What Is The Cheapest Shipping Option – USPS, FedEx Or UPS?

If you want to know the cheapest way to ship packages or if you run an ecommerce business and want to keep your shipping costs down, this article will teach you all of the cheap shipping methods I use for my 7 figure online store.

Because ecommerce is booming and there’s a nationwide shortage of manpower, all of the major shipping carriers have increased their prices.

For example, the United States Postal Service has been jacking up their shipping rate every 4-6 months. As a result, what used to be the most economical shipping method is now priced inline or even more expensive than some of the more reliable carriers like UPS or FedEx.

Here’s a competitive analysis of the various shipping carriers for 2022 from the perspective of a small business owner who ships thousands of packages per month.

What is the Cheapest Shipping Option USPS, FedEx Or UPSBecause there are so many variables and shipping options to choose from when deciding the cheapest way to ship a package, it’s difficult to make an apples to apples comparison without locking down some of the basic parameters. For the purposes of this article, I am going to compare shipping rates based on the following assumptions.

  • A 14in X 12in X 3in package is being shipped cross country from California to a residence on the east coast. Incidentally, this is the same size as a USPS Medium Priority Mail Flat Rate Box. Only domestic shipping rates will be compared.
  • Out of the box pricing for all shipping carriers which means that a lower negotiated shipping rate based on volume is not taken into account.
  • Labels are being printed online which means all associated internet only USPS discounts apply.

At the end, I’ll also discuss the trade offs between shipping costs, delivery timeframes, reliability and give my take on the cheapest way to ship a package with a reasonable delivery time.

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The Cheapest Way To Ship A Package 2 Lbs Or Heavier With A 5 Day Delivery Window

FedEx Ground or UPS Ground shipping will almost always give you a cheaper shipping rate than USPS Priority Mail. Between FedEx and UPS, FedEx will be cheaper than UPS out of the box because they provide you with an instant 15% off all shipments just for creating an online account(Note: The level of discount will vary but there’s always a discount program).

Editor’s Note: Both UPS and FedEx charge for what is called “dimensional weight”. Basically what this means is that if your package is large or oversized, then the shipping rate will be drastically increased.

The dimensional weight calculation for UPS is currently L*W*H/139 and remains unchanged for 2022. So for example, if your package is 20X20X20 and weighs 10 pounds, then you would be charged for a package weighing 20*20*20/139 = 57.55 lbs instead of 10 lbs.

Using the box example of 14in X 12in X 3in, the dimensional weight for this package is 4 lbs which means you’ll get charged for 4 lbs no matter what. Otherwise, packages below 5184 cubic feet will be cheaper than USPS in this category.

The only exception to the above rule is that USPS offers 3 flat rate shipping options, small, medium and large. If you can manage to shove merchandise that is heavier than 2lbs into a small flat rate box (unlikely), you can save about 10 dollars.

However more realistically, you will need a medium flat rate box to ship something weighing 2lbs or more. Assuming that you aren’t getting hit by dimensional weight, the break even point between FedEx or UPS Ground and a Priority Mail flat rate medium box is approximately 3 lbs.

At exactly 2 lbs, FedEx/UPS is slightly cheaper. Above 2 lbs, the USPS medium flat rate box is slightly cheaper than FedEx or UPS Ground.

The break even point compared to FedEx and UPS for a large USPS Priority Mail flat rate box is about 5 lbs.

If you need a large flat rate USPS Priority Mail box, make sure it’s heavier than 5 lbs. Otherwise, FedEx or UPS Ground will always be cheaper.

Let’s sum it all up.

  • If your item is heavier than 2 lbs, try to fit everything into a USPS priority mail flat rate medium box.
  • If your item is heavier than 5 lbs, try to fit everything into a USPS priority mail flat rate large box.
  • Otherwise, Fedex and UPS will be cheaper for heavier packages.

Note: You can receive significant shipping discounts on USPS shipping by signing up for a ShippingEasy account. ShippingEasy also works with FedEx and UPS so you can easily compare shipping prices. Plus it’s free for up to 50 shipments per month!

The Cheapest Way To Ship A Package Under 2 Pounds

USPS will always be the cheapest way to ship compared to FedEx or UPS hands down. However as the weight creeps closer to 2 pounds, USPS shipping costs achieve pricing parity with UPS and FedEx Ground.

For packages between 1-2 lbs in weight, on paper FedEx and UPS seem to be slightly cheaper than USPS but it all depends on the dimensional weight calculations.

If you can somehow avoid getting hit by the dimensional weight penalty for FedEx/UPS, then FedEx/UPS will cost slightly less in the 1-2 lb category. But otherwise, USPS will be cheaper across the board up to 2 lbs.

USPS shipping costs are the lowest when your package weighs less than 16 oz and can be mailed via USPS First Class mail. If you don’t care about reliability, USPS First Class Mail is by far the cheapest shipping option for light items.

The Cheapest Way To Ship A Package For Overnight Delivery

USPS Express is once again the cheapest way to ship and overnight delivery is guaranteed…except when it isn’t:) The main problem with USPS Express mail is that sometimes the delivery window is 2 days and you won’t know unless you check online.

USPS also doesn’t offer a morning delivery time so if your client needs a package at the beginning of the business day, they are out of luck.

I’ve also discovered that USPS Express Mail is less reliable for overnight delivery than FedEx or UPS Next Day Service. While they “guarantee” their delivery times, what this really means is that they’ll refund your money if the package is delivered late.

This has happened to me several times already and a shipping refund doesn’t make up for having an angry customer.

Overall, despite being the cheapest way to ship packages overnight, you should avoid USPS Express Mail. After all, if you are paying a high shipping cost for overnight delivery, delivery speed is more important than cheap shipping.

The Cheapest Way To Ship A Package With A 2-3 Day Delivery Window

It is unclear which delivery service is better if you need 2-3 day delivery because USPS doesn’t guarantee their delivery speed for USPS Priority Mail or USPS First Class Mail.

So while USPS Priority Mail cites a 2-3 day typical delivery time, it could be slower or faster depending on various unknown factors.

In my experience, I’ve had some USPS Priority Mail packages delivered overnight and I’ve seen delivery times as long as 1.5 weeks. While the latter tends to be an anomaly, overall the delivery speed is somewhat random.

Other shipping carriers like FedEx and UPS however, always guarantee their delivery times but are significantly more expensive. In some cases, FedEx and UPS will cost you will over 2X the shipping cost of USPS.

My Take On The 3 Shipping Carriers

While USPS is the cheapest shipping carrier in most cases, their reliability is easily the worst among the 3 shipping carriers. Our online store primarily uses USPS because most of our orders are under 2 pounds. But we routinely get packages delayed or lost in the mail.

This past few months alone, we have had 3 customers email us wondering where the hell their order was. Given our shipping volume, 3 customers is probably statistically insignificant but having to deal with any unhappy customers is a pain in the neck.

While we don’t check on the status of all of our orders, I can tell you from experience that the quoted delivery times for both USPS First Class Mail and USPS Priority Mail are completely hit or miss.

If you are sending a package to some podunk, middle of no where town, it’s more likely to get delayed. Meanwhile, it’s rare to ever have a FedEx or UPS package delayed or lost.

In the end, it comes down to reliability vs shipping cost. For light items, USPS is the cheapest way to ship if that is your goal. For heavier items greater than 2lbs in which delivery time is not a factor, FedEx or UPS Ground is the cheapest way to ship.

It’s the 2-3 day delivery window where you have to weigh the trade offs. Do you want the cheapest shipping cost? Do you value reliability? Is actual transit time a concern? If you need a package to be delivered on time, use FedEx or UPS. If you are looking for the cheapest way to ship, use USPS.

Our online store offers a mix of both. By default, we use USPS shipping to keep the shipping costs low (our items are typically under 2 lbs). However, if a customer has a tight deadline, we use FedEx or UPS.

Speaking from experience, the savings in shipping costs from using USPS is not worth the hassle of pissing off a customer if there’s a deadline.

But it’s a tough decision to make because customers are typically turned off by high shipping costs. Of course, the other option is to raise your prices or lose money on shipping. You have to make the call.

Cheapest Way To Ship A Package Via USPS

If you decide to use USPS as your primary shipping carrier, the cheapest way to ship is to use shipping software like ShippingEasy.com.

ShippingEasy.com lets you print “USPS First Class Mail” postage from your printer (the USPS website does not allow this) and offers significant shipping discounts on practically every service that the US Postal Service offers.

In fact, using shipping software is the ONLY way to get USPS shipping discounts online. Overall, you’ll experience the most savings if you ship a lot of USPS Priority Mail or USPS Express Mail orders. The best part is that ShippingEasy is completely free for up to 50 shipments per month.

In addition, shipping with FedEx, UPS and DHL is all nicely integrated into ShippingEasy.com so you only need a single shipping service to ship across all carriers.

Check them out as we use them as our primary shipping software.

Also, don’t forget to request free shipping labels and boxes from USPS via the US Postal Service website.

Cheapest Way To Ship A Package Via FedEx Or UPS

The only way to get shipping discounts with FedEx or UPS is to negotiate. Of course, you’ll need to demonstrate that you can and will ship in volume but that shouldn’t be too hard if you run an online store.

Ideally, you should pick one carrier and focus on them. In my experience, UPS seems to be a bit hungrier than FedEx for your business so they may be more willing to negotiate. But your mileage may vary. Don’t be too shy to pick up a phone and speak to a sales rep.

If you ship enough volume to negotiate your shipping cost with FedEx and UPS, I highly recommend that you look at FedEx One Rate. As long as you use a special FedEx shipping box, you can stuff as many items as you can in the box for 1 flat shipping rate which is extremely inexpensive.

For our ecommerce business, we almost exclusively use FedEx One Rate to ship packages over 1 pound instead of USPS Priority Mail because we’ve negotiated such a low shipping rate with FedEx. Your mileage will vary depending on volume but FedEx One Rate is easily the cheapest way to ship packages over 16oz with a 2-3 day delivery speed for domestic shipping.

UPS also has a similar program called UPS Simple Rate that is essentially the same as FedEx. At least once per year, you should reach out to both your FedEx and UPS representative and ask for a lower shipping rate.

We often switch carriers every other year to get the best price.


Which is cheaper UPS or USPS?

For packages weighing less than 16oz, USPS is almost always the cheapest way to ship. However UPS ground can be less expensive when packages exceed 2lbs in weight.

Which is cheaper FedEx or UPS?

Both shipping carriers offer roughly the same shipping cost out of the box. However, you can negotiate with both shipping carriers to get a much better shipping rate depending on your volume.

How can I get free shipping supplies?

USPS will send you priority and express shipping rate boxes for free. You can also get shipping labels for free as well by going to the USPS website

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About Steve Chou

Steve Chou is a highly recognized influencer in the ecommerce space and has taught thousands of students how to effectively sell physical products online over at ProfitableOnlineStore.com

His blog, MyWifeQuitHerJob.com, has been featured in Forbes, Inc, The New York Times,  Entrepreneur and MSNBC.  

He's also a contributing author for BigCommerce, Klaviyo, ManyChat, Printful, Privy, CXL, Ecommerce Fuel, GlockApps, Privy, Social Media Examiner, Web Designer Depot, Sumo and other leading business publications.

In addition, he runs a popular ecommerce podcast, My Wife Quit Her Job, which is a top 25 marketing show on all of Apple Podcasts

To stay up to date with all of the latest ecommerce trends, Steve runs a 7 figure ecommerce store, BumblebeeLinens.com, with his wife and puts on an annual ecommerce conference called The Sellers Summit.  

Steve carries both a bachelors and a masters degree in electrical engineering from Stanford University. Despite majoring in electrical engineering, he spent a good portion of his graduate education studying entrepreneurship and the mechanics of running small businesses. 

232 thoughts on “What Is The Cheapest Shipping Option – USPS, FedEx Or UPS?”

  1. Robert says:

    Great to know about shipping from experience. So it seems like it basically comes down to what you are shipping.

    Wonder if you could make some safe assumptions on the size of what most people/small businesses ship and then make some accurate predictions of what’s the best overall. That’s what I was trying to do anyway! USPS = cheap and semi unreliable to remote locations. Others = more expensive, more reliable anywhere.

    Thanks for the post!

