Should I Use USPS, UPS, or FedEx? Here’s Our Shipping Cost Comparison

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Our shipping services cost comparison breaks down everything to know about using USPS, UPS, and FedEx.

The gift-sending season is here!

With the holidays fast approaching, we’ll no doubt be taking advantage of multiple delivery services to make sure our packages get where they need to go. If you’ve ever wondered which shipping companies are the best fit for your shipping needs, we’ve got you covered!

We made a shipping services cost comparison that shows the price of sending small, medium, and large packages over the same distance to see which carriers will save you the most money this season. They all have pros and cons, so keep on reading to find out which one may be the best deal for you!

UPS truck delivering in snow

To start, I used this online shipping cost calculator to get a baseline price for shipping small, medium, and large packages. I used the exact same info and shipping zip codes for each one to get a true comparison between the three big carriers (USPS, UPS, and FedEx). Actual prices may vary depending on your location.

Here’s the overall shipping services cost comparison for the major carriers…

*Note, I included the FedEx 4-Day option because the 2-Day was more than double the price of the UPS and USPS options. 😱

Small package – 6x6x6, 2lb weight

  • USPS, Priority Mail 2-Day — $7.96
  • UPS, 2-Day Ground Shipping — $12.95
  • FedEx, 5-Day Ground Shipping — $12.95
  • FedEx, 2-Day Ground Shipping — $35.18

Medium package – 10x10x10, 7lb weight

  • USPS, Priority Mail 2-Day — $7.96
  • UPS, 2-Day Ground Shipping — $18.82
  • FedEx, 5-Day Ground Shipping — $18.82
  • FedEx, 2-Day Ground Shipping — $65.41

Large package – 20x20x20, 15lb weight

  • USPS, Priority Mail 2-Day — $99.66
  • UPS, 2-Day Ground Shipping — $73.74
  • FedEx, 5-Day Ground Shipping — $73.74
  • FedEx, 2-Day Ground Shipping — $268.02

Of course, these are all arbitrary sizes and weights, but we can see a trend:

  • If you have a lighter package, it’s probably best to stick with USPS since they’re by far the cheapest.
  • The larger and heavier a package is, the cheaper it gets to go with UPS.

However, flat rate boxes can be an amazing deal if your package fits the dimensions!

mailman holding priority mail flat rate boxes

USPS, FedEx, and UPS all have flat-rate options that can potentially save you a ton because the package costs the same to ship regardless of weight, and, in some cases, even destination!

The flat-rate shipping prices are as follows:

USPS Flat-Rate Prices (maximum of 70 lbs):

  • Small Flat Rate Box, 8-5/8″ x 5-3/8″ x 1-5/8″ — $10.40
  • Medium Flat Rate Box, 13-5/8″ x 11-7/8″ x 3-3/8″ or 11″ x 8-1/2″ x 5-1/2″ — $17.05
  • Large Flat Rate Box, 23-11/16″ x 11-3/4″ x 3″ or 12″ x 12″ x 5-1/2″ — $22.45

UPS Simple Rate Prices (maximum of 50 lbs):

  • Extra Small Box, 1-100 in3$9.45
  • Small Box, 101-250 in3$12.40
  • Medium Box, 251-650 in3$14.95
  • Large Box, 651-1,050 in3$19.60
  • Extra Large Box, 1,051-1,728 in3$24.30

UPS also has a neat list of sample items that would fit in each box to help you visualize the sizes!

FedEx One Rate prices are a little different in that they are affected by distance. The FedEx website defines three different “zones” that determine shipping cost: 0-150 miles, 151 to 600 miles, and 601 miles and over.

FedEx One Rate starting prices for shipping from 0-150 miles:

  • Small Box, 10-7/8″ x 1-1/2″ x 12-3/8″ or 8-3/4″ x 2-5/8″ x 11-1/4″ — $12.05
  • Medium Box, 11-1/2″ x 2-3/8″ x 13-1/4″ or 8-3/4″ x 4-3/8″ x 11-1/4″ — $15.70
  • Large Box, 12-3/8″ x 3″ x 17-1/2″ or 8-3/4″ x 7-3/4″ x 11-1/4″ — $24.40
  • Extra Large Box, 11-7/8″ x 10-3/4″ x 11″ or 15-3/4″ x 14-1/8″ x 6″ — $39.10

A USPS shipping service truck in front of a house

There’s also another, lesser-known mailing method called USPS Media Mail!

If you’ve never heard of Media Mail, it’s a shipping service offered by the United States Postal Service that’s specifically designed to ship non-time-sensitive, educational materials including books, manuscripts, printed test materials, educational reference charts, and more. The full list of acceptable items can be viewed on the USPS website.

