Reviewers say the following about mailing letters and packages with the major shipping companies:

  • Whenever possible, ship early. Ground delivery, especially Parcel Post and Media Mail from the USPS, is much more affordable than air delivery. When a shipment is local, these services are often as fast as any others.
  • Pack items yourself. You'll pay a hefty premium to have your items packed for you. If you need to ship something breakable, it might be worth paying shipper to do this if they include a guarantee against damage.
  • How important is tracking? FedEx, DHL and UPS have better online tracking tools than the USPS. Tracking a package sent through the Postal Service costs extra, and experts say the website isn't nearly as informative as those of the competing services.
  • Compare prices. You can check prices at each of the companies' websites or use a price-comparison website, such as ShippingSidekick.com, for estimated prices.
  • All of the companies lose and damage packages at the same rate. We didn't find any evidence that a particular company is better or worse when it comes to lost or damaged packages.
  • Consider setting up an account if you ship a lot. All of the major companies offer discounted rates for high-volume shippers with an account.
  • Watch for discounts when shopping online. Many online retailers offer free or discounted shipping when you spend a set amount on products at their store. Some even offer free site-to-store shipping. However, you don't often get to choose the carrier.

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