor your package’s status.

UPS and FedEx have real-time tracking and can inform you if there is a service interruption. So, if you prefer precise shipment tracking, consider going with FedEx or UPS.

However, the United States Postal Service’s tracking feature does not fall behind much as USPS has overhauled its package tracking system to adhere to industry standards.

Insurance

Insurance premiums usually depend on the declared worth of your package’s contents. Courier services offer standard insurance coverage, unless you request otherwise.

USPS provides up to $5,000 in insurance for lost or damaged packages and up to $50,000 for registered mail.

FedEx

When you ship with FedEx, your packages have a standard insurance of $100. If you need additional coverage, you must declare the product’s value.

UPS

Like FedEx, UPS offers a $100 coverage for your package. Additional insurance of up to $50,000 is available for an extra fee.

Packaging and Dimensional Weight

USPS, UPS, and FedEx can charge you based on your package’s dimensional (DIM) weight. The DIM weight can increase your shipping charges if your parcel is large or oversized.

To get USPS’s DIM weight, multiply the package’s length, width, and height and divide the product by 166 ([length x width x height] ÷ 166).

You use the same formula for UPS and FedEx’s DIM weight values, except you divide by 139 ([length x width x height] ÷ 139).

Operating Hours

Choosing a courier that operates during your available time can help when you need to ship on a schedule. Although these companies’ business hours may vary depending on the location, their customer support is usually open during the following times: 

  • UPS: Sunday to Saturday, 6:00 AM to 1:00 AM Eastern Standard Time (EST)
  • USPS: Monday to Friday, 8:00 AM to 8:30 PM Eastern Time (E.T.), and Saturday, 8:00 AM to 6:00 PM E.T.
  • FedEx: Monday to Friday, 7:00 AM to 9:00 PM Central Time (C.T.), and Saturday, 7:00 AM to 3:00 PM C.T.

Pickup and Drop-Off Options

USPS, UPS, and FedEx provide the following pickup and drop-off services:

  • USPS: You can request the courier to pick up your parcel from your address free of charge. For drop-off, you can do so at the nearest post office.
  • FedEx: You can schedule pickups and drop-offs for a fee at each retail location during business hours.
  • UPS: You can use self-service UPS drop boxes, available 24/7, for dropping off packages at UPS Access Points, UPS Store locations, or customer counters.

Discounts for Small Business

You can ship using the cheapest option if you have an online business and frequently send customer packages. Consider the following shipping solutions that may give you significant discounts.

UPS: Small Business Shipping Discounts

UPS has a range of services that can help you save on shipping costs. These discounts are exclusive to small businesses and are calculated according to how many packages you ship weekly.

For example, UPS offers the following discounts when you ship more than 50 items weekly to homes or businesses:

  • Domestic Ground: 42%
  • Domestic Air: 65%
  • International Import: 56%
  • International Export: 74%
  • Domestic residential and delivery area surcharge: 25%

FedEx: Save Now Program

FedEx’s Save Now Program provides small businesses with affordable services for their shipping needs.

If you sign up for this program, you will receive benefits for your small business, including discounted shipping.

By enrolling, you can enjoy the following discounts:

  • Up to a 16% discount on specific FedEx Express services
  • Up to 8% discount on selected FedEx Ground and FedEx Home Delivery services
  • A 60% discount on selected FedEx Freight services using FedEx Ship Manager

USPS: USPS Through eBay Labels

Using eBay labels can be a fast way to print discounted USPS shipping labels. With this option, you can save up to 25% off the usual USPS retail rates.

As of July 2020, the following USPS services are eligible for the following discounts:

DHL: DHL Discounts

DHL has a rewards program based on how much you ship with them. The company offers dependable services and promotions to help you get the best price for your shipping needs.

DHL’s program offers up to 35% off on shipments based on various factors in the shipping profile. You must sign up for a DHL account with a customer number to receive this discount.

Value-Added Services

Aside from offering discounts, shipping companies also provide value-added services that can help enhance your package delivery experience.

DHL

DHL offers express delivery at DHL Service Points, where you can choose to receive the goods. This service lets you pick up the parcel at your convenience.

DHL also offers specific services for distinct industries.

