USPS vs. UPS vs. FedEx – Which Courier is Best in 2021?

Many retailers face challenging dilemmas when it comes to shipping their products. With three major shipping companies to select from––each offering distinct and contrasting priority mail and flat-rate options––choosing which service to utilize for your shipments can be more of a back and forth venture than the actual shipments themselves will be.

Luckily, for you this article highlights both the benefits and drawbacks of those said 3 major shipping companies: UPSUSPS, and FedEx. Though all three carriers are dependable, it is important to keep in mind cost, speed, and service while comparing the three. In the following paragraphs we will (indepthly) compare and contrast the popular services offered by these three industry powerhouses in order to ship you and your eCommerce business off in the right direction.

Time and Price Comparison: Which is Cheaper?

The two most important comparisons you’ll want to make are shipping costs and delivery time. Each courier will offer a variety of services to accommodate various package sizes and delivery times. As one can infer, packages and letters have different costs depending on a multitude of factors. A letter’s postage may be the same depending on where it’s going and when you want it to arrive; however, when it comes to shipments, the following elements decide how much you pay at the majority of couriers:

  • The distance from the postal ZIP code
  • The package’s weight in pounds and ounces
  • The number of packages sent
  • DIM weight (Dimensional weight): Your package’s length, width, and depth.

Note: While FedEx offers an online DIM weight calculator, USPS and UPS want you to grab a measuring tape and think back to your high school algebra days. To determine dimensional (DIM) weight, multiply the package’s length, width, and height by the longest point on each side. The dimensional weight in pounds is then calculated by dividing the cubic dimensions of the package in inches by the DIM divisor.

Price Comparison

Now, let’s go over the costs when using FedEx, UPS, and USPS for the following services:

Flat Rate:

Each courier provides a form of flat rate delivery for shipments of comparable price points and sizes. For goods weighing up to 20 pounds, USPS provides complimentary flat rate boxes–meaning yes, they are totally free. These packages may be sent anywhere in the United States in 1-3 business days. FedEx charges a fixed cost delivery of items weighing up to 50 pounds. The shipment time frame is more precise with one, two, and three-day delivery options. UPS basic rate is available in five flat rate choices for up to 50 pounds, with ground, second day air, and three-day choice choices. (So you don’t have to bother looking up the prices yourself) we placed a chart below which compares and contrasts the differences within each company’s flat rate fees in regards to package size.

Starting Rates FedEx UPS USPS
Small Box $9.95 $11.50 $7.90
Medium Box $12.95 $13.90 $13.75
Large Box $20.00 $18.40 $19.30


FedEx 2Day AM, USPS Priority Mail Express delivery by 10 a.m., and UPS Next Day Air all offer guaranteed overnight delivery options.

An example of overnight shipping charges for normal couriers when transporting a 2lb box with dimensions of 10” x 5” x 5” from Nashville, Tennessee, to Brooklyn, New York, is shown below.

Service Cost
USPS Priority Mail Express $44.50
UPS Next Day Air Early $112.78
FedEx Priority Overnight $84.24


FedEx and UPS both provide competitive ground delivery services. FedEx Ground, which is recognized for its excellent tracking, will be a better alternative for important items than UPS Ground. For thick envelopes, packages, and tubes weighing up to 70 pounds, USPS Retail Ground service is available––USPS tracking is included in the service with no extra fee.

Courier Cost
USPS starts at $7.35/1lb
FedEx starts at $8.23/1lb
UPS starts at$7.57/1lb

Shipping Options

Now that we’ve compared the prices of UPS, FedEx, and USPS, it’s time to look at the shipping alternatives.

Hours of operation:

USPS delivers seven days a week, twenty-four hours a day, including weekends. Deliveries are normally made Monday through Saturday, however they can also be made on Sundays.

FedEx delivers seven days a week, so if you need a box delivered on Sunday, FedEx is a good option. It delivers between the hours of 9:00 a.m. and 8:00 p.m.

UPS is open from 9:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. Monday through Friday. Only selected localities are eligible for weekend delivery.

Insurance Costs

Insurance costs are calculated depending on the reported value of the contents in the package. Unless otherwise requested, courier services may provide standard coverage for all packages. Damages occurred during the shipping procedure might be covered by insurance. It can also be used if there is a break-in or if packages are misplaced.

USPS: gives up to $5,000 in coverage for things in their possession that are damaged or lost. The United States Postal Service (USPS) offers up to $50,000 in insurance for registered mail.

FedEx: Every box is automatically covered up to $100, but if you want more coverage, you must specify the value of your shipment.

UPS:  Every undeclared cargo is covered by UPS for $100. You have the option of declaring a value of up to $50,000. After entering the value in the UPS system, you will be charged extra fees.

Drop Off & Pick Up

Each of the three couriers has a box or spot where you may drop off your packages to be dispatched. Packages can be dropped off at post office mail drop slots, according to the United States Postal Service. Pickups and deliveries dispatched by FedEx are accessible at each retail location during business hours. Self-service UPS drop boxes are open 24 hours a day, seven days a week. However, neither UPS or FedEx provide free pickup at their locations. You will have to pay an additional cost if you wish to pick up things at a retail store.

Bottom Line

Consider the cost and shipment speed requirements of your small business when deciding between FedEx, UPS, and USPS. While the USPS offers some of the most competitive rates, FedEx and UPS provide speedier shipping time frames at a higher cost. When comparing UPS versus FedEx, UPS delivers international packages faster than promised. For most low-volume organizations, USPS is the most cost-effective delivery option. There are no monthly fees, the service is dependable, and the standard retail rates are extremely low. However, no matter what courier you choose, it is most important that you, the customer––the business owner––are satisfied with the 3PL services you have been given.