February 8, 2023

What Is the Cheapest Overnight Shipping Option?

Having the ability to ship packages overnight can make a world of difference. As an individual or business owner, there may be a time when you need a recipient to...

Having the ability to ship packages overnight can make a world of difference. As an individual or business owner, there may be a time when you need a recipient to receive their package the following day. Many companies offer an overnight shipping option, and you may be wondering about overnight courier costs.

If you want to know the cheapest overnight shipping option, you must understand the factors that impact shipping costs in the first place.

What Is Overnight Shipping?

Overnight shipping is typically the fastest way to ship a package overnight, and it is offered by major couriers that ensure customers will receive their order the next business day. Various shipping carriers offering overnight shipping often have daily cutoff times after which next-day delivery cannot be carried out, and, depending on the specific shipping service and courier, orders placed over the weekend may need two days to arrive. This is because the weekend is almost always an off time.

Overnight shipping is sometimes referred to as one-day or next-day shipping; however, the specific delivery dates will depend on when the order is placed. Companies offering overnight shipping utilize transportation networks that allow them to dispatch orders quickly and efficiently.

These networks are usually spread out across the nation, allowing customers to leave a package with a courier and have it ready for delivery in the morning. Express delivery service is sometimes only limited to certain geographic locations.

How Does Overnight Shipping Work?

Couriers take numerous steps to ensure packages arrive within one day. The expedited delivery system typically works as follows:

  1. A customer places an order prior to the cutoff time for overnight delivery. This provides the courier with time to process the order, pick up, package, and deliver the parcel.
  2. The customer or fulfillment partner prepares the overnight order for the courier to pick up. Customers are responsible for taking steps such as packaging the parcel and printing the shipping label.
  3. The courier receives and processes the package. Along the way, the overnight shipping order will be placed with other orders and routed to its destination.
  4. The parcel is taken to an overnight delivery location. After routing the parcel, it is sent to a delivery hub close to the receiving customer. Parcels are usually shipped overnight via air or ground to ensure they reach customers quickly.
  5. The customer receives their order the following day.

The majority of major carriers offer the overnight delivery option to keep both customers and business owners satisfied.

Benefits of Using Overnight Delivery

Most customers crave the option to ship packages quickly and efficiently, and by utilizing the next-day delivery option, they can. Businesses that offer overnight delivery can enjoy the following benefits:

Increased Customer Satisfaction

As time progresses, customer expectations continue to rise, and fast shipping options become more popular. Offering overnight shipping can satisfy customers and establish brand loyalty by giving consumers various shipping choices.

Increased Revenue and Sales

As customer satisfaction increases, companies begin to notice a higher revenue. Since customers know they can count on your company to deliver orders quickly, they will keep coming back and spending their money with you.

Lower Storage Costs

Overnight shipping helps companies save storage space and reduce costs. The more space you have, the less you will have to spend in the long run.

Freedom to Deliver Time-Sensitive Orders

By offering next-day delivery, you can provide them with more options if they need their order quickly.

Since overnight shipping is the fastest delivery method available, businesses can appeal to a broader customer base that expects instant delivery.

How Much to Overnight a Package

The cost to ship a package overnight will depend on several factors:

Package Dimensions

The first factor is the dimensions of the package. All carriers utilize a pricing model known as DIM weight, short for dimensional weight, to calculate shipping costs. This weight is calculated by multiplying the width, length, and height of a parcel, then dividing that figure by a DIM divisor.

Carriers then base shipping rates on whichever figure is greater – the physical weight of the parcel or its DIM weight. This weight is known as the billable weight, and it will determine your overnight shipping costs.

Package Weight

Heavier parcels cost more to ship than lighter ones. As previously stated, if the weight of a package exceeds its DIM weight, it will be used to calculate the cost of shipping. Simply put, the heavier the package, the more you will need to spend to ship it overnight.

Carrier Shipping Agreements

It may be possible to receive a discounted overnight shipping rate from certain couriers. Many couriers offer discounts for high volumes, while others offer discounts to small businesses. When choosing a courier, it may be wise to select one that offers discounts to your business.

Shipping Zones

Shipping zones are used to measure the distance between a package's destination and its point of origin. These zones are used to calculate shipping costs, and in the United States, there are eight distinct shipping zones.