For example, DHL Express for Fashion provides shipping solutions such as ad hoc packaging for the fashion industry. Another service is DHL Medical Express for transporting time- and temperature-sensitive consignments for the medical industry.

FedEx

FedEx acknowledges the industrial sector’s needs and offers various support services to improve customer loyalty and satisfaction. These services include the following:

  • FedEx Office: Offers businesses auxiliary services such as computer rental, printing, and internet access.
  • FedEx Pickup and Drop-Off: Allows you to send and receive packages from select stores, manage withdrawals, and purchase supplies to be received at the specified point of sale.

UPS

UPS has an extensive list of helpful auxiliary services that include the following:

  • Physical UPS Store Locations: Offers you business services and shipping materials.
  • UPS Access Point: Provides a convenient location, allowing you to collect and send parcels.

Speed and Reliability of Shipping

If you plan to send an item via USPS, you can choose a shipping service based on the following delivery speeds:

  • USPS Priority Mail Express: Next-day to two-day delivery
  • Priority Mail: One to three business days
  • USPS Ground Advantage: Two to five business days
  • First-Class Mail: One to five business days
  • Media Mail: Two to eight business days

If you choose UPS, take note of the delivery timeframes for the following services:

  • Next Day Air Early: Next business day delivery by 8:00 AM
  • Next Day Air: Next business day delivery by 10:30 AM
  • Next Day Air Saver: Next business day delivery by 3:00 AM
  • 2nd Day Air AM: Second business day by 10:30 AM
  • 3 Day Air Select: Third business day by end-of-day (EOD)
  • UPS Express Critical: Best available time, provided when order is placed
  • UPS Ground: One to five business days

For FedEx, delivery speeds for the following services are as follows:

  • FedEx First Overnight: Delivery by 8:00 AM by the next business day
  • FedEx Priority Overnight: Delivery by 10:00 AM by the next business day
  • FedEx Standard Overnight: Delivery by 3:00 PM by the next business day
  • FedEx 2Day: Second business day between 4:30 PM and 7:00 PM
  • FedEx Express Saver: Third business day delivery by 4:30 PM
  • FedEx Ground: End of one to five business days

International Shipments

Aside from offering domestic shipping services, USPS, UPS, and FedEx provide shipping options to destinations outside the United States.

If you want to ship with FedEx, note its international shipping services:

  • International Priority service: Offers the fastest choice for international shipments, with FedEx delivering the parcel in a single business day in the U.S. and Canada, the next morning in Europe, and in two working days in Latin America.
  • International Economy: Allows shipments to arrive within four working days.
  • Same-Day service: Allows the company to ship items on the same day the courier picks them up.
  • Ground service: Provides an economical service for shipments across North America.

With UPS, you can ship internationally using the following services:

  • Express Saver and the expedited service: Provides economical door-to-door solutions that guarantee safe delivery and reasonable delivery times.
  • Worldwide Express Saver: Offers the fastest UPS international solution with delivery periods ranging from one to three days, depending on the destination.

If you choose USPS, you can ship using First-Class Package International Service. This service is among the lowest-cost shipping options that can deliver to over 180 countries but only allows a maximum package weight of four pounds.

Comparing UPS vs. USPS vs. FedEx and Finding the Right Shipping Carrier for Your Needs: Which Is Better: USPS, UPS, or FedEx?

Customers’ shipping needs vary, so the carrier and service suitable to cater to those needs can also differ. This section discusses the differences between UPS, USPS, and FedEx in terms of delivery speed and the advantages and disadvantages of each carrier.

USPS vs. UPS vs. FedEx Highlights

In general, each of these shipping companies excels in different areas depending on your delivery needs. Here are the highlights:

  • USPS
    • Works well for shipping within the U.S.
    • Ideal for sending small and lightweight parcels
  • UPS
    • Ideal for sending large packages like furniture and appliances
    • An excellent option for fast international shipping
  • FedEx
    • Ideal shipping option for larger businesses that require higher delivery volumes
    • Suitable for sending large packages
    • Works well for shipping food and other perishable items

Speed: Who Gives Better Value on Delivery Times?

