Miss These Holiday Shipping Deadlines, and It Will Cost You

Whether you're ordering from Amazon or shipping a gift through a delivery service, here's how to keep costs as low as possible.

Miss These Holiday Shipping Deadlines, and It Will Cost You Photo by Youproduction / Shutterstock.com

You might have ample time left to buy holiday gifts, but shipping them is another story.

Generally, the longer you wait, the more shipping will cost you.

That’s certainly true this time of year. Same-day delivery service on Christmas Day, for example, can carry a surcharge of up to $50.

So, mind the following holiday shipping deadlines for delivery services and online retailer Amazon.


For packages shipping within the U.S., the following dates are the last on which you can drop them off or have them picked up for delivery by Dec. 25:

  • FedEx Ground, FedEx Home Delivery — Dec. 17
  • FedEx Express Saver — Dec. 19
  • FedEx 2Day, FedEx 2Day A.M. — Dec. 20
  • FedEx First Overnight, FedEx Priority Overnight, FedEx Standard Overnight — Dec. 21
  • FedEx SameDay, FedEx SameDay City Priority, FedEx SameDay City Direct — Dec. 25

Shipments to or from Alaska or Hawaii can take longer.

Just because you can wait until Christmas Day doesn’t mean you should, however. It will cost you — an additional holiday pickup or delivery fee of $40 or $50 for the “SameDay” services listed above.

Additionally, if you use FedEx Ground, you can take advantage of the $5-off coupon that FedEx is currently offering. It’s good for $5 off a $15 ground shipment and is valid through the holidays.

U.S. Postal Service

USPS recommends that customers in the U.S. send holiday cards and gifts by the following dates for delivery before Dec. 25:

  • USPS Retail Ground — Dec. 14 (unavailable in Alaska and Hawaii)
  • First-Class Mail, Priority Mail — Dec. 20
  • Priority Mail Express — Dec. 22

You might not want to wait until the last minute, though. A footnote states, “Dates are for estimated delivery before December 25. Actual delivery date may vary depending on origin, destination, Post Office acceptance date and time and other conditions, including customs delays.”


Packages for UPS pickup and delivery service on the following dates will be scheduled for delivery on Dec. 24:

  • UPS 3 Day Select — Dec. 18
  • UPS 2nd Day Air — Dec. 20
  • UPS Next Day Air — Dec. 21

UPS also notes that the most current transit time details will be available through its “Calculate Time and Cost” tool at the time of shipping.


Many retailers with brick-and-mortar stores offer a free store pickup option that enables you to do a good amount of procrastination. With Amazon orders, however, last-minute purchases can be costlier, at least for shoppers who are not members of Amazon Prime.

If you’re in the contiguous U.S. states, the following dates are the last on which you can order items that you want to receive before Dec. 25:

  • Free shipping with no minimum — Dec. 18
  • Standard shipping (free for Amazon Prime members on qualifying orders) — Dec. 18
  • Two-day shipping (free for Prime members) — Dec. 22
  • One-day shipping (free for Prime members in certain areas) — Dec. 23
  • Same-day delivery (free for Prime members in certain areas), ultra-fast free delivery with Prime Now (only for Prime members in certain areas) — Dec. 24

Amazon also notes, however, that cutoff times vary by item, so go by the delivery date that is listed when you are checking out. You can also find more specifics on Amazon’s “Shipping Rates & Times” webpage.

What’s your favorite way to ship holiday packages? Let us know below or on our Facebook page.

Karla Bowsher
Karla Bowsher
I’m a freelance journalist and former newspaper reporter who has covered both personal and public finance. I've worked for a top 50 major metro daily and a community newspaper as well as ... More


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