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!
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!
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
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.
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 account. The 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.
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!