Cheapest Shipping: FedEx, UPS, or the Post Office?

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For many consumers, Santa's sleigh takes the form of a white or brown truck, and gifts arrive by way of the doorstep rather than the chimney. FedEx, UPS, and the U.S. Postal Service all promise to whisk a package across the country in time to go under a tree tomorrow. But can they do it without blowing your holiday budget? Cheapism.com obtained rate quotes from all three providers for a 5-pound parcel going from New York to residential addresses in Chicago and San Francisco. For almost every level of service, from standard ground delivery to overnight, the Postal Service is the cheapest option. (It charges different prices depending on whether the sender goes to the post office or prints a shipping label at home and schedules a pickup via USPS.com.) The cost is often lower still with flat-rate boxes from the Postal Service, which ship for the same price regardless of weight or destination, as long as the contents fit in one of several sizes provided.

New York to Chicago:

Provider Ground Delivery 2 Day/Priority Overnight/Next Day
FedEx $11.17
(1-5 business days)
$32.36
(2 business days by 4:30 p.m.)
$77.14
(Next business day by 3 p.m.)
UPS $13.75
(4-7 business days)
$33.62
(2 business days by noon)
$81.93
(Next business day by noon)
Postal Service $12.89
(2-8 business days)
$13.60
(1-3 business days)
$52
(Next day by 10:30 a.m.)

New York to San Francisco:

Provider Ground Delivery 2 Day/Priority Overnight/Next Day
FedEx $13.07
(1-5 business days)
$48.97
(2 business days by 4:30 p.m.)
$89.80
(Next business day by 3 p.m.)
UPS $17.40
(4-7 business days)
$51.47
(2 business days by noon)
$95.47
(Next business day by noon)
Postal Service $12.89
(2-8 business days)
$13.60
(1-3 business days)
$52
(Next day by 10:30 a.m.)