Cheapest Overnight Shipping: Your Budget-Friendly Delivery Solution In The U.S.

January 14, 2024

Overnight shipping offers fast delivery within 12 to 24 hours but can be expensive due to high transportation costs, guaranteed time frames, and high demand. The three major carriers in the United States offering cheap overnight shipping are the United States Postal Service (USPS), United Parcel Service (UPS), and Federal Express (FedEx). USPS Priority Mail Express is ideal and also the cheapest overnight shipping option for lightweight items. FedEx and UPS may offer better rates for larger packages. Rates for overnight shipping depend on package weight and size.

USPS Priority Mail Express is the overall best choice for overnight shipping. Starting at just $28.75, USPS Priority Mail Express provides affordable pricing, especially for lightweight items. While it doesn't offer a guarantee for next-day arrival, it guarantees delivery within two days. This assurance adds an extra layer of reliability and peace of mind.

Shipping packages can be a hassle, especially during busy times. Finding the best shipping rate without sacrificing reliability is often a challenge. When it comes to overnight shipping, reliability is crucial, even if it means paying extra. But with so many shipping carriers to choose from, how can you find the cheapest overnight shipping price without sacrificing reliability?

Our guide is here to help you simplify the shipping process and find the cheapest overnight shipping price among the top carriers. We'll show you an easy way to compare shipping prices so you can get the most value for your money. Say goodbye to the hassle and find the best shipping rate for your package.

What Is Overnight Shipping?

Overnight shipping is a special delivery service that guarantees your package will arrive at its destination by the next business day at or before a specified time of day. Understanding the concept of “overnight shipping” is essential, especially when you have a specific delivery time in mind. Knowing the timeframe helps you plan accordingly.

When you opt for overnight shipping, packages usually take between 12 and 24 hours to reach their destination. In other words, you choose this service when you need your package to arrive the next day. There are various reasons that can lead to such tight deadlines, but ensuring prompt and successful delivery is crucial.

The cut-off times determine whether a package can be sent for overnight shipping. If you drop off your package after the designated cut-off time, it won't be guaranteed for next-day delivery. Instead, it will be scheduled for overnight shipping starting from the following day.

The cost of overnight shipping often depends on factors like weight limits and the distance to the package's destination. These packages are transported on cargo planes, delivered to distribution centers, and promptly routed to their final location.

Related: You may be interested in the best and cheapest overnight shipping in Canada.

Why Is Overnight Shipping So Expensive?

There are a few reasons why overnight shipping can be expensive.

  • High Transportation Costs: Overnight shipping requires faster and more expensive transportation methods, such as air freight, to meet tight delivery deadlines. This is especially true in the case of the U.S., which is a very large country.
  • Guaranteed Time Frame: Overnight shipping often comes with a guaranteed delivery time frame, which adds to the cost as carriers need to ensure prompt and time-sensitive delivery. They may also require the carrier to make a remedy payment to the customer if it fails to meet the guaranteed time frame, which also adds to the overall cost.
  • High Demand: Overnight shipping is in high demand, particularly for urgent and time-critical shipments. This increased demand can drive up prices due to limited availability and higher service charges.

Related: Shipping from the U.S. to Canada? Read our post on the cheapest way to ship from the U.S. to Canada for cheap.

Cheapest Overnight Shipping Options

In the United States, three major carriers provide the cheapest, fastest, and most reliable shipping: the United States Postal Service, United Parcel Service, and Federal Express. Each carrier has its own set of rates and criteria for overnight delivery. Having a clear understanding of these rates enables you to make an informed decision and select the carrier that best suits your requirements.

Let’s dissect each one at a time.

#1 USPS Overnight Shipping

Cheapest Overnight Shipping: Your Budget-Friendly Delivery Solution in the U.S.

USPS offers overnight shipping through their service called Priority Mail Express. This option is available for both domestic and international packages. The cost of USPS overnight shipping depends on the weight of the package. This makes USPS Priority Mail Express more suitable for lightweight items and documents.

For domestic shipments, USPS Priority Mail Express guarantees delivery by 6 pm the next day or within two days, tops, with a money-back guarantee. However, the post office doesn't provide a guarantee for next-day arrival. Here are the different prices for overnight shipping according to the USPS website:

  • Flat Rate Envelopes start at $28.75
  • Legal Flat Rate Envelopes are $28.95
  • Padded Flat Rate Envelopes cost slightly more at $29.45

Using flat-rate boxes can be an excellent way to save on overnight shipping. These boxes come in different sizes (small, medium, and large), allowing you to choose the one that fits your item and saves you money.

