UPS Vs. FedEx: Which Is Cheaper?

When you want to send a package somewhere in the world, two names likely come to mind first: United Parcel Service (NYSE: UPS) and FedEx (NYSE: FDX). In 2022, these two rivals accounted for nearly 70% of the express and courier services market — with UPS controlling 37% and FedEx 32.9%. As industry competitors, it's not surprising to find that UPS and FedEx offer similar services to their customers, from domestic ground shipping to worldwide air delivery to business solutions, including supply chain management. Regarding price, FedEx and UPS stay competitive as well, making answering the question of which delivery service is cheaper a bit of a case-by-case basis.

In other words, it'll largely depend on the customer's particular circumstance with regard to what they're shipping, where they're shipping their package, and, perhaps ultimately, what business they're most familiar with. For example, while a person's location might have been a factor in the past, with travel calculated into overall cost, this is less of a consideration today, with both FedEx and UPS offering pickup services for a fee. Still, it's always a good idea to comparison-shop to ensure you make informed money decisions and avoid common financial mistakes, so let's look closer at the prices of UPS and FedEx today.

Domestic shipping

While UPS and FedEx may be considered by many to be the same, in the same way that someone might think of coffee brands Starbucks and Dunkin' as being the same (not to their fans, of course), it should be noted these two delivery giants are known for different niches in delivery: While UPS is best-known for its ground shipping, FedEx is known for its time-sensitive air delivery service around the world. This said, when it comes to which delivery services company is cheaper when sending packages within the United States, the two companies are, once again, competitive, but UPS, not surprisingly, proves the cheaper option overall.

For comparison, we took a look at the cost of shipping a 3-pound parcel measuring 2 inches by 5 inches by 10 inches from San Francisco to Brooklyn, New York:


  • Next Day Air: $138.95
  • 2nd Day Air: $65.16
  • 3 Day Select: $53.58
  • Ground (up to 5 business days): $22.08


  • Overnight: $196.50 (delivered by 8:30 a.m.), $160.15 (12 p.m.), $146.96 (8 p.m.)
  • 2nd Day: $89.93 (12 p.m.), $77.84 (8 p.m.)
  • 3 Day: $68.94 (8 p.m.)
  • Home Delivery (up to 5 business days): $21.43 (end of day)

Other factors that could impact how much it would cost to ship this parcel include whether or not you're shipping to a rural area or if you're shipping to Hawaii or Alaska, which are uniquely not part of the contiguous United States. Further, UPS and FedEx each charge a surcharge for residential deliveries, which are virtually the same: As of 2023, $5.55 for FedEx and $5.70 for UPS.

Global shipping

Time-sensitive delivery is where FedEx has focused its business since its beginning in 1973. On its first day of full-service operation, Federal Express (as it was then named) used 14 aircraft to deliver 186 packages to 25 U.S. cities. Today, the company has an air fleet of 700 aircraft, 58.1% of which are mainline aircraft, with the remaining feeder aircraft that transport cargo to the hubs. Meanwhile, UPS has its own air fleet to compete with its main rival; as of 2024, UPS operates an estimated 500 UPS and chartered aircraft. Together, FedEx and UPS carry out 1,331 flights a day on average, per AviationSource News.

As for prices each company charges for its air-delivery services, it will again depend on the parcel and where it's going, as well as when it needs to get there. Here are the global prices for that 3-pound parcel, going from San Francisco to London, England:


  • Worldwide Express Plus (1-3 business days, typically by 9 a.m.): $266.43
  • Worldwide Express (1-3 business days, typically by 12 p.m.): $218.63
  • UPS Saver (1-3 business days, typically by end of day): $215.96
  • Worldwide Expedited (2-5 business days, typically by end of day): $199.40


  • FedEx International First® (1-3 business days, 9 a.m.): $272.88
  • FedEx International Priority® Express (1-3 business days, 12 p.m.): $224.68
  • FedEx International Priority® (1-3 business days, 6 p.m.): $214.65
  • FedEx International Economy® (4-6 business days, 6 p.m.): $206.43
  • FedEx International Connect Plus (4 days, 10 p.m.) $180.76

Ultimately, customers might find the differences in price for their parcels also amount to less than a few dollars, as illustrated above. The main factor may not be price, but time, and in that case, FedEx offers a few more options than UPS. Given that air freight is its specialty, this is not surprising, just as it's not surprising that UPS often proves cheaper when it comes to domestic ground shipping.

Shipping discounts

FedEx and UPS being longtime rivals ultimately benefits the customer, as it prevents one company from raising prices without consequence. One offer both companies offer customers is discounts for signing up. And, unlike subscriptions like Amazon Prime, where you wonder if the perks are worth the subscription price, there's no cost to receive these discounts from UPS or FedEx. All you need to do is open an account and you'll instantly gain access to cheaper prices on shipping. At FedEx, you get 30% off (most) FedEx Express services, 15% off FedEx Ground shipping/FedEx Home Delivery services, and 70% off FedEx Freight LTL services. Customers with a UPS account get up to 74% savings on every UPS shipment, plus free shipping supplies.

You don't need an account with FedEx or UPS to ship a package, but signing up is free and if you send parcels throughout the year, opening an account can mean significant savings on a service you were going to use and pay for anyway. Our example 3-pound parcel going from San Francisco to Brooklyn? With a 15% discount, UPS Ground and FedEx Home Delivery will cost less than $20.

One last note, and perhaps underscoring how these courier companies are in constant competition, UPS announced on April 1, 2024, its partnership with the United States Postal Service to become its new air cargo provider in the United States, taking over for USPS' former partner, FedEx; FedEx's contract with USPS expires in September. No word on whether this change might affect prices.