If you want a fast delivery service, you can choose overnight or priority shipping, which USPS, UPS, and FedEx offer. The following sections list the services these companies provide based on the delivery times mentioned earlier.

Overnight Shipping

For overnight shipping that should arrive on the next day, you can choose from the following options:

  • USPS: Priority Mail Express
  • UPS: Next Day Air Early, Next Day Air, and Next Day Air Saver
  • FedEx: FedEx First Overnight and FedEx Priority Overnight

Priority Shipping

If you need priority shipping, the different couriers offer the following services:

  • USPS: Priority Mail Express
  • UPS: UPS Next Day Air Shipping
  • FedEx: FedEx 2Day AM and FedEx 2Day

What FedEx Is Best for and Why

When deciding which FedEx service to choose, consider the company’s advantages and disadvantages.

FedEx Advantages and Disadvantages

FedEx’s advantages include the following:

  • A robust tracking system that lets you view your shipments’ progress
  • Free Saturday delivery when shipping via FedEx Home Delivery
  • Immediate access to discounted shipping rates through a personal or business account

On the other hand, some of FedEx’s disadvantages are as follows:

  • Comparatively higher shipping rates
  • No free package pickup service
  • Fewer offices worldwide than UPS and USPS

Why Choose FedEx?

If you need to send express deliveries and large packages and want to track your shipments, consider using FedEx.

What USPS Is Best for and Why

Shipping with USPS has its benefits and limitations. The following sections list these pros and cons and explain why you should consider shipping with USPS.

USPS Benefits and Disadvantages

The benefits of using USPS are as follows:

  • A cheap option for sending small packages, especially ones under 13 ounces (oz)
  • Delivery to mailboxes and post office boxes (P.O. box)
  • Fewer misplaced and delayed packages compared to past performance

Meanwhile, the disadvantages of using USPS include the following:

  • Improved but occasionally unreliable tracking
  • Customer service still needs improvement

Why Choose USPS?

USPS can be an excellent choice if you want affordable shipping and you need to send small, light shipments.

What UPS Is Best for and Why

Consider shipping with UPS if you want to send heavy shipments and want package tracking and guaranteed shipping. The following sections discuss some considerations when you decide to ship with UPS.

UPS Benefits and Disadvantages

Some advantages to consider when choosing UPS are as follows:

  • Guaranteed express delivery
  • Relatively affordable price for some heavy shipments
  • Comprehensive tracking service

Despite these benefits, UPS also has a few disadvantages, such as the following:

  • More expensive in some cases due to surcharges and other fees
  • No free package pickup service
  • No free Saturday delivery

Why Choose UPS?

If you are an eCommerce merchant needing a reliable and comprehensive tracking system, consider UPS for your shipping needs. However, the company’s services may cost more than other couriers like USPS, so plan your shipments accordingly.

An Overview of UPS, USPS, and FedEx

UPS, FedEx, and USPS are among the largest carriers in the U.S. for domestic and international shipping. They offer shipping services suitable for individuals’ and businesses’ needs. 

Though they appear stiff competitors, each has different specializations and strengths, as mentioned throughout this article.

Which Is More Reliable: UPS, FedEx, or USPS?

Although FedEx and UPS have better package tracking than USPS, all three carriers are reasonably reliable. Suppose you need to send a package to a customer safely and quickly. You can choose a guaranteed express shipping service, such as UPS, to handle your delivery.

USPS vs FedEx vs UPS: Finding the Perfect Balance

As you choose a carrier for your business, do not limit yourself to only one provider. Consider combining two or more delivery services to give your customers fast and cheap shipping options.

For example, you can ship light parcels with USPS and heavy packages with UPS. For expedited shipments, use FedEx. Ship everything else through USPS.

Your provider of choice depends on your average order weight, shipping destination, business model, and other preferences.

UPS vs. USPS vs. FedEx Reviews

Aside from looking into a shipping company’s services and costs, you can also check customer reviews to help you determine which courier to choose. The following sections discuss the insights from the Trustpilot and Consumer Affairs review sites.

UPS Reviews

As of September 2023, UPS has a Trustpilot rating of 1.2 out of 5.0, based on more than 30,000 reviews. One of the recurring issues many customers experience is the company’s unsatisfactory customer service.