    1. Mr. Myxpyx says:

      My thoughts exactly Mike. There are no dates anywhere on the article or in the responses. This could have been written in 2003 for all we know.

      1. BG says:

        He mentions at beginning of article about increase in 2019s USPS rates so it’s recent. Thx for info!

    2. Steve says:

      The article was written late last year and updated in the middle of this year. The information is up to date

    3. bob says:

      Exactly what I was thinking. There’s no way that this was recent because USPS is started to cost more than UPS Ground. My opinion is that this topic was posted around 2010.

      Here’s my breakdown:

      DHL: Bad shippings times and worst in reliability.
      UPS Ground: Acceptable for heavy products.
      FedEX: Probably best for medium sized packages.
      USPS: The best for smaller products.

      Final thoughts: I use to love USPS because of it’s reasonable prices, but lately their prices seemed to increase significantly. Something that would cost me no more than $12 now costs $15/$16, which doesn’t seem like a lot, but when you sell on ebay, people don’t really want to pay for shipping. I understand that the USPS doesn’t get much business ever since email came out, but I believe it’s a bit unethical to raise prices.

      1. Jc says:

        USPS it’s the worst maybe good in USA but when I used for international shipping they lost my boxes 3 big ones I never got any money back they maked me call and call waiting more than hour never use usps for international or some one will take your boxes away

      2. Tom says:

        Unethical to raise prices? to stay in business? Good luck with your business!

      3. Mike says:

        Shipping with others than usps is more reliable.3 out 5 of my packages have been lost or opened by usps employees

    4. Steve says:

      Hey Bob,

      The info is up to date. We ship over a thousand packages a month using USPS, FedEx and on occasion UPS.

      The truth is that all carrier’s price have gone up. The true value of USPS Priority mail is with the flat rate boxes. If you can manage to fit heavy stuff in a priority flat rate box, you can save money over shipping the package vs Fedex or UPS. If you have to use regular USPS priority mail for anything over 2 lbs, fedex or ups will be cheaper.

      Even still, it’s not really an apples to apples comparison since priority mail ships within 3 days most of the time whereas ground service takes 4-5 days.

      USPS first class mail still remains the best bargain but your package has to be 13oz or less.

    5. Kevin says:

      Hi, the date-when-written still has not been answered. Statements like last year doesn’t tell us if last year was 2001 or 2011. Please update the story with a date. Thanks!

      1. Steve C says:

        The answer is that I keep this article up to date because I get a lot of traffic here. So, right now it’s 2012 if that helps. I usually revisit this article every 3 months or so or whenever there’s a big pricing change. But in general, the relative pricing between USPS, FedEx and UPS doesn’t change very often.

    6. mike says:

      USPS has them all beat on pricing! I ship rocks,with a lot of weight and a med. Or large PS box can get to any place in the states in three days……Never late and simple cost!

    7. FelipeL says:

      I found that the cheapest way to ship things is thru Shippi.com. They specialize in bulky shipments and the transit time is pretty fast.

    8. Walter says:

      I can’t agree with the writers evaluation of UPS/FedEx vs. USPS, as presented in the beginning of the article. Specifically, the break-even points. I have been shipping an item that weighs 5 lbs and fits in a USPS medium flat rate box. I have shipped several thousand over the last 4 years.

      My cost ( as of 12/28/2013) to ship via USPS is $11.50 anyplace in the USA, including Alaska and Hawaii. Shipping the same item via UPS to California costs me $24.00. My shipping location is New England.

      Additionally, I also disagree with the stated opinion that the USPS delivery times and service are sub-par. In my overall experience, I have found just the opposite. As stated, I have shipped several thousand parcels via USPS priority flat rate over 4 years. In that time, not a single parcel has taken over 3 days. That includes the Hawaii shipments. Additionally, USPS moves freight over the weekend. I have turned in USPS priority parcels on a Friday in New England and had them delivered in California on Monday.

      The same item, shipped via UPS, cross country, costs me twice as much and takes 6 to 7 BUSINESS days. Over time, I have stopped using UPS or FedEx entirely, and now use USPS priority exclusively, due to the excellent service I have had through them.

      A relevant example of UPS performance is a parcel that is being shipped to me via UPS that I am presently tracking. It was accepted by UPS in Az. on 12/16/2013. AS of today, 12/28,2013, it’s still in transit, scheduled for delivery on Tues. 14 days to move a 1lb parcel cross country. While I understand this particular example is due to their recent holiday crunch, it’s still inexcusable and is not the only time I have had similar experiences with USP.

      This post probably sounds like a USPS commercial. I openly admit that I am an advocate of USPS. But that is a result of them consistently providing me with quality service and saving me a ton in shipping costs in the process. Free supplies, free pickup, free tracking, and free delivery confirmation to boot.

      Of course, my experience and results are due to the ability to use the USPS flat-rate packaging. I have no way to compare standard USPS parcel shipping, as I do not use them.

      However, If you are able to ship via USPS flat rate priority parcel, that is, hands down, the least expensive, most reliable, and fastest method.

    9. Jerry says:

      His point about negotiating with UPS or FedEx is very correct. You have to make sure you call UPS or FedEx sales reps to set the best pricing when you ship. UPS unfortunately has a lot of surcharges (fuel surcharge, extended area surcharge, and residential surcharges). The UPS reps will attempt to lower the base rate based on dollar amount you are spending. They then look at your 52 week rolling average on spending to reduce the cost of shipping. You have to make sure to call every few months to renegotiate to get more discounts. I did this and it helped a lot. USPS Priority Mail is ok – however I have experienced problems with lost mail on rare occasions. Also, rural customers can always get UPS or FedEx when they give you a physical address. But USPS may not go to that physical address — instead the customer has to go to their small town post office for delivery. So in that regards, you have to check on that, otherwise USPS can’t be used.

    10. Angela says:

      Flat rate boxes are significantly smaller now so that part ought to be updated.

    11. Ginny says:

      I actually did a shipping estimate with the exact same dimensions and weight through USPS, FedEx, and UPS. I had an Amazon return I had to take care of the shipping on because the seller wouldn’t. The USPS actually was the most expensive option, as well as the slowest. Second most expensive with UPS. The cheapest option, and coincidentally the fastest option was FedEx ground. FedEx beat the USPS delivery costs by $4 for my shipment and delivery speed by five days.

    12. Daryl says:

      FedEx also has surcharges and you can get negotiated pricing with US Postal Service. If you look at lost packages, all three carriers are very similar, it just so happens the US Postal Service delivers to over 159 million mailboxes 6 days a week and the other carriers don’t even come close to that amount of deliveries. So you may here about lost mail from US Postal Service more often simply because of the pure volume but percentage wise…same. Please state facts not assumptions. USPS dominates in packages 10 pounds and under period. The USPS also has flat rate and regional package service that offer substantial savings as well for packages up to 70 pounds. The US Postal Service was just voted the MOST TRUSTED business in the United States. FedEx and UPS not in top 10. Just saying.

  2. Carla | Green and Chic says:

    This is interesting because I never had a problem with USPS before. It could be because I only do ground shipping at this time. I switch between FedEx and USPS depending on where I’m delivering and the cost. The cost of shipping is the one thing that eats me alive due to the fact that most of my products/orders are not high value.

  3. Eric says:

    Another consideration is which of the three are more convenient for your customers to receive. For shipments to a residential address, USPS may be better because if the recipient is not home, they need only go to their local PO to pick it up. For FedEx and UPS, they may have to go well out of their way to a location in some industrial district, with hours not any better than those at the PO. And if they prefer packages go to a PO box, the USPS is the only way.

  4. Phil says:

    Thanks for this. I was debating about using the USPS Priority Service but you have made my decision clear. I currently ship everything Fedex Overnight or 2nd Day because I sell perishable items. However shipping prices are a turn off for some customers as the shipping sometimes costs more than the item…

    I have a question for you relating to shipping, how do you currently process your orders and print out shipping labels? Do you manually copy/paste customers info into the USPS or FedEx site or is there a way to export it to them?

    1. Steve says:

      Hi Phil,
      I use the Paypal API to automatically send the customer’s address directly to Paypal when an order is placed. Then I use the Paypal multi-shipping tool to print out labels. It’s really easy and fast. Pretty much the only thing that I have to do is to weigh each package.

      Both Fedex and UPS offer a similar API as well. You can tie your shopping cart directly to your FedEx or UPS account and then print labels en masse. I believe Fedex also has a way to read in a specially formatted text file as well. You can have your shopping cart output this file which is then read in to the Fedex website. Doing everything manually is extremely tedious and I don’t recommend it as it’s error prone as well.

  5. Phil says:

    Thanks for the reply Steve. When you say Paypal API, are you using PayPal Payments Pro to accept credit cards on your site? This is currently what I am doing (Paypal is my merchant account) but I was unaware that I could ship through the same API?

    Currently I have a custom cart that connects to PayPal for CC verification and then connects to Fedex for shipping and creating custom labels. If I can do it with one step through Paypal that would be so much better.

    1. Steve says:

      Hi Phil,

      That is correct. We are using Paypal Website Payments Pro. However, just using the API itself doesn’t mean that you are passing all of the necessary information to do shipping. Make sure you are sending all of the address info along with the payment and then a “Print Shipping Label” button will appear next to each customer. If you click “Multi-shipping tool”, you can batch all of your shipping labels in one fell swoop.

  6. Phil says:

    Thanks for the info, I am going to try it out and see how it works…

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  8. paul says:

    The postal service has always been very reliable for me. Plus, it’s on my way to work. UPS on the other hand can’t leave most the packages I get so I have to drive 3 towns over to pick them up. Can’t say anything about Fedex since the only deliverys I receive with Fedex on the label comes from the usps. I did ask the clerk at the counter why that was and she said they deliver the unprofitable points for ups and fedex. I then asked why express is 2 day to most points rather than overnight, like it used to be. She told me it was because Fedex transports their express for them. It was the deal USPS made with Fedex to allow them to have FEDEX drop boxes in front of the post office. I think the usps gets a bad rap probably because everyone deals with them every single day. Kinda like someone you spend too much time with, you get sick of em after awhile.

    1. BG says:

      Funny. I agree partially. I use USPS and the only complaint is it’ll say pkg will be delivered this evening, I’ll swing by clubhouse hiurs orior and it’ll be there. Awesome. Later I get a message that it was delivered eight hours ago. Bit of a delay but considering the mass processes…we’ll done. I LOVE fed ex when I don’t want to package something awkward and time is of essence

  9. angela says:

    I have never had an issue with usps either…I would say the person writing this has a “personal” issue with the usps…. on the other hand…ups has crushed and misdelievered more than once for me personally…just my 2 cents

  10. mome says:

    Hey, thanks for your article, but I’m a bit confused. I thought the USPS Priority Flat Rate Option was “if it fits, it ships” like the TV commercial says. Anything and everything that fits in the box, if under 70lbs, ships for the rate associated with the size box needed. (envelopes, too)

    I wished this option had been available when I ordered a set of silverware on ebay from a Uruguay seller, and it literally weighs a ton. (well, not literally, but you’d need a dolly to truck it up to my front door up my steep driveway) As it turned out (and this was a few years ago) it was delivered for around $60 to my front door by FedEx, by a van not a huge truck, late in day. Now these same South American sellers are offering cheaper shipping, presumably to attract buyers to the higher priced item. Some offer free shipping. Of course the items are higher priced reflecting the recent changes in the economy, so I’m sure “it all comes out in the wash” as granny used to say.

    I think it’s worthwhile to comparison shop between USPS Parcel Post vs Flat Rate Option (smallish boxes only), and compare those with UPS and FedEx. I almost bid on an ebay item that was $35 opening bid or $45 buy it now, and luckily I noticed the shipping was $50!!! I realize some sellers profit on shipping by calling it Postage and “Handling”. I wished him luck.

  11. Biggesmalz1 says:

    Hey thanks so much for this review it was super helpful!

