Key Points:

  • UPS and USPS are both known for delivering on time so have a great reputation
  • USPS is designed to ship smaller packages cost-effectively within the United States, while UPS is intended for shipping larger parcels worldwide
  • Both USPS and UPS offer tracked services for international shipping

UPS and USPS are differentiated by only one letter – both are internationally acclaimed courier services that offer affordable domestic and global shipping options and their own unique advantages and disadvantages for eCommerce businesses.

However, UPS vs. USPS, especially UPS® Ground vs. USPS Priority Mail, has been hotly debated by many eCommerce companies - so choosing between UPS and USPS for your eCommerce company largely depends on your specific business needs, given their advantages and disadvantages.

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Table of Contents

Which Courier is Best for Your eCommerce Business?

USPS is often a better option for smaller packages less than 13 pounds. while UPS offers better value for shipping larger, heavier packages. UPS also offers real-time tracking updates, making it a great choice for companies shipping internationally.

ups vs usps

Ultimately, eCommerce companies should weigh their needs carefully - particularly their budget, ideal delivery times, and whether they're shipping domestically or internationally - in order to choose either UPS or USPS.

By comparing the UPS and USPS features and taking a hard look at UPS vs. USPS prices, online merchants can understand how they compare and decide which one is the better option for their own business.

Below's a quick look at their differences, how two of their most popular services compare, rate and delivery time information, what they offer, their advantages and disadvantages, and which one is best for your eCommerce company.

What is the Difference Between UPS and USPS?

Generally, USPS is designed to ship smaller packages and mail quickly and cost-effectively, while UPS is more affordable for shipping larger parcels worldwide.

Both UPS and USPS are two very different entities. The main difference stems from their very different backgrounds.

UPS, or United Parcel Service, is a publicly traded shipping company known as the world's largest package delivery company. UPS, which also offers freight forwarding and logistics services, was founded in 1907 and is based in Sandy Springs, Georgia.

USPS, or United States Postal Service, is not a company but rather an independent agency of the U.S. Federal government. Serving as the postal service for the United States, its charged with delivering letters and smaller packages both domestically and internationally. The USPS, based in Washington, D.C., was established in 1775 and reorganized in its current form in 1971.

UPS® Ground vs. USPS Priority

UPS® Ground and USPS Priority Mail are two of the most popular services from both couriers. Here’s a quick look at how they compare:

  • Package tracking is a very important feature for international shipping, as it gives security to the customer and increases the reliability of the courier. USPS has had a less than reliable reputation in this regard in the past, though has increased its reliability through using improved tracking methods. On the other hand, UPS has always had a solid reputation when it comes to tracking packages.
  • As far as speed of delivery is concerned, USPS Priority is generally seen as superior, being able to deliver typically in two to three business days as opposed to up to two weeks with UPS® Ground.
  • When comparing USPS vs. UPS rates, USPS Priority Mail is considerably more affordable compared to UPS® Ground, especially if you’re shipping packages two pounds or less. USPS Priority also offers flat rate boxes that allow multiple items to be shipped.

UPS vs. USPS Rates

Which is cheaper UPS or USPS, is a crucial question when comparing any shipping carriers. UPS is often more expensive than USPS due to fees and surcharges, especially when it comes to shipping smaller packages.

Generally, USPS offers much better rates when shipping smaller packages of less than two pounds. UPS typically is a better choice when shipping heavy packages, or large packages by offering superior value.

Related: How to Ship a Package USPS: What You Need to Know

Example shipping rates for a 5-pound package

Courier Service Delivery Lead Time Cost
UPS UPS® Ground 1-5 business days $21.87
UPS UPS Next Day Air® 1 business day $140.84
USPS USPS Priority Mail 2-Day 2 business days $22.80
USPS USPS Priority Mail Express 1-2 business days $78.60

*Example rates are for a 5 x 5 x 5 package from New York to Los Angeles. The UPS rates listed are UPS daily rates and are subject to change

Discount rates for a 5-pound package with Easyship

Courier Service Delivery Lead Time Cost
UPS UPS® Ground 1-5 business days $14.31
UPS UPS Next Day Air® 1 business day $55.86
USPS USPS Priority Mail 2-Day 2-3 business days $10.43
USPS USPS Priority Mail Express 1-2 business days $66.90

*Example rates are for a 5 x 5 x 5 package from New York to Los Angeles. The UPS rates listed are UPS daily rates and are subject to change

Which is Faster: UPS or USPS?

