USPS vs UPS: Comparing Services, Costs and Speed

Looking for a perfect shipping carrier? Struggling to choose between USPS and UPS for your store’s shipping needs? Well, you are not alone. Many people are concerned about it too. In this article, we break down the key differences between USPS and UPS, comparing their services, costs, and speed. Plus, we will suggest 5 ways to cut shipping expenses and give real use cases to help you make the right choice for your business. Don’t skip any part!

What is the difference between USPS and UPS?

Short introduction, the United States Postal Service (USPS) is an independent agency of the U.S. federal government that provides postal services to everyone in the country. Meanwhile, United Parcel Service (UPS) is a global package delivery and supply chain management company based in Atlanta, Georgia. It’s one of the largest and most well-known logistics companies in the world.

What is the difference between USPS vs UPS

USPS is designed for shipping small packages and mail quickly and cheaply, and UPS is more cost-effective for shipping large parcels worldwide. UPS and USPS are very different organizations with distinct backgrounds, here are their differences:


USPS (United States Postal Service)

UPS (United Parcel Service)

Type of Service

Government Agency

Private Company

Universal Service Obligation



Services Offered

– Mail Services: First-Class Mail, Priority Mail, Priority Mail Express, Media Mail

– Package Services: Priority Mail, Priority Mail Express, Parcel Select Ground

– Domestic and International Shipping: UPS Ground, UPS 3 Day Select, UPS 2nd Day Air, UPS Next Day Air

– Specialized Services: Freight, logistics solutions, supply chain management

Delivery Times

– Standard: 

  • 1-3 business days (Priority Mail) 

  • 2-9 days (Parcel Select Ground)

– Express: Overnight to 2-day (Priority Mail Express)

– Standard: 1-5 business days (UPS Ground) 

– Express: Next-day, 2-day (various services)


– Generally more economical for small packages, envelopes, and letters.

– Flat Rate Options: Priority Mail Flat Rate Boxes.

– Generally higher for small packages

 Volume Discounts: Available for high shipping volumes

Special Features

– P.O. Boxes

– Saturday Delivery included

– Hold Mail Service

– Advanced tracking and reliability

– Comprehensive insurance options

– Regular pickup services for businesses

– Warehousing and fulfilment services


Basic tracking included

Advanced tracking with detailed updates


High, but less detailed tracking

Very high with guaranteed delivery times

Best For

Small packages, letters, P.O. box deliveries

Larger shipments, high-value items, business logistics

USPS vs UPS Rates: Which is Cheaper?

When comparing the prices of USPS vs UPS, several factors can help you determine which is cheaper for your shipping needs. Here’s a clear analysis to guide your decision:

Small, Lightweight Packages

USPS Priority Mail

For small and lightweight packages (under 2 pounds), USPS generally offers more cost-effective options compared to UPS. USPS services like Priority Mail and First-Class Mail are economical for smaller shipments:

  • USPS Priority Mail for a 2-pound package: Approximately $13.17, delivering in 2 days.

  • UPS Ground for the same package: Around $14.31, delivering in 1-5 days with Easyship discount rates.

Medium-Sized Packages

For medium-sized packages (around 5 pounds), USPS still tends to be cheaper, especially with flat-rate options:

  • USPS Priority Mail (5-pound package): $22.80, delivering in 2 business days.

  • UPS Ground for the same package: $21.87, delivering in 1-5 business days.

Large, Heavy Packages

For larger, heavier packages (over 20 pounds), UPS often provides better rates and handles these shipments more efficiently:

  • UPS Ground (65-pound package): $83.12, delivering in 3 days.

  • USPS Ground Advantage for the same package: $129.50, delivering in 4 days.

Express and Overnight Shipping

For urgent, time-sensitive deliveries, UPS usually offers more competitive pricing and reliable services:

  • UPS Next Day Air for a 5-pound package: $140.84.

  • USPS Priority Mail Express for the same package: $78.60.

Flat-Rate Shipping

USPS excels in flat-rate shipping options, which can be very cost-effective for packages that fit specific dimensions:

  • USPS Priority Mail Small Flat Rate Box: $8.51.

  • UPS does not offer a flat-rate service; instead, they charge based on weight and dimensions.

International Shipping

For international shipments, USPS often offers lower rates due to partnerships with foreign postal services, though UPS provides faster and more reliable international delivery:

  • USPS: Generally cheaper for less urgent international shipments.

  • UPS: More reliable with faster delivery times but at a higher cost.

USPS is typically cheaper for small, lightweight, and non-urgent packages, making it ideal for personal use and small businesses shipping small items. On the other hand, UPS tends to be more cost-effective for larger, heavier packages and time-sensitive shipments, suitable for businesses with larger or urgent shipping needs. So, choosing between USPS and UPS will depend on your shipment’s specific requirements, including weight, size, delivery speed, and budget considerations.

USPS vs UPS Speed: Which is Faster?

usps vs ups shipping

When it comes to shipping, speed is often the deciding factor. However several factors affect delivery times, such as the service type, package weight and size, and delivery distance. Here’s a simple breakdown based on recent data:

Standard shipping services:

  • USPS Priority Mail: Usually delivers within 1-3 business days across all 50 states, making it a great option for lightweight packages over short distances.

  • UPS Ground: Takes 1-5 business days depending on how far the package is going. It’s generally better for heavier packages and longer distances because of its reliable delivery network.

