FedEx vs. UPS: Which Is Better in 2023?
An In-Depth Comparison of the Two Biggest Couriers in America
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, shipping services have had a higher demand than ever, leading to carriers expanding their supply chains to fulfill the high demand for orders.
FedEx and United Parcel Service (UPS) are widely known as two of the world's most extensive services in the transportation industry. These two couriers are rivals and quite different.
Which one is better in terms of efficiency, reliability, and prices? We’ve compared these two companies, so you can choose the delivery service that suits your business.
Related Reading: FCL Freight vs. LCL Freight
An Overview of FedEx vs. UPS
FedEx and UPS are the two largest global shipping carrier companies.
FedEx is an American multinational corporation founded in 1971. The carrier offers two types of services: non-freight shipments within the US and non-freight international parcels.
On the other hand, UPS, one of the oldest carriers in the market, founded in 1907, also offers non-freight shipping services for domestic and international shipments.
In terms of revenue, the two carrier competitors are quite tied. As of 2021, FedEx generated roughly $84 billion. It also has more than 850,000 employees and operates in more than 220 countries and territories.
On the other hand, UPS generated $97.2 billion in revenue — a 14.96% increase from 2020. UPS international package shipments include delivery to more than 220 countries and territories worldwide. Additionally, they have a large number of employees, 534,000 to be exact.
Delivery Services: FedEx vs. UPS
Both carriers offer ground and air shipping services within the US and internationally.
However, UPS focuses on domestic ground package delivery and has a larger fleet of ground vehicles. Meanwhile, FedEx specializes in global air express freight and has double the airplanes as UPS.
|FedEx Services Features||UPS Services Features|
|Type of services||The carrier offers ground and air services.||The carrier offers ground and air services.|
|Delivery time||Between 1 and 7 business days.||Between 1 and 8 business days.
|Size and weight||Weight limit is 150lbs and the length limit is 108 inches.||Weight limit is 150lb.|
|Tracking||Allows you to track the package.||Allows you to track the package.|
|Insured shipments||Yes, up to $100.||Yes, up to $100.|
FedEx's International Ground delivery is available in Canada and supports packages up to 150 lbs., so it is an option for heavier packages.
UPS Standard is an economical ground delivery service that only ships to the U.S., Mexico, and Canada and doesn’t ship to Hawaii or Alaska.
Both carriers offer a large variety of options and come with basically the same features, so let’s dive into each carrier and see where they differ.
Which Is Cheaper: FedEx vs. UPS?
UPS and FedEx determine shipping prices depending on the weight and dimensions of the package, the destination, and the delivery time expected.
To compare UPS and FedEx shipping rates for domestic and international shipping, we have calculated the price based on different routes and sizes of packages. Below are the “posted rates” but UPS and FedEx both offer significant volume discounts. There are a number of services, such as Ship Aware, that allow even smaller shippers to get significant volume discounts by essentially using their UPS/FedEx accounts.
Domestic Shipment within the US
For example, here’s a comparison of shipping rates for sending a 15L*12W*12H and weights 5lb package from Los Angeles to New York.
|Shipping Options||Delivery time||Timeframe||Cost|
|UPS Next Day Air® Early||1 business day||8:30 AM||$263.25|
|UPS Next Day Air®||1 business day||10:30 AM||$227.06|
|UPS Next Day Air Saver®||1 business day||By the end of the day||$215.85|
|UPS 2nd Day Air A.M.®||2 business days||By the end of the day||$159.16|
|UPS 2nd Day Air®||2 business days||By the end of the day||$138.8|
|UPS 3 Day Select®||3 business days||By the end of the day||$98.28|
|UPS Ground||4 business days||By the end of the day||$42.77|
|FedEx First Overnight®||1 business day||8:00 AM||$318.13|
|FedEx Priority Overnight®||1 business day||10:30 AM||$280.7|
|FedEx Standard Overnight®||1 business day||4:30 PM||$256.68|
|FedEx 2Day® AM||2 business days||10:30 AM||$198.6|
|FedEx 2Day®||2 business days||4:30 PM||$171.79|
|FedEx Express Saver®||3 business days||4:30 PM||$142.67|
|FedEx Ground||4 business days||By the end of the day||$45.92|
If we compare UPS and FedEx domestic services, UPS is cheaper than FedEx.
UPS is recognized as the best option for domestic package shipments as it offers cheaper shipping rates, while FedEx ranks as the most expensive carrier.
International Shipment within the US
Here’s a comparison of UPS and FedEx shipping rates for sending the same size and weight package internationally.
|Shipping Options||Delivery time||Timeframe||Cost|
|UPS Worldwide Express Plus®||6 business days||9:00 AM||$451.79|
|UPS Worldwide Express®||6 business days||12:00 PM||$402.89|
|UPS Worldwide Saver||6 business days||By the end of the day||$397.34|
|UPS Worldwide Expedited®||8 business days||By the end of the day||$371.68|
|FedEx International First®||7 business days||9:00 AM||$516.75|
|FedEx International Priority® Express||7 business days||12:00 PM||$467.45|
|FedEx International Economy®||7 business days||6:00 PM||$380.97|
|FedEx International Priority®||7 business days||6:00 PM||$453.92|
When comparing their international services, UPS is cheaper, making it the most economic option.
So we can say that UPS is the cheaper option between both carriers for international and domestic shipments.
