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

Written by Franklin Hatchett

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Our goal at EcomElites is to help readers get the information they need, we partner with companies to help bring you that information. If a purchase or signup is made through our partners, we receive compensation for the referral. Learn More

In today's highly competitive business environment, businesses are always seeking to edge their competitors. Besides, business people are looking for ways of getting critical shipping needs without having to spend a fortune. Different companies in the Courier, Express, and Parcel (CEP) market provide shipping services at different rates.

Many people spend their time looking for the cheapest shipping option. Their searches take them through the charges by the three leading shipping companies. The successful firms in the U.S. are USPS, FedEx, and UPS. However, which one offers the best rates?

Your shipping cost will depend on factors, such as the package you are sending to your recipient, the distance, and the type of delivery service you need. While the charges vary with these factors, you will still be looking for the cheapest way of shipping your package.

How To Calculate The Package Dimensional Weight

Dimensional weight or volumetric weight refers to the space that your package occupies in the shipping truck. Both UPS and FedEx have their calculations for determining the dimensional weight. Here are how the two firms calculate it.

1. UPS

Measure the distance between the longest points. Take the measurements for the length, width, and height of your package in inches. Round off the measurements to the nearest whole figure (Example, we take boxes measuring between 1.00 inches to 1.49 inches to be 1 inch, while we take those between 1.50 inches to 1.99 inches as 2 inches).

Multiply the length times the width times the height of the package to get its volume. Divide the size by the divisor to get the dimensional weight. The right divisor depends on the rate type, 166 for retail rates, and 139 for daily rates. Dimensional Weight = (L × W × H) ÷ Divisor

2. FedEx

Measure the weight, height, and length of the package in inches. Round off each measurement to the nearest inch. You will get the cubic size of your package.

Divide the cubic size by 139.

Volumetric Weight = (L × W × H) ÷ 139

USPS offers the cheapest way of shipping your packages if you can leverage its three flat-rate option. This charge applies to small, large, and medium boxes. You will get an excellent rate if you can squeeze your items that weigh more than 2lbs into the small flat rate box.

However, if you cannot fit the package into the box, FedEx and UPS are the better options for shipping your parcel weighing more than 2lbs.

Ground Delivery: Packages Weighing More Than 2lbs

FedEx and UPS are the main options for packages weighing less than 2lbs. These two companies are ideal for the parcels you want to send through ground delivery and not air delivery. Additionally, FedEx offers new customers a discount of 15% once they create an account with them. FedEx is the better choice among the two companies for these shipping needs.

UPS and FedEx impose a fee for products that exceed their standard dimensional weight. You must consider your dimensional weight before shipping to know the amount they will charge you. The heavier the dimensional weight of your package, the higher the price you will pay to ship it.

Ground Delivery: Packages Weighing Under 2lbs

USPS offers the cheapest shipping services for packages that weigh less than 2lbs. While all the three leading shipping companies charge almost similar prices for packages weighing close to 2lbs, USPS provides the best rates for packages below this limit. Its prices decrease as your weight decreases.

For packages whose weight are below 13 oz, first-class mail is the best delivery option. USPS rates for light parcels are the most affordable rates you will get from shipping companies.

Flat Rates

USPS delivers your packages through its priority mail option in about 1 to 3 business days. You are entitled to the USPS flat rate shipping option as long as your parcel weighs less than 70lbs. The rates at various post offices begin at U.S $6.70 and increase depending on the type of package that you are shipping. This flat rate applies to all states.

FedEx also provides flat-rate services and delivers the package in about 1 to 5 business days. Unlike USPS, FedEx only has its flat rate for those packages that weigh less than 50lbs. The charges for packages that weigh more than this weight depends on the exact weight of the box.

Unlike the two shipping services, UPS does not offer a flat rate. UPS Ground is similar to priority mail by USPS in that it delivers your package in around 1 to 5 business days. You may consider leveraging the other two if you are looking for flat rates. Determining the cheapest option will require you to look at the size and weight of your package.

For flat rates, the cheapest option is the USPS priority mail. Not only does it deliver your package quickly, but also its prices are the lowest. Additionally, USPS offers a higher maximum for packages that are eligible for its flat-rate.

The Cheapest Shipping Company For Next Day Services

USPS Express is the cheapest option if you want next day services. However, there are instances where USPS has failed to deliver on the following day as it claims. Clients have expressed displeasure because the recipients received the packages after two days and not one day.

USPS does not have a morning service, meaning you will struggle to get your packages to the recipients immediately. Night deliveries have high rates that can add close to five times the standard ground delivery.