UPS and USPS both offer overnight delivery, though according to, the average total delivery days for USPS Priority Mail was just 1.79 days while UPS® Ground clocked in at 2.75 days, making USPS the better option when speed is a necessity.

Delivery speed is crucial for eCommerce - with USPS generally coming out on top. Notably, USPS has much stricter rules about parcel weight and size, meaning that UPS is often a better option for shipping larger packages quickly and affordably.

UPS Services

UPS offers a variety of services to suit different shipping requirements. To see additional details on services, please visit here.

  • UPS Express Critical®: As the name implies, this is the courier’s fastest shipping option. This service is available 24/7 all year round. The best shipping route is estimated based on your destination and all possible shipping methods are used for a timely delivery. Its downside is that it’s typically more expensive compared to most other shipping options offered by UPS.
  • UPS Next Day Air®: UPS is famous for its next-day delivery service, allowing packages to be delivered on the very next business day. Early and Saver options are available, with Early delivery being in the afternoon and Saver delivery time being after 4 pm local time.
  • UPS 2nd Day Air® and UPS 3 Day Select®: These options are available for not especially urgent shipments, with delivery dates being measured in business days. 2nd Day Select means delivery on the second upcoming business day and 3rd Day Select means that the package will be delivered on the third upcoming business day.
  • UPS® Ground: This is the basic and most economical shipping service available. Although typically affordable, it’s not particularly great for time-sensitive deliveries. Shipping times range from one to five business days, though most deliveries happen within 3 days or less.

USPS Services

USPS offers different services to suit eCommerce businesses and individuals who need to send personal packages and mail. To see the additional details of their available services, visit here.

  • Priority Mail Express: This is the fastest service offered by USPS, with packages being delivered overnight 7 days a week.
  • Priority Mail: Priority Mail service delivers packages within 1 to 3 business days. It also offers a flat rate for any package below 70 pounds.
  • First Class Mail: This is a service designed specifically for single envelopes and small packages weighing 13 pounds or less. The delivery time is one to three business days.
  • Retail Ground: Retail Ground is a service for oversized packages, offering an economical delivery option if there’s no time sensitivity to the delivery.
  • Media Mail: This is a special package for sending media and educational videos and audio files. However, shippers must follow ethical codes and restrictions about the kind of media they can send. The weight is limited to 70 pounds and delivery time is two to eight business days.
  • Ground Advantage: New USPS service that combines the best of Parcel Select Ground® and First-Class Package® to offer faster, more affordable shipping for packages up to 70lbs, delivered within 2-5 business days.

Pros and Cons of UPS

UPS, like any courier, has its own distinct advantages and disadvantages. Here's a quick look at some of them to consider:

UPS Pros:

  • Known for quick and secure delivery
  • Very reliable with an excellent tracking system
  • Same-day delivery and next-day delivery services are available
  • Offers guaranteed express shipping with a reputation for timeliness
  • Affordable rates if your package is heavier than two pounds
  • Volume discounts are available if you regularly ship with them
  • UPS offers Saturday commercial and residential delivery

UPS Cons:

  • Their shipping costs are higher than USPS and services can cost a bit more due to fees and surcharges
  • No free pickup; a flat rate is instead charged for this

Pros and Cons of USPS

USPS, just like UPS, also has its own unique advantages and disadvantages. Some of them include:

USPS Pros:

  • Best value and most economical option for small packages, especially for packages under 13 pounds
  • Has a longstanding reputation for delivering on-time despite inclement weather conditions
  • Offers flat rate boxes through their Priority Mail service, making it a cost-effective option
  • Free packing materials are available in post offices and can also be sent to you directly
  • Only courier service that can deliver to P.O. boxes and mailboxes

USPS Cons:

  • Generally seen as less reliable compared to UPS and other couriers, especially in terms of tracking packages
  • Customer service has a less than stellar reputation

How Easyship Can Help

UPS and USPS are both great courier services in their own respective ways. Both offer their own distinct advantages and disadvantages, meaning you should consider them very carefully before choosing which is best for your eCommerce business.

Easyship partners with both to offer you perfect hybrid solutions for your business. The Easyship rates calculator is also a great way to compare rates to help you choose the one best suited for your eCommerce needs.

Sign up today for free to see how both UPS and USPS can help your company ship worldwide!


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

UPS is the best choice for shipping out items of higher value and larger packages.

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

Easyship offers up to 91% off discounted shipping rates for 250+ couriers, which makes it easy to compare hundreds of couriers.

Does UPS or USPS deliver faster?

USPS and UPS both offer expedited shipping services for time-sensitive shipments.