    I have long been wondering about this and now I know. 🙂

  12. Poupon says:

    Thanks for the analysis. A factor not mentioned is your location. Years ago, I did business from the Rockridge neighhborhood in Oakland California. We shipped almost exclusively by UPS by customer request (stores universally believed it to be the most economical method, which it actually wasn’t). Our local facility was hideous to deal with. They never, under any circumstances, made good on claims. They twice lost very large boxes, valued at about $1000.00 each, and which were time sensitive, for six months, and then returned them with floor sweepings, including rocks qnd broken glass in them. When I asked for the supervisor’s name, I was told ” Jesus Christ”. we did not have many problems on the recieving end, and some customers told us their UPS facilities were well run. However, during that period I had a friend whose father did an efficiency analysis on UPS (the company paid him) and reported that he’s never studied a company that was more poorly run, nor one thwt wqs more hostile to its own employees ( which explains our problems with them – customers get the trickle down from angry employees). One of the things they did was begin to harrass employees when they got within five years of retirement. Our regular driver ( who was not the cause of our problems) was one of these, and told us yes, it was true and was happening to him. One of the tihings expected of him was to work faster than was safe.

    The problems were so regular and so devastating to our business that we closed up shop and moved across country. Now we’re in a hilly suburb north of Atlanta. Our neighhbors warned us about the UPS truck zipping down our hill ( working faster than is safe?) and said they had killed two dogs there. That problem wqs solved in a unique way. We don’t see UPS at all in this neighborhood ever since the USPS changed our zipcodes and gave us two zipcodes ( we have a 3/4 acre plot) Now UPS can’t find us and turnns deliveries to sender. When I tried to get this rectified, the USPS manager laughed at me, and told me to ship USPS. We no longer run a regular business, but if we did we’d again have the problem of dealing with a UPS facility that doesn’t function well emough to use.

    About ording postage online. I did this for a while, but every single time, the PO weighed it ( my facility always does this) and in every case, they said I overpaid and you can’t get a refund. I recommend you run some boxes in, have them weighed at the Po and then go home and calculate postage and see which is higher.

  13. Dan Chao says:

    Though on paper most of the time it looks like UPS or Fedex will have the advantage, the farther the package has to travel sort of exposes the problems with those carriers.

    USPS Priority would be ranked lower in terms of a 5 day window, on paper. But, at longest, (in the history of my ebay business, though might just be with my area) USPS priority has taken 3 or less days. That said, most of the time the prices of UPS and FedEx are similar to, yet they almost ALWAYS take the max 5 days.

    1. Steve says:

      There’s more to shipping than just costs. In fact, I tend to value predictability more. While USPS Priority mail is advertised as 2-3 days and maybe gets there within that time frame 75% of the time, the other 25% is where you get killed. I’ve had priority mail packages take 3 weeks to arrive and when it comes to an ecommerce business, that can kill you reputation. Fedex and UPS tend to be on time. If they say 5 days, it will arrive in 5 days.

  14. Cindy says:

    USPS is in my experience more reliable than FedEx and UPS combined. Of the few packages that I’ve ever gotten with UPS, more than once it has gotten delivered to the wrong address. Most of the packages that are supposed to be delivered with FedEx end up getting sent with USPS to me, and the ones that FedEx does deliver is simply dropped on my doorstep without so much as a knock, door bell ring, or a slip. Out of the hundreds (if not thousands) of packages that I’ve ever sent and/or received with USPS, only ONCE was something “lost” but for all I know the buyer might have lied since I didn’t put delivery confirmation on it. I trust USPS more than the other two because, even though it’s cheaper, it is far more reliable in my experience. The mailman in my neighborhood has a good idea of who lives where, so I never have to worry about my packages getting delivered to the wrong address. One time a seller wrote the incorrect address on a package and I STILL ended up getting it because my mailman caught the error 🙂 People tend to associate “cheap” with “unreliable” without actually having the solid evidence to prove it.

    1. Steve says:

      Hi Cindy,

      I don’t think your sample size is large enough to make a conclusion about reliability. Arguably, my data is not enough either. But we ship hundreds of packages every week and USPS is easily less reliable than FedEx. The best part about FedEx is that they can track down exactly where your package is at all times. With USPS, once it’s lost or late, you have no clue where it is and no one is there to help. We usually just eat the cost and ship the customer another order.

      1. Larry says:

        First, it’s 9/15/2013

        Wow, it’s kind hard to believe this post is unbiased with a UPS AD in the middle of it.
        I sell books and records(vinyl)prominently, from Nashville, Tn. I can tell you that 99% of the time the USPS is cheaper. I have never had a package lost, when properly packaged, addressed & included tracking, which is free with priority shipments using the USPS Internet shipping service. UPS & Fedx are usually at least twice as much. As I buy what I sell via shipping services as well, I see them coming and going. UPS is way ahead on delivering damaged packages.

        If it needs to be there overnight, it’s Fedx! Believe me, I spent 3 weeks at the Fedx plant in Memphis filming the movie Castaway. We followed the “hero” box through the entire facility. In the process we came to a point where there was a mountain, easily 10′ high & wide, of crushed pagages of all shapes & sizes. I asked our contact about this & he said it was quite normal given the quantity of packages, BUT, if you REALLY want a package to get there, always ship next day, as it goes through a completely different facility with little to no losses.

        My biggest problem by far is incoming shipping costs. I end up purchasing a great deal of inventory through Goodwill.com auction sites. They are scattered throughout the country, and each store chooses its own option of shippers. Most give me a rational choice, USPS for under 10lbs, UPS for heavier & more fragile shipments, which they do so well. But ever since congress has been on its rampage to bring down the Post Office in its quest to privatize everything in the name of $$$, I hear a lot of trash talk about the USPS, mostly on line, but more and more through my vendors. In the goodwill.com world, the customer seems to be becoming; insignificant. I routinely get charged $15 or more to ship a couple small books that would be $5 media mail, because they refuse to use the USPS, and always for the same reasons, the USPS is BAD in all ways, & is going out of business soon anyway. The Spokane Wa. Office told me they didn’t get USPS where they are, San Diego, now Portland jumped on the bandwagon with more every month it seems. When I ask local vendors and regular people for opinions of the USPS, they are usually quite satisfied.

        Shipping has become a highly politicized subject in the last few years because of the same old same old. The Republicans want the USPS to die because their doners want to own it, and can’t until they can get that darned “United States” out of the USPS.

        It seems inevitable, but who knows… when you are paying $7 to mail a letter via UPS, it will be too late, & thousnds of very small businesses like mine will be forced out of bussiness, without question.

      2. Steve C says:

        Hey Larry,

        Those ads are not under my control and I have no bias towards any of the carriers. Personally, I use a combination of USPS and Fedex and don’t even use UPS.

  15. George W says:

    I agree that 4 lbs is the breakpoint for USPS. They don’t want the mail service to deliver packages larger than that. However, I am found that your analysis of shipping costs matches ours when shipping from coast to coast. However, it is not so simple when shipping to a closer site. Usually to ship to a state within 300 miles is much cheaper with USPS. And to make matters more complicated, shipping by FedEx or UPS to a commercial address costs less than to a residential address. Just last week, it was cheaper for us to ship by ground a package, 4 lbs by Fed Ex from Michigan to Ohio than USPS or UPS and it was delivered overnight.

    There is just no one size fits all when it comes to shipping if the package is over 13 ounces. We offer flat rate shipping so that it leaves the final decision to us.

    1. tony g says:

      post office if it fits it ships flat rate

    2. Gary Trott says:

      I’m surprised no one has mentioned USPS Cu Ft Priority. Best rates available but except for .2 cubic, you have to provide your own box.

      .5 Cu (~same size as a large flat rate)
      Central Texas to Seattle
      .5cu. 15.75
      LFR. 17.60

      Central Texas to Denver
      .5cu. 10.34
      LFR. 17.60

      Central Texas to Dallas
      .5cu. 8.56
      LFR. 17.60

      Worth looking at. You can’t use USPS Flat Rate boxes. You can use the 7x7x6 (.2 cu rate). For .1, .3, .4, .5cu, you provide the box, but it is priority mail.

  16. Erika says:

    Hey wow thank you for your original write up it was very helpful and informative!!! I have been an ebay seller for 15 years (yep a veteran 🙂 And over the years, postage just keeps creeping up to my dismay 🙁 When I started, tyvek envelopes ran about $3 to ship almost anywhere….now, anything I list is the $10.50 medium flate rate and UP! Plus their boxes for mailing have gotten smaller. you wouldnt believe the volume of goods I have literally STUFFED into a regular flat rate envelope or a legal flat rate envelope lol. Sadly, they used to offer that priority industrial strength tape but now they no longer do….but I do still have a few rolls left from when they did, so tape those STUFFED envelopes up well 🙂 I know a lot of buyers are dismayed by shipping costs on ebay and elsewhere, they must not realize what the services are charging for shipping now….the good news is flat rate shipping leaves the guesswork out of thing much of the time. But what do you recommend for larger very light items? Like 24″x18″x15″? I have an item I will need to ship in a few days….first dilemma is finding a darn box. Second is which shipping method is best for a 4 lb larger item….

  17. John says:

    I just did a comparison on shipping three boxes. These are Home Depot boxes, one small, two medium. The weights were 9, 12, and 15 pounds.

    UPS ground on-line was $86.89.
    UPS Store ground was $101.xx (They did help me carry the boxes back to the car.)
    USPS Parcel Post was 53.04

    All three included the same amount of insurance.
    It pays to check.

  18. leon says:

    usps is definately the worse I have always had problems with their service but the prices for ups and fed ex are too high so I agree with the article it depends on the person or situation!

  19. tony g says:

    Post Office must be pretty low cost half the stuff I get from UPS and FedEx comes in the mail if they can charge me and afford to send it through the mail and still prophet that must say something

  20. Cas Michel Gerarrd says:

    How about this:-

    BUYERS are the ones that select the Shipping service AND Level of Service that THEY WANT.

    Sellers merely act as Fulfilling Agents for THAT Buyers “Choice”.

    Sellers do NOT have any control over shipping services & they merely honour the CHOICE & SELECTION that the BUYER Makes.

    Once a Seller is able to PROVE (Via a Drop-Off or “Acceptance” Scan for example) that they have indeed dropped the Buyers Item off with the Buyers selected Choice of Service Provider, THEN it is literally out of the hands of the Seller.

    It is no longer the responsibility of the Seller to provide for “Managing” where the Buyers item IS or not, because it is the BUYER that takes responsibility for their OWN Selection of the Shipping services.

    Sellers Merely Outline the choices with the caveat of the preceding.

    As a Seller, I Cannot & certainly don’t tell USPS, FedEx, DHL, or UPS what to do nor how to do it.

    I also have no control or managerial over-sight on Home-land Security, Customs Bureau’s or even (Gasp!!) LOCAL Postal Services Policies, delivery or processing times or procedures.

    It’s HIGH TIME that sellers step-up & EDUCATE Buyers on this matter.

    As a Buyer, if I want Reliability for a purchased item, I select UPS, DHL, or Fedex respectfully since those services, although MUCH more expensive provide “Point-to-Point” Tracking….but I will have to PAY for that “Service”.

    As a Buyer, if I want to pay the LEAST POSSIBLE for shipping, then that is MY CHOICE as a Buyer….& thus the RESULTS are myne to OWN.

    I certainly & quite logically cannot hold a Seller responsible for ANY CHOICES (Bad or Good) that I make UNLESS I select UPS, FedEx, or DHL & then the Seller SWITCHES & uses USPS or some lesser/cheaper service & Pockets the difference.

    As well, If the Seller states that they have a handling period of 3 days or less & I find (Due to the Scan or Acceptance Date/Time Stamp) that they took over a week to process my item??, THEN the Seller is at fault but only for not maintaining their self imposed policy of that 3 day or less processing time…..THAT I can hold the Seller responsible for.

    If UPS, FedEx or DHL mis-ship or mis-handle an item OR if Home-Land Security pull a parcel for a bit further inspection due to (5 Days), say some off-gassing of some 3M VHB Tape (Yeah, ask me how I know THIS Happens) then it is NOT the Sellers Fault NOR can they be reasonably held accountable for it either.

    In this type of matters, it is the BUYER who needs to be respectfully & reasonably educated as to who holds the responsibility for the choices & selections made for “Shipping Services” & the levels thereof.

    But of course, every-one wants to blame the wrong person in these matters & Sellers are not bold enough to expect of Buyers a decorum of decency & critical logical thinking & assessment.

    I’m insane in the membrane though…..with a whole lot of French Canadienne thrown in & that certainly doesn’t tame my tongue or my perspective.

