News for Procrastinators – Cheapest Overnight Shipping

Photo (cc) by Ed Yourdon

More than a quarter of Americans are still wrapping up Christmas shopping, according to Consumer Reports. Procrastinators know that last-minute shopping can lead to some great finds, but the big problem is getting them shipped in time without blowing your savings.

The three most popular options for last-minute shipping are UPS, FedEx, and the U.S. Postal Service. You might think it doesn’t matter which you pick — but actually there’s a big difference, and it becomes more pronounced as your package size and procrastination level increase.

Take a look at the news story Stacy recently shot, then meet me on the other side for more.

USPS is generally cheapest

For the fixed sizes, weights, and destinations we got price quotes for, the Post Office was clearly the cheapest option. One of the major reasons is that they don’t charge a fuel surcharge like the other carriers. FedEx was a distant, but clear, second place.

Here’s another look at the comparison shopping for shipping we did this year, based on sending from New York to Los Angeles.

Overnight delivery

If you get your packages in the mail right after you read this, you might not have to pay these rates. (See shipping deadlines below.)

One-pound letter-size envelope

  • USPS (excluding Alaska and Hawaii): $18
  • FedEx: $22
  • UPS: $33

Five-pound package

  • USPS: $42
  • FedEx: $52
  • UPS: $70

Same-day delivery

If you have a dollar for every minute you spent procrastinating, then there’s a same-day delivery option for you – if you get in early enough. While the USPS can’t guarantee this, the others can if the price is right. It better be pretty special, though. These shipping charges will probably cost more than the gift. For New York to L.A., the same cities, dropped off at 8 a.m. and arriving by 5 p.m., we got the following quotes.

Five-pound package

  • FedEx: $223
  • UPS: $286

150-pound box

  • FedEx: $223
  • UPS: $488

As you can see, FedEx will ship up to 150 pounds same-day for same-price, but UPS won’t.

Shipping deadlines

If you don’t wait until the last minute, though, you won’t face these insane rates – and given a little time, the other carriers are more competitive. Here are some deadlines that can help you save more money.

USPS: First-class (under 13 oz.) – Today, Dec. 20...Priority – Tuesday, Dec. 21...Express – Wednesday, Dec. 22.

UPS: 3-Day Select – Tuesday, Dec. 21...Next Day Air – Thursday, Dec. 23.

FedEx: Express Saver – Tuesday, Dec. 21...Two Day – Wednesday, Dec. 22…Overnight – Thursday, Dec. 23.

And remember, if you use the Post Office, you may be able to skip the inevitable long lines. With automated kiosks and online options, you should never have to wait in line. See the story we did last year, Three Ways to Avoid Lines at the Post Office. Signing up with Federal Express and/or UPS will also allow you to do pretty much everything everything online and avoid lines.

Get a quote

Our quotes were based on fixed sizes and destinations — prices may vary, so you should get a quote yourself before you go stand in line. Here’s some links.

Postal Service shipping rates

FedEx shipping rates

UPS shipping rates

FedEx shipping rates (same day)

UPS shipping rates (same day)

Alternatives

It’s not too late for online shopping, and some companies will still pick up the bulk of the shipping cost. Many big-name retailers will still charge standard (with a minimum purchase, free) shipping rates through today and guarantee delivery by Christmas Eve, including Amazon, Target, Toys R Us, and Best Buy.

And while Free Shipping Day has passed, the site still has a very handy list of who’s offering free and reduced shipping rates, and what the deadlines are – plus some coupon codes.

If the shipping prices and deadline stress are totally out of your league, consider giving an electronic gift card — those can be “shipped” instantly to your loved one’s email account, for free. A big box store like Amazon is probably your best bet for e-gift cards and has lots of cute personalization options, but you can find a list of store-specific e-gift options here.

Disclosure: The information you read here is always objective. However, we sometimes receive compensation when you click links within our stories.

Read Next
26 Things Everyone Should Keep in Their Car
26 Things Everyone Should Keep in Their Car

These tools and conveniences help protect drivers from hassles and calamities on the road.

Retiree Households Lose $111,000 to This Social Security Misstep
Retiree Households Lose $111,000 to This Social Security Misstep

A study finds 96% of retirees make this mistake when claiming Social Security benefits.

