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FedEx vs. UPS: Which Is Better? [2022]

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 of 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.

fedex vs. ups

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 FeaturesUPS Services Features
Type of servicesThe carrier offers ground and air services.The carrier offers ground and air services.
Delivery timeBetween 1 and 7 business days.

Between 1 and 8 business days.

Size and weightWeight limit is 150lbs and the length limit is 108 inches.Weight limit is 150lb.
TrackingAllows you to track the package.Allows you to track the package.
Insured shipmentsYes, up to $100. Yes, up to $100.
Stores2,000Over 5,000

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 but 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 or 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. 

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 OptionsDelivery timeTimeframeCost
UPS Next Day Air® Early1 business day8:30 AM$263.25
UPS Next Day Air®1  business day10:30 AM$227.06
UPS Next Day Air Saver®1  business dayBy the end of the day$215.85
UPS 2nd Day Air A.M.®2 business daysBy the end of the day$159.16
UPS 2nd Day Air®2 business daysBy the end of the day$138.8
UPS 3 Day Select®3 business daysBy the end of the day$98.28
UPS Ground4 business daysBy the end of the day$42.77
FedEx First Overnight®1  business day8:00 AM$318.13
FedEx Priority Overnight®1 business day10:30 AM$280.7
FedEx Standard Overnight®1 business day4:30 PM$256.68
FedEx 2Day® AM2 business days10:30 AM$198.6
FedEx 2Day®2 business days4:30 PM$171.79
FedEx Express Saver®3 business days4:30 PM$142.67
FedEx Ground4 business daysBy 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 OptionsDelivery timeTimeframeCost
UPS Worldwide Express Plus®6 business days9:00 AM$451.79
UPS Worldwide Express®6 business days12:00 PM$402.89
UPS Worldwide Saver6 business daysBy the end of the day$397.34
UPS Worldwide Expedited®8 business daysBy the end of the day$371.68
FedEx International First®7 business days9:00 AM$516.75
FedEx International Priority® Express7 business days12:00 PM$467.45
FedEx International Economy®7 business days6:00 PM$380.97
FedEx International Priority®7 business days6:00 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 on 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 or 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.

Statistic: American customer satisfaction index scores for consumer shipping companies in the United States from 2017 to 2022 | Statista
Source: Statista

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.

Final Thoughts

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!

Helena Fernandez Morano

I presume to belong to a very talented pool of political scientists, who always manages to create new paths in the midst of uncertainty and that spirit marks my trajectory. When I'm not writing and immersing myself in the eCommerce world, I'm seeking to be part of projects with scope, to be accompanied by people from whom to learn every day and with whom to experience new challenges.

2 Comments

  1. Helena:

    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.

    – Tony

    1. 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 :)

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