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USPS VS UPS VS FedEx: Which Shipping Carrier Is The Best?

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Liz Hull

Liz Hull

Liz Hull is a writer for Merchant Maverick. In her three years with Merchant Maverick, she has tested and reviewed over 40 eCommerce platforms and published two ebooks on the topic of online selling. Liz has also been published in Startup Nation and Home Business Magazine Online. Liz has a BA in English and Spanish from George Fox University.

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21 Comments

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    Alex Brown

    Thanks for the information. I was looking for a comparison and found this amazing article.

      Sasha Vosk

      While this is a very informative article. I wonder re: USPS being the cheapest carrier for small items, if my 1.20oz, 3’5″ x 4″ padded envelope cost $4.5 -$5.5 in the US, and $14.5 – $17.5 internationally to be sent.
      It’s credit card size drive that cost a customer $5
      Unbelievably unfair, and no alternatives?

        Mike

        We use all three carriers…UPS, FEDEX and USPS. We are located in the Chicago area. Just want to go on record regarding the postal service in Chicago. Priority mail, which is a “quasi” premium service is taking 2-3 weeks to process through their Chicago hub/s… first class is worse. They blame it all on Covid but they really can’t because we have experienced this kind of service for over two years, yes YEARS. The hub in Chicago and we understand the hub in NJ is about the same. I wish they would get a bailout because they are less expensive that UPS and FEDEX. Reliable NO WAY. We shipped thousands of packages monthly with the postal service…they lost it all to UPS and FEDEX and yes….we pay more. Maybe two packages a day now….only because they are going to PO Boxes. USPS sucks…

          Ralph Travers Clayton

          More of a question. I will be shipping a small package from Maryland to Oyo, Nigeria. Is FedEx or UPS preferable?

            Phil Cox

            By the way, USPS offers nothing for free. The taxes that come out of my paycheck keeps them going. I don’t call this a free service.

              This comment refers to an earlier version of this post and may be outdated.

              Chris

              Phil – the USPS is not funded by taxpayers, it has been completely self-funded since 1982.

                This comment refers to an earlier version of this post and may be outdated.

                steve

                The USPS is funded by taxpayer money in the form of VERY LOW INTEREST LOANS from the government using taxpayer’s money. Those loans are often forgiven and NEVER get repaid. What do you call that ? and yet, there service is awful.

                  Becky Davis

                  We make small arms ammunition, and the only legal options for shipping that are UPS or FedEx. (Even one round through the USPS is illegal.) In 3+ decades of shipping our ammo all over the country, to both residential and commercial addresses, we’ve found that FedEx damages far fewer packages than UPS, and that FedEx workers are better trained about what is and is not Hazardous material and how it can be shipped. (Small quantities of loaded ammunition can be sent ground, without paying HazMat charges, as they are quite safe.) When we add in that FedEx ground has tended to be cheaper than UPS, they’ve been the better choice for us.

                  [All that said, I’d switch to the USPS in a heart-beat *IF* they’d change the rules and let them compete fairly. The regulations of the 3 options are different and onerous and nonsensical.]

                    This comment refers to an earlier version of this post and may be outdated.

                    Elizabeth P

                    Thank you for sharing this article.

                      This comment refers to an earlier version of this post and may be outdated.

                      Michael Leopardi

                      Hands down the post office is cheaper than those other companies no matter what. They even have flat rate boxes where you can ship up to 50 pounds for like $12.
                      If you’re shipping things like car parts car doors engines transmissions car hoods you have to go with another carrier like old Dominion freight which is the cheapest price for large oblong heavy products I know I sold car parts big and small and very small car parts that fit in boxes and large envelopes were always cheaper to send through the post office don’t believe anything you read on here I’m telling you

                        This comment refers to an earlier version of this post and may be outdated.

                        darren

                        I have a law practice. My client was facing foreclosure and needed to overnight a check for the payoff. He chose to send the check overnight (and paid a premium) via UPS. He assumed it would delivered as promised, so he didn’t check the tracking. UPS lost his package, but found it and delivered it 24 days late. They didn’t provide him with notice of their errors. Instead, it is his fault and they will accept no responsibility per their agreement. He faces a foreclosure decree and additional interest and costs. UPS is NOT a reliable shipper in all circumstances. When the package must be delivered on time or the consequences are too large, I will ship using a different shipping company.

                          This comment refers to an earlier version of this post and may be outdated.

