4 USPS Shipping Options for Priority Mail
Editors note: This blog was last updated February 2024.
If you’re an online seller looking to use USPS Priority Mail to ship your orders, you have a few choices. In fact, there are four USPS shipping options for Priority Mail that e-commerce businesses can consider, each with their own pros and cons.
Why USPS Priority Mail?
USPS Priority Mail is one of the most popular shipping options. It promises fast delivery in 1-3 days, and it comes with tracking information for you and your customers.
There are four USPS shipping options for USPS Priority Mail: weight and Zone-based pricing, Flat Rate, Regional Rate, and Express.
Which one you use depends on the circumstances. At KetoLuxe, for example, owner Samantha Lemley ships their gourmet marshmallows via USPS Priority Mail with Shippo. She uses a combination of weight and Zone-based pricing and Flat Rate pricing.
During times of high sales volume, like the holidays, USPS Priority Mail Flat Rate boxes work the best for her team because they can more easily anticipate shipping costs and the orders at that time are generally larger. The rest of the year, they use the weight and Zone-based USPS Priority Mail pricing because they’re more cost-effective for their needs, though they also require more time to prepare the shipment.
“One reason we like USPS Priority Mail [Flat Rate and Regional Rate] is because the boxes are free,” says Lemley. “We order them online, and they come directly to our office. It’s also super easy to use the Shippo app on Shopify to manage shipping through USPS.”
(Editor’s Note: You can use a shipping software like Shippo to access discounted rates for these USPS Priority Mail shipping options. For more information about how Shippo can save you money, reach out to our shipping experts.)
Let’s take a closer look at each USPS Priority Mail shipping option.
USPS Priority Mail (Weight and Zone-based Rates)
USPS Priority Mail determines the postage fee based on the weight of the package and the distance it travels (also known as the Zone). Here’s a sampling of the 2024 USPS Priority Mail rates.
You can determine the Zone your package will travel using this USPS Zone calculator.
At SmokeSmith Gear, they ship most items through the weight and zone-based pricing of USPS Priority Mail. “We offer free shipping on any item over $75,” says owner Peter Hyman. “Many of the items we sell are fragile, so the insurance option that USPS provides is also very useful, as is the ability to track packages.”
USPS Priority Mail Flat Rate
USPS Priority Mail Flat Rate boxes and envelopes are great options for e-commerce businesses that want to keep their shipping mix simple, because they’re so easy to use.
Rather than base the postage fees on the distance and weight, the fees are pre-determined. Like the USPS slogan states, “If it fits, it ships.”
You do have to use the USPS Flat Rate boxes to ship with this service level. You can get the boxes for free, and you’ll pay a flat rate to ship a package weighing up to 20 pounds anywhere in the U.S. between 1-3 business days.
Small, heavy items—like batteries, anything made of metal or stone, liquids, etc. up to 20 pounds—are great candidates for USPS Priority Mail Flat Rate.
Gabriella Jacobsen, owner and founder of Green Upward, generally sticks to USPS Priority Mail Flat Rate envelopes for shipping her orders, many of which contain soft goods like cloth bags. “I can fold up my bags and place them inside the legal paper-sized envelope,” she says. “You can fit a surprising amount of material in that [envelope].”
Read more about USPS Flat Rate Box sizes, prices, and how it works.
USPS Priority Mail Express
USPS Priority Mail Express is one of the fastest USPS shipping options—quicker than its other Priority Mail counterparts. It comes with overnight guarantee, which can help businesses meet consumers’ increasingly-demanding delivery date expectations.
Predictably, this is also the most pricey of the USPS shipping options. Thankfully, you can access the lowest-possible prices via Shippo.
Tanzanite Jewelry Designs only uses Priority Mail Express to send their orders. “This is because we can insure them for up to $25,000, they get to our customers quickly, and need to be signed for,” says owner Jeff Moriarty.
Because their products have higher prices, this is extremely important. “This helps reduce any fraud and ensures our items get into our customers hands,” he says.
USPS Priority Mail Regional Rate
This service level was actually discontinued in January of 2023. In effort to simplify the Priority Mail pricing structure, the postal service stopped creating and distributing Regional Rate boxes.
The alternative to this service level is the Priority Mail Cubic rate which, in many instances, serves the same types of shipments for a rate equivalent to or less than Regional Rate boxes. Check out our Priority Mail Cubic Rate cheat sheet to learn more.
2024 USPS Shipping Options Pricing Analysis
In 2023, there were some changes to the overall rates for shipping with the USPS.
To recap the changes, USPS Priority Mail Express rates increased by an average of 5.9%, and USPS Priority Mail increased by an average of 5.7 percent for Shippo users. However, you can still save up to 51.7% on USPS Priority Mail and up to 21.85% on USPS Priority Mail Flat Rate.
We analyzed the 2024 rates for our most-popular USPS shipping options to help e-commerce businesses continue to get the best rate possible for their packages.
Print USPS Labels at Discounted Rates With Shippo
If you’re looking for a USPS shipping software that can print labels and score you discounted rates, check out Shippo. You can save up to 40 percent on Priority Mail rates. And it’s free—no monthly fees, no surprises.