Difference Between UPS And USPS (Your Full Guide)

UPS and USPS are easy to get confused- they share a very similar acronym, and are both household names in the shipping industry.

So what’s the difference between UPS and USPS, and is one of them faster or less expensive than the other? If you’d like to find out, keep reading!

The Difference Between UPS And USPS In 2024?

The main difference between UPS and USPS is the type of companies they are. USPS is a federal organization that operates in the public sphere and is the only organization that can legally use every mailbox in the country. UPS, however, is a privately owned corporation that ships packages specifically, hence its name, United Parcel Service.

If you’re looking to better understand the key differences between UPS and USPS, as well as the best times to use each service to save some money, be sure to keep reading!

Are USPS And UPS The Same Thing?

USPS and UPS are not the same thing, though they do offer similar services.

While both USPS and UPS ship packages both domestically and internationally, they are very different companies.

For example, USPS is a federal organization, meaning that it’s owned and funded by the US government.

However, USPS was founded in 1775 as a means of dispersing vital news and information to the American public, and has since built a mission around serving every single American at affordable prices.

As well, because of how long USPS has existed, the company is considered an authority in the industry.

In contrast, UPS is a privately owned company in the public sector, which means that it’s owned by private citizens and makes money off of the profits from the services it provides.

UPS was founded in 1905 as an alternative to USPS that specialized in shipping packages specifically, since at the time packages weren’t a particularly profitable part of the industry- hence the name, United Parcel Service.

Additionally, UPS is the largest package delivery service in the world, and they also offer logistics services and freight forwarding.

Is USPS Or UPS Cheaper?

Shipping costs are typically calculated by the weight and the distance a package will travel, so without a guideline for these factors, it can be hard to estimate shipping costs.

However, as a general rule of thumb, USPS is typically less expensive than UPS.

This is because UPS is a privately owned business, which means that it’s funded by the profits made off of services it provides.

Because UPS is interested in profits, they charge fees and surcharges that can add up fast for a consumer in order to keep business where they want it.

USPS is typically the more economic option, especially for smaller packages. However, UPS is well known for being a less expensive option for heavier, bulkier packages.

A price comparison for USPS versus UPS can better help you to understand the difference between each company, and this comparison is as follows:

For UPS, their most popular shipping services are UPS Ground and UPS 3-Day Select.

To ship a 5 lb package with UPS Ground, it costs around $10.50 and delivers in about 6 days. The same package shipped with UPS 3-Day Select costs around $16.50 and delivers within 5 days.

Next, USPS’ most popular shipping services are Priority Mail and USPS Ground Retail.

A 5 lb package shipped with Priority Mail costs about $20 and delivers in 2 days or less. The same package shipped with USPS Ground Retail costs about $10 and delivers in 3-5 days.

The lighter the package is, the more money you save by shipping with USPS.

For example, a two-pound package costs about $7 to ship with USPS Priority and delivers in about 2 days, whereas the same package shipped with UPS Ground Retail costs about $10.50 and delivers in about 6 days.

Overall, while UPS and USPS may be very similar in name and in services, USPS has UPS beat in terms of affordability when it comes to small packages, while UPS is the better choice for larger packages.

Is USPS Or UPS Faster?

Is USPS Or UPS Faster?

Delivery speed is typically a critical factor to be considered when comparing shipping services.

Both UPS and USPS offer overnight delivery, as well as options for 2 and 3-day delivery windows, though these windows aren’t guaranteed. On average, however, USPS is typically faster.

According to this site, which has some super helpful infographics, USPS averages 1.79 days for total delivery time, whereas UPS has a total average delivery time of 2.75 days, which is nearly 24 hours longer than USPS.

It’s important to note, however, that there are some instances where UPS would be a faster option.

USPS has much stricter regulations on the size and weight of packages since they’re a federally owned organization, meaning that if you’re shipping a package that’s particularly bulky, UPS will be the fastest and least expensive option for shipping your parcel.

What Should You Use USPS For?

USPS is typically the best option for you when you’re shipping packages that are under 20 lbs and/or you’re shipping more unusual items that aren’t particularly heavy, such as guitars.

Some common examples of packages that are inexpensive to ship with USPS and arrive quickly are packages that include clothing, shoes, books, and cosmetics.

USPS is also the best option for sending documents, whether it’s typical mail such as business solicitations, letters, or cards, or more important documents such as contracts or licensing documents.

What Should You Use UPS For?

Because USPS is a federal organization, they have much stricter restrictions on the weight of packages they send, as well as the dimensions and even the contents of certain packages.

Because of all these restrictions, UPS is a great choice for items that would either be refused shipping by USPS or just take too long and cost too much to ship with USPS.

USPS has a weight threshold of 70 lbs, whereas UPS has a weight threshold of 150 lbs, which makes UPS ideal for shipping items like disassembled and/or pre-assembled furniture and TVs.

Another shortcoming of USPS that UPS makes up for is the value of certain items.

While USPS won’t necessarily refuse ultra-valuable items, there are a lot more hoops to jump through when shipping an item with a high inherent value.

UPS, however, specializes in shipping items of great value. UPS is the best choice for luxury products such as high-end watches, rarities, and collectibles, and UPS offers insurance coverage for shippers of up to $50,000.

If you want to know more, you can also see our posts on USPS regional facility, if USPS takes UPS packages, and USPS sorting facility.


While USPS and UPS have a similar acronym and both offer services in the same industry, they are not the same.

USPS is a federal organization funded by the US government, whereas UPS is a privately-owned, public company that’s funded by the company’s profits.

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Marques Thomas

Marques Thomas graduated with a MBA in 2011. Since then, Marques has worked in the retail and consumer service industry as a manager, advisor, and marketer. Marques is also the head writer and founder of QuerySprout.com.

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