Express and expedited services:

  • USPS Priority Mail Express: Offers overnight to 2-day delivery, making it the fastest option available from USPS. It operates 7 days a week, including holidays.

  • UPS Next Day Air: Guarantees next-day delivery by various times (morning, afternoon, or end of the day), depending on the specific service chosen. UPS also offers same-day delivery through UPS Express Critical® for the most urgent shipments.

Reliability and consistency:

  • USPS: Great for quickly delivering small packages, especially with Priority Mail services. However, ground services can sometimes be less predictable in the final delivery stages.

  • UPS: Known for its excellent tracking system and reliable delivery times. UPS’s strong logistics network makes it a dependable option for fast domestic and international shipping.

Specific use cases:

  • Small, lightweight packages: USPS Priority Mail is often faster and more cost-effective for packages under 70 pounds, delivering in 1-3 business days.

  • Large, heavy packages: UPS Ground is typically faster and more reliable for heavier packages, offering delivery within 1-5 business days depending on the distance.

 So, USPS vs UPS: Which is faster? – There is no clear answer to this question. Ultimately, choosing between USPS and UPS depends on what you need—how urgent the delivery is, the size and weight of the package, and your budget. For small and lightweight packages that need quick delivery, USPS Priority Mail is often the faster choice. For larger or heavier packages, or when you need reliable service and detailed tracking, UPS usually performs better with options like UPS Ground and UPS Next Day Air.

How to Cut Off Shipping Carrier Costs?

usps vs ups_ how to Cut Off Shipping Carrier Costs

Shipping costs can add up quickly, but there are simple ways to save money. Here are 5 tips for you to reduce your shipping expenses:

Use Flat Rate Shipping

Flat rate shipping is a great way to keep shipping costs predictable and manageable. Carriers like USPS and UPS offer flat rate options, meaning you pay a set price regardless of the package weight or distance.

  • Benefit: Flat rate shipping helps you avoid unexpected charges, making budgeting easier.

  • Example: If you often ship small, heavy items, using flat rate boxes can save you a lot compared to paying based on weight and distance 

Optimize Size

Using the right packaging can make a big difference. Aim to use the smallest box or envelope that still protects your item. Lightweight materials like poly mailers are perfect for non-fragile items.

  • Benefit: Smaller and lighter packages cost less to ship.

  • Example: Check your order history to find the most common package sizes and adjust your packaging accordingly

Smooth & Optimize Shipping Process

usps vs ups third party app

Cutting down on shipping expenses is vital, but making sure your shipping process runs smoothly and openly matters just as much. That’s where Synctrack Order Tracking steps in. It’s a handy tool for Shopify stores that makes tracking orders a breeze for both you and your customers.

  • Benefit:

    • Real-time updates on tracking, making customers happier and cutting down on support questions about order status.

    • Track all shipments in one place, no matter which carrier they’re from.

  • Example: Customers receive a confirmation email with a tracking link when they place an order. They get real-time updates via email or SMS as the order progresses. They can check detailed shipment status on TrackOrderNow, or not. Because they already receive notifications for any changes. Finally, they receive a thank-you message and a review request.

Use Prepaid Shipping

USPS offers prepaid shipping options that can help you save up to 20% on shipping costs. Buy your shipping labels in advance to lock in lower rates.

  • Benefit: Prepaid rates are often cheaper than standard rates.

  • Example: If you frequently ship similar-sized packages, buying USPS Priority Mail labels in bulk can lead to significant savings or USPS Priority Mail labels in bulk can lead to significant savings.

Combine Shipments

Whenever possible, combine multiple orders into a single shipment. This reduces the number of packages and can lower your overall shipping costs.

  • Benefit: Fewer packages mean lower handling and shipping fees.

  • Example: Offer discounts to customers who consolidate their orders, encouraging them to buy more at once and save money on shipping

USPS vs UPS: Comparing Used Cases

When deciding between USPS or UPS, knowing when to use each carrier can make your choice easier. Based on our experiments, here’s a straightforward comparison of various shipping situations:

Use Case

Best Carrier


Small packages


Best rates for packages under 20 pounds. Leverages regular mail routes, keeping costs low and efficient for small shipments.

Large packages


Better equipped to handle larger packages, offering competitive rates and efficient logistics for bulkier items.

Heavy packages


Best rates and services for heavy packages, handling items up to 150 pounds effectively.

Flat rate shipping


Economical flat-rate options like Priority Mail Flat Rate boxes, are ideal for standardizing shipping costs.

Express delivery


Range of express delivery options (Next Day Air, 2nd Day Air) ensuring timely and reliable service for urgent shipments.

International shipping


Lower rates for international shipments due to partnerships with foreign postal services, more affordable for non-urgent deliveries.

Fragile items


Specializes in handling fragile items with various packing services, ensuring secure transportation.

Tracking and reliability


Advanced tracking with near-real-time updates and detailed notifications, leading to higher reliability and customer satisfaction.


USPS vs UPS? Hopefully, you have your answer now! It might be a bit confusing for newcomers, but follow the flow: consider package size and weight, compare costs between shipping carriers, think about your desired delivery speed, and check if the services you need are available. This way, you can choose the shipping carrier that best fits your needs.

Trackordernow has integrated with both USPS and UPS, so feel free to use our tool for USPS Tracking and USP Tracking to save your time.