    What say YOUS Guys??.

    1. Mark says:

      In my experience you’re entitled to your personal opinion about what responsibility the seller has vs. the buyer but, in a free market economy, that’s all it is…your opinion. If your competitor decides to own an issue that you’ve refused to own, and it benefits the customer? You’re out of business, unless you have an offsetting benefit or an extremely loyal customer base. Good luck with your crusade tho! 🙂

  21. Sal Monella says:

    Mail order business for 25 years, 20k+ Ebay fb’s:
    getting more complaints about USPS in the last few months than in entire previous years.
    What is this, corporate deathwish?

    1. Everybody's Got One says:

      Sal? Monella? You are right in noticing that USPS is (2019-07-17) doing everything it can to self-destruct. If you take a package to the counter, they won’t offer you conventional ground delivery at all. They charge you for expedited delivery unless you ask for First Class.

  22. Jill says:

    Great article…I think you are pretty much spot on. I am a shipper using all 3 and I was contacted by this guy Bart at discountshipcosts.com. He got to me through a Chamber of Commerce list. Suffice it to say, his company offered me 40% off next day air and 35% 2 day shipping off regular UPS and FedEx prices. I do NOT want to seem like I am advertising for him, but he has saved my company about $600 a month in shipping fees. My average package is between 3 and 8 lbs. But even an overnight letter can save me 40%. Seriously, you (everyone) should check it out. It costs nothing. By the way? My opinion of USPS is that within a few years they will be gone, at least on the package end. They lose EVERYTHING, LOL! I’d rather pay the extra few bucks and have it done right by the big boys.

    My posts are my own opinion and I take no responsibility for others’ success or failure by acting on my recommendations.

    Jill Marchetti
    Baltimore, Maryland

    1. bill downes says:

      Jill–I was truly excited when I went to their website. Anxious, I called the toll number. Rang 6-7 times and some guy answers “hello?”. I said, oh sorry, I was trying to reach discountshipcosts and hung up. Very unprofessional of them. Too good to be true. I’d like to see what Chamber of Commerce list they might be on!!

  23. Paul says:

    So helpful to hear from a shipper’s point of view, since you have enough data to form a real opinion. As a receiver, I’ve only had a package not arrive once that I know of, from USPS. I do find it a pain to go the UPS depot. Having said that, I have an important package to send next week, and now I’m clear about not using USPS for it.

  24. Nicole says:

    Great comparison Steve! This is exactly what I was looking for. I’ve been using USPS for two years now, and am wondering if it really is the cheapest way. Thanks!! 🙂

  25. Andrea says:

    I find it humorous that the first few responses question how up-to-date this article is, and then they are reassured that it is timely, i.e., written this year. What year would that be? Could someone actually put a date somewhere? Beyond that, however, I would like to thank everyone for contributing this important information and sharing it with others. Cudos!

    1. Steve C says:

      Hey Andrea,
      I update this post whenever there are any major changes to the shipping rates. That being said, things have been relatively stable in terms of comparisons for quite a while now.

  26. Lisa L says:

    While we don’t check on the status of all of our orders, I can tell you from experience that the quoted delivery times from USPS for both First Class and Priority Mail are completely hit or miss. If you are sending a package to some podunk, middle of no where town, it’s more likely to get delayed. Meanwhile, I’ve yet to ever have a FedEx or UPS package delayed or lost.

    Do a little more research….the fact is that most of the UPS and FedEx packages get delivered by the USPS. Its called last mile delivery, because FedEx and UPS won’t go to those podunk places you write of, if they did they would charge even more.

  27. Misty says:

    Thanks for this very useful article. hehe, I also went to look for the date of your post as soon as I read the article.

    One way to show the date near your name above the article is to add the following in your filename.php file that contains “Written by” Steve C:

    1. Misty says:

      Uh, It didn’t show the PHP code due to the brackets. here it is:

      (Left angel bracket)?php the_time(‘F j, Y’); ?(right angel bracket)

  28. Misty says:

    Uh, It didn’t show the PHP code due to the brackets. Just place the time function within the PHP brackets:

    the_time(‘F j, Y’);

  29. misty says:

    Here are the shipping rates that I’ve got today while shipping a 6.7 pounds package from California to Virginia:

    UPS Ground: $20.45
    US Postal Service: $14.61

    1. Steve says:

      Hey Misty,

      The $14.61 amount is for a flat rate box. Note that in the above article, I mention that flat rate boxes are the exception to the rule depending on how much junk you can fit in it. For a 7 lb package, FedEx should be cheaper.

      So, I did the exact same shipment calculation using FedEx Ground just now and got $11.90 shipping from California to Maryland.

      Usually UPS is on par. I’m going to check UPS right now.

      1. Steve C says:

        Incidentally, if you don’t use a flat rate box, the cost of priority mail goes up to $23.00

        Just got my quote back from UPS and the rate is $20.45 which is the same as your quote. For our shop, we dropped UPS long ago because at the time our volumes weren’t high enough to negotiate a better rate.

        FedEx has been our carrier of choice for heavier packages and in general, they are on par with UPS but obviously not in this case.

        So go FedEx! But keep in mind, if you run a store or any business that ships packages, you can usually negotiate better rates.

  30. Michelle Camantigue says:

    Its nice article since this article contains a lot of useful information. My wife quit her job is funny domain and this is a nice way of cheapest shipping. Here is another one company which provide cheap shipping too i.e sky2c.com

  31. glen says:

    Well, the 15% savings thing through fedex stopped in 2010 per their website:

    IMPORTANT: Enrollment in the FedEx Ship & Save program will stop for all new accounts created after May 14, 2010. The program will remain in effect for currently enrolled customers until further notice.


    1. Steve C says:

      Hey Glen,
      The specific discount program mentioned in the post ended, but FedEx always offers a savings program if you use their electronic services. Right this second, there’s a discount program that is tiered based on how much you ship. Look it up. FedEx Savings Program.

  32. frank says:

    when was this published?

  33. Liz says:

    Wow! Your information is so wrong. You really have no idea what you are talking about. It is pretty sad that people read this trash. If businesses want to know rates and what carrier to ship with they need to contact a Shipping Solutions Specialist for each carrier. Discounts vary by carrier and the business owners’ negotiating skills.
    Steve, you can’t call one carrier unreliable unless you have statistics. If you did your research you would be more careful with your choice of words. This article provides your reader with terrible information, incorrect information. I know you are trying to help others, but do your research.

    1. Steve C says:

      Well geez Liz,

      If you read the article carefully, you would have noticed that it said “Out of the box pricing for all shipping carriers which means that lower negotiated rates based on volume are not taken into account. ”

      As it stands the out of the box pricing numbers are correct. In my experience, UPS tends to be more willing to negotiate than FedEx but that of course depends on how desperate they are to have your business and your shipping volumes.

      Second of all, all of this data is from my own experience and from data of many shop owners that I keep in contact with. USPS is far less reliable and the other carriers

    2. RT says:


      Yes – statistics would help when it comes to reliability.

      But as I’ve learned, USPS will manipulate data to show something as delivered – when in reality, they have NO idea if it was or wasn’t.

      I have two cases where it shows up as delivered. One didn’t show up as delivered until March 6th (it was delivered on Feb 28th) – and that was only AFTER I called USPS about it. They called me back 2 days later and said how coincidentally it was out for delivery that very day. Funny thing is – the buyer already replied saying she received it on the 28th…so basically I alerted them to the missing tracking data & they changed it to show whatever they needed it to.

      Another one says it was delivered (at 8.45am to a residential address…does your mailman come to your residential address anytime before noon, let alone before regular work hours? Probably not…). It wasn’t.

      I was personally told by a USPS representative that the tracking data isn’t always updated because the item isn’t always scanned…meaning if you don’t see the update – they have NO idea where it is.

      So how on earth could you accurately calculate statistics with data that is (1) incomplete and (2) manipulated into inaccuracies to benefit the carrier?

      Here’s what I know. UPS has lost a few packages that were supposed to be delivered to me. But NEVER have those packages showed up as delivered. Instead they would continually be changed to show they were “out for delivery” that day…when it didn’t arrive, it was updated to show the expected delivery date as the following day. So yeah – not entirely accurate – but they never said it went somewhere that it didn’t. USPS on the other hand has jacked with the data regarding 2 of my 50 or so shipments (via 1st class).

      1. Steve C says:

        Hi Ria,

        I have had your exact same experience. What is especially frustrating is express mail since they offer a money back guarantee. I’ve had several cases where they’ve mark a package as delivered so they don’t have to give a refund. I’m hoping that as they shift away from mail that they’ll stop doing this. But in reality, you get what you pay for. USPS is like half the price.

  34. Roger C says:

    I use USPS primarily along with UPS. At least USPS doesn’t have fuel surcharges, and their flat rate boxes can be a good deal.

    I’m in New England, and using FedEx or UPS ground to the west coast will take eight days to get there. Priority mail is often only 2 days. Did I mention the free priority boxes?

    Also please note that UPS and FedEx will charge international customers customs bonding fees if you if you’re shipping out of the country which will enrage them! With USPS This is not an issue.

  35. Tammie says:

    I would like to add an update (2/26/13) that I mailed a package two days ago via USPS to a customer which weighed 1 lb 6 oz and it cost approximately $5.75 priority mail. This morning I was to mail a package via USPS which weighed 1 lb 2 oz and it was going to cost me nearly $10 with the exact same priority mail service! What the heck? The USPS is constantly complaining about how their prices have to keep going up because no one uses the service which is about to go defunct anyway and they wonder why? Who can afford to send a pair of jeans across the country at $10 a shot? You have to be a MEGA store with hundreds of thousands of dollars in sale every month to afford any kind of business reduction in shipping costs by contract and that ain’t me. USPS just put me out of the auction business!

  36. Ria says:

    The most infuriating part of USPS is that their tracking is a complete fraud. I ship small (1-2oz) pkgs via 1st class. And of the 50 or so I’ve mailed so far 2 have been manipulated by USPS to show inaccurate data. One was delivered on Feb 28th, but showed up undelivered. I contacted USPS & the buyer on the 4th of March. The buyer told me on the 5th she had received it on the 28th. USPS calls me on the 6th & tells me “oh – it looks like it’s out for delivery now” – after no updates since Feb 24th, suddenly the package is showing out for delivery on March 6th…even though that was impossible since it was already delivered…

    Now I have one that took 2 weeks – and is now showing delivered at 8:45am to a residential address…does anyone know of any residential neighborhood whose mail is delivered at 8:45am on a regular weekday…when businesses are open…because I don’t. It may be possible, but it’s a bit preposterous to me. Especially since it wasn’t delivered…

    So basically – they will update a package that wasn’t scanned to show whatever they want it to say simply to avoid having to admit it was lost. I called once about a package the woman says “well it’s not showing any updates because it just wasn’t scanned” – umm…ok….so how do you know this? If it wasn’t scanned then how on earth fo you have any idea what’s going on…? Basically, if an item is lost they will:
    1) not admit it.
    2) have no idea where it was lost since it probably wasn’t scanned in the first place.
    3) change the tracking data to show as if it was actually delivered.

    End point: they have ZERO accountability.

    And I have no other shipping options since the alternative to USPS costs 5x more!!

    It’s one thing if they lose it. I can live with that. But it’s an entirely different thing when they outright lie and modify their records to show information that is not correct. That’s just BS.

  37. Mark says:

    Best rates for me by a long shot is from FedEx SmartPost. Fed Ex has partnered with the USPS – FedEx takes your package by truck and delivers it to the post office sorting center nearest your destination – skipping multiple USPS sorting centers (zones) that would process your package and increase your cost. Then, USPS delivers to your customer while tracked through UPS.

    There are size limits and weight under 70 pounds, lwss than 130″ in girth. Also limit of liability is $100.

    1. Mark says:

      Edit: the $100 liability is based on the wholesale value. Shipping is also refunded in addition to the liability. You must also use your own boxes.

      The biggest savings are on shorter distances. For me in California, I save about $1.50 on packages to the East Coast, $3 to the Midwest and over $4 locally – compared to USPS medium flat rate box with online pricing.


