Shipping discounts available from UPS, USPS and FedEx

At a time when carrier rates are rising faster than ever, you can protect your bottom line if you know how to save on shipping costs. One of the easiest ways is to take advantage of discounted shipping rates; this article will show you how.

Table of contents

  1. How do you get discounted shipping rates?
  2. Do businesses get discounted shipping rates?
  3. Which shipping carrier offers the best discounts?
  4. How can I obtain UPS shipping discounts?
  5. How can I get USPS shipping discounts?
  6. How do I get FedEx shipping discounts?
  7. How can I get discounts on international shipping?
  8. How to receive shipping discounts using coupon codes.
  9. How to choose the best shipping carrier for your business.
  10. Access shipping discounts effortlessly with Pitney Bowes.

How do you get discounted shipping rates?

Shipping discounts are deductions from a carrier’s published rates. Smart shippers who take advantage of discounted shipping rates can save 50 percent or more on shipping costs. Exactly how much you can save will depend on multiple factors, including your shipping volume and delivery requirements.

Carriers offer discounts to grow their market share, either by taking business away from competitors or capturing a larger portion of an existing customer’s business. They also want to make full use of all available space in their planes and trucks. All three carriers have discount programs, but the savings and availability varies. 

To obtain discounts, you may need to open an account or meet specific volume requirements. Some very high-volume shippers may be able to negotiate even deeper discounts for themselves. However, in recent years carriers have made discounts more widely available through shipping software, third-party logistics providers or even as a membership benefit from associations such as AARP or AAA. Both FedEx and UPS extend discounts beyond shipping rates to include savings on other business services such as printing or pack and ship services.

Do businesses get discounted shipping rates?

Businesses do not automatically receive discounted shipping rates. If you simply bring packages to the Post Office or UPS or FedEx retail locations, you will be treated as a consumer and charged the full retail rate. The good news is that shipping discounts are primarily aimed at business shippers—customers that spend enough on shipping throughout the year to justify the offer of a reduced rate. Your business can qualify for discounts from UPS and FedEx by simply opening an account and arranging for packages to be picked up. USPS discounts can be obtained by using a postage meter and shipping software. However, these initial discounts are just the tip of the iceberg. Even deeper discounts may be obtained using multicarrier shipping software, which can help you access savings that are not available through carrier websites or individual negotiations.

Which shipping carrier offers the best discounts?

Shipping is a highly competitive industry, and you can obtain substantial discounts from each of the major carriers. But you have to know which discounts make the most sense for your business, and how to obtain them. For example, a carrier may offer 20 percent savings on priority overnight shipping. But if your customers don’t need express delivery, there’s no real value for your business. Or a carrier may offer deep discounts for companies that ship thousands of packages per day. However, you won’t save nearly as much if you only ship a few hundred a packages per day. When shopping for rate discounts, you need to understand your shipping patterns: volume, speed requirements, geographic distribution and customer price sensitivity in order to get the best deal.

You don’t have to be a big business to qualify for discounted shipping rates. Small businesses represent a big opportunity for carriers—and they have responded by creating programs specifically targeted to the needs of growing businesses. It’s easy to qualify, either by shipping a certain number of packages per month or by agreeing to spend at least a minimum amount with the carrier. Another strategy to consider is working with a fulfillment service or third-party logistics provider. Although your own parcel volume may not be high, you can realize substantial savings when they pass their high-volume discounts along to you.

Obviously, it’s important to do your homework before making a commitment. Once you understand the potential savings that each individual carrier can offer your business, you should also consider whether you should commit to a single carrier or if it makes more sense to rely on multiple carriers.

How can I obtain UPS shipping discounts?

There are lots of ways to obtain a UPS discount, whether you are sending out packages on a daily basis or only shipping occasionally. Some discount programs are tailored to the needs of specific business types. Some require you to sign up for additional services, and others offer a variety of related benefits that may sweeten the deal for you.

Open a UPS account. 

It may come as a surprise, but you can save as much as 50 percent off everything you ship with UPS simply by opening a free account. You can sign up online in a matter of minutes. Once your account is activated, you can access UPS discount rates, schedule recurring pickups, bill shipments to third parties, and pay via credit card. Qualifying accounts can pay via invoice rather than at time of shipment.

