Of the three major shipping carriers in the United States, USPS and UPS are the most popular options for sending eCommerce packages, since they both offer quick delivery and affordable rates. This said, affordability isn’t always the most important thing when it comes it shipping. A lot of packages need to be sent overnight, and whenever a lot of shippers are in a pinch, they often ask us which carrier is quicker: USPS, or UPS. When they do, we always give them one clear answer.
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UPS Offers Faster Services than USPS
While UPS and USPS both offer overnight services, UPS is the faster carrier of the two.
The fastest service that USPS offers is Priority Mail Express, or “PME,” for short. PME features overnight delivery to most urban locations, and 2-day delivery to most rural destinations. However, the speed of Priority Mail Express often depends on the day and time you hand your package to USPS. For instance, if you drop off your package at the Post Office after 3pm or so on a Monday, your PME package may not arrive until Wednesday. That’s not great when you need to send a package overnight in a pinch!
On the other hand, the comparable overnight service that UPS offers is much more reliable than PME…but also much more expensive.
Which UPS Service is the Fastest?
UPS Next Day Air is the fastest service that UPS offers, featuring overnight delivery to any location within the contiguous United States. Typically, UPS delivers these packages between 10:30am and 12pm, depending on where you’re shipping from (and to).
On top of the standard Next Day Air service described above, there are also two sub-services that give you more options. We’ve listed these below:
- Next Day Air Early AM
- As the name suggests, UPS delivers these overnight packages early the next morning; delivery occurs by 8:00am to most major cities in the United States and by 9:30am to other domestic destinations.
- Next Day Air Saver
- UPS delivers these packages by end-of-day on the next day, which can be as late as 11pm for some destinations. Next Day Air Saver is the cheapest overnight delivery service that UPS offers, so a lot of shippers choose it if they’re trying to send packages quickly but save money at the same time.
Pro Tip: You can also opt for Saturday Delivery service with Next Day Air, though UPS will impose a surcharge for this on top of the cost of your postage. Like USPS, UPS doesn’t typically deliver packages on Sunday, so if you buy your Next Day Air label on a Saturday, the scheduled delivery day may default to the following Monday.
A Quick Anecdote
Not too long ago, I had to send an emergency package from San Francisco to New York City, and it had to arrive the next day. It was already Friday afternoon, and my recipient needed the package that Saturday. I knew that if I shipped Priority Mail Express with USPS, the package may not have arrived until the following Monday, since it was already late in the day, and USPS doesn’t deliver packages on Sunday. So, I opted for UPS Next Day Air Service and paid extra for Saturday delivery.
Once I bought my label with online shipping software, I dropped off my package at a local UPS Store just after 3pm. The package didn’t just arrive the next day without a hitch; UPS actually delivered it before the scheduled delivery time!
So, next time you need to choose a carrier for an emergency delivery, look no further than UPS! USPS is quite a reliable and affordable carrier, but there’s no question that UPS, while more expensive, is faster than USPS when it really comes down to the wire.