  38. steve j says:

    This article is right on, my experience matches his to the letter, and this reflects having lived and shipped from 5 different metro areas over the past 20 years. Not only does USPS screw up on delivery, but even the mail I receive at home at our our p.o. box is constantly misdelivered. I have a good friend who works for USPS, and she talks about very unsatisfied employees who do care little about their jobs, and can’t be reprimanded because of union rules. Employees of FedEx seem much happier and, in my opinion, it shows in their performance. We’ve recently begun shipping more at work and FedEx is usually the best bang for the buck, and very dependable. Occasionally we are enticed by flat rate box pricing and, inevitably, get burned by a lost shipment. We then kick ourselves and go back to FedEx, hat in hand…

  39. Sean says:

    Shipping prices keep going up and up. It’s getting a little ridiculous. I agree USPS used to be cheeper and even faster in some situations. However, USPS reliability seems to be questionable. Not that the other carriers never have problems though.

    When the price to ship an item starts costing more than the item itself then there’s a problem.

    posted September 12th, 2013 in case you wondered

  40. Lei says:

    usps sucks… their service is horrible (rude clerks) and they lose their packages, mis-deliver all the time. i know because i buy online from overseas all the time. we also receive other people’s mail all the time!! i am missing a package i ordered currently.

    but anyway, we were at the post office yesterday and they berated us in front of the entire post office. we wanted to get signature confirmation on a package as well as insurance. they told us only 2 labels are allowed (confirmation + 1 more). why is it then when i purchased signature confirmation online before, the usps website tells me this is not a tracking number and i must purchase additional delivery confirmation? 3 managers came out and were very rude, shaking the packages, questioning us what’s inside, telling us to take our packages back, telling us we cause so many problems, customers laughing… there were USED DVDS inside the box for media mail shipping, yet they treated us as if we were trafficking drugs.

    bottom line, i am moving to fedex now and shipping all of my eBay packages through them. at least i will have peace of mind knowing my package is more likely to get there, and it is covered for up to $100.

  41. Brian says:

    This article is pretty accurate overall. The big thing to remeber is he is reffering to rack retail rates. If you ship over $100 a week with either FedEx or UPS you should have no problem negotiating at least 10% off ground rates and at least 25% off anything faster. And these are off daily shipper rates not retail rates. Large volume shippers will pay less than $15 to overnight a package that would say $30+ on either of their websites if not logged in on a discounted account. 7 years in parcel sales experience…

    1. Steve C says:

      Exactly. Especially with FedEx and UPS, you can almost always negotiate as long as you can offer consistent business.

  42. Felix says:

    Hi Steve, this is Felix, my wife and I are barely starting with an online store.
    I have a very simple beginners question and it is, when a costumer pays online for the product an shipment, I would print the label and take the package to the post office? but how do you do if you have multiple orders per day? Do you wait for the end of the day? or how do you do it?
    I really appreciate any feedback since , as you can see, I have no experience in this department
    Have a great day and thank you

  43. Felix says:

    Hi Steve, this is Felix, my wife and I are barely starting with an online store.
    I have a very simple beginners question and it is, when a costumer pays online for the product an shipment, I would print the label and take the package to the post office? but how do you do if you have multiple orders per day? Do you wait for the end of the day? or how do you do it?
    I really appreciate any feedback since , as you can see, I have no experience in this department
    Have a great day and thank you.

  44. joey swift says:

    Maybe its time to rethink the current shipping model. I am the founder of DCshippers.com which is a website that connects commuters with shippers. This works great for people who need something shipped less than 100 miles away. I myself use it. I often deliver parts to various locations on my way to work. I am able to deliver in around 30 minutes what would take the major carriers all day to process and deliver. I also do it for around half what the big guys charge. I make money. They save time and money.

  45. GH says:

    Just as a comment here, don’t forget that USPS also has the assorted regional rate boxes (A,B and, C) depending on location they can be cheaper than flat rates. i know i have sent regional A boxes from MD to CA for under $10

  46. RS says:

    Hello Steve,

    I’ll first start off by saying i’m a huge fan of your learning portal and really grateful for your great insights.

    I am starting an online store and just recently won a bid for 101 units of women’s shoes on a liquidation marketplace, my first inventory 🙂

    That’s a total of 245 pounds and i was wondering if u have any suggestions to ship them at the best cost from California to New York.

    It’s a mixed pack, otherwise i was thinking of sending it to a warehouse near CA but the ones’ i spoke with require a minimum of 3 items per SKU.

    Will greatly appreciate ur view on optimizing shipping costs.


  47. Pingback: Ultimate Guide To Shipping Via The United States Postal Service USPS
  48. eCommerce Fulfilment says:

    If you are sending loads of parcels (if you are an eCommerce operation), then a fulfilment house would be cheapest, such as Amazon’s. However if you need to send only a few parcels then a local courier would be better, and DHL better for international deliveries. DHL is quite expensive, but their accuracy rate is very high.

    1. chumbella says:

      I would recommend rate2ship.com – they have some very good rates. wholesale pricing without volume commitment.

  49. PostageAnywhere says:

    Consumers and Small Businesses should also try shipping optimization sites such as http://www.PostageAnywhere.com. You’ll get a free account which allows you to ship when you need to, without monthly fees, and you’ll also get noticeable discounts on custom packages (small parcels).

    1. hermes says:

      Can we send from California to Armenia too?

  50. Pingback: Weekly Roundup: August 8, 2014 | Sell with WP
  51. Marianne Davey says:

    I am relocating and have about 15 small moving boxes (16″x12″x12″) that contain my possessions. Who would you recommend to save money: UPS, USPS, or FedX? Thanks, Marianne

    1. Christine Sine says:

      I’m in the process of shipping my sons’ personal items across country. While the cheapest is most probably USPS, I’ve had nothing but disappointment and frustration from them with smaller packages (Priority Mail flat rate medium and large boxes. Example: I paid almost $20 for a large flat rate priority box, going to Nebraska, ESTIMATED delivery of 2 days; 4 days later, it’s still not there.) Back to the cross country: I use Fed Ex exclusively. It’s a little more expensive, but at least the packages are guaranteed to get to their destination. Never had one lost or misdirected, or not delivered when they said it would be delivered. Especially with personal possessions, I’d rather pay a little more and KNOW they’re going to arrive.

      1. Grace says:

        My sister was moving from Sarasota ,Florida to Eugene, Oregon. She found the cheapest way to ship was Greyhound…yes that is right I said, Greyhound! She had her son pick up her boxes at the bus station

    2. Zeus says:

      You mean cubic inches Right?
      “…below 5184 cubic feet will be cheaper…”
      thanks for trying this confusing topic. still not that clear, a matrix chart would help. Z.

    3. mike larney says:

      pack them into a larger (largest box) the airline will ship. Call them they have and aggregate dimension (h * w* L) . Vacuum pack the clothes using the vacuum seal-able bags sold at Bed Bath and Beyond. The airline will charge 25 for box 1 and 35 for box 2, unless you have some priority or credit card arrangement that can reduce it further. Best way to go for at least 2 really large boxes provided you are flying to the destination, if two people are flying, have both check the boxes and get 4. way cheaper that ups or fed ex.

  52. Bob says:

    You can also use a group shipper like Secureship (http://secureship.ca). They use a pretty simple concept of grouping everyone’s shipments under one roof so that you get volume discount without the need to have volume. So you get awesome prices

  53. vickie says:

    This is not up to date as you say! You say USPS doesn’t let you print your labels. What? i have been doing that for about 10 years!

    1. Steve C says:


      You misread the post. USPS does not let you print “first class” labels. I’m pretty sure you haven’t been doing that for 10 years on the usps Web site

      1. Steve C says:

        Like I mentioned many times already. I try to keep this post up to date as it gets a lot of traffic

      2. John says:

        Steve, That is a bit misleading. You cannot print “first class” labels through USPS’s website but (in addition to the Stamps website) you can print them through Paypal, and eBay. This hasn’t been the case for 10 years, of course, but it has been the case for quite some time.

      3. Steve C says:

        I don’t see how this is misleading. Sure you can print first class labels in PayPal, but that implies that you took the payment via PayPal. This post does not assume anything about the payment processing. It’s about the cheapest way to ship a package in the general case with no assumptions.

      4. Lance Cory says:

        I am with Vicky here, I am not sure how many years I have been doing it, but I have been doing it since before I moved to my current location 9+ years ago. I ship 1st class on an almost weekly basis, from the USPS website, and yes, you can use their website to print the labels.

  54. Fernando says:

    You don’t say anything about the fact that UPS has the Postal Service deliver many of its packages for them. Many people don’t know about this. People claim UPS to be so great and that’s all they’ll use, then a mail man delivers their package. Too funny.

    1. ThomasM195 says:

      That is a different service. They aren’t just passing along random packages to the USPS. The shipper selects that option to get a lower rate. This is nothing new and this is nothing unknown to most people.
      UPS SurePost gets finally delivery by the USPS.
      FedEx SmartPost gets finally delivery by the USPS.
      Again, these are different services, so quit slamming companies about what they do when you don’t even know what you are talking about.

      BTW, I’ve never had a package lost by the USPS.

      1. Richard Boothe says:

        Our case is unique. The USPS always fails to deliver USP SurePost or FedEx SmartPost to our home, because our Postmaster said we had to either get rid of our beloved dog or forfeit home delivery and use a Post Box. Guess which we chose. The Catch-22 is, UPS and FexEx don’t deliver to P. O. Boxes…

  55. sloane says:

    The information is a little wrong. Okay, a LOT wrong. I use USPS and it is much cheaper than both FedEx and UPS. I ship all my merchandise from California, and Flat rate boxes have saved me a fortune when shipping to eastern states. A rep from UPS called a few days ago and we compared prices. I recently shipped a package to New York that cost me $11.30 for a medium flat rate box, the package weighing 5 pounds. If I was unable to fit the merchandise in a flat rate, the shipping cost would have been around $18.50 for regular Priority mail. If I had shipped with UPS, it would have cost me $48.00 for ground shipping!!!! That is absolutely ridiculous. Even the sales rep seemed absolutely shocked. So we tried a different address, one going to California. It cost me $5.05 to ship a 1 pound package to a different city in California using USPS, however it would have cost over $7.00 to ship UPS. The sales rep quickly ended our phone conversation after that embarrassing price analysis.

    1. Steve C says:

      Hi Sloane,

      Recently as of Jan, 2015, both UPS and FedEx have drastically increased their rates. I will be updating the post soon once I get a better picture.

    2. Steve C says:

      One more thing, I have problems believing that shipping a 5 lb package to the east coast cost you $48….Was this an oversized package or something? Otherwise, we ship 5 lb packages every day using UPS. Not even close to $48.

    3. Steve C says:

      Ok, I just punched in a 5 lb package onto the UPS website and I got a quote of $15.79. There must be a piece of information you are not telling me.

      1. Laurie says:

        I ship at both my jobs. UPS charges 12.00 to take a package across the street. I have to ship using bubble wrap. They charge extra on every package they audit, because boxes are measured from the inside and are always 1/4 inch larger than stated. UPS changes it to 1 inch all the way around and add 3-5 pounds. 48.00 from California to the East Coast is not at all unusual.

    4. iamshipping says:

      I work for one of the big two, but to be frank our rates are the same. If you quote apples to apples list rates will run you the same thing, surcharges are the same, pickup fees are the same. They may be labeled indistinctly or combined but you can bet that they are the same. 2015 residential surcharge is 3.10 for both services and to your “podunk” areas you will pay an additional surcharge of 3.80.
      Service reliability, delivery times, convenience of pickup times are the difference and are usually a regional issue/preference.
      USPS, cannot compete in the game with a package over 9-lbs. This is my cutoff for a small business. Did you ever wonder how the post office can ship your package from California-New York cheap? Number one they are a several billion dollar deficit with your tax dollars every year. Secondly they have contracts with Fed Ex to send it on their planes. Odd huh?
      You most likely had an inexperienced rep trying to get your business that doesn’t know where these companies are competitive. It doesn’t take long, as the author said, 1-2lbs are shipping USPS with most companies that have not been burdened with 1,000’s of dollars in lost packages a year.