Sign up for UPS Save As You Grow.

UPS created the Save As You Grow program to make it easy for startups and small businesses to save on shipping. Members can take advantage of volume-based discounts as much as 65% on UPS air services, UPS Ground and even international shipments. Even businesses that ship as little as one package per week can start saving and earn increasing discounts as they grow.

Work with a fulfillment service.

Is your business growing faster than your in-house fulfillment can handle? If so, you may want to consider switching to a fulfillment service that will not only pick, pack and ship your orders, but also pass along their UPS volume discount to you.

Negotiate a better rate.

You can simply call a UPS representative to discuss your needs and negotiate a custom discount for your business. The more volume you can commit, the deeper the discount you can receive. However, it’s important to fully understand all details of the contract before you sign on the dotted line. What happens if you fail to meet the required volume? Are you still entitled to money-back guarantees when delivery dates are missed? 

Save even more with the right shipping software.

Multi-carrier shipping software does more than make it easy to shop for the best combination of shipping rate and delivery date. It also provides access to deeply discounted carrier rates that may not be readily available anywhere else. For example, thanks to a long-standing relationship between UPS and Pitney Bowes, our powerful PitneyShip® software offers deep discounts up to 88 percent off UPS retail rates.

How can I get USPS shipping discounts? 

As an entity of the U.S. government, the USPS isn’t intended to generate a profit, so its rates are already low compared to UPS and FedEx. But that doesn’t mean that there aren’t any discounts to be had. There are many ways to save on shipping with USPS, but the discounts aren’t available at your local Post Office.

How to access USPS commercial discounts

USPS commercial discounts are only available when you purchase postage from an online vendor or through your postage meter or shipping software. The amount you save will vary based on the shipping speed and distance, as well as package size and weight. Although USPS shipping discounts may not be as deep as those offered by commercial carriers, the savings can really add up over time. You must have a regularly scheduled pickup to qualify, and commercial rates apply to a wide range of USPS services, including Priority Mail International and Priority Mail Express International.

  Retail Rate* Commercial Base Rate* Savings
Priority Mail Express flat rate envelope $27.90 $24.25 13%
Priority Mail Express 2 lb. package to Zone 8 $57.00 $49.15 14%
Priority Mail small flat rate box $10.40 $9.00 13.5%
Priority Mail medium flat rate box $17.05 $15.00 12%
Priority Mail 5 lb. package to Zone 8 $28.75 $24.81 14%

*2022 rates

Save on Priority Mail® with a USPS Click N Ship account

Earn rewards that you can apply toward the purchase of Priority Mail or Priority Mail Express labels when you combine Click N Ship with the USPS Loyalty Program. You’ll also get a welcome bonus – an additional $40 credit on the first $500 you purchase. After that, the more you spend, the more you can save.

Maximize your savings with shipping software

USPS commercial discounts are built into multi-carrier shipping solutions such as PitneyShip® and PitneyShip® Pro. An added benefit of the software’s rate shopping capabilities is that you can easily identify the best USPS service for each package. There may be times when Priority Mail is the right choice, and others where you need to use Priority Mail Express to meet a deadline or satisfy a customer. In addition, a robust shipping solution will help you access USPS discounts for certain types of shipments, such as books and media.

How do I get FedEx shipping discounts? 

Of the three major carriers, FedEx currently ranks third in terms of volume and second in terms of revenue. So, discounts are a very important part of the company’s strategy to win more business. In addition to a discount program geared toward small businesses, and FedEx offers discounted rates to American Express card holders and association members. Here are some of the ways you can start saving on shipping with FedEx:

Get a FedEx account.

Probably the fastest, easiest way to access FedEx discounted rates is to open a FedEx account. As of this writing, account holders will save 40 percent on FedEx express services, 20 percent on FedEx Ground and 40 percent on residential delivery and area surcharges The fact that it’s unusual for carriers to offer discounts on surcharges, especially at a time when those charges are increasing rapidly, makes this a very attractive offer.

Sign up for the FedEx More Savings program.

