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All Things Shipping | Jul 23, 2020

USPS vs. UPS vs. FedEx – Which Carrier is Cheaper in 2021?

USPS vs. UPS vs. FedEx – Which Carrier is Cheaper in 2021?

As an e-commerce business, it’s mission-critical to have the ability to compare shipping rates for major carriers, including USPS, UPS, and FedEx. You may wonder which is cheaper, faster, or which offers the special add-ons you need.  In the post, we’ll take a look at some popular service levels for USPS, UPS, and FedEx, so that you can arm yourself with the “sweet spots” of each carrier and make the best decision for your shipments

One way to optimize your shipping operations and get access to the very best rates available from the carriers is to implement a shipping solution like Shippo. 

With Shippo, you can compare rates in real-time, no matter where you’re shipping or the size of the package. You can also easily integrate Shippo with your e-commerce store to make label-printing quick and seamless while providing even faster service to your customers. And, getting started is easy—you’ll be set up in under a few minutes. 

Rates will vary based on dimensions, weight, delivery time, and shipping zones, but the following examples are an overview of what to expect from the major carriers. 

Please note: the following USPS rates are available through Shippo and are cheaper than what you’d pay at the Post Office. For FedEx and UPS, we’ll be referencing the online rates. If you sign up for a Shippo account, you can access even cheaper UPS rates than the ones listed below. Plus, there are no volume or coding requirements with a free Shippo account. Also, several carriers have been imposing COVID-19 surcharges, which are not reflected in the rate examples displayed here. Finally, consider signing up for our FedEx Advantage program, which saves users up to 29 percent with FedEx. Applying is free, so see if you qualify today.

USPS vs. UPS vs. FedEx? Which is Cheaper for 5-day Delivery?

Consumers have come to expect that their packages will get delivered in an average of 4.8 days. And, each of the major carriers have a shipping service that delivers within that time frame.

To compare, USPS Priority Mail delivers in 1-3 business days while FedEx Home Delivery and UPS Ground deliver in 1-5 business days.

USPS Priority Mail, FedEx Home Delivery, and UPS Ground
6 x 8 x 8 in. package weighing 2 pounds—traveling from Sacramento, CA to Columbus, OH (Zone 8)
USPS UPS FedEx
$11.69 $18.59 $18.03

Which is the Cheaper Flat-rate Option—Fedex vs. USPS?

Since UPS does not offer a flat-rate service, we’ll compare USPS vs. FedEx. Like we mentioned in our USPS postage rate charts, flat-rate boxes are great because they’re so easy to use. With USPS, 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. FedEx One Rate also offers free boxes, and does not require you to weigh or measure shipments under 50 pounds with a time-definite 1-, 2-, or 3-day delivery.

USPS Priority Mail Small Flat Rate Box vs. FedEx Express Saver One Rate Small Box
8 x 5 x 1 in. package weighing 10 pounds—traveling from New York, NY to Los Angeles, CA (Zone 8)
USPS Priority Mail Small Flat Rate Box (5-⅜ x 8-⅝ x 1-⅝  in.) FedEx Express Saver One Rate Small Box (10-⅞ x 1-½ x 12-⅜ in.)
$7.90 $12.05

Which is Cheaper for Small, Lightweight Packages—USPS vs. UPS vs. FedEx?

Small, lightweight packages tend to be the bread and butter of e-commerce businesses. If you’re looking to ship a package under one pound, you’ll likely want to consider the USPS First Class Package Service (FCPS). It caters to packages less than 1 pound, and has an average delivery of 1-5 business days.

USPS First Class Package Service, FedEx Home Delivery, and UPS Ground
6 x 6 x 4 in. package weighing 12 ounces—traveling from Nashville, TN to Austin, TX (Zone 7)
USPS UPS FedEx
$4.20 $12.45 $12.35

Which is Cheaper for Large, Heavy Packages—USPS vs. UPS vs. FedEx?

FedEx and UPS are typically competitive options for heavier packages. Keep in mind that USPS has a weight limit of 70 pounds for its most popular shipping services.

USPS Priority Mail, FedEx Home Delivery, and UPS Ground
12 x 12 x 10 in. package weighing 65 pounds—traveling from Atlanta, GA to Salt Lake City, UT (Zone 7)
USPS UPS FedEx
$116.62 $135.74 $135.43

Which is the Best 3-Day Delivery Option—USPS vs. UPS vs. FedEx?

For packages that need to get to their destination faster, consider these timely options. FedEx Express Saver guarantees delivery to businesses by 4:30 p.m. and to residences by 8 p.m. in 3 business days. UPS commits to delivering by the end of the third business day. A competitive option for 3-day delivery is USPS Priority Mail, with deliveries in 1-3 business days.

USPS Priority Mail Cubic, FedEx Express Saver, and UPS 3 Day Select
8 x 6 x 4 in. package weighing 8 pounds—traveling from Boulder, CO to Salem, OR (Zone 5)
USPS
(Cubic, Tier 0.2)
UPS FedEx
$9.00 $34.16 $37.72

Visit our USPS Cubic Pricing page to learn more about how cubic pricing works.

Which is Best for Guaranteed Overnight Packages—USPS vs. UPS vs. FedEx?

If you need your package to arrive at its destination overnight, here are the options to consider: USPS Priority Mail Express Delivery by 10:30 a.m., FedEx 2Day A.M., or UPS Next Day Air.

USPS Priority Mail Express Delivery by 10:30 a.m., FedEx Priority Overnight, and UPS Next Day Air
3 x 4 x 5 in. package weighing 5 pounds—traveling from New Orleans, LA to Chicago, IL (Zone 4)
USPS UPS FedEx
$52.55 $93.72 $99.49

Now, go forth and ship!



Shippo is a multi-carrier API and web app that helps retailers, marketplaces and platforms connect to a global network of carriers. Businesses use Shippo to get real-time rates, print labels, automate international paperwork, track packages and facilitate returns. Shippo provides the tools to help businesses succeed through shipping. Want to get an idea of how much you can save with Shippo? Check out our USPS postage calculator for some real-time examples.

Jim Kazliner was Shippo's senior content editor, creator, and overseer. His background spans business, retail, financial, and automotive sectors, as well as music and film journalism. When not spinning yarns on his long-suffering laptop, you’ll find him collecting vintage vinyl and obscure BMX bike parts.

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