      1. Iamtiredofignorance says:

        Not a single cent of tax dollars goes to the USPS. Read up on the Postal Reorganization Act of 1970.
        The deficit you speak of is a Congressional creation to milk the USPS. Basically the USPS is required to pay into a fund for retirees of the USPS that are not born yet, then passed a law to require the USPS to accept a loan to cover that cost.
        Concerning planes, another act of Congress, called The Kelly Act 1925, prohibiting the United States Post Office Department, now called USPS, from owning planes and requiring them to use contracted service.
        As for the big two…
        FedEx daily Avg. 10mil Oranges
        UPS daily Avg. 18mil Oranges
        USPS daily Avg. 512mil Apples
        One more item…
        USPS Residential delivery: No Extra Charge.
        USPS Podunk delivery: No Extra Charge.

      2. Laurie says:

        Check you facts again. The Post Office gets not a dime from our Taxes. The cost of stamps fund the whole thing. They also have to fund their retirement for 75 years. Otherwise they would be drowning in money.

    5. eva roffe says:

      this information is really biased and misleading. USPS is much! cheaper then UPS or FED EX and very reliable.

  56. Kevin says:

    I run an online store and do about $500 a month in shipping and 3X to 4X that from Sept to Nov due to holidays. Probably around $12-$15K a year. I did some comparisons between FedEx, UPS and USPS and for the most part….UPS was cheaper. USPS definitely was less for smaller or flat rate packages but not a whole lot of my shipments are small. UPS gave me a decent negotiated price right away and has gotten a little better each year. I do use USPS but for international shipping only which IMO cant be beat compare to UPS, FedEx or DHL. However, as on Dec 29, 2014….the prices changed and in a big way. UPS now charges based off dimensional weight. So if I shipped a 16x16x12….I’m charged a weight cost of 19lbs even if the weight was 10lbs. The way they figure the weight is you would multiply 16x16x12, then divide by 166. This equals to 18.5 and round up to 19. Most of my shipping is larger boxes but light weight so this really screws me. Many of my shipments have almost doubled in cost from previous year. I like UPS….never had any real issues and the ones I did was taken care of right away. But with shipping cost almost doubling….I’m afraid I will lose customers. Shipping plays a role when choosing overall price. I know I do it when I shop online. I don’t want to leave UPS but may have to….but I don’t think USPS would be any better. Maybe if I get a price break if using a service like Stample.com?

  57. RogerBay says:

    I was checking the price to ship a 10 pound box that was 22″ x 20″ x 20″ and got hit with “dimensional weight”, my 10 pound box suddenly became a 46 pound box that could cost over $100 to ship, depending on zone! Prices varied drastically, zone 4 would cost $14.50, while zone 5 would jump to $67.40, and zone 9 would be $125.45. Wow, what a difference!

    1. Steve C says:

      Yep. This whole dimensional weight calculation is putting everyone up in arms. There are lots of rants on various ecommerce forums. However, you can negotiate with UPS and Fedex as long as you pit them against each other.

      1. eva roffe says:

        We don’t have time to negotiate everything, UPS and Fed ex should be transparent and fair, the prices should be clear for everybody.
        Time to bring more integrity to business. USPS are the cheapest , reliable and upfront with their prices but they took off the possibility of printing on line for First Class shipping and it was disappointing. Still you can print it using paypal
        and their prices are still the best.

  58. sam says:

    Great information about shipping. Please check it out

  59. Diago says:

    Actually, you are completely wrong about the reliability part. Let me tell you of my experiences with all 3 companies;

    USPS: I routinely get packages for other people and stuff just shows up whenever it shows up. If something is sent by USPS to me, I just resign myself to the fact it will get here when it gets here.

    UPS: Most reliable, but yet not. Just recently (yesterday) had two packages delayed due to ‘severe weather’ that never existed (even the airport said there was none at the time). When the shipper told them to ship them on Saturday to fix it, they agreed, and never put it into the system.

    FedEx: Oh….I wish you hadn’t mentioned them. Where should I start? Well, for one, I plan to start some kind of movement to deal with them and I won’t settle until they either go the way of DHL, or every person on this planet stops using them. You might ask, ‘Geeze! Isn’t that a little bit too far? I mean, how bad could it be?’ Well, since you asked…..

    I have had over 10 packages shipped to me that were completely lost in transit and had to be replaced, about 3 destroyed, and 2 they just never even picked up. Currently, I have one package that was sent to me via Home Delivery with a “Guaranteed” Saturday delivery. I’ve had them do it before, even see them around town driving their ‘Home Delivery’ truck on Saturdays. Well, this last time was completely different. I get a text message telling me the package was on the truck and out for delivery (at about 4am). So, I sit there for about 12 hours before I call them, only to find out, they decided they didn’t want to drive out here, set my entire area as ‘not eligible’ and changed the service to ground shipping (a service I might add which is like, 1/3rd the price that was paid for). To make matters even worse, the location is specific to Home Delivery packages so they are not open on Sundays and Mondays, thereby causing the package to arrive even later.

    So, yeah, while you might not have seen ‘much’ problems, trust me, out of the three, I would say UPS is the most reliable and even will all the problems, I would still choose USPS over FedEx. I’ve even told Amazon that I will refuse anything sent through FedEx, and I have. I’ve even gotten my entire community to based on what that one driver did. So, when FedEx comes around here now, they are just wasting time, money, and gas lol.

  60. Randy says:

    This article is awful. Didn’t read, just skimmed through. It’s filled with an opinion and not facts. You should take it down. Very Bias! I’ve never had a problem with USPS in regards to lost packages, however I’ve had multiple issues with UPS.

    1. Marshall says:

      Maybe you should re-read it, and then take down your comment.

    2. Amanda says:

      If you didn’t read it and “only skimmed” then how are you qualified to give an opinion on it at all? And if everyone took their opinions off the internet mostly the only things left would be porn, cat videos, and shopping. Get over yourself and give this guy a break.

    3. Anthony Lopez says:

      As far as USPS goes this article may have some opinion to it but my company ships through all three carriers stated above and USPS is very unreliable when dealing with larger shipments. Especially internationally. I’ve shipped to UK and Canada, Australia and many more. USPS once lost a $5000 dollar merchandise shipment and I was furious. I made a claim an inquiry and all that came up was sorry we are unable to locate your package. Although that is the worst B.S. I’ve been thru I still ship thru them because their under 2lb rates are unbeatable. But I’ve learned when I’m shipping expensive high quantity goods. UPS and FedEx are Guaranteed.

    4. Cheri says:

      Everybody else has.

  61. Bob says:

    What is the lowest cost carrier to ship a 9x7x15, 10 lb box. Speed is no issue.

  62. Hen says:

    FedEx Ground is usually the best bet for us, when it comes to the combination of speed, reliability, and price. Sometimes USPS takes two days to deliver within the same city! However, if I need something to go cross-country overnight, I always use USPS Express. It’s about 75% cheaper than using FedEx Express or UPS.

  63. Michelle says:

    This is a great post, since I sell a lot on ebay.

  64. Matt says:

    Thank you for writing this, it definitely gives me an overview of the shipping market, and there are quite a few valuable tips, especially if you include the comments. Very Grateful! 🙂

  65. Sridhar says:

    You should consider claiming refunds for the late deliveries by FedEx & UPS to bring down the shipping cost by around 12%. Late even by 60 seconds is eligible for full refund of the shipping charges. Of course, tracking every parcel and submitting the claim manually will be a very difficult job. But automated tools like Lateshipment.com will be very useful to automate the tracking and claim process.

  66. Janes says:

    I need to ship a small jacket from USA to China, UPS wants $170 for it, USPS wants $30, the damn coat aint worth that much. These people are nuts.

  67. Matthew@cheapshipping says:

    One of the cheapest options for heavier packages that do not need to be delivered quickly is USPS Parcel Select. UPS and FedEx also have low cost shipping for heavier items: UPS and FedEx – Both of which are available using ShippingEasy.

  68. Matthew@cheapshipping says:

    One of the cheapest options for heavier packages that do not need to be delivered quickly is USPS Parcel Select. UPS and FedEx also have low cost shipping for heavier items: UPS and FedEx – all of which are available using ShippingEasy.

  69. Sagar says:

    USPS service is so…errggh! I can’t tell you that and always increasing the prices. But after hearing the latest news about pricing. I am pretty much haapie 😀

  70. Mark says:

    Boy are you people ever wrong. You said
    ” FedEx Ground or UPS Ground will almost always be cheaper than USPS Priority Mail. ” That is absolutely incorrect.

    This week I had a small box 10″ x7″x 3.5″, 2 Lbs, 4 oz. I went to the UPS & Post Office to get the cheapest cost. UPS was $18.76 ground. USPS was
    $14. 28 parcel-post & about $15.50 Priority. I don’t have a printer so I don’t have an account. Even if I did, UPS discount is more than USPS Priority, and UPS is farther away. USPS parcel now includes tracking.

    Some years ago UPS added extra fees like fuel charges, making them the most expensive shipping service. Recently I sold an item on Ebay and asked $10 shipping for a medium, light box. I went to UPS. They charge over $18,
    I was shocked. I paid the extra $8.50 for a sale less than $20 00. Not sure why I didn’t think of USPS, I assumed UPS would be cheaper. My fault for underestimating, but no one on Ebay will pay $18.50.

    Before going to UPS, check with USPS.
    They are much cheaper for basic shipping & includes tracking.

  71. Amber says:

    Okay so with my old business USPS was perfect because the shipping wasn’t overly expensive compared to the product. Coffee Crate was $29 and shipping was a little over $5. Now I have an online bakery and I am trying to figure out the best shipping method for smaller orders. It appears from this article that $5 is pretty much the cheapest. Is there some extra sneaky way that I’m missing? 🙂

  72. Chris says:

    This page would be a LOT more useful if the article and the comments were dated so we could know how fresh (or not) the information is.

  73. Don't understand says:

    The author talks about his own experiences as if they would be fact for everyone.

    He states that he primarily ships with USPS and makes it sound as if they have more problems with them. Logic would tell me that if I were to ship, lets say 75% of my items with one carrier and 25% with the rest split between the other two, you’re statistically going to have more problems with the one you use most.

    All of the shipping carriers are run by people, people make mistakes. I would be willing to bet that if there was a way you could track all the shipping services, their error rate would be very similar.

  74. Jonathan says:

    Hi Everyone!
    I contacted a company called Segmail (segmail.co) and got amazing deals with FedEx and DHL! Also the service is amazing! Basically they are brokers for this companies and because of the volume they manage they can offer you great discounts!

    (619) 784 8886

  75. Pingback: ShippingEasy Vs Stamps.com – Why We Switched Our Shipping Software And How It Improved Our Order Flow
  76. Erika says:

    Hi Steve!

    Great post–very encompassing! A quick question though: I am in the process of starting my online store, which I would like to be able to ship worldwide. Do I need licenses in order to ship to different countries? And what kind of fees am I looking at? I really don’t want to get in any international legal trouble here hehe!

    Thanks for all your help and keep up the brilliant work!

  77. Andy says:

    It kind of depends where it is going. I just sent a 4lb 11x8x7in box 100 miles away, and Priority Mail from USPS was half the cost of FedEx Home Delivery. Fedex Smartpost was $0.40 cheaper, but that is 15 minutes away, and it is not somewhere I usually go. USPS Priority was $6.16, Smartpost was $5.65, Home Delivery was like $12.50ish.

  78. jmail says:

    I think you meant ‘cubic-inches’,,, unless you were shipping a house. “Otherwise, packages below 5184 cubic feet will be cheaper than USPS in this category.”

  79. joseph yencho says:

    I need to ship 1 size box from Hartford Ct. nationwide for the best possible price. Speed of delivery is not important.
    Box size- 38″ by 24″ by 13″ – weight-32lbs.
    Maybe 1000-1500 deliveries a year to multiple, but fixed locations ( I e: a hardware store in San Diego, a plumbing showroom in Minn. No personal residences)
    Any suggestion?

    1. jay Large says:

      Fed ex Hands Down..anything over 5 pounds…FedEx

  80. h walsh says:

    I don’t know how old this is but there are a few options you left out like USPS Regional Rate Boxes. There are also shipping programs that can help like endica, stamps.com shipstation (stamps.com may own most of them by now). They make it easy to send any size package including specialty rates boxes and also let you print your own first class labels or print first class stamps directly on an envelope. There is a monthly fee but if you use insurance it may make up the difference since their insurance rates are discounted.