For Consumer Affairs reviews for September 2023, UPS’ rating is 1.4 out of 5.0 from more than 6,200 reviews. Although there is some positive feedback, many complaints include lost or damaged packages.

USPS Reviews

As of September 2023, Trustpilot’s rating for USPS is 1.2 out of 5.0. The Consumer Affairs rating is 2.3 out of 5.0 in the same period. One frequent issue is inefficient service, but there is also positive but contradicting feedback, such as competent customer service.

FedEx Reviews

FedEx has a Trustpilot rating of 1.3 out of 5.0 based on more than 33,000 reviews as of September 2023. In the same period, the Consumer Affairs rating is 1.3 out of 5.0 based on more than 6,000 reviews. Recurring issues include missed delivery dates and problems with drivers.

Shipping Options With UPS, FedEx, and USPS

When shipping with UPS, FedEx, and USPS, each has a selection of services you can choose depending on your budget, the item you want to send, the destination, and the delivery speed.

The following sections list the shipping services these three companies provide to help you decide on an option that best fits your package.

FedEx Shipping Options

If you choose to ship with FedEx, you can do so through domestic and international shipping services.

FedEx Domestic Mail and Shipping

FedEx offers the following services for shipping envelopes and packages within the U.S.:

  • Same-day delivery (for urgent shipments)
    • FedEx SameDay
  • Overnight delivery (delivery on the next business day)
    • FedEx First Overnight
    • FedEx Priority Overnight
    • FedEx Standard Overnight
  • Two-day delivery
    • FedEx 2Day
    • FedEx 2Day AM
  • Three-day delivery
    • FedEx Express Saver
  • Commercial ground delivery (one to five business days)
    • FedEx Ground
  • Residential ground delivery
    • FedEx Home Delivery

FedEx International Mail and Shipping

For shipping packages and envelopes to countries outside the U.S., FedEx offers the following international services:

  • Immediate delivery (ships on the next available flight to most international destinations within 24 hours)
    • FedEx International Next Flight
  • One, two, or three-day delivery (up to 220 countries and territories)
    • FedEx International First
    • FedEx International Priority Express
    • FedEx International Priority
  • Cost-effective two- to five-day delivery (two to three business days to select countries or two to five days to more than 215 countries and territories)
    • FedEx International Economy
  • Ground delivery to Canada (two to seven business days)
    • FedEx International Ground

FedEx Freight Shipping

To send freight through FedEx, consider the following options for your needs:

  • Less-than-truckload freight
    • FedEx Freight Priority
    • FedEx Freight Economy
  • Same-day freight
    • FedEx SameDay Freight
  • Overnight freight
    • FedEx First Overnight Freight
  • One, two, or three-day freight
    • FedEx 1Day Freight
    • FedEx 2Day Freight
    • FedEx 3Day Freight

Other FedEx Services

FedEx also has freight services to international destinations. These services include the following:

  • Next available flight
    • FedEx International Next Flight
  • One- to five-day freight
    • FedEx International Priority Freight
    • FedEx International Economy Freight
  • Freight for controlled items and dangerous goods
    • FedEx International Premium
    • FedEx International Controlled Export (FICE)

UPS Shipping Options

UPS offers domestic, international, and freight shipping services that suit different delivery needs. The following sections list these services.

UPS Domestic Mail and Shipping

Whether you need to ship a package across the country or within your neighborhood, UPS has the following services that can work for your domestic shipment:

  • Shipping in one to five business days
    • UPS Ground
  • Shipping in two to three business days
  • Next-day delivery
    • UPS Next Day Air

UPS International Shipping

UPS has several international shipping options that fit your needs and budget. These shipping services are as follows:

  • Same-day delivery for urgent shipments
    • UPS Express Critical
  • Shipping in one to three business days
    • UPS Worldwide Express Plus
    • UPS Worldwide Express
    • UPS Worldwide Express Freight Midday
    • UPS Worldwide Express Freight
    • UPS Worldwide Saver
  • Shipping in two to five business days
    • UPS Worldwide Expedited
  • Day-definite standard shipping
    • UPS Standard
  • Cross-border delivery in 5 to 12 days
    • UPS Worldwide Economy

UPS Freight Shipping Services

The UPS Supply Chain Solutions service provides several freight shipping options to choose the freight forwarding service that suits your needs.