Media Mail prices are generally much lower than other mailing services and start at about $3.49. So if you’re shipping an item that fits the bill and don’t mind it taking a little while to get to its destination (estimated time is 2-8 business days per the USPS website), Media Mail might be your best bet!

Just note that these particular packages are subject to inspection by the Postal Service, and if sent items are deemed ineligible for the Media Mail shipping price, either the recipient or sender may be on the hook to pay additional postage fees.

UPS shipping services worker making a delivery

So the USPS comes out on top judging by our shipping services cost comparison…

But there’s more to getting a great deal than just the price! You’ll get different benefits from each carrier, so here are some reasons you may want to choose one shipping company over the other.

  • You can score a discount when you sign up for a FedEx accountThe discount percentages vary by mail type, but they put a dent in those higher prices.
  • FedEx is known to be very reliable. You can bet that your package will arrive during the given delivery window.
  • UPS offers guaranteed express shipping. According to the UPS website, they make “more overnight, on-time, guaranteed deliveries in the U.S. than anyone,” so you know your parcels are in good hands. To compare, 2-day ground shipping from UPS is the same price as the 5-day ground shipping from FedEx.
  • UPS may have the best rates for heavier packages. As we could see in the shipping cost comparison above, the price actually became lower in comparison to the other carriers as the weight increased.
  • Both FedEx and UPS have unbeatable tracking systems. Both companies’ package tracking abilities are advanced enough that you can see where your package is every step of the way & even use their delivery managers to schedule the package arrival for a specific time. If you’re sending something super important, you may be comforted by the ability to keep an eye on it at all times.
  • Both FedEx and UPS have a wide delivery location scope. While the USPS may be unable to deliver packages to rural or off-the-grid areas, the other companies can deliver packages nearly anywhere.

unclaimed mail in bin - shipping services

Here are some additional ways to cut costs while sending packages!

Use the free packaging provided through your carrier. If your local shipping offices offer on-the-house packaging and shipping supplies, take advantage of it! As a bonus, using their packages instead of your own may prevent you from getting hit with “dimensional fee” charges.

Use online & pre-paid shipping. Services like the USPS Click-and-Ship can potentially save you up to 20%!

Get third-party insurance. Companies like Shipsurance can sometimes provide lower insurance rates than those offered by the mail carriers themselves!

Need a present to send? Find all the best gift ideas here!

About the writer:

Brandi has an Associate's Degree and 5+ years of experience writing and creating online content for local businesses.

Join The Discussion

Comments 27

  1. Kruiz528

    Don’t us USPS. Pay extra. I’ve lost so many packages from there the past year and half and they’re not very helpful. Yes. Even with the flat rate boxes which are supposedly insured. I wish I can even use someone else for my regular mail. Because they lost those too. And some had sensitive items in it because I would pay my bills via mail sometimes.

    • Any Name

      I agree. I just made yet another refund from an Ebay sale because the post office took over a week to get a two day package just a few miles away. This happens all the time now. I think Hip2Save posted the post office rates recently went up while the service is slowing down…ugh.

  2. Mona

    My personal experience with FedEx, is awful. Delivered multiple packages to different neighbors, confirms delivery a couple of days ahead, never takes a picture of the package delivered at your front door. Unreliable.

    • guerita_bonita2002

      Same! Fedex has repeatedly taken the package to the wrong door, has left packages in the rain, and tracking is often messed up.

  3. Katherine Miller

    Two words: Pirate Ship.

    • kerRI

      Yes !! Just saw this. No other way. Makes zero sense to pay double at the PO

      • Jamie46178

        Yes. This. And not having to stand in line for half an hour, you can schedule a free pick up at your doorstep at or simply put in the drop box, countertop or bin at the post office. Game changer!

  4. kadysiga

    Thank you so much for this!

    • Collin (Mrs. Hip)

      You’re very welcome!

  5. Peaches

    I prefer UPS especially if I am ordering something delivered to my own home but will choose USPS for my long distance family if the package can fit in their mailbox. My older sister loses more packages to porch pirates! Fed Ex employees apparently don’t know the difference between “garage” and “front porch”. We always have to check the cameras to see where they left any package.

  6. Brittany

    UPS may be expensive, but they are by far the most reliable. It is almost like they take pride in their work. I wouldn’t trust the post office with even shipping junk mail. They are horrendous and many-not all- employees in my area, are lazy. We had one person who would scan our packages as delivered and not because she didn’t want to get out of her vehicle. I caught her doing this several times, when I would flag her down and have to demand my package.

    • Deedee

      The scan but not delivered for my USPS package happens all the time to me. It’s frustrating because the USPS people won’t take responsibility and blame anyone but their employees. I work from home so I see/hear when the delivery people get to my building. I cringe when I see the delivery company is USPS for anything I order. I get that in a lot of places, they are short-staffed, but I’d rather something arrive a little late than not at all.

