The Cheapest Way to Ship Packages: USPS, UPS, Or FedEx?

The Cheapest Way to Ship Packages: USPS, UPS, Or FedEx?

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Shipping packages are the backbone of the business. You can't sell anything online if you can't get it to your customer's doorsteps, and shipping costs are often the biggest expense when it comes to eCommerce operations. As such, every business owner needs to find ways of keeping these costs down in order to be competitive in their marketplace. 

Deciding which shipping option is right for you can get complicated. There are a lot of options out there, and each one has its own pros and cons. It's common to find yourself in a situation where you're debating between two different methods of shipping, not sure which one is the cheapest. To help you out, we've put together a list of the cheapest ways to ship packages based on the factors most important to you: cost, speed, and volume.


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Cheapest ways to ship small packages

When shipping small packages, you have four options: USPS First Class, Priority Mail Flat Rate, FedEx One Rate, and UPS Simple Rate.

First Class takes 2-5 business days to arrive at its destination It charges $4.80 for shipments under 13 ounces (oz), so if your package is less than one pound (lb) then it would be the cheapest option. The downside of this method is that it provides no tracking service. If it doesn't arrive within a certain time frame, there is no recourse available to you as a sender since there is no tracking system involved in First Class mailings.

Priority Mail starts at the price of 9.9$ for 1-pound packages. Priority Mail Small Flat Rate boxes are ideal for small packages that weigh up to 70 lbs because they charge only $10.40 per box. You may want to consider using this option instead of First Class.

If your package is slightly larger or heavier than average and can't be shipped in a flat-rate box, UPS Simple Rate would be the next best choice. It charges up to 13.35$ and takes between one and five business days to deliver packages of 101-250 cubic inches.

FedEx One Rate charges $11.10 and takes 1-3 business days.

As shown above, if you are shipping small packages like gift cards, sunglasses, mugs, greeting cards, t-shirts, jewelry, and so on, the USPS Priority Mail Small Flat Rate Box is often a much cheaper option than UPS or FedEx.


Shipping service

USPS First Class

USPS Priority Mail

UPS Simple Rate

FedEx One Rate

Package Weight & Size

Under 13 ounces

Up to 2-3 lbs

Up to 150 lbs per package, with the extra size of 1051-1728 cubic inches

Up to 50 lbs per package for a fixed price

Delivery Speed

2-5 business days

1-5 days

1-5 days

1-3 business days




$14.15 for packages of 101-250 cubic inches

$11.10 for packages of envelopes

Adaptable Products

Letters, cards

Letters, Large Envelopes & Parcels

Accessories, Small Electronics, Shoebox, Tennis Racket

a standard clipboard
or a file


Cheapest ways to ship large packages

You have a few options for shipping large packages, such as office supplies and computers. UPS Simple Rate and FedEx One Rate are two of the cheapest options for businesses shipping large packages.

Both UPS Simple Rate and FedEx One Rate services are designed to give you a flat rate for shipping regardless of distance or weight.

The cheapest shipping rate for a package that weighs between 150 lbs and 165 lbs and has dimensions of 251-650 cubic inches is $16.05 with UPS Simple Rate. The price starts at $21.05 for packages of 651-1,050 cubic inches.

With FedEx One Rate, the least expensive rate starts at $16.50 and goes up to $24.95 depending on if you choose Medium Box or Large Box. The Maximum volume ranges from 650 cubic inches to 1,100 cubic inches.

USPS Priority Mail Flat Rate Box comes in two sizes: medium ($17.05) and large ($22.45), which is slightly higer than the former options.

If you want to save money on shipping large items across the country while still getting reliable service from a trusted company, then either UPS Simple Rate or FedEx One Rate will serve your needs just fine.


Shipping Service

USPS Priority Mail (Medium)

USPS Priority Mail (Large)

UPS Simple Rate (Medium)

UPS Simple Rate (Large)

FedEx One Rate

Package Weight

13 lbs - 14 lbs

21 lbs - 22 lbs

150 lbs - 165 lbs


Volume Range

11" x 8-1/2" x 5-1/2" Inside;

11-1/4" x 8-3/4" x 6" Outside

11-3/ x 12" x 5-1/2" Inside;

12" x 12-1/4" x 6" Outside

251-650 cubic inches

650 - 1,050 cubic inches

650 - 1,100 cubic inches

Price Range







Cheapest ways to ship the next day

When you need to get a package to your customer the next day, there are several options. It's important to know what each option can offer you before making a decision on what's best for your business.