UPS has the following freight categories and the different services under each category:

  • North American air freight
    • UPS Express Critical (fastest next-flight-out freight service)
    • UPS Next Day Air freight (next-day delivery)
    • UPS 2nd Day Air freight (two-day delivery)
    • UPS 3 Day Freight (delivery in three to four days)
  • International air freight
    • UPS Express Critical (fastest UPS freight service)
    • UPS Air Freight Premium Direct (delivery in one to three business days)
    • UPS Air Freight Direct (delivery in one to three business days)
    • UPS Air Freight Consolidated (delivery in three to five business days)
  • Ocean freight
    • Full container load (FCL) (for cargo that occupies a container’s full size)
    • Less-than-container load (LCL) (for smaller cargo volumes that do not take up a container’s entire space)
    • UPS Trade Direct Ocean (freight consolidation, customs clearance, ocean transportation, and delivery to multiple addresses in a destination country)
    • UPS Preferred Ocean Services (to help monitor demanding buyers’ needs)
  • Ground freight
    • Coyote truckload
    • Coyote less-than-truckload
    • Coyote intermodal (for long-haul moves via railroad)
    • Coyote cross-border ground freight

Other UPS Services

Another UPS shipping service is multimodal freight transport. The options under this service include the following:

  • UPS Preferred LCL (port-to-door delivery combining ocean services from Europe and Asia with U.S., Canadian, and Mexican truck networks)
  • UPS Preferred FCL and LCL – rail (A cross-continent air and ocean freight option utilizing networks in Europe and China)
  • UPS Preferred – Sea-Air (combines air and ocean freight)

USPS Shipping Options

If you prefer shipping small packages, free pickup, and shipping to P.O. boxes, consider going with USPS. The sections below list the company’s domestic and international delivery services.

USPS Domestic Mail and Shipping

The Postal Service offers the following services for domestic mail and shipping:

  • Priority Mail Express (money-back guaranteed delivery)
  • Priority Mail
  • USPS Ground Advantage
  • First-Class Mail (for envelopes under 3.5oz or large envelopes under 13oz)
  • Media Mail

USPS International Mail and Shipping

If you need to send a package outside the U.S., USPS has the following options for your needs:

  • Global Express Guaranteed (for urgent shipments)
  • Priority Mail Express International (money-back guarantee for some locations)
  • Priority Mail International (for packages over 4lbs)
  • First-Class Package International Service (for packages over 1lb and less than 4lbs)
  • First-Class Mail International (for envelopes weighing less than 1lb)
  • Airmail M-Bags (for sending books)

Other Services

USPS also allows you to send packages and mail to military and diplomatic locations. These destinations include the following:

  • Army/Air Force Post Office (APO)
  • Fleet Post Office (FPO)
  • Diplomatic Post Office (DPO)

If you need large flat-rate boxes for your Priority Mail APO/FPO package, you can order them for free from the USPS Postal Store.

Overall Shipping Carrier Costs: Cost Comparison

Another way to compare UPS, USPS, and FedEx is through their shipping costs. If you are a business owner, the cost of sending a package is a significant factor when choosing a service.

The sections below discuss the differences among these three couriers in terms of shipping costs.

FedEx Costs

FedEx offers domestic and international shipping, and the costs can vary based on what service you choose, how far your destination address is, and whether you send lighter or heavier packages. Below are the rates of the different FedEx services for domestic and international shipping.

FedEx Domestic Shipping: 2-Pound Package

Effective January 2024, the cost for domestic shipments weighing up to two pounds (lbs) through FedEx Ground and FedEx Home Delivery starts from $11.53.

