USPS, UPS and FedEx are the three most widely known delivery couriers — but choosing the best-suited for your small business can be complicated. When evaluating the services, consider three important criteria: speed, affordability and reliability.
In this article, we'll break down the popular services offered by these three industry giants and provide you with a better understanding on how to navigate which is best suited for your eCommerce stores.
Price & Time Comparison
The two primary comparisons you'll want to make are going to be shipping prices and delivery time. Each courier will have different services that cater to different package sizes and delivery time frames. Let's take a look at how UPS vs FedEx vs USPS compare on price including the timeframes for different services.
Let us now compare FedEx vs UPS vs USPS rates for the following services:
Flat Rate: Each courier offers a version of flat rate shipping for packages, with comparable price points and sizes. USPS offers you free flat rate boxes for packages weighing up to 20 pounds. They can be delivered within 1-3 business days around the US. FedEx offers flat-rate services for packages weighing up to 50 pounds. The shipping timeline is more definite from 1, 2, and 3-day delivery. UPS simple rate comes in 5 flat rate options up to 50 pounds, with ground, 2nd day air, and 3 day select options.
|Extra Large Box||$25.00||$30.85||N/A|
Overnight: All three couriers offer guaranteed overnight delivery services: FedEx 2Day AM, USPS Priority Mail Express delivery by 10 am, and UPS Next Day Air.
Below, you’ll find an example of overnight shipping costs for the standard couriers when shipping a 2lb package sized 10” x 5” x 5” from Brooklyn, New York, to Miami, Florida.
|USPS Priority Mail Express||$46.20|
|UPS Next Day Air Early||$114.74|
|FedEx First Overnight||$106.94|
|FedEx Priority Overnight||$64.44|
|FedEx Standard Overnight||$60.80|
Ground: FedEx and UPS both offer competitive Ground services. FedEx Ground is known for its great tracking so will be a better option than UPS Ground for valuable packages. USPS Retail Ground service is offered by USPS for thick envelopes, packages, and tubes weighing up to 70 pounds. USPS tracking is part of the service without any additional charges.
|UPS||starts at$7.57/1lb||$3.60 residential surcharge|
|USPS||starts at $7.35/1lb||N/A|
|FedEx||starts at $8.23/1lb||$4 surcharge for home delivery|
Home: FedEx Home service is ideal for heavier packages where the delivery is expected within 5 days. UPS Ground and USPS Priority Mail are equally good competitors for heavy packages and the same timeline. But the only difference is that USPS Priority Mail has a maximum weight limit of 70 pounds. Below, we include an example for shipping a 65 pounds package.
|USPS Priority Mail||$99.54|
Priority: Priority mail offers a fast service for packages that need to be delivered as soon as possible, which usually means paying extra money for it to get where it needs to go. USPS Priority Mail delivers within 1-3 days while USPS Priority Express delivers from overnight to 2 days. FedEx 2 Day AM and UPS Next Day Air are competitive services as well.
|Priority Mail Express||$28.25|
|FedEx 2Day Am||$31.18|
|UPS Next Day Air||$75.15|
Small Packages: Most of the time, eCommerce businesses need to ship small packages. That’s why finding a good courier service for such packages is important. USPS First Class package service is the ideal for any package weighing under 1 pound and delivers within 1-5 business days.
Below, you’ll find a breakdown for a package of 12 ounces.
Heavy Packages: Each courier offers competitive services for heavy packages. USPS has a weight limit of 70 pounds for shipping through its popular services. UPS Ground and FedEx Home Delivery are perfect for such packages.
Now that we've completed the UPS Vs FedEx Vs USPS price comparison, the next step on your logistical journey is to compare the shipping options.
- FedEx: delivers 7 days a week so if you want to deliver a package on Sundays then FedEx is a very choice. It delivers from 9:00 am to 8:00 pm.
- UPS: open from Monday till Friday from 9:00 a.m to 7:00 pm. Weekend delivery is only available for certain areas.
- USPS: delivers 7 days a week, 24 hours a day — yes, that includes weekends. Deliveries are usually done from Monday to Saturday but are sometimes done on Sundays as well.
Insurance: The cost of insurance is determined based on the declared value of the items in the package. Sometimes courier services give standard coverage for all the packages, unless it is obtained otherwise. Insurance can be claimed for damages incurred in the shipping process. It can also be claimed if there is a theft or packages are lost.