Examples of flat rate options pricing

Flat rate boxCommercial base pricePrice at post officeDimensions
Flat Rate Envelope$8.05$9.6512 1/2″ x 9 1/2″
Padded Flat Rate Envelope$8.80$10.4012 1/2″ x 9 1/2″
Small Flat Rate Box$8.55$10.208 11/16″ x 5 7/16″ x 1 3/4″
Large Flat Rate Box$19.90$22.8012 1/4″ x 12 1/4″ x 6″

#2 UPS Overnight Shipping

Cheapest Overnight Shipping: Your Budget-Friendly Delivery Solution in the U.S.

UPS provides different overnight delivery services based on the specific time of day when your package will be delivered. Here's a breakdown of the options:

  • UPS Next Day Air Saver: This service delivers packages between 3 pm and 4:30 pm to commercial locations and by the end of the day (7 pm) to residential locations.
  • UPS Next Day Air: Guaranteed delivery by 10:30 pm
  • UPS Next Day Air Early: Packages shipped with this service arrive between 8 and 9 pm on the next business day.

All UPS deliveries can be trackable to monitor their progress. The pricing for these services depends on the weight and size of the package. You can pick from the five flat packaging rates.

  • Extra Small: Starting at $10.20 (Dimensions: 1-100 cubic inches)
  • Small: Starting at $13.35 (Dimensions: 101-250 cubic inches)
  • Medium: Starting at $16.05 (Dimensions: 251-650 cubic inches)
  • Large: Starting at $21.05 (Dimensions: 651-1,050 cubic inches)
  • Extra Large: Starting at $26.05 (Dimensions: 1,051-1,728 cubic inches)

#3 FedEx Overnight Shipping

Cheapest Overnight Shipping: Your Budget-Friendly Delivery Solution in the U.S.

FedEx is popular for providing some of the best value on the market when it comes to cheap overnight shipping. FedEx offers overnight shipping with three different options for delivery times:

  • FedEx First Overnight: Delivery the next morning by 9 pm. Prices start from $68.04 for a 1-pound package.
  • FedEx Priority Overnight: Delivers in remote areas by 10:30 pm. Prices start from $37.04 for a 1-pound package.
  • FedEx Standard Overnight: Delivery by 3 pm or 4:30 pm for rural locations and 8 pm for residences. Prices start from $33.87 for a 1-pound package.

FedEx's price for packages increases according to weight as well as delivery commitment time.

What To Look For In A Shipping Company

There are several things you should look for in a shipping company. Here are the most important ones:

#1 Insurance

When looking for cheap overnight shipping companies, opt for carriers offering robust insurance options. This will make the shipment slightly more expensive, but it’ll give you peace of mind knowing that your items are covered in the event of damage, loss, or theft.

Take the time to understand the carrier's insurance policies and procedures, including how to declare the value of your items and the process for filing insurance claims. By selecting a shipping company with comprehensive insurance coverage, you can safeguard your shipments and minimize financial risks associated with potential damages.

#2 Price

When selecting the cheapest overnight shipping company, price is obviously a key factor. You’ll obviously want to choose the shipping company with the lowest rates. Nonetheless, it’s important to compare prices based on your specific shipment requirements before making a decision. This means measuring and weighing your package to get an accurate estimate of the shipping price before making your decision. Taking the time to evaluate pricing options ensures that you make an informed choice that suits your needs.

#3 Tracking

Choosing a shipping company that prioritizes efficient and effective tracking is important to ensure a smooth and hassle-free shipping experience. FedEx and UPS offer real-time tracking, allowing you to monitor your packages' progress. While USPS hasn't updated its tracking system, you can still contact customer service to track packages. Reliable tracking provides peace of mind, informing you about your shipment's location and estimated delivery time.

#4 Location

One of the challenges in shipping is getting your package to the carrier. Look for cheap next-day shipping companies with convenient locations, whether it’s a physical store or easily accessible drop-off spots. FedEx and UPS may even offer pickup services for a premium, so consider this when making your final decision. Selecting a shipping company with conveniently located facilities can save you time and make the shipping process more efficient.

#5 Reliability

While no shipping carrier is perfect, some are more reliable than others, making reliability an important factor to consider. Assess the carrier's reputation and reliability record. Read customer reviews to gauge their performance in terms of on-time delivery, package handling, and customer satisfaction. Opting for a reliable shipping company helps minimize the risk of package loss or damage, ensuring a smoother shipping experience.

Cheapest Overnight Shipping Rates

Shipping rates, including overnight rates, are primarily determined by the package's dimensions and weight. As the package's size and weight increase, so does the cost. When you consider it in terms of space, you are essentially paying for the amount of room your package occupies in trucks and airplanes—consequently, the larger the package, the higher the shipping rate.

Now, let's look at the various packages that may require overnight shipping and which cheap next-day shipping is the best for the job.

#1 A Letter Or Lightweight Package

For letters or lightweight packages, USPS generally offers the most affordable rates. Sending letters through USPS is significantly cheaper, although FedEx and UPS still provide affordable overnight delivery options.