Shipping zones calculate costs based on where a package is sent from, so it is possible for two packages shipped from the same location to have different shipping costs since they are going to different locations. Higher shipping zones have higher costs. The price increase between zones can also be drastically different.

Reducing Your Overnight Shipping Costs

Now that companies such as Amazon offer free two-day shipping, most consumers expect fast shipping and many judge companies based on how fast they ship their orders. Some companies have even rolled out same-day and one-day delivery programs on certain products. To avoid sharp criticism from customers, you must deliver orders expediently.

Overnight shipping costs more than regular shipping, and if you use the option frequently, you can end up spending a significant amount of money. As a small business or individual, you more than likely don't want to spend more than you have to, and there are ways to reduce your overnight shipping costs. Here are three ways to reduce your overnight shipping expenses:

Ship From Multiple Warehouses

Companies such as Amazon can offer same-day delivery because it has a network composed of numerous warehouses around the country. The distance between these warehouses and most locations is relatively short, especially for individuals in larger cities. Unfortunately, most people and small businesses can't afford to utilize such a vast network of warehouses, and for most, overnight shipping is the only way to ensure a person receives a package the next day.

Despite the fact that small businesses can’t utilize a vast warehouse network, they can still split their inventory between more than one warehouse. There may be freight costs associated with shipping in bulk in each location, but you will notice that shipping in bulk is cheaper than shipping each individual order.

By reducing the travel distance between customers and their orders, you can lower shipping costs while offering faster delivery times. Even if a customer chooses the standard shipping option, they can still receive their order in a short time.

Choose Centrally Located Warehouses

Sending orders from multiple warehouses to save money should only be done if those warehouses are in central locations. Numerous businesses utilize fulfillment centers near port cities, but doing this can be expensive and slow.

Shipping from larger, more populous states doesn't always make the most sense either. Take note of where your customers are principally located and utilize warehouses near those locations.

Choose a Courier That Guarantees Same-Day Order Processing

The same-day processing of an order is necessary for overnight delivery. If a courier can't process your order on the day it is placed, your order won't be shipped overnight.

If your orders are stuck in a warehouse somewhere and unprocessed, you won't be able to keep your customers happy with fast delivery. To prevent this from occurring, make sure the courier you choose offers a same-day order processing guarantee.

Comparing Overnight Delivery Services

Overnight shipping can be costly, but prices vary from courier to courier. Here are some of the most widely utilized overnight shipping couriers:

United States Postal Service (USPS)

The USPS overnight shipping option is called Priority Mail Express, and it is their fastest domestic shipping option. Packages that weigh less than 70 pounds can be shipped overnight using Priority Mail Express for $26.95.

If your customer is really in need of their order, you can also choose the Priority Mail Express option that guarantees delivery by 10:30 the following day.


Usually the most expensive courier, FedEx offers three different overnight delivery options nationwide:

  • FedEx First Overnight: The quickest option. Delivery as soon as 8:00 AM the following business day for most locations in the US. Delivery by 2:00 PM to extended destinations.
  • FedEx Priority Overnight: Delivery by 10:30 AM the following business day to most locations in the US. Remote deliveries are guaranteed by 4:30 PM.
  • FedEx Standard Overnight: Delivery by 4:30 PM the following day to most locations in the US.  

Customers who choose the FedEx overnight options can customize their pickup and delivery options. There is even the option to include proof of delivery.


UPS offers a variety of shipping options, but its Next Day Air is the quickest. UPS claims to ship more overnight deliveries than any other courier in the country, so the company can be trusted to ship quickly and efficiently. Their overnight delivery options include:

  • UPS Next Day Air Early: Overnight shipping guaranteeing delivery by 8:00 AM the next morning.
  • UPS Next Day Air: Overnight shipping guaranteeing delivery by 10:30 the next business day.
  • UPS Next Day Air Saver: Overnight shipping guaranteeing delivery by the end of the day the following business day.

UPS also allows customers to track their packages online. The ability to track your package can ensure it is en route to the right place.

Overnight vs. Expedited Shipping

Many couriers offer expedited shipping, which has become extremely popular. Expedited shipping, however, is not the same as overnight shipping, even though both terms are often used interchangeably.

Overnight shipping takes a maximum of one day. Packages intended for