Priority Mail Express, Priority Mail, First-Class Mail- if you’ve ever had to mail something using USPS, then you’ve undoubtedly come across many shipping options. Indeed, it seems like USPS has a shipping option for every deadline and budget.
So, with all of these options, how do you decide which one is right for you? We’ve ranked USPS’ shipping options from fastest to slowest so you can choose the one that’s right for your timeframe. Read on and never question your shipping choice again!
Fastest USPS Shipping Method In 2024
With guaranteed delivery in 1 to 2 days, Priority Mail Express is USPS’ fastest shipping option in 2024. Overnight delivery is even available on weekends and holidays for an additional fee. Priority Mail is the second-fastest shipping method, with an average delivery time of 3 to 5 business days. First-Class Mail is also usually delivered in less than 5 days.
To learn more about each of these shipping options, make sure you read the rest of this article for more useful information!
1. Priority Mail Express
Priority Mail Express is USPS’ fastest shipping method, hands down.
So, whether you’re sending Christmas presents late or are shipping a project right before the deadline, Priority Mail Express is the perfect choice.
Packages sent through this service are guaranteed to arrive by 6 PM in 1 to 2 days (including weekends), or your money back.
That being said, overnight delivery is only available to and from urban areas. Shipping takes two days when mailing a package to or from a rural area.
Priority Mail Express is comparable to other overnight options like FedEx Overnight and UPS Next Day Air. However, it’s usually much cheaper.
In addition to offering USPS’ fastest shipping times, Priority Mail Express also offers free package pickup, tracking, and up to $100 of insurance coverage.
To be eligible for Priority Mail Express shipping, packages weigh less than 70 lbs.
Their dimensions must have a maximum combined length and girth (the distance around the thickest part) of 108.”
Prices start at $26.95 for a Flat-Rate envelope. Zone pricing (i.e. one based on the package’s weight and the distance it will travel) is also available.
2. Priority Mail
If you need your package to get to its destination, but aren’t in a huge hurry, then opt for USPS’ next-fastest shipping option, Priority Mail.
Priority Mail is USPS’ standard domestic air service, and packages sent through it are delivered within 1 to 3 business days.
While not as fast as Priority Mail Express, Priority Mail is a solid choice that combines fast delivery and affordable pricing.
Packages sent through this service do not come with guaranteed delivery. That means your package may take longer to arrive than USPS’ 1- to 3- day window stipulates.
If that happens, you won’t have any recourse (i.e. getting a refund). You and the recipient just have to wait for the package to arrive.
Priority Mail comes with free package pickup, tracking, and up to $50 of insurance.
Eligible packages must weigh less than 70 lbs and maximum dimensions of 108”.
Flat-Rate pricing starts at $8.95 for a 12 ½ ” x 9 ½ ” (or smaller) envelope. Weight- and zone-based pricing is also available.
3. First-Class Mail
If you’re sending a light (less than 13 ounces), non-urgent item, then First-Class Mail is a solid choice.
This service covers not only letters and postcards, but also large envelopes and small packages.
Letters and postcards tend to arrive in 1 to 5 business days, while small packages take 1 to 3 business days.
Items sent through this service come with forwarding and return services. Extra options like Registered Mail and Certified Mail are also available for an additional fee.
Any merchandise sent via First-Class Mail is covered for up to $5000 if any loss or damage occurs.
Letters may weigh up to 3.5 ounces, while large envelopes (also known as Flats) can weigh up to 13 ounces.
First-Class letters weighing 1 ounce or less currently cost $0.58 to send, while 1-ounce large envelopes start at $1.16. Additional ounces are priced at $0.20 each.
Is USPS Priority Mail or First-Class Faster?
As its name suggests, Priority Mail is given a higher priority than First-Class Mail.
That means that if USPS has to choose between sending out a Priority Mail package or a First-Class package, it’s going to choose the Priority Mail item.
That being said, both services advertise delivery in 1 to 3 business days, so depending on the item and how far it needs to travel, these services could end up with very similar delivery times.
Does USPS Ever Deliver Early?
If you’re eager to get your package to its destination, but don’t want to shell out the extra dollars for an express service, you may be wondering if USPS ever happens to deliver early.
It turns out that yes, USPS does sometimes deliver packages earlier than expected.
USPS’ delivery estimates are based on worst-case scenarios (e.g. weather delays, heavy mail volume or staffing shortages).
Therefore, as long as things run relatively smoothly, you’ll probably get your package earlier than anticipated.
How Can I Get USPS to Ship Faster?
Aside from paying for a faster shipping method like Priority Mail Express, there’s not much you can do to make USPS ship your packages faster.
However, there are things you can do to make sure your package doesn’t get delayed.
Things like using a sturdy box and securing it well with tape, writing the address legibly (or printing a label) and making sure your item conforms to USPS’ size and weight restrictions are all ways to make sure your package doesn’t get held up.
Can I Expedite a Package in Transit USPS?
Once you’ve selected your shipping speed, and an item has gone out for delivery, you’re not able to expedite it or otherwise make any changes (e.g. changing the delivery address).
Still, you may be able to get your package a day or so early by using USPS’ Package Intercept service.
With this service, you can pay for your package to get held at the local post office instead of going out for delivery.
Once your package arrives at the post office, you’ll be able to pick it up.
This may allow you to get your hands on it a few hours sooner than you would if it went out on a normal delivery.
With guaranteed overnight or 2-day shipping, USPS’ Priority Mail Express is by far its fastest service. Still, Priority Mail Express and First-Class Mail can also be quite quick, depending on how far the item needs to travel.