Meanwhile, the cost to send express packages for two-pound packages in the U.S. starts at the following rates:

  • FedEx First Overnight: $71.49
  • FedEx Priority Overnight: $40.49
  • FedEx Standard Overnight: $38.83
  • FedEx 2Day AM: $27.60
  • FedEx 2Day: $24.80
  • FedEx Express Saver: $22.38

FedEx International Shipping: 2-Pound Package

For shipping a two-pound package outside the U.S., FedEx has the following starting rates effective January 2024:

  • FedEx International First: $170.05
  • FedEx International Priority Express: $130.05
  • FedEx International Priority: $124.21
  • FedEx International Economy: $113.10

USPS Costs

The cost to send a two-pound USPS package can vary based on the service type and distance to the recipient. The following sections discuss these rates.

USPS Domestic Shipping: 2-Pound Package

As of July 2023, sending a two-pound package through USPS domestic shipping starts at the following retail rates:

  • Priority Mail Express: $29.70
  • Priority Mail: $9.80
  • USPS Ground Advantage: $8.50
  • Media Mail: $4.67
  • Library Mail: $4.43

USPS International Shipping: 2-Pound Package

For international USPS shipments weighing two pounds, the following starting rates apply:

  • Global Express Guaranteed: $90.90
  • Priority Mail Express International: $63.40
  • Priority Mail International: $45.50

UPS Costs

Some UPS services are relatively cheaper than FedEx. The following sections list the shipping rates for domestic and international UPS deliveries.

UPS Domestic Shipping: 2-Pound Package

Based on 2023 figures, sending a two-pound UPS package within the U.S. starts at the following rates:

  • UPS Next Day Air Early: $67.93
  • UPS Next Day Air: $37.93
  • UPS Next Day Air Saver: $36.50
  • UPS 2nd Day Air AM: $25.39
  • UPS 2nd Day Air: $23.52
  • UPS 3 Day Select: $14.76
  • UPS Ground: $10.90

UPS International Shipping: 2-Pound Package

For sending two-pound packages outside the U.S., UPS offers the following services and starting rates:

  • UPS Worldwide Express: $115.82
  • UPS Worldwide Saver: $113.12
  • UPS Worldwide Expedited: $105.51
  • UPS Standard to Canada: $25.96
  • UPS Standard to Mexico: $64.10

Which Is Cheaper: UPS, USPS, or FedEx?

As shown above, based on the costs to send a two-pound package domestically and internationally, USPS has relatively affordable shipping rates compared to UPS and FedEx.

Which Is Cheaper? USPS vs. UPS

Priority Mail Express is USPS’ next-day service that starts at $29.20 when you send a one-pound package. Meanwhile, UPS Next Day Air Early, UPS’ overnight delivery service, starts at $67.44 when you send a package weighing one pound. Therefore, USPS is cheaper than UPS.

Which Is the Cheaper Flat-Rate Option? FedEx vs. USPS

As of January 2023, FedEx One Rate has flat-rate options that start at the following prices:

  • Envelope: $11.10
  • Pak: $11.45
  • Small box: $12.40
  • Medium box: $16.50
  • Large box: $24.95
  • Extra large box: $39.10
  • Tube: $39.10

In comparison, USPS has the following Priority Mail flat-rate shipping prices as of January 2023:

  • Flat rate envelope: $9.65
  • Legal flat rate envelope: $9.95
  • Padded flat rate envelope: $10.40
  • Small flat rate box: $10.20
  • Medium flat rate box: $17.10
  • Large flat rate box: $22.80

Based on these prices, USPS has cheaper flat rates than FedEx.

Which Is Cheaper for Small, Lightweight Packages? USPS vs. UPS vs. FedEx

To ship small packages, consider ground services to get cheap rates. For example, the three companies’ ground services have the following rates for shipping a package weighing up to one pound:

  • USPS Ground Advantage: $7.60
  • FedEx Ground: $10.70
  • UPS Ground: $10.10

USPS is the cheaper option for small, lightweight shipments based on these prices.

Which Shipping Company Offers Cheaper Rates for Overnight Packages?

Suppose you must send a five-pound package that must arrive the next day. Consider the following shipping options and their starting rates:

  • USPS Priority Mail Express: $31.10
  • FedEx Standard Overnight: $46.33
  • UPS Next Day Air Saver: $43.54

From these figures, you can see that USPS Priority Mail Express is the most affordable option.

