All Things Shipping
Mar 3, 2022

Shipping Rates Compared: UPS Ground vs. FedEx Ground vs. USPS Priority Mail

Whether you’re a new e-commerce seller or an experienced merchant, staying on top of the myriad carrier and service offerings available today can be challenging. Every new parcel presents the same questions: should you ship via USPS Priority Mail vs. UPS Ground? Or USPS Priority Mail vs. FedEx Ground? What should you do if you’re shipping internationally?

Since there are no black-and-white answers when it comes to selecting between these different services, we’ve put together a few hypothetical scenarios to help you understand where each carrier shines.

To compare rates, we’ll show both the standard retail rates from each carrier as well as some of the discounts available for USPS and discounted UPS rates instantly by signing up for a Shippo account.

Note that Shippo users can be eligible for certain discounted rates from FedEx by signing up for the FedEx Advantage® program. FedEx Ground Economy (FGE) is the only FedEx ground service available natively within Shippo at this time.

Which Service is Best for Small, Lightweight Packages?

If your e-commerce business happens to ship small, lightweight parcels, you’re in luck! Rates for small parcels tend to be cost-effective across all services, leaving you with plenty of options for getting your goods to customers.

In the scenario below, imagine that you’re shipping something small and light—maybe a t-shirt or small office supplies—from one commercial address in New York City to a commercial address in Los Angeles.

UPS Ground® vs. FedEx Ground® vs. USPS Priority Mail® (Small Flat Rate Box)

6” x 3” x 1” package weighing eight ounces, shipping from New York, NY (10019) to Los Angeles, CA (90015)

*UPS and USPS rates on Shippo.

In this case, USPS Priority Mail® comes out ahead of UPS Ground® and FedEx Ground®.

An additional aspect to note is that UPS Ground® and FedEx Ground® guarantee to have the package delivered in 4 days while USPS Priority Mail® estimates to get it done in 2 days. USPS Ground Advantage™ is also an additional alternative to all three and would come with a rate of $4.44 and arrive in 5 days.

Which Service is Best for Heavy or Oversized Packages?

Now, imagine that you’re shipping between the same two commercial addresses, but you’re dealing with a significantly larger and heavier package—perhaps some heavy-duty equipment or raw materials for manufacturing.

UPS Ground® vs. FedEx Ground® Economy vs. USPS Priority Mail® (Weight & Zone)

50” x 8” x 4” package weighing 68 lbs, shipping from New York, NY (10019) to Los Angeles, CA (90015)

*UPS, FedEx, and USPS rates on Shippo.

Here, your shipping outcomes are consistent across the board—shipping with UPS Ground® or shipping with FedEx Ground® is more cost-effective than shipping with USPS Priority Mail.

That said, it’s also important to note that your Priority Mail shipment will be delivered more quickly than your UPS Ground® and FedEx Ground® shipments. USPS Priority Mail® is again estimated to be a two-day delivery while UPS measures in at 4 days and FedEx would take 8 days. If speed is of the essence, you or your customer may need to incur the additional cost.

Which Service is Best for Cross-Country Shipping in 2 or Fewer Days?

With Amazon setting the standard for quick shipping, your e-commerce customers may also expect to receive their packages in just a few days.

If you find yourself in this position, the shipping service that will best accommodate you is likely to come down to the distance between your origin and delivery addresses. Shipping a small parcel between New York and Los Angeles, for example, simply isn’t guaranteed with either UPS Ground® shipping or FedEx Ground®.

UPS Ground® vs. FedEx Ground® vs. USPS Priority Mail® (Weight & Zone)

8” x 6” x 2” package weighing 2 lbs, shipping from New York, NY (10019) to Los Angeles, CA (90015)

*UPS and USPS rates on Shippo

**USPS provides an estimated time in transit, but is not guaranteed. You can find UPS’s Service Guarantee here.

In this case, you’ll need to consider USPS Priority Mail® or one of UPS and FedEx’s expedited services shown in the second row of the table.

Which Service is Best for Shipping to Nearby Zones in 2 or Fewer Days?

Alternatively, if your shipments don’t have to cross the country, you’ll have more flexibility in types of the services you can select.

Here, imagine that you’re shipping from New York to Newark, NJ, both of which happen to be in the same USPS delivery zone. In this case, UPS Ground® and USPS Priority Mail are capable of getting your package delivered within one business day while FGE will take two days to arrive at your customers doorstep.

UPS Ground® vs. FedEx Ground Economy® vs. USPS Priority Mail® (Weight & Zone)

8” x 6” x 2” package weighing 2 lbs, shipping from New York, NY (10001) to Newark, NJ (07102)

*UPS, FedEx, and USPS rates on Shippo

Which Service is Best for Shipping to Residential Addresses?

Finally, what happens if you’re shipping not between two commercial addresses, but from a business location to a residential destination?

All three services provide home deliveries, with FedEx offering residential drop-offs under its FedEx Home Delivery® line. That said, so can FedEx Ground Economy, which is a discounted FedEx service offered directly within Shippo without having a previous FedEx account.

UPS Ground® vs. FedEx Ground Economy® vs. USPS Priority Mail® (Small Flat Rate Box)

8” x 6” x 2” package weighing 2 lbs, shipping from New York, NY (10019) to Los Angeles, CA (90015)

*UPS, FedEx, and USPS rates on Shippo

How to Save Even More on Shipping

All of that said, it’s important to note that the rates above represent the 2023 carrier rates shippers pay to each carrier. If you have a volume-based contract in place with UPS, FedEx, or USPS, the same calculations carried out above may skew in a different direction based on the discounts that are available to you.

But, to put it plainly, the best way to save money on shipping is by comparing each carrier’s rates for each shipment. That’s because each carrier may have the cheapest option for a certain shipment under the proper circumstances.

With Shippo, you can compare shipping rates from 80+ carriers within a single dashboard.

Further, if you work with a partner like Shippo, you may be able to access discounted rates for UPS Ground®, FedEx Ground Economy®, and USPS Priority Mail® services—no contract or minimum volumes required. Shippo sellers may save as much as 89% off retail rates at USPS, 86% off UPS’s international rates, and up to 90% off FedEx International Connect Plus pricing.

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Sarah Gage
is a Michigan-based freelance writer covering business, marketing, and technology topics. She is also the owner of Content Conquered, a B2B-focused content marketing consultancy.

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