For many years we have been using either FedEx or UPS Next Day Service, ignoring the US Postal Service Express Mail. Recently we took another look at Express Mail and we were surprised at the competitive rates offered, typically less than either UPS or FedEx.

Express Mails strong point is that there is no Fuel Surcharge and no Dimension Weight rating. The fuel surcharge for both FedEx and UPS change each month, as the cost of fuel goes up or down. Starting August 1st the fuel surcharge for UPS will be 14.5% and FedEx will be 15%.  Both rates are down from July by .5%.  But if you have filled up you gas tank lately you know that fuel prices have been going up again, so the fuel surcharge isn’t going to be much lower any time soon and possibly even higher. Dimension weight kicks in when a package dimension exceed 166 cubic inches. To figure the dimension weight, multiply the length, times the heights, times the width and divide by 166, that’s the weight rounded up to the nearest pound, that will be used to rate the package. So the larger the package, the more the chances that it will be dimension rated, rather than rated by its actual weight.

The post office does not use dimensional weight, hence the opportunity to save money. The only issue is that Express Mail is not available for all ZIP codes and if your package destination is to a ZIP code that does not offer next day delivery, it is delivered the following day. That’s not very good, especially if you charge your customer extra for the next day service. There is a way around this problem with a software API from the Postal Service that allows you to ping their server, to determine if next day service is available. If next day service is available, you send it with Express Mail, if not, you use UPS or FedEx Next Day service.

We were able to build this service into our software and offer our customer this extra saving. We have seen savings of between $2 and $10 per package or more on heavier, larger packages.

The US Postal Service guarantees the Express Mail service and gets a signature at no additional charge.  One additional caveat is that Express Mail will be delivered on Saturdays, at no additional cost. That could be a real plus!