  81. jay Large says:

    First of all…. Great Post/Article. I appreciate you addressing an issue practically no one will write about online. As for the complainers, whats happened to supporting our online friends who spend the time to write an arrticle? Its so easy to ridicule and complain behind your keyboard. i have sold on ebay since 1998. i am a 5 time power seller with over 100,000 shipments in the last 25 years. His article is pretty accurate considering the date it was posted. The only reason i chose to give my analysis on his post is because many of you are rude and think his article is up for review. Like you are the siskel and ebert of blogs and online article. I am not going to partake in your debate of how wrong or right he is. Id rather address how inaccurate many of the people repling are. ive seen every company change from 1998 till now. PayPal, Ebay, Amazon, FedEx, Usps, Ups. Rates change all the time. Amazon and USPS are by far the worst companies to deal with as far as customer service, rates, service. Fed Ex is #1 as of 2015. Best Ran company i know of. Rates actually drop as time goes on instead of rise. If its under 2 pounds use USPS, over 2 pounds use Fed ex Home delivery or smart post. I will go to the 2 websites usps.com and Fedex.com and give you a real example. i send items 10 pounds or more, 50 times a week. if its over 2-3 pounds, I use Fed Ex , unless the buyers address is 1 – 400 miles away. then I use Usps sometimes Example:14 pound package- 20 x 12 x 9-…sent from California to Iowa ….USPS Parcel Post $37.88….Fed Ex Home delivery $16.61….this is not a misprint or mistake…go check for yourself..btw…UPS cant even touch that price either….Bottomline
    USPS Parcel Post $37.88 (Awful Service) vs .Fed Ex Home delivery $16.61(top notch service)

    1. sharon says:

      What about USPS flat rate? You used a 10 and a 14 pound item in your examples.

  82. Joseph yencho says:

    Hello everyone . My bad–the date is 5/2/2016. Shipping to businesses-
    37′ by 24″ by 13″ . 32lbs. Comments to date recommend UPS. This sound about right?

    1. joseph yencho says:

      Opps- 37″ by 24″ by 13″

  83. Kasey says:

    Hi!! Just want to pick your brain a bit….
    UPS and USPS were sued by a gentleman who patented the tracking system used by both UPS and USPS. UPS made a deal with him and USPS beat him in court. He is now free to sue the companies who are currently using the USPS tracking system. I only know this because my husbands company is being sued because of it. It is a bit scary as my online company is launching shortly and we had planned to use USPS for Priority shipping. Do you know anything about this? Most of our shipments will be under 1 pound, very rarely over that. Do you have any suggestions as to who would be the best option if we decide not to chance it?

    1. Larry M says:

      Kasey, the suits are bogus. The patent is quite narrow and requires tracking the delivery truck (e.g., via GPS-reported position) to the point of delivery, and notifying the recipient that delivery is imminent.

      The first few defendants wimped out and caved to make this “patent troll” go away, but now folks are fighting back. They are currently using the name “Shipping and Transit, LLC” but previously also filed suits as “Arrivalstar” and “Melvino.”

      You can see their campaign here:

      Notice the recent handful of cases where “Declaratory Judgment” suits have been filed by companies which refuse to cave in.

  84. David says:

    USPS is definitely cheaper.

    Case in point my dad works for the post office. One of his customers wanted to ship a footlocker internationally. DHL and Fedex wanted to charge over a grand to do it! USPS was a couple hundred. That there is a huge difference in price. Never mind the “Quality over Cost” argument some have tried to raise where they say they would rather go someone like Fedex/UPS because they think it has better quality. The cost of that quality in this case is not so insignificant.

  85. Amin says:

    Thank you for the great post. The problem is when you buy from certain ecommerce website and only offer one shipping option. I think the shipping companies should reduce the cost little bit. thanks again.

  86. Jason @ CheapAss Shipping Supplies says:

    Don’t foget USPS First Class Mail for packages up to 15.99 ounces, 15.99 ounces ships for under $4.00!

  87. spoon says:

    Am lost .am sending my package .but I don’t know where to send it.am scared it will get lost.sometime ago I was sending my package to normal post office and I wasn’t knowing ups or USPS.unfortunately the package got lost and I never found it.so please anwer this questions for me urgently .I want to send a package from USA to another country but which one should I choose USP or USPS. USP is a registered mail and it is track too each day u want .do USPS also do the same.ohh God am lost where will I get the right mailing pakage with registered and tracking numbers on it that no one can steal it????

    1. spoon says:

      Will my querry be anwered if minding not?!

    2. Sharon says:

      Sending a package internationally really depends on what you are sending. I’m pretty sure all international is tracked. USPS and FedEx have particular envelopes for documents going internationally. If you are afraid of it getting lost, do all you can to minimize that. Use packing that is sturdy and doesn’t have a lot of other writing on it. Print the address large enough and clearly, and use something that will show up well. These ball point pens that have a very neutral blue color, or write a very fine line are not a good idea. If you print it out on the computer, make sure it’s taped to the package very well. Insure the item for it’s full value.

  88. Barry Kratzer says:

    Shippingeasy.com is NOT FREE!! Only for a trial period, which they don’t tell you what that is, 1 week, 2 weeks, a month, or what. Then, it is at least $30 per month.

    1. Steve C says:

      It is indeed free as long as you remain below 50 shipments per month

  89. Jan Aguilera says:

    I have had a question unable to figure out how to answer, for years. Growing more insistent within my curiosity as time goes by…..I am totally baffled as to how I have tried shipping an over sized item and researched every possible shipper and every method of shipping within each company that I was aware of, and was not able to ship it as it cost a fortune with every option. One was quoted over $100…….Then I made a purchase on EBay for a very large, very heavy cat condo that was way bigger and way heavier than the shipment I tried to send, yet it cost only $69.99 (same exact one went all the way up to $400 on EBay) yet the shipping was FREE! HOW is this possible?! I could understand the ones charging the most at $400 doing so to compensate for the shipping, but at $69 there would be no room for profit (as far as I can figure) Also the item itself was worth way more than $69. I understand volume and such, but how would they be able to ship it free? I do not consider myself a stupid person. Older now and behind the times technology wise, but for the life of me I cannot understand how a seller could sell a product for such a cheap price (about $30+ less than the charge for my item’s shipping!) and offer free shipping. I just don’t get it. It’s bugged the heck out of me for ages. There must be some simple explanation, formula or calculations I am not aware of because this is so common these days. I thank anyone who can shed some light on this for me. As far as I can tell I seem to be the only one with this question. I’ve asked people I know and it does not enter their curiosity at all. I hesitated to post my comment for fear of the virtual “bullies”! Please, be kind! Thanks everyone!

    1. Sharon says:

      I think it has to do with volume sales. If, for example, a seller can buy a lot of 100 cat condos from Alibaba for $2000; that’s $20 each (and I am just making up numbers). Say he pays $50 shipping for the whole lot, and it would cost him $25 to ship each one individually within the continental US. His break even point is $45.50 with free shipping. If he sells them for $65 each, he’s making a profit of $19.50 on each one – that’s nearly a $2000 profit on the whole lot – even with offering free shipping.

      As I said, I’m just making up numbers, but it might be interesting to look at an importer like Alibaba and see what price bulk cat condos are compared to buying just one.

  90. Michelle says:

    You aren’t quite correct about USPS not offering morning delivery. I work for USPS and we do offer that. If you send an Express Mail then there are two options: delivery by 10am or noon. Typically there is a signature required so if the customer is not home then the item won’t be delivered. However, you can waive the signature. This is not a cheap way to go though. I pretty much only see it with international packages that would take prohibitively long if sent some other way.

  91. Denise says:

    9-20-16 – I tried Parcel Select Ground using paypal and a 3# box that measured 12″x5″x3″ was $42.12!!!! Totally crazy!!

  92. Maria H says:

    …and now UPS, FEDEX AND other shippers, drop off their shopment at the local USPS and there is yet another delay.

    1. Maria H says:


  93. Sharon says:

    I’d like it if a company was flexible enough to allow for some carriers being absolutely awful in their area and let you choose “not UPS” or whoever. I went through almost a year where UPS forgot where I lived, and delivered everything to the last address they had on file, which was two moves ago. They’d somehow lost the interim address as well. I’m sure the people living there were thrilled that I was buying them all this stuff, but when you are trying to decorate a new home, a lot of claims and reorders are the last thing you need.

    Lately, I’ve been having trouble with UPS using recycled tracking numbers. It won’t let you customize the delivery in any way, and usually won’t show tracking, because the system can’t get past the part where that item was delivered to some other address 8 months ago. I’m sure there has to be a way to clear the old information if they are going to recycle a number, but they don’t seem to do it very often.

    My current most disliked shipping company is DHL. Nearly every book I order off Amazon that comes DHL that gets transferred to my local post office goes missing at the transfer. Inquiries revealed that USPS never received the items, it was never signed for or put into their system, but on the DHL side, they said they had transferred it.

  94. Radev Liyanage says:

    It is quite hard to find a good shipping company in Sri Lanka, especially one with a good and informative website. However i did manage to find one; Lanka Marine Services (LMS) which is one of the oldest and most well-known shipping company in the shipping community in Sri Lanka. If you want further details, check out their website: http://www.lankamarine.com/

  95. JoeD says:

    Today. 12/28/2016. At Staples. 74”x4″ tube. Cheapest way UPS $20 and change. Cheapest way USPS $9.20. Due delivered in 2 days.

  96. Lori says:

    Hello, I need to ship a seaman’s trunk that weighs about 200 lbs. From Clermont, Florida, 34711 to Okanogan WA. 98840. Could you please give me a call.

  97. Verna Stewart says:

    I need to find carrier to send a Iphone 7 plus to West Africa in fast time

    1. Verna Stewart says:

      I need the cheapest and fastest way to send a Iphone 7 plus to West Africa

  98. Smithf6 says:

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  99. Cheri says:

    What has me confused is why any of u even read this article when apparently ur all already experts on the subject lol

  100. Ed Gorme says:

    You have it about right. UPS is more expensive but when I get a package UPS has always been reliable. The tracking provides an accurate sense where the package is. When it’s listed as ‘out for delivery’ I get the package that day 99% of the time.

    USPS is a lot cheaper, probably because it can lose billions each year (the usual gov’t incompetence), but the service is pathetic. It’s not so much that they lose packages as that the delivery is very unreliable. If I order stuff with an expedited or 2 day ship from a vendor and they send it UPS, it’ll almost arrive in 2 days. If they send it USPS, it could be 2 days or 2 weeks. The USPS ship tracker lists vague messages that often have no location (not that it matters much anyway since the package can be in your town and you still may not receive it for a few business days).

    In sum: If you want the lower cost and don’t care when it arrives, maybe USPS makes sense. Otherwise, go UPS.

    1. Sam says:

      I have had USPS Priority take a week, but then again I have also had a 1st class letter mailed from Michigan on a Saturday, arrive in Florida on the Monday, less than 48 hours later. You never know. UPS and FedEx are certainly more consistent.

    2. Brent Sanders says:

      It all depends on the size of the package as well. USPS does not like heavy packages. Also if you are shipping internationally and you can work with a 3PL like WorldOptions.com they can negotiate UPS rates down for you internationlly and get them cheaper then USPS for stuff over like 10 pounds. PLus you get the full tracking and 2-6 business day shipping depending on the service you choose. Compared to 5 days to 4 weeks with USPS. you never know how long it will take with USPS.

  101. Stephnie Walter says:

    This information is very useful! There are many options to choose from..

    I wanted to find a good shipping company in Sri Lanka but it was a bit hard to find one, especially one which has a good website with the information that I wanted. After going through some research from Shipping communities in Sri Lanka, I managed to find one: Lanka Marine Services (LMS). They are one of the oldest and well-known shipping company in the country which has so many other services too. You can view them here: http://www.lankamarine.com/services/

    Hope this helps anyone who wants to find one in Sri Lanka. 🙂

  102. Mark McKelvy says:

    Well SocialPost (launching Q4 2017) is expected to be much cheaper than USPS, as fast as FedEx and more accountable than DHL…

    1. Ranjit Singh says:

      When are you launching this service? I want to try something cheaper and faster than usps. Thanks for your response in advance.

      1. Mark says:

        Hey Ranjit,

        Hopefully if everything goes well, we should have an alpha product for testing sometime around December of this year.

