Overnight shipping is one of the greatest tools of the shipping and handling industry. Thanks to airplanes and modern distribution networks, you can ship products hundreds of miles away in a matter of hours if you need to.
In fact, any form of expedited shipping is one of the most expensive ways you can deliver goods. So, what are the costs you can expect to pay to ship goods overnight, especially if you’re learning how to ship large items? How do the three major carriers--UPS, FedEx, and USPS--stack up against each other?
Continue reading to find these answers and more.
How Does Overnight Shipping Work?
Overnight shipping is the process of dropping off a package one day and having it delivered the next business day (sometimes sooner). There are several logistical requirements that must be met before overnight shipping can be successful.
First, the package must meet overnight shipping requirements. This means the package needs to be properly sealed, not exceed weight limits, and be dropped off before the cutoff time.
No matter how many eCommerce shipping companies you’re considering, there’s a time of day after which your package won’t be logged for that business day. Instead, they will assign it to the next business day’s outgoing shipments, and the delivery time will be extended by one day.
Second, the shipping company must have room for it in their cargo bays. Overnight packages are transported from shipping facilities to airplanes, then from airports to distribution centers, and then to the customer--sometimes through 3PL companies. Because of such sensitive transportation logistics, most companies only have so much room in airplane cargo bays.
If for any reason space is limited, it may delay your shipment or cost more to be included. If your company does a lot of bulk shipping, overnight shipping isn’t a good call for you, because of the costs and logistics involved.
Third, the shipping company must have a transportation network that matches up with point A and point B. In most cases, shipping companies have a staggered distribution network that they send overnighted packages through.
For example, a plane may go from Chicago to Philadelphia, Philadelphia to Charlotte, Charlotte to Atlanta, and so on. By sending planes short distances across the country, it’s easier for carriers to pick up and drop off packages efficiently.
Overnight shipping is optimal for domestic destinations, as locations further away can’t be reached by the next morning. Before finalizing shipping costs, double-check that your carrier can deliver to your recipient’s location. If not, you may need to utilize alternative shipping services.
If you’re having trouble finding the right shipping company, fear no more. Our own shipping tools aggregate our customers’ buying leverage to negotiate marvelous rates from more than 60 shipping companies.
How Long Does Overnight Shipping Take?
Overnight shipping typically takes between 12 to 24 hours from the point a package is given to a carrier until it reaches the buyer. However, sometimes it takes longer due to lengthy lead time, inclement weather, or in transit inventory that’s ahead of your goods.
Such issues are rare, but it’s because of these factors that shipping companies must limit what they can guarantee. Overnighted packages may reach their respective customers between one to two business days after shipment begins.
UPS Overnight Shipping
UPS is one of the largest and oldest shipping companies in the United States. The carrier started in 1907, employs nearly half a million people, and generates around $4.8 billion in annual revenue.
UPS’s overnight shipping options are some of the best of their kind. If you prefer UPS in general because they offer competitive rates, the story is no different with their overnight costs. Keep reading for details on UPS overnight shipping pricing.
UPS Overnight Shipping Cost
UPS overnight shipping costs vary based on the services they offer and total package weight. Take a look at their overnight shipping options and costs below:
UPS Next Day Air Saver:
- Roughly $100 to $110 for packages 5 pounds or less
- Roughly $140 to $150 for packages 10 pounds or less
- Roughly $150 and up for packages heavier than 10 pounds
UPS Next Day Air:
- Roughly $110 to $120 for packages 5 pounds or less
- Roughly $145 to $155 for packages 10 pounds or less
- Roughly $160 and up for packages heavier than 10 pounds
UPS Next Day Air Early:
- Roughly $140 to $150 for packages 5 pounds or less
- Roughly $175 to $185 for packages 10 pounds or less
- Around $210 to $220 for packages heavier than 10 pounds
USPS Overnight Shipping
Though USPS doesn’t offer an “overnight” shipping service by name, instead their Priority Mail Express service is the closest to an overnight guarantee. They also offer great flat rate shipping options to take advantage of if possible.
USPS Overnight Shipping Cost
USPS Priority Mail Express is broken into two categories: Express Domestic and Express International. Express Domestic packages are delivered in one to two business days, and Express International packages are delivered in three to five business days.