  7. llc

    I ship daily(for 10 years) with usps and have only had a few problems. Priority mail is insured and the few times the items were damaged, they 0aid me quickly. I always use flat rate and regional boxes to save money for family shipments. Plus if u use paypal shipping you can save $4-8 per shipment. No idea why it’s cheaper.

    • Amber (Hip Sidekick)

      Thanks for the helpful tip!

  8. kerRI

    I use Pirate Ship. The prices are soo much cheaper than the PO. You have to have your own scale which cost me less than $8. on amazon. Then you type in the box or envelope size and weight the package with item. You print out the label on your printer. Its amazing how much you save. I sell on Mercari and i couldnt think of a better way to ship. Items the PO has charged me almost $8. for are less than $4.00 thru Pirate Ship. I have saved at least half the money in shipping vs the PO. Most people who sell thru Mercari or some of the FB groups Im in use PS. I wouldnt send any other way unless i needed over night or some unusual circumstance.

  9. madonna

    Check again on USPS not delivering to some places! In fact, many parcels are sent by sellers to UPS and then UPS “mails” it to the customer. Check your labels closely. If it says it was sent to your post office’s address then you, then UPS didn’t see any profit in taking it to the customer and mailed it because the USPS is legally obligated to deliver.

  10. Jeanette

    Thanks for all of the tips!!! I LOVE my USPS ladies in our small town. They rock! But, I looked in Pirate Ship, that was a new one for me! I’ll have to think more about that! (I would need to buy a scale…the only scale i have weighs humans! 😉 )

  11. Pam

    USPS is absolutely awful. I’ve had to report our carrier more than once for scanning packages as “non deliverable, business closed”. Ummm, I’m not a business! In my opinion FedEx runs a close second. FedEx simply throws my packages in the yard out by the fence! I prefer UPS hands down. They are on time, professional and courteous.

  12. Jodi E.

    A weeks ago I compared rates at UPS and USPS for a 3lb 7 oz package I was sending 6 hours away. UPS was cheaper by just over $3. I always assumed the post office would always be cheaper. I will look online for estimated rates before I mail a package again.

  13. H Jewell

    I prefer UPS ALL DAY! I don’t ship any packages, but as far as delivery goes UPS is the best, we even know our driver by name 😂
    FedEx on the other hand has thrown my packages in my yard, left out in the rain, or literally fly coming in my driveway. I have considered not ordering from stores if they use FedEx honestly. But they are comical running from my farm animals bahaha!!

  14. amato20

    Just in case this wasn’t already mentioned- you can often Google and find a promo code for UPS! I did this last year at the holidays, and saved 30%. Add that to the convenience of printing labels at home, and then using a UPS access point, and it’s just as easy as using Pirateship! I almost always price compare the two for the best deal.

  15. Chantel

    Don’t use Media Mail. Take it from someone who runs an online store. Media Mail is ONLY going to be okay if you need to ship a box of books and nothing else. Period. If you try to slip something else in there and it gets inspected than whoever receives it will be hit with a pretty hefty shipping charge for the cost of the shipping method it should have been sent. Also, even if you are shipping just books, Christmas is not the time to go Media Mail. While it may state that it takes up to 8 days, the reality is that Media Mail goes on a space available basis. All Priority and First class go first. If there is any space after that then they will take Media Mail too. During the holiday season that means Media Mail just sits around. Not for hours or days but like a month, maybe two if it is a really busy season. Just pay the money for a flat rate box and you will be much happier.

    I do recommend First Class package service though, which H2S did not mention. You can ship a package up to 1lb for just a few dollars. Speed is typically comparable to Priority service. You can send many items like clothes, stuffed animals and small toys with this method. You can also get a discount by buying postage online through PayPal shipping. Then just print your label at home, tape it on and drop it off at the kiosk inside your post office. You can even get a scan for proof that the PO has it by choosing other services then scan prepaid label. Easy peasy!

  16. NubianGoddess

    I don’t like FedEx. I have had several problems with them. UPS is so much better.

  17. Any Name

    How did the previous administration affect the Postal Service?

  18. Randi

    And here I thought I was the only one struggling with poor USPS service lol. I’ve actually had the local office say I complain too much and that’s why my packages don’t get scammed or delivered..
    They take zero responsibility for any issues and will lie to cover their butts. USPS needs overhauled and held to a higher standard.

  19. momofboys

    Thank you so much for this! It’s frustrating when you seem to pay more to get the gifts to the destinations that you did to purchase them!! Thanks for helping us with making our season celebrations cost a little less 🙃🙃

    • Collin (Mrs. Hip)

      You’re SO welcome! Glad this is helpful! 💞🥰

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