In the United States, the Postal Service and FedEx are two of the most recognizable names in parcel shipping. Both companies have large networks in the US, and the competitors, and sometimes partners, have a lot in common.
Because of how popular both companies are, you might be curious about the ways they’re different and similar. Well, look no further; I researched both companies in-depth to find all the details you need!
USPS Vs. FedEx In 2024
Although FedEx and USPS have a partnership, the shipping companies are very different as of 2024. Regarding price, USPS usually offers lower prices to ship products. However, FedEx provides guaranteed shipping dates, so customers know exactly when their mail will be delivered. Also, FedEx is much better for shipping things internationally.
If you want to learn more about FedEx and USPS, like how the two companies are similar and how they differ, keep reading! I have all the answers you need!
Are USPS And FedEx The Same?
The United States Postal Service and FedEx are not the same, though the two do partner in some instances despite competing in domestic and international shipments.
Still, USPS is an independently administered government agency, while FedEx is a publicly-traded international corporation.
The United States Postal Service is an independent federal government agency under the Executive branch (the same as the President and their cabinets).
Founded in 1775, the Postal Service is the only government agency that’s Constitutionally assured.
Unlike other federal agencies, USPS is independently overseen by a US Postmaster General appointed by a Senate-approved board of governors.
Further, this means the President has no direct say in appointing the person at the top (who happens to be the second-highest-paid federal employee after the President).
The Postal Service has evolved, digitizing many of its services and calcifying a formidable network of Post Offices and distribution facilities.
Also, USPS offers a wide variety of domestic and international services, including:
- The ubiquitous First-Class mail service (what we think of as “regular” or letter mail)
- First-Class Package for parcels under one pound
- Priority Mail, for fast one to three-day shipping
- Priority Mail Express, for fastest overnight or two-day shipping
- USPS Retail Ground
- Medial Mail
- Parcel Select
- First-Class Mail & Package International
- Priority Mail International
- Priority Mail Express International
- Global Express Guaranteed
Domestically, USPS has some of the lowest shipping prices, especially for items that fit inside Priority Mail Flat-Rate boxes.
FedEx was founded in 1971 as a “system specifically designed for urgent deliveries.”
In 12 short years, the company was raking in a billion dollars, and it would go on to acquire competitors, diversify its services and expand all around the world.
Additionally, FedEx is the owner of the largest cargo airline in the world, FedEx Express. Further, its global hub is in Memphis, and its national hub is in Indianapolis.
With that, FedEx Express maintains a dozen hubs worldwide, with 690 planes to its name.
This fleet, with approximately 375 destinations across the globe, bolsters FedEx’s reputation for fast, reliable international shipping.
On top of that, FedEx offers several domestic and international shipping options, including:
- FedEx SameDay, for same-day delivery
- First/Priority/Standard Overnight
- 2Day AM and 2Day
- Express Saver (three-day)
- Commercial Ground
- Residential Ground – Home Delivery
- International Next Flight
- International First & Priority
- International Economy
- International Ground (to Canada)
Also, FedEx can accommodate freight shipments domestically, across North America, and overseas.
Which Is Cheaper, USPS Or FedEx?
The site Shippo.com does an admirable job breaking down price comparisons between USPS and FedEx for domestic shipments.
For example, USPS Priority Mail and FedEx Home Delivery services are comparable for speed (Priority Mail maxes out at three days, while Home Delivery does at five).
Therefore, a two-pound package traveling to Zone 8 (the furthest distance without leaving land) would cost $11.69 with the Postal Service and $18.03 for FedEx.
However, Shippo.com also compares flat-rate ground services.
That said, for a small Priority Mail flat-rate box, USPS charges $7.90, and a similar small box via FedEx would cost you $12.05.
Finally, Shippo.com compares prices for ultra-light packages, less than one pound.
If you were to use USPS, your cheapest option would be First-Class Package Service, which would take five days maximum to reach its destination (and cost $4.20).
On the other hand, FedEx’s similar service is almost three times that, which would cost you $12.35.
So, it’s clear that when it comes to domestic shipping, particularly smaller and lighter items, USPS tends to be cheaper and a lot cheaper in some cases.