Which Is Cheaper for Large, Heavy Packages? USPS vs. UPS vs. FedEx

Using the same overnight shipping services mentioned above, suppose you want to ship a 50-pound package. The comparison for the starting rates is as follows:

  • USPS Priority Mail Express: $149.10
  • FedEx Standard Overnight: $141.01
  • UPS Next Day Air Saver: $132.50

As shown above, UPS Next Day Air Saver is the cheaper service for sending large, heavy packages.

Which Is the Best 3-Day Delivery Option? USPS vs. UPS vs. FedEx

If you need a shipping service that can deliver in three days, consider the following options and their corresponding starting prices:

  • USPS Priority Mail: Starts at $9.35
  • FedEx Express Saver: Starts at $21.97
  • UPS 3 Day Select: Starts at $14.59

Which Is Cheaper for a 5-Day Delivery?

Ground shipping services usually deliver in five days. If your shipment is not urgent and you want to save on postage, consider the following shipping services:

  • USPS Ground Advantage: Starts at $4.75 (up to 4oz) or $7.60 (1lb)
  • FedEx Ground: Starts at $10.70 (1lb)
  • UPS Ground: Starts at $10.10 (1lb)

These figures show that USPS Ground Advantage is the cheapest option for a five-day delivery service.

Ways to Cut Shipping Carrier Costs

If you are looking for ways to reduce your shipping costs, you have several options on how to do so. Some practices that can lower your shipping spending are discussed in the sections below.

Minimize Shipping Distance

Shipping companies usually subdivide delivery points in the U.S. into zones, such as from zone one to zone eight. These zones cover the distance from the origin to the destination.

The higher the zone number, the farther the destination, and the slower and more expensive the shipment. Therefore, if you can ship to shorter distances, you may save on shipping costs.

Pack Lighter

When the DIM weight comes into the picture, determining shipping expenses can become more complex, especially if you ship larger packages.

Pack your items in packages as small as reasonably possible to keep costs down while using as much packaging material as possible to keep your things safe.

Use High-Quality Packaging Materials

While looking for cheap shipping is okay, using cheap packing materials can risk your package’s contents.

Cheap packing materials often do not provide the necessary features to keep the item safe and result in damage to the parcel.

Although high-quality materials may be more expensive, they can help save you the headache and expense due to damage if you use cheaper materials instead.

Collaborate With Multiple Shipping Companies

Working with different shipping companies lets you use various courier services for specific packages after considering the cheapest shipping options available.

For example, based on the cost comparison above, use USPS as a cheap option to send lightweight items. On the other hand, go for UPS for heavy packages as it offers cheap shipping.

Remember Shipping Insurance

Another way to save on shipping expenses is by cutting extra costs by excluding insurance.

However, consider your item’s value and destination before removing insurance from your shipment. For example, sending a high-value artwork may need insurance, especially if replicating that work is difficult.

Which Has the Best Package Tracking: FedEx, UPS, or USPS?

If you need a shipping service with superior package tracking, consider FedEx and UPS some of your best choices.

Where to Find Cheap Shipping Labels for UPS, USPS, and FedEx

Some third-party suppliers provide affordable yet reliable shipping label supplies. These supplies are compatible with your UPS, USPS, or FedEx shipping labels, available in sheets, rolls, and stacks.

Shipping Factors Every eCommerce Store Should Consider: Which Courier Is Best for Your eCommerce Business?

Suppose you have an online store and frequently send products to your customers. Consider the following factors when choosing a courier to deliver your items to your clients.

Weight of the Shipment Packages

Assessing a package’s weight is crucial when looking for a cheap way to send a shipment. Lightweight parcels typically have lower shipping costs than heavy ones.

One carrier that offers competitive shipping rates for lightweight items is USPS. For example, First-Class Mail works well for envelopes below 3.5oz and large envelopes under 13oz. As of July 2023, prices start at $1.35 for large envelopes, $0.66 for stamped letters, and $0.51 for postcards.

Size of the Shipment Packages

Another way to get cheaper shipping rates is by opting for flat-rate services. Although this option does not guarantee lower shipping costs, flat-rate prices may help maintain a consistent budget.

Dimensional pricing is another method to consider when calculating your shipping cost. In dimensional pricing, the higher the DIM weight, the higher the shipping cost, as the parcel occupies more space in the vehicle.