These inconveniences cause significant losses, especially to businesses that need quick deliveries to run their operations smoothly. However, despite all these challenges, USPS is still the best option for next day services. Furthermore, it offers refunds for packages that they fail to deliver on time.

FedEx and UPS offer next day services that are more reliable. However, they charge higher rates than USPS. They will charge you twice the price charged by USPS for fast deliveries. However, if you cannot afford their rates, USPS is a viable option.

Additional Benefits With USPS

USPS provides extra benefits for firms in the media industry. The media mail service by USPS offers companies that are providing clients with printed paper, books, DVDs, or CDs, the cheapest option for shipping their large packages. You pay $3 for each 2-pound box that you are using to send your content.

Businesses or individuals that ship large parcels can leverage this offer by USPS to save their scarce resources.

How Distance Impacts Cost

The distance your package moves before reaching its destination determines the price you will pay your shipping services provider. Shipping companies have divided the U.S. into eight shipping zones. If your package is shipped across many of the shipping zones before it reaches its recipient, you will pay a slightly higher fee.

However, the difference between the zones is not too big. You are likely to pay 10% more while shipping to zone 8 compared to someone shipping to zone 2 while using priority mail by USPS.

Related: The Ultimate Guide To AliExpress Standard Shipping Tracking

Does Packaging Influence Shipping Charges?

Yes, packaging influences the price you will pay your shipping services provider. Some shipping companies charge you according to the space your package occupies and not the weight of the parcel. Therefore, some take the higher figure between the actual weight of the box and its volumetric weight. They use this measurement to determine the amount you should pay for the shipping service.

For example, FedEx charges more shipping fees for senders using tubes to send packages that weigh 2lbs compared to the payments that the individuals using standard packaging pay. The differences in the price can be significant. The cost of fast overnight delivery can increase from $112 up to $160 because of the change in packaging.

You should package your items well if you want to save on your shipping costs. If possible, use standard shipping where there is one. Additionally, avoid unnecessary spaces in your packages. They may result in you paying extra fees. Properly packaging your items can make shipping affordable.

Can You Negotiate Shipping Cost?

Negotiating is critical for obtaining essential services. Not only can it lower the price you have to pay but also ensure you get favorable terms. FedEx and UPS are open to negotiations, especially when they want to win a new client. The right negotiation strategy can result in a good deal for shipping your package.

You will only choose one company to deliver your package. Therefore, you have higher bargaining power in these negotiations than the shipping firms. Leverage it to get the best deal you can get. Your negotiation position strengthens if you have multiple packages and if you want to build a long term relationship with the company you choose.

As a business, your negotiations play a critical role in ensuring you get the cheapest shipping services from CEP companies.

Should You Look At Discounts?

Discounts can reduce your shipping costs significantly. Finding the right firm that offers excellent discounts can ensure you get the cheapest deal possible. FedEx, UPS, and USPS all offer different discounts deals for repeat clients and those that are sending large packages. However, the right cut for you will depend on your needs.

For examples, USPS offers discounts through eBay. If you are selling on eBay, you can leverage these deductions to reduce your fulfillment costs and increase your profit margins. UPS gives 10% off the shipping costs for companies that send four or more parcels in a week through their organization.

For those that send more than 25 packages, the discount rate is up to 18% off your shipping cost. FedEx has a service that clients can sign up to gain access to discounts of up to 16% on some of their programs like their priority overnight shipping.

How To Get Cheap Shipping Cost

There are many ways to reduce your shipping costs and make it affordable for your modest budget. You may explore the flat-rates to get cheap shipping rates. You may also want to cut down on the materials you want to send to your recipient and package your items using standard boxes.

Avoid leaving unnecessary spaces in your packages so as not to pay extra costs due to high volumetric weight.

Final Verdict

USPS provides the cheapest shipping cost for most of your shipping needs. However, a significant number of people have raised questions about their reliability. Most of them complain about the company's inability to deliver the packages on time.

USPS offers different prices for the various plans. It provides the cheapest services for customers that are shipping packages that are way below 2lbs. Its flat rate is also excellent, and it offers the most affordable next day shipping services. The silver lining is that the packages get to their destination, though maybe two days later.

For large packages, FedEx and UPS have the cheapest rates you can get. The two companies are affordable choices for bulk packages. Their prices may vary depending on the dimensional weight of each package once you exceed the standard measurements.

Shipping costs can take up a significant portion of your scarce resources. Companies or individuals that send packages must find the cheapest option to save their money. The most economical shipping company not only gives you value for money by delivering your package cheaply but also gives businesses an edge over their competitors.

Businesses can sell their items cheaply as distribution costs are low, which increases their sales volume and profit margin. The options above offer the cheapest companies for various needs. You can find the right choice to meet your requirements.

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