Costs increase incrementally for packages of varying weights, but rise steeply from domestic to international. Take a look at the pricing below:
Priority Mail Express:
- Starting at $26.35 for packages weighing half a pound or less
- Starting at $28.35 for packages 5 pounds or less
- Starting at $42.70 for packages 10 pounds or less
- Starting at $44.75 for packages heavier than 10 pounds
For an additional $5, you can also get guaranteed delivery on the next business day by 10:30 AM.
Priority Mail Express International:
- Starting at $45.95 for packages weighing half a pound or less
- Starting at $71.75 for packages 5 pounds or less
- Starting at $98.55 for packages 10 pounds or less
- Starting at $103.80 for packages heavier than 10 pounds
FedEx Overnight Shipping
Thanks to their robust, global network of air transportation and distribution, FedEx offers some of the best overnight rates in the industry. FedEx made their name as a reliable, fast shipping company in large part because they began offering air freight when few other companies were.
FedEx Overnight Shipping Cost
FedEx’s overnight shipping services come with three options: Standard, Priority, and First. Standard delivers packages to businesses by 4:30 PM and residences by 8PM; Priority delivers packages to businesses by 10:30 AM and residences by 4:30 PM; and First gets packages delivered by 9:30 AM to most locations.
Here are the starting prices for each category:
FedEx Standard Overnight:
- Roughly $85 to $95 for packages 5 pounds or less
- Roughly $116 to $126 for packages 10 pounds or less
- Roughly $135 to $145 or more for packages heavier than 10 pounds
FedEx Priority Overnight:
- Roughly $110 to $120 for packages 5 pounds or less
- Roughly $136 to $146 for packages 10 pounds or less
- Roughly $165 to $175 or more for packages heavier than 10 pounds
FedEx First Overnight:
- Roughly $145 to $155 for packages 5 pounds or less
- Roughly $170 to $180 for packages 10 pounds or less
- Roughly $199 to $210 or more for packages heavier than 10 pounds
*Bear in mind that all shipping costs, including overnight shipping costs, are subject to change at any time. Price fluctuations may be the result of business service changes, higher demand, limited transportation availability, or entirely different factors.
Cheapest Overnight Shipping
The cheapest overnight shipping is going to be USPS in most cases. At about $26 to $28 for most packages, this is roughly $58 to $78 cheaper than both FedEx and UPS.
Because the United States Postal Service is a government entity, and therefore doesn't have the same marketing and infrastructure expenses of businesses, they’re able to offer much lower rates than competitors. They also have 265 processing facilities, making it easier to move mail to and from destinations.
Frequently Asked Questions About Overnight Shipping Costs
Overnight shipping is a huge convenience when you need it, but that doesn’t mean it’s easy to navigate. Transitioning products from sold on your online marketplace to the hands of customers can get a little overwhelming.
To make it easier, here are some frequently asked questions about overnight shipping and our answers to them:
How much does it cost to overnight a package?
Overnighting a package depends on the item’s weight, destination, and carrier of choice, but most overnight deliveries run between $27 and $70. This price range assumes you selected a service that delivers within 24 hours of dispatch, your package weighs 5 pounds or less, and there are no delays.
If your package weighs less or only has a short distance to travel, you may well find lower rates than the price range above. Always check rates the day you ship your package out so you can get the best price possible.
Which is cheaper: FedEx or UPS overnight?
Though the two companies offer comparable rates, FedEx’s Standard Overnight option is a little cheaper than UPS’s Next Day Air Saver. One of the reasons FedEx is able to charge less for overnighting is because of their extensive air fleet.
How much is FedEx overnight?
FedEx’s overnight shipping options range from $85 on the lower end to $210 or more on the higher end. Their lower rates deliver packages later in the day through mid-evening, and their faster rates deliver packages through midday up to early morning.
Does it cost more to ship liquids?
No, it doesn't cost more to ship liquids, as long as you follow the shipping carrier's regulations.
There Are No Overnight Success Stories… Except Shipping
Getting your packages delivered quickly is sometimes a necessity, which is why overnighting is so convenient. Sending urgent documents, shipping frozen food, and medicine are examples of products that are routinely shipped overnight.
Use the prices and information here to guide your decisions. With the right service, you can get packages delivered on time and keep customers happy. This in turn leads to more eCommerce sales, higher profits, and a more successful business.