- FedEx: automatically provides up to $100 of coverage for every package, but if you want additional coverage you need to declare the value of your package.
- UPS: offers a $100 coverage for every undeclared package. You can declare a value of up to $50,000. You will have to pay additional charges after entering the value in the UPS system.
- USPS: provides coverage of up to $5,000 for damaged or lost items in their custody. Registered mail can get coverage for up to $50,000 with USPS.
Pick Up and Drop Off: All three couriers have one thing in common: They have boxes or locations where you can drop off your packages to be shipped.
- USPS: packages can be dropped off at the post office mail drop slots.
- FedEx: pickups and drop offs are available during the business hours at each retail location.
- UPS: drop boxes are self-service and are available 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
UPS and FedEx don’t offer free pickup at their facilities, though. If you want to pick up items at a retail store, you will have to pay an extra fee.
Label Printing: Before requesting a pickup, you need to print your shipping labels. All three couriers offer online shipping capabilities, allowing you to print shipping labels from home. In order to take advantage of this, register at their websites and follow the instructions shared. If you want to print return shipping labels, you’ll need to contact the service center that is nearest to you.
Tracking: If you compare USPS, UPS and FedEx in terms of tracking capabilities, then FedEx has the competitive edge. It offers the most detailed, unmatched insight into when and how your shipment will be delivered. UPS is a tough competitor, offering online tracking and a good support system. USPS has recently revamped the way it tracks packages, as doing so is now considered industry standard. All three offer an online tracking system and customer support in case you can’t track your package.
Reliability: The quality of a courier's tracking system is often judged by reliability and accuracy. FedEx, USPS,UPS are all reliable in terms of tracking shipments. FedEx and UPS can be a bit expensive, but if you want to track every single movement of your shipment then they are the ones to go to.
Customs: FedEx offers standard customs clearance, free of charge. But if you want to import an item, they also provide different solutions for special clearance needs. Upon request, FedEx also offers customs broker services. UPS also offers customs brokerage services for your shipments and heavy freight enabling seamless border crossing. USPS handles customs until the shipment reaches its destination country. After that, it’s the responsibility of the host to handle the customs and delivery of the package.
When to use USPS Vs UPS Vs FedEx
USPS: an affordable option for media mail, light weight, small and less fragile packages. Popular services include Priority Mail and USPS Retail Ground.
- It is the cheapest service for small packages
- You can also send deliveries to mailboxes, PO boxes, Military bases and send Diplomatic mail
- Free pickup option is available
- Weekend delivery is also available
- Although tracking has improved, it is still limited as compared to other services
- Customer support system isn’t as responsive compared to other courier service
FedEx: known for its detailed tracking and fast delivery. Because of its time-sensitive delivery, FedEx most suitable for delivering perishable items alcohol, beverages and food. Popular services include FedEx Ground and FedEx international priority.
- An excellent tracking system is available making it perfect for valuable packages
- Weekend/Saturday delivery is available
- Good discounts are offered to increase the affordability of the shipment. It is also an additional attraction for the customers
- Does not offer free pickup services for packages
- Can be expensive compared to other options, as the shipping rates are higher
- There are fewer brick and mortar locations compared to the other couriers
UPS: best suited for larger shipments and freight packages. This courier is ideal for industrial goods, apparel, furniture and automotive parts. Popular services include UPS Ground and UPS Worldwide Express.
- For time-sensitive deliveries, UPS offers guaranteed Express delivery with same day and next day delivery system
- It has a very airtight tracking system providing accurate information regarding your package delivery
- It is ideal for heavy shipments with affordable freight services
- It is more expensive than the other services because of higher fees and surcharges added to the base rates
- Doesn’t offer free pickup and additional pickup charges also add to the expense
- Saturday delivery is available, but extra charges apply
Ship with UPS, FedEx & USPS Through Easyship
Easyship offers over 250+ shipping solutions, including discounted rates for USPS. You can link your UPS and FedEx accounts for fast, reliable shipping as well. Our shipping rates calculator makes it easy to compare courier services to determine the best rates for your customers.
With rates at checkout, eCommerce merchants can be assured they are offering their customers the fastest, cheapest and best value shipping options for every purchase. Easily print your labels and provide tracking for your customers, as well as a host of other features.
Sign up for free to find the best solution for your business — and as, always, contact our team with any questions!
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