Distance to Be Covered

How far your package must travel to its destination is another significant factor in determining shipping rates. Couriers usually charge higher rates the farther the destination is from the origin.

Distance also matters when comparing domestic and international shipping. However, having distribution centers in various U.S. regions can help lower the distance and reduce delivery time, leading to lower shipping costs.

Speed of Delivery

The faster you want your package to reach its destination, the higher the shipping rates. 

While shipping charges can vary based on delivery speed, overnight or express delivery can cost several times more than your standard delivery. So, unless your shipment is urgent, opt for slower delivery services to lower your shipping costs.

USPS vs. UPS vs. FedEx FAQs

  1. What shipping company is the best for international packages?

The best company for shipping international packages depends significantly on your package’s destination, size, and how fast you want your package to arrive.

USPS shipping can work well for small packages that do not need fast delivery times. Meanwhile, FedEx and UPS are better for sending large parcels with quicker delivery times.

  1. Is FedEx or UPS cheaper?

UPS is typically better than FedEx when shipping large packages, while FedEx is usually cheaper than UPS for smaller packages.

FedEx offers shipping discounts if you have a business account, while UPS gives discounted rates if you register for a scheduled UPS pickup.

  1. Is FedEx or UPS better?

FedEx is ideal for Saturday deliveries, while UPS suits shipping requirements involving heavy packages and guaranteed shipments. Both FedEx and UPS offer great package tracking.

  1. Which is best for guaranteed overnight packages, USPS, UPS, or FedEx?

If you want a cheap overnight shipping service with a money-back guarantee, consider USPS Priority Mail Express. This service lets you send an urgent item that must arrive the next day or in two days. Prices start at $28.75.

  1. What is the best shipping company?

Determining the best shipping company can be challenging because no criterion determines what makes one company the best. What may be the best for some may not be the best for others.

Furthermore, based on the reviews shown in this article, USPS, UPS, and FedEx still have plenty of services to improve upon.

  1. Which is better for shipping: UPS or USPS?

As mentioned earlier, USPS is an excellent choice to send lightweight packages for a lower cost. On the other hand, go for UPS if you want to send heavier packages affordably.

  1. Is FedEx, UPS, or USPS better in the United States?

Your choice of courier for domestic deliveries in the U.S. depends on your preferences, such as delivery speed, tracking, insurance, item type, size, and postage.

You can use a shipping calculator to compare the different services to determine which company is better based on these preferences.

  1. How much price difference is there to mail a simple letter through UPS or FedEx versus USPS?

If you send a letter via USPS First-Class Mail, the price starts at $0.66 for a 1oz mail or $1.38 for a 3.5oz letter.

In comparison, FedEx Ground costs $10.70 to send a package weighing up to 1lb. Meanwhile, UPS Ground costs $10.10 to send a 1lb package.

The price difference between USPS and UPS or FedEx is from $8.72 ($10.10 – $1.38 = $8.72) to $10.04 ($10.70 – $0.66 = $10.04).

  1. What are all the USPS services that FedEx and UPS don’t offer?

One of the significant advantages of USPS is its ability to deliver to P.O. boxes and mailboxes. In comparison, UPS and FedEx cannot deliver to these destinations unless they partner with USPS.

For example, UPS SurePost allows UPS to pick up the shipment and pass it to USPS, which makes the final delivery to the recipient.

  1. What is the difference between UPS and USPS?

One significant difference between USPS and UPS is that USPS works well for small domestic packages. Meanwhile, UPS is more suited for larger international packages.

Furthermore, USPS is slower but cheaper, while UPS is generally faster but more expensive. Also, UPS is among the largest private companies in the U.S. Meanwhile, USPS is part of the federal government’s executive branch.

References

  1. Size and Scope
    https://facts.usps.com/size-and-scope/
  2. Contact Us
    https://www.usps.com/help/contact-us.htm
  3. Mail & Shipping Services
    https://www.usps.com/ship/mail-shipping-services.htm
  4. Military & Diplomatic Mail
    https://www.usps.com/ship/apo-fpo-dpo.htm
  5. Price List
    https://pe.usps.com/text/dmm300/Notice123.htm