#2 Medium To Large Package

When it comes to medium to large packages, the best rates can vary depending on factors such as destination, weight, and size. Compare each carrier's rates, timeframes, and guarantee policies to determine the cheapest overnight shipping option. Obtain quotes from each carrier to find your best choice.

#3 Oversized Or Freight

FedEx or UPS usually offers the lowest rates for oversized packages and freight. However, shipping such items still incurs a premium cost due to the large space they occupy during transport.

Related: You may be interested in our post on the cheapest car shipping in Canada.

Price Comparison

Each shipping courier has their own version of flat-rate shipping for packages with comparable sizes and price points. USPS offers free flat-rate boxes for packages up to 20 pounds, with delivery taking 1-3 business days. FedEx has flat-rate services for parcels up to 50 pounds, with delivery options of 1, 2, or 3 days. UPS has five flat rate options for packages up to 50 pounds, including ground, 2nd-day air, and 3-day select choices.

Starting Flat RatesUSPSUPSFedEx
Small Box$10.20$13.35$9.95
Medium Box$17.10$16.05$12.95
Large Box$22.80$21.05$20.00
Extra LargeN/A$26.05$32.35

Options To Help Save On Overnight Shipping

Here are some ways you can save money on overnight shipping

  • Compare Rates: Take the time to compare shipping rates from different carriers. Rates can vary significantly, so exploring multiple options allows you to find the cheapest next-day shipping for your needs. Consider factors such as delivery speed, coverage, and additional services that each carrier offers.
  • Shop around for discounts: Many shipping services offer various discounts to their customers. Look for cheap overnight shipping that offers volume shipping discounts or discounts for shipping during off-peak hours. By shopping around and inquiring about available discounts, you can potentially save a substantial amount on your overnight shipping expenses.
  • Use a shipping calculator: Utilize a shipping calculator to estimate the cost of shipping your package. By entering package dimensions, weight, and destination, the calculator can provide an estimate of the shipping cost. This helps you determine whether overnight shipping is the most cost-effective option or if alternative shipping methods may be more economical.
  • Off-Peak Shipping: Take advantage of off-peak hours or days when shipping rates are typically lower. By avoiding peak periods, such as the holiday seasons or busy days, you can secure more affordable rates for your overnight shipments. Consider scheduling your shipments strategically to benefit from these cost-saving opportunities.
  • Pack your package carefully: Properly packing your package reduces the risk of damage during transit, helping you avoid additional expenses. Use suitable packaging materials, cushion fragile items, and secure the contents properly. By taking extra care in packing, you can minimize the likelihood of damage and avoid the need for insurance or replacement packages.

In Summary

When it comes to finding the cheapest overnight shipping options, it's essential to do your research and compare rates from different carriers. Take the time to explore various shipping options and services. It’ll help you identify cost-effective solutions that meet your needs. While overnight shipping tends to be more expensive than standard shipping methods, it offers the advantage of faster delivery for time-sensitive packages. It's essential to consider factors such as package size, weight, destination, and any additional fees or restrictions that may apply. Ensure you are well-informed and making informed decisions so you can save money while still enjoying the benefits of overnight shipping services.

Cheap Overnight Shipping FAQs

How can I find the cheapest overnight shipping rates?

To find the cheapest overnight shipping rates, compare rates from different carriers. You can visit their websites or use shipping rate comparison tools to compare prices and choose the most affordable option. Look for discounts, promotions, and volume shipping options that can help reduce costs.

What happens if the package doesn't arrive on time?

If the package fails to arrive on the expected delivery date and time, most courier companies offer a refund of the mailing costs. However, note that this refund may not cover any additional charges you may have paid, such as for Sunday delivery or a fuel surcharge. Refund policies vary between couriers, so you should familiarize yourself with the specific terms and conditions of the shipping company you're using.

Is overnight shipping expensive?

Yes, overnight shipping is generally expensive. Due to its quick delivery timeframe, it often comes with a higher price tag compared to other shipping options. In some cases, overnight shipping can cost a significant amount, reaching hundreds of dollars. The higher cost are a consequence of the couriers needing to prioritize speed over efficiency.

Can I track my overnight shipment?

Yes, most carriers provide real-time tracking services for overnight shipments. You can use tracking numbers provided by the carrier to monitor the progress of your package and get real-time updates on its location and estimated delivery time.

Are there weight limits for overnight shipping?

Yes, weight limits may apply for overnight shipping. Different carriers have varying weight restrictions, and exceeding these limits may result in additional fees or the need to use alternative shipping methods.

What does “guaranteed” mean?

When a service guarantees something, it means they will try their best to deliver packages the next day. However, no service can achieve a 100% success rate in doing so. So, if the package doesn't arrive within the promised time, the guarantee ensures that you will get your money back for the shipping fees or you’ll receive another type of retribution.

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