The More Savings program is an awards program that lets you earn shipping discounts based on your average annual shipping spend. The more you ship, the more you can save. During the nine-week introductory period, you can save 22 percent on eligible express services and 9 percent on home delivery and ground services. The only catch: you must use FedEx ShipManager® on or another approved electronic shipping solution. After the introductory period, discounts increase to 32 percent and 11 percent respectively.

Take advantage of FedEx Advantage discounts.

The FedEx Advantage program is a benefit of membership, either through an affiliated business such as  American Express or USAA® or membership in an association or industry group. There are no minimum shipping requirements or enrollment fees.  

Snag last-minute discounts.

If you need to ship outside the U.S. or import shipments into the country, it may be well worth your while to investigate the FedEx® Great Rates Hotline. Simply call the hotline at 877-463-7408 and have your FedEx account number and shipment details (origin, destination, weight and dimensions) handy. Or you can fill out the hotline request for quote form to get the best available FedEx international shipping discount for your shipment. Savings may also apply to U.S. freight shipments of 151 lbs. or more (excluding Puerto Rico).

How can I get discounts on international shipping?

Are you shipping to locations outside the U.S. or importing packages into the U.S. from abroad? International shipping isn’t cheap. But there are ways to reduce your international shipping costs. FedEx, UPS and USPS all offer discounts on their international shipping services. If you have an account with UPS or FedEx, you won’t be charged the full retail rate. If you have negotiated custom rates, the same or similar discount will apply.

How to receive shipping discounts using coupon codes.

If you don’t already have an account with UPS or FedEx, you might try to search online directories for coupon codes for promotional offers. Or you could just Google “UPS shipping coupon” or “FedEx shipping coupon.” In most cases, these coupon codes provide the same discount that you would obtain by opening a carrier account. If you already have an account with the carrier offering the coupon, you are likely to discover that the coupon offer can’t be combined with any other discount or pricing incentive.

How to choose the best shipping carrier for your business.

Choosing the best shipping partner for your company is a complex process. There’s a lot of research involved, and a lot of factors to consider. Pricing is usually the most important consideration. You’ll need to compare rates, fees and surcharges and how they impact the way you ship, then factor in any available discounts. Speed is also a top priority. Will you be able to consistently meet customer expectations for speedy delivery? What delivery options does a prospective partner offer? And don’t forget about service. How does the carrier handle tracking, lost packages and returns? Can the customer re-direct a package or request a hold or specific delivery time? Your customers will appreciate options that give them more visibility and control. It is important to know the differences between the major shipping carriers; see this in-depth comparison on UPS vs USPS vs FedEx.

All that research takes a lot of time and energy. Is it worth the effort? After all, there’s no rule that requires you to give all your business to one shipping carrier. If you do, you could be passing up opportunities to reduce costs and please your customers. Because every shipment is unique, no one carrier will be the best choice for every single package you ship.

It may not make sense to try to identify the best shipping carrier for your business – but it definitely makes sense to find the best carrier for each individual shipment. Working with multiple carriers keeps your options open so you are free to make the right choice for your business and your customer every time. And that’s exactly what multi-carrier shipping software can help you achieve. When you enter a package’s destination, weight and dimensions, you will a list of all the available options complete with pricing, delivery dates and costs for any additional services such as C.O.D. or signature requirements. 

Access shipping discounts effortlessly with Pitney Bowes.

As a leading force in shipping and mailing for more than 100 years, Pitney Bowes has the technology and know-how to help you get the best deal on every package you ship. You don’t need to search for discounts, puzzle over rate cards or haggle on the phone. Our powerful multicarrier solutions put discounts right at your fingertips – including up to 80 percent savings on UPS rates. 

Ship less than 100 packages a month? Check out PitneyShip®

  • Access discount shipping labels and stamps
  • Find the best rates across USPS, UPS, and FedEx with our best match tool
  • Buy and print postage from your computer
  • Schedule pickups and track packages

Ship more than 100 packages a month? PitneyShip® Pro is the answer

  • Compare shipping carrier rates and access discount delivery options across USPS, UPS, and FedEx with our best match tool
  • Multi-user and multi-location single sign on access for employees
  • Create Certified Mail with electronic return receipt
  • Print shipping labels and postage from your computer
  • Schedule pickups and track packages