6 Investing Tools That Help You Diversify
6 Investing Tools That Help You Diversify

Here’s how you can lend to startup businesses, fund social causes or get in on investments once available only to the very rich.

8 Reasons Your Parents Had an Easier Retirement Than You Will
8 Reasons Your Parents Had an Easier Retirement Than You Will

Here’s why the last decades of life are harder now than they used to be.

15 of the Fastest-Growing Jobs Today
15 of the Fastest-Growing Jobs Today

Times are tough, but these career fields are thriving.

View this page without ads

Help us produce more money-saving articles and videos by subscribing to a membership.

Get Started

Most Popular
10 Things Frugal People Never Buy
10 Things Frugal People Never Buy

If you’re a true tightwad, the mere thought of spending money on these items gives you the willies.

10 Useless Purchases You Need to Stop Making
10 Useless Purchases You Need to Stop Making

You might as well flush your money down the loo if you spend it on these things.

The 16 Cars Most Likely to Last 200,000 Miles
The 16 Cars Most Likely to Last 200,000 Miles

One automaker takes half the spots on a list of the longest-lasting vehicles.

7 Social Security Rules Everyone Should Know by Now
7 Social Security Rules Everyone Should Know by Now

Confusion over Social Security is a shame, considering how many of us will need this money badly.

9 Shopping Mistakes to Avoid at Costco
9 Shopping Mistakes to Avoid at Costco

Are you missing out on serious savings at your favorite warehouse club?

If You Find This Thrift Shopping, Buy It
If You Find This Thrift Shopping, Buy It

They don’t make coffee makers like this anymore.

11 Products Now in Short Supply Due to the Pandemic
11 Products Now in Short Supply Due to the Pandemic

Many goods we take for granted have become tough to find in 2021.

7 Kirkland Signature Items to Avoid at Costco
7 Kirkland Signature Items to Avoid at Costco

Even if it seems you save a bundle buying Costco’s Kirkland Signature brand products, they may not be the bargain they appear to be.

14 Things You Should Stop Buying in 2021
14 Things You Should Stop Buying in 2021

These convenient household products come with hidden costs that you might not have considered.

3 Ways to Get Microsoft Office for Free
3 Ways to Get Microsoft Office for Free

With a little ingenuity, you can cut Office costs to zero.

Is Writing a Check Still Safe?
Is Writing a Check Still Safe?

Every time you pay by check, you hand your bank account numbers to a stranger.

6 Ways to Protect Your Retirement Accounts From Hackers
6 Ways to Protect Your Retirement Accounts From Hackers

Imagine having $245,000 stolen from your retirement account — and not being reimbursed.

8 Things You Should Replace to Improve Your Life Today
8 Things You Should Replace to Improve Your Life Today

Being frugal isn’t smart if you put off replacing these items.

This Is the Most Dependable Car Brand in the U.S.
This Is the Most Dependable Car Brand in the U.S.

This brand’s vehicles are least likely to give drivers repair headaches, according to J.D. Power.

13 Amazon Purchases We Are Loving Right Now
13 Amazon Purchases We Are Loving Right Now

These practical products make everyday life a little easier.

7 Hidden Sections of Amazon Every Shopper Should Know
7 Hidden Sections of Amazon Every Shopper Should Know

These little-known departments of Amazon are gold mines for deal-seekers and impulse shoppers alike.

7 Income Tax Breaks That Retirees Often Overlook
7 Income Tax Breaks That Retirees Often Overlook

Did you realize all these tax credits and deductions exist — or that they apply to retirees?

7 Social Security Benefits You May Be Overlooking
7 Social Security Benefits You May Be Overlooking

There’s more to Social Security than retirement benefits.

The 6 Best Investing Apps for Beginners
The 6 Best Investing Apps for Beginners

If you’re looking to ease into investing in the coronavirus economy with just a little money, check out these easy-to-use tools.

View More Articles

View this page without ads

Help us produce more money-saving articles and videos by subscribing to a membership.

Get Started

Add a Comment

Our Policy: We welcome relevant and respectful comments in order to foster healthy and informative discussions. All other comments may be removed. Comments with links are automatically held for moderation.