        If you are interested in the service and want more information, shoot me your email address and I will provide.

        Remove the underscores card_guys_3@_gm_ail._co_m

  103. Diane Otero says:

    i found that usps is the best fedex always made up an excuse ups was ok,used them a few times. fedex ground depends on the person that owns the route . fedex 16 $ for a 3 day letter . usps 6 certified . usps won.

    1. Mark says:

      Diane, USPS is often the most affordable. Something even cheaper is coming. Using proprietary technology, SocialPost is able to undercut USPS.

      Stay tuned.

  104. Shipesusa says:

    Cheapest way to ship from USA to Pakistan we give you best rate in the world you can visit this site.

  105. Packers5th.in says:

    Thanks for blog about the cheapest shipping option. I thinks it’s really hepful for all of us who need shipping services for any type of relocation.

  106. Dan says:

    >Otherwise, packages below 5184 cubic feet

    Cubic inches. A 53′ semi trailer holds about 4000 cu feet.

    1. dan says:

      5184 cu in = 3.00 cu ft. Still seems large to me, but at least the math is dead on.

  107. Hilary Walsh says:

    “USPS really shines when your package weighs less than 13 oz and can be mailed via First Class mail. If you don’t care about reliability, USPS is by far the cheapest shipping option for light items.” The 13 oz rule is old old old news. The new limit is 16 oz but don’t go a smidgen over. Additionally our business has been shipping 1000s of items per year with less than 1% having reliability issues. You have to define what reliability means for you and buy the mail class that fits your definition. Express mail is usually 1 day, priority mail is usually 2 days but can be 3 and other mail classes are 7-10 days. Express and priority come with $50 insurance included. When you buy postage online you get a discount and if you have a 3rd party postage application you get a better discount and regional flat rate boxes that can save you a lot of money. You also get free boxes/envelopes for express and priority mail

  108. Gil Carrick says:

    Your site says “Otherwise, packages below 5184 cubic feet will be cheaper than USPS in this category.”

    Surely you mean cubic inches.

  109. International Shipping says:

    If you use your own packaging, you could face additional “dimensional fees” if your box exceeds the size regulations set by UPS.

  110. Mara J Van Nostrand says:

    what if I want to send something internationally. I need to send a package to Prague. Is one service more economical for international? TIA

    1. Fred says:

      What is the cheapest (insured) way to ship a box of books to India or other foreign countries? Weights would vary between 3 lbs and 50 lbs.

      1. Andrew Call says:

        Here’s the key folks!…Negotiate, negotiate, negotiate. Shipping representatives can and will give you the best rate you can get if you simply reach out to them. And if they don’t, go to the competition. Generally speaking, USPS is the cheapest…first class mail is the absolute cheapest to be exact. But FedEx and UPS will take care of you if youre talking to the right person.

  111. Wanda says:

    I want to know any company cheapest to send a 50 pounds package to PR

  112. Charles Cas-Michel Gerarrd says:

    Here’s the LOWEST COST METHOD to ship anything Internationally:

    Find a Friend that works for AMR American Airlines….Grab an American Airlines Employee (Pilot, Baggage Handler, Flight Attendant, Gate-Agent, Reservationist) & head over to FedEx.

    Fill out the forms & the AA Employee will present their Employee Badge/ID to the Point of Sale (PoS) Clerk & you’ll get about an 80% off Regular Rates Discount & certainly a better discount than a FedEx Employee.

    Why?? Well FedEx Uses American Airlines for Freight forwarding services…hence the nice deep discount.

    USPS is no longer the cheapest nor lowest cost for most items International shipping.

    FedEx also offers certain discounts for other Organisations & Airlines but nothing as good nor as “Deep Discount” As an AMR American Airlines Employee discount.

    if you belong to a School, teachers union, University, or other type Org?, Call your local FedEx Office Center & ask them to go through their list.

    Hope that helps.

  113. charlie says:

    I personally recommend Shipinar.com.
    They have pretty good rate for UPS.

  114. Johnson Ekeh says:

    Pls am relocating from albany zip 12308 with my family of 5 . I have a 2008 sienna also and would love to know the cheapest and reliable options to move all our personal belongings ( mostly clothes)…Thank you

  115. Johnson Ekeh says:

    Sorry From zip code 12308 to Houston Texas 70770

  116. International shipping services says:

    You may use USPS, it is usually not breaking the bank. You can find out which way of shipping will be cheaper precisely for your package, though price estimation is made without any obligations.

  117. Barbara Shaffer says:

    I have about 50 Christmas packages to ship to Cali from n.c.
    What’s the cheapest way please?

  118. dan says:

    “Otherwise, packages below 5184 cubic feet will be cheaper than USPS in this category.”

    Srsly? Who ships anything THAT big?!?

    I’m sure its some kind of typo, but I cant make heads or tails of it.

  119. Arlene Bartz says:

    I plan on shipping back a recliner I don’t like at all. What will this cost me? Approximately 250 lbs

  120. Rex SHin says:

    I’m using shipinar.com to compare the shipping rate and you can buy discounted shipping label from their website.

  121. David Miller says:

    Great article – thanks for the guidelines.

    A personal note regarding USPS reliability – we’ve mailed out over 5,000 packages to 49 countries and only have had two get lost. One was my fault with a bad ‘care of’ address and the other was lost by the Spanish Postal System.

  122. MARK says:

    SocialPost is a way to ship that is like uber but for packages and it is much more affordable; plus they have real-time tracking.

  123. Francisco says:

    Hello. If you’re shipping air express internationally, into or out of the U.S., let me quote it. There is no cost and no obligation to take a look. Our exclusive partner is DHL. We’re their number one reseller in the U.S. and their fifth largest customer. Write to info256@inxpress.com or call 866-460-4131.

  124. MK Fazekas says:

    Hands down, USPS was the cheapest and most reliable. I mailed a 17.4 lb. package from Florida on a Monday afternoon to Dublin, Ireland. It arrived at its destination the following Friday morning. I paid USPS $94. Fedex wanted $304 + fees. UPS wanted $280 + fees. Between the US postal service and the Irish postal service, I’d say they were pretty reliable since it was delivered within 5 business days. I got text updates on the status of the package—even when it was going through Irish customs.

  125. s says:

    Need to move from rockledge, PA to Fort Lauderdale, FL

  126. Daniel Morris says:

    As a former FedEx employee, we detested those small flat rate boxes from the USPS. They were always full of coins, steel rods, or something else weighing like 50 pounds, and half the time they got dropped and spilled everywhere (you could tell this had happened 3 times up the line before it even got to us because of all the rips and layers of packing tape…). I mean seriously, you try sitting down, reaching about 2 feet out and 1 foot down, and grabbing a 50 lb bowling ball off a moving conveyor belt without dropping it!

  127. SAP MM Training Institute in Noida says:

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  128. Wade says:

    I’m currently in breakdown mode for our store online using WooCommerce. Everything is super simple, but USPS is the only breaking factor. Understanding weight ratio’s is very important when creating an online store.

    Currently, I’m fighting with whether to charge my customer an outrageous USPS shipping rate, or raise my own rates so I can share a more reasonable shipping rate. All in all, USPS is a crock of crap and another government hijacking for our money. Either way, they’re getting theirs and the customer gets crapped on.

  129. Shelley says:

    Not sure how old this article is but you absolutely CAN print USPS First Class postage on your printer at home. FYI.

  130. Bob says:

    Usps might be the cheapest for under 13oz but when they see your taking asvantage of this they will trash all your outgoing mail tell you its lost then try to tell you you have to pay 3.7times the previous shipping cost to get your orders out.
    I will never consider usps for buissness needs EVER again. It is the cheapest on paper, but when your responcible for replacing a whole month of orders, suddenly not so cheap. Do not do buissness with those clowns.

    1. Patriot Bearing Supply LLC says:

      You must have a rural post office. My post office has a section of the desk marked for dropping off pre postaged packages…. and when you drop something off, one of the clerks says “Thank you”….. With the drastic reduction in actual mail, they are surviving on junk mail and package deliveries. They WANT out internet sales business.

  131. James says:

    In my experience, UPS is less reliable when it comes to their delivery dates both whether I ship to others or they ship to me. FedEx is much more reliable. I always use FedEx, even if it costs a few dollars more.

  132. Sandy says:

    I think one of the things that cannot necessarily be factored into the generalities is the actual carrier in one’s area. I live outside one of the Podunk towns you referred to, and if I want it delivered to my door, UPS is by far the best out here. I will not knowingly order anything shipped FedEx. Can’t say enough bad things about them out here. They lost one of my Amazon packages and didn’t even know it. A good Samaritan found it lying along side the road an hour from me and then the dispatcher with Fed Ex lied. That is only one of many horror stories. USPS only delivers to my mailbox on the highway if it will fit in the box, otherwise I have to drive 25 miles to pick it up. Of course, all this would probably change if I didn’t live in the middle of nowhere but UPS is by far the best out here for delivery to my door.

  133. Courtney says:

    Can you explain the negotiating you mentioned at end of article? You can negotiate prices?

  134. Robert Steele Nash says:

    I have found that printers must be Fedexed by a longshot – if price and time matter.

  135. Bruce Howard says:

    Does the USPS accept packages that are banded rather than taped?

  136. jamie says:

    ‘…Otherwise, packages below 5184 cubic feet will be cheaper than USPS in this category…’

    i think they mean inches…

  137. cheap guy says:

    with airlines charging 30.00 to 60.00 for a carry on bag weighing up to 50 pounds it is cheaper to pay that fee than to ship a 15 pound 27x24x14 carton of clothes ahead of a trip –

  138. Martina Moore says:

    You may want to update this post. USPS rates for large packages just went through the roof! I was shipping large light packages (22x22x6) using Parcel Select, which is their slowest service. I now have to go back to using Fedex Home Delivery, which is still way too much!

  139. stu says:

    hey don’t forget about both ups and fed ex’s drop ship deals with the usps. both companies drop to the post office for home delivery for MANY of their so called exclusive services. so the “less than reliable postman” gets it to you anyway.

    ps – all these services now employ huge numbers of non-employee contractors to do the grunt work. your packages are no more safe, accurately delivered, handled, show any respect by ANY one of them more than another.

  140. Patriot Bearing Supply LLC says:

    You forgot about USPS regional rate boxes. Normally a Regional Rate A box costs around $7.60 – $8….. Just a little more than a small flat rate box, and us just a little smaller than a medium box. A Regional B is $12 – $13 and is between a medium and large flat rate box. They are EXCELLENT values. You have to order them online, they are not available in post offices. I ship almost everything in poly mailers, 4×4 boxes, small flat rate boxes, and Regional A. I fill about 600 orders a year.

  141. Jen Farmer says:

    What about 20-40 lb objects?

  142. Handler says:

    FedEx reliability is easily the worst of the 3. Their model is different. The delivery drivers (and their trucks) are all contractors, not employees. This matters and anyone who works there will tell you the same thing.

    Also, most people don’t realize FedEx and FedEx Express are two completely different entities. Different business models, trucks, drivers, locations, everything.

    FedEx and FedEx HD are the same everything.

  143. g says:

    Maybe there’s some political bent to USPS hating, but they lost my package & *changed their records* to show a different tracking record than I originally had on the box of books. Unacceptable. They also mangled and lost envelopes sent to me. MAYBE I don’t use FedEx or UPS enough to compare, but they’ve never lost my shipments.

  144. Les says:

    Why is there ALWAYS UPS, FedEx, and DHL trucks UNLOADING packages to the UNITED STATES POST OFFICE distribution centers??? GET YOUR “FACTS” STRAIGHT GUYS!!!

    1. Les says:

      “Last Mile” delivery, is why FedEx,UPS, and DHL drop packages at the PO. FexEx delivered 10 days after scheduled delivery date, they told me that there wasn’t enough deliveries in my area and would wait until they could get more deliveries in my area before they would deliver to me. REALLY!

      1. Les says:

        Let’s go private so when we need a hard copy (cuz the “NET” lost the transaction) we can pay $5.55 per letter. Well, they are a profit for business, RIGHT?? Get your head screwed on straight people, the PO ain’t perfect but they CAN’T STRIKE like the private operations can! Go ahead and jump off that cliff, cuz you CAN’T change your mind once you take that leap!

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