What about international shipping, though? Let’s say you’re shipping a package that is 10x8x8 inches and weighs ten pounds, and it’s traveling from Washington, D.C. to London.
In this case, the Postal Service offers three shipping options:
- GXG, with a one to three-day delivery time, at $169.40
- Priority Mail Express International, three to five-day delivery time, at $109.55
- Priority Mail International, six to ten-day delivery time, at $93.80
On the other hand, FedEx’s options include:
- FedEx International First, two days (by 9 am), at $327.60
- FedEx International Priority, two days (12 pm), at $272.60
- FedEx International Economy, seven days (6 pm), at $251.95
Again, USPS beats out FedEx at every price point. So why would anyone choose FedEx instead of the Postal Service when the latter is so much cheaper?
Well, if you look more closely at the delivery dates, FedEx is a lot faster, and its delivery dates aren’t estimated, whereas the Postal Service’s are.
So, while FedEx is a lot more expensive to ship internationally, the evidence suggests that shipping abroad via FedEx will be a more reliable option.
Which Is Faster, USPS Or FedEx?
EasyShip.com finds that USPS Priority Mail and FedEx Home Delivery are comparable services, and Priority Mail comes out with the faster shipping option.
But, FedEx offers superior overnight service, FedEx First Overnight, which delivers next-day mail by 9 am at the latest.
The Postal Service’s comparable option, Priority Mail Express, also promises next-day delivery (with a money-back guarantee), but it gives until 6 pm to make the delivery.
Further, let’s look at how the international shipping speeds compare.
Using the same example I generated above when comparing prices, while you do pay more for FedEx, its shipping options are generally faster.
For example, the Postal Service’s cheapest option for a ten-pound parcel is Priority Mail International, but its expected delivery day ranges from six to ten business days.
The cheapest FedEx option, International-Economy, specifies that the parcel would reach London (from Washington, D.C.) in seven days, by 6 pm.
Therefore, if money is no object (the FedEx option is about $150 more expensive) but time is of the essence, it’s best to opt for the faster FedEx international choice.
That said, FedEx’s ability to give a definite date, barring any mishaps, is more appealing when speed is an issue.
Is FedEx Or USPS More Reliable?
FedEx holds a slight advantage over USPS regarding reliability, but both have an excellent success rate regardless.
Further, one measurement of reliability comes from USPackagingandWrapping.com, which performed a study of package treatment.
That said, the experiment ranked FedEx and USPS according to how much a parcel got jostled while in transit.
Based on the research, FedEx was six percent less likely to mistreat a parcel than the Postal Service.
So, that certainly bears out when you consider some of the bad press the Postal Service has received for wayward mail carriers and its less-than-gentle treatment of packages.
On the one hand, it’s great that the parcel has reached its destination; on the other, what good is it if it isn’t in one piece?
Does USPS Deliver For FedEx?
Until very recently, the Postal Service completed “last-mile” deliveries on behalf of FedEx as part of the company’s ongoing 20-plus-year partnership.
But in 2021, FedEx announced it was severing that part of its agreement and would be taking on last-leg deliveries and even rebranding SmartPost as Ground Economy.
So, while USPS did once complete deliveries on behalf of FedEx, that service is kaput.
However, the two still maintain other partnership ties, including air mail; USPS mail regularly hitches rides on FedEx Express flights, domestically and internationally.
Further, the two major shippers are under contract until 2024.
Is USPS Or FedEx Better For eCommerce Companies?
Both USPS and FedEx are good options for eCommerce businesses that ship products, but the size and reach of the company would determine which service is best.
For example, a business that ships smaller, lighter items domestically would benefit best using USPS.
That said, this is because its First-Class Package service starts at just $4.30 and delivers within one to three days.
But a business that ships larger, heavier items, requires freight transport, or ships internationally on the regular would benefit from FedEx’s expertise.
Therefore, it’s best to examine your company’s needs and budget, and you can discern for yourself which service best suits you.
The United States Postal Service and FedEx share some similarities, but ultimately the companies occupy very different niches.
So, while USPS is often the best option for domestic shipping of flats and small packages, FedEx is better outfitted to transport larger, heavier parcels and international shipments with a hard deadline.