Which Is Faster: FedEx vs. UPS?
As we see in the examples above, both carriers offer similar delivery times.
Although, while both carriers will guarantee that your package is delivered on a specific day, only FedEx guarantees a specific time window in all its services. So if you’re looking for faster or time-sensitive delivery, FedEx will be the best option.
However, the only exception when UPS is faster than FedEx is in its ground transportation services. UPS Ground tends to ship faster within the US because the carrier has a large fleet of trucks in the country.
UPS offers a faster ground delivery service, with over 100,000 delivery trucks in operation, compared to the FedEx fleet, which has 87,300.
However, FedEx is the world’s largest cargo airline, with a fleet size of 684 aircraft for the transportation of cargo, while UPS has only a fleet of 290 aircraft.
Furthermore, FedEx is well-known for its overnight shipping services, meaning your package can be delivered faster and on time than UPS but for a higher cost.
Which One Is Better: FedEx vs. UPS?
Determining which carrier meets a company’s shipping needs depends on a number of factors and what is most important for the shipper.
Certainly, the best carrier might vary depending on what kind of package you’re sending, how far it needs to travel, and a few other factors.
Here’s a list of factors you might want to consider before deciding which company would be the best for your business:
- Package size
- Shipment timeframe
- Overnight delivery within or outside the United States
When deciding the best option for your business, you can use as a benchmark the variable customer satisfaction for online shopping of both shipping services.
The ACSI (American Customer Satisfaction Index) helps consumers compare customer satisfaction rates across different industries, in this case for consumer transportation companies in the US.
According to ACSI, FedEx scored more points than UPS in 2021, and it seems that it is still ahead in 2022.
UPS and FedEx are two of the biggest express package delivery services in the shipping industry.
Determining which one is the best fit for your business just depends on your business needs. UPS offers lower shipping rates, but with FedEx, you get your packages delivered faster and with time-definite services. In addition, if you’re looking at the ACSI scores, FedEx has had a higher score in the last two years.
Which of the two transportation services do you use the most? Do you use different carriers depending on the specifications of your products? Let us know in the comments section below!
Thank you for this article and the comparative data for Fedex and UPS. While UPS domestic ground delivery cost is a bit lower than Fedex, ecom business owners can increase the savings gap by using ShipStation for shipping. They can take advantage of ShipStation’s significant discounts with UPS to the point where we’ve chosen UPS over USPS Priority Mail for most domestic U.S ground shipments greater than 1-lb.. We stumbled upon ShipStation after migrating to BigCommerce about two years ago. What a find.
Thanks, Tony! Yes, you can get better rates from carriers if you partner with fulfillment providers like ShipStation. Glad to hear you took advantage of it by joining them :)
Thanks Tony for that insight. UPS also offers a one stop/pickup advantage over Fed Ex. You have one driver for ground, air and international shipments. With Fed Ex you have three different drivers and the ground drivers are contract drivers which own different routes.
Fed Ex can never find my house (I don’t think they really even try) I’ve waited an extra 3 to 4 days before because they kept saying it was undeliverable & would take it back to the warehouse. Very frustrating to say the least.
The UPS guy never has any problems with my deliveries.
Fed Ex guy should buy a map
If you’re looking for faster or time-sensitive delivery, FedEx will be the best option. That is not true !! I ordered my meds from Humana and paid for overnight shipping from FedEx, it was shipped on 01/04/2023 said it would be here by 5:00 PM on 01/05/2023. Today is 01/07/2023 I called FedEx yesterday and was told in would be here by 5:00 PM it didn’t show up called them back today and was told it would be here on 01/09/2023 by 5:00 PM, 4 days late !! I have refused delivery on several other packages because they were so badly damaged !! My delivery instructions is “Place packages in my hands at front door driver is not to leave until contents of packages is inspected” instead they park pass my driveway and carry them to my garage and leave them. I told them today I will make sure I never have anything delivered by them ever again. I’m done with their crappy service !!
Fed-ex service is the worst of all delivery services! Even the U.S. Mail. UPS far better and then there’s Amazon which has figured out a system far better than any other. I have waited days for a fed-ex delivery which never arrived. Their Customer Service is non-existent and their website is useless.
Who ever gets their packages on time with FedEx? Almost always, FedEx has been late by at least one day and when something arrives at the destination facility early, they’ll hold it instead of delivering it early. I’ve had multiple packages stop in every state in between Nevada and Virginia, which obviously takes longer. In my experience, UPS can, and usually does, deliver ground packages in 2-3 days. I’ve had FedEx delays last longer than that. I’ve had FedEx two-day take longer than that. Plus, FedEx typically loses or misdelivers my packages.
I get a lot of packages delivered to me via UPS. My package is almost always on time or early. UPS equipment v with a delivery date and specific time. It’s very easy to track my package. Fedex on the other hand Is not very detailed in there tracking. I’ve been tracking my package for 5 days coming from California to South Florida. It arrived in my Hometown yesterday and this morning it was put on a truck to be delivered today “by the end of the day” but it is actually in route an hour and a half out of town first, then they will carry the 84 pound package back an hour and a half back to town to drop it off.
This is an awful lot of extra fuel and a 1/2 a day longer wait for the delivery. UPS it less expensive., more reliable, easier to track with better updates and clearer more detailed delivery date and time. UPS is a far better option for domestic shipments.
Then Fedex is, hands down.