                          David

                          I have vendors who use each of the three carriers, and they have distinct patterns. The ones with free shipping use USPS, the ones with cheap shipping use FedEx and the ones with expensive shipping use UPS. I’ll use one particular example to illustrate the glaring difference. Beginning of November I’m placing last minute holiday inventory orders. One vendor is in Colorado and uses USPS priority mail, the other two are in California and use Fedex and ups respectively. The one in Colorado was an eight pound order of video games and the vendor offers free shipping. I had the order placed on Tuesday by Thursday. The Cali vendor who uses FedEx was sending thirty pounds of incense and oils charged me $12.75 for shipping and it got to me Friday morning. The one who uses UPS was sending twenty five pounds of resins, aroma lamps and similar products charged me fourth two dollars for shipping and it got to me eight days later- Wednesday the week after I ordered it. I am in Virginia. I place far more orders with USPS and FedEx vendors and sellers than UPS as this experience has not been unique. I have a Florida vendor for movie gear that uses FedEx and one in Maryland with identical pricing that uses UPS and I almost always use the Florida one as his shipping rates are lower and they arrive faster despite the other one being 900 miles closer…. FedEx and UPS are NOT at all similar in my experience.

                            This comment refers to an earlier version of this post and may be outdated.

                            Giffin

                            I personally like USPS

                              This comment refers to an earlier version of this post and may be outdated.

                              Woody

                              UPS is the better delivery. FedEx DOES NOT deliver to my address on weekends. Never has. UPS does deliver. UPS also bringsmy package to my door in my upstairs condo whereas FedEx just drops it off outside the door of the building, ever the smallest of packages.

                                This comment refers to an earlier version of this post and may be outdated.

                                Laurie

                                What UPS service are you using that they ‘deliver on a Saturday’? Overnite express? UPS doesn’t deliver ground service packages on a Saturday, at least via their ground service unless you pay for it. I live in San Francisco. My experience is exactly the opposite! I live within 1.5 miles of the UPS main hub and I am usually the last delivery on the driver’s schedule when they are done for the day. I follow the tracking on all my deliveries. Fedex is a dream Monday thru Saturday. I have waited out on my front patio for the UPS courier to show up, all to no avail. Ultimately, tracking info will say, ‘attempted delivery’ at 7 pm, and we’re sitting out front waiting for the brown truck to show up until 8 pm. It got so bad that the vendors that ship to me via UPS were filing complaints to their UPS reps on my behalf or face losing my business. UPS in San Francisco is the worst!

                                  This comment refers to an earlier version of this post and may be outdated.

                                  Vincent

                                  Laurie:

                                  I also live in San Francisco and it seems that ever since April 2018, UPS Ground and Air now includes Saturday for regular delivery service at no extra charge.

                                    This comment refers to an earlier version of this post and may be outdated.

                                    Kmv

                                    The USPS is NOT SUBSIDIZED by tax dollars. The USPS doesn’t get any money from any government. It’s all funded by stamps and USPS services. Further, USPS does. Have guaranteed delivery. You just need to pay for it ( and cheaper than UPS or DrD ex).

                                    Further, USPS is protected by law. It is a federal offense to open another’s mail (ahem porch pirates).

                                    I had a package mailed by Macy’s on Wednesday morning from Kentucky. Arrived in my PO Box by Friday at 10:00am!!! Less than 3 days. Same for different retailer from Virginia. Less than 3 days.

                                    Now I ordered package from Macy’s again. I requested USPS but for some reason they decided to use UPS Surepkst! Sent Thursday, arrived UpS facility this morning and “expected delivery” is Wednesday by end of day. This package is less than 60 miles away- but 3 full days. UPS Sucks!

                                      This comment refers to an earlier version of this post and may be outdated.

                                      Liz Hull

                                      Hi Kmv,

                                      You are right! Thank you for spotting that error. We corrected the article accordingly.

                                      Liz

                                        This comment refers to an earlier version of this post and may be outdated.

                                        llv

                                        Hi Liz– Great Job! I believe kmv is in same boat as I am. We’re a bit prejudice to USPS because we know from experience USPS’s technology is always improving. I will repeat as kmv did, USPS has same services as competitors, & ususally USPS charges are free or cost much less than.

                                        Fed-ex was mentioned in 2 posts as being best–& that’s not how I read your article. I believe you gave an honest, & equal outlook on each company. The 2 commenters on Fed-Ex just seemed to hone in on Fed-Ex (not reading your statement of comparable status to UPS.)

                                          This comment refers to an earlier version of this post and may be outdated.

                                          James Anderson

                                          It’s great that you’ve mentioned how one benefit of getting FedEx services for your delivery needs is that they have a robust tracking system that allows you to view your shipment’s progress, hold packages at a FedEx office, or schedule delivery for a specific time. I will be buying precious trading cards from a seller in another state and I want to make sure that I’m able to see where my package is so that I know when it will arrive. With this in mind, I’ll have to communicate with the seller and have my package sent thru FedEx.

                                            This comment refers to an earlier version of this post and may be outdated.

                                            Deb Pearl

                                            Thank you for listing all the pros and cons of different shipping carriers. I have been wanting to ship quite a few things and didn’t know what carrier to pick. I like how you mentioned that FedEx has a great tracking system and speedier delivery and they are like the UPS. I might have to give them a try!

                                              This comment refers to an earlier version of this post and may be outdated.

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