The cheapest way to ship overnight is USPS Priority Mail Express Flat Rate Box. This box costs $27.25 for packages weighing less than 70 lbs, and the delivery time takes from the next day to two days, depending on location.

If you need something even faster than that, UPS Next Day Air Saver delivers by the end of the next day for a price starting at $29.66. However, Saturday delivery is not an option with this service.

FedEx Standard Overnight delivers by 4:30 p.m. the next day for packages under 150 lbs, and it costs a bit more than USPS Priority Mail Express at $31.22 for packages under 150 lbs, but this option offers Saturday delivery with extra cost in certain areas within 150 miles of the delivery location.

If you qualify as a commercial account holder with FedEx Ground or UPS Ground Freight services then those rates will likely be cheaper than what we listed above!


Shipping Service

USPS Priority Mail Express Flat Rate Box

UPS Next Day Air Saver

FedEx Standard Overnight

Package Weight

Up to 27.25 lbs

21 lbs - 22 lbs

Up to 150 lbs

Starting Price




Delivery Time-frame

1-2 days, depending on location

End of the next day

By 4:30 pm next day


Offers over-night delivery

No option for Saturday delivery

Offers Saturday delivery with extra cost in certain areas within 150 miles


In summary, you can choose the cheapest option according to the table.


Cheapest Option




Postcards, Envelopes under 13 ounces



Small packages less than 2lbs



Small packages between 2lbs- 70lbs



Heavy packages more than 70lbs


Time-urgent, remote area



Non-urgent, nearby area


The next-day Shipping


Over-night delivery




Tips on saving shipping cost

You will save a lot of money in shipping costs by following these tips:


Use the right size box

The best way to save on shipping is to choose the appropriate size box for your product and fill it with packing materials that fill up all available space, but don't weigh very much. In other words, when choosing a box size use this formula: Length x Width x Height = cubic inches. 


Consider reusing boxes and packing materials

Don’t just throw your boxes away after you get your items shipped to you. You can use them again to ship other items, especially if they are the same size or smaller than the ones that were shipped to you.

Also, consider using light packaging material for each item in order to reduce shipping costs. You can find foam peanuts and honeycomb packing paper at many stores and online retailers. It's lighter and more compact than paper yet still as effective at protecting fragile items from damage due to bumps during transit.



How to Ship Fragile Items-5 Tips on How to Prevent Shipping Damages

Sustainable Packaging: 9 Types of Eco-friendly Packaging for Your Business


Save cost on shipping equipment

If you're looking for ways to save money on shipping equipment, one of the best things you can do is invest in a shipping label printer. These printers use heat to print shipping labels directly onto your product's packaging, which means there's no ink involved and no waste. 

While inkjet printers are cheaper, they’re also slower and can’t print as many labels per roll of tape as a thermal shipping label printer. The upfront cost of the thermal printer is higher, but it pays off over time because you won't have to buy new ink cartridges every few months.


Related: Shipping Labels: 7 Frequently Asked Questions


Save money by using flat rate boxes whenever possible

You can save money on shipping by using these options. The best part is that you don’t have to worry about calculating the weight of your package or paying more than the least expensive option

These are specially designed so they don't require any additional packing material besides what comes already included with each shipment; additionally, they allow customers who want less expensive shipping options access those options while still paying less overall compared to regular priority mail services if applicable.



Ultimately, the choice between UPS, USPS, and FedEx will depend on the specific requirements of your shipment, including the dimensions and weight of the package, the desired delivery speed, the destination, and your budget. Shippers should always refer to the current details provided by each carrier's official website or contact customer service for the most accurate information.

Shipping prices are constantly changing, so it’s important to stay up-to-date with the latest rates and discounts. By learning about new shipping options and finding ways to save money on shipping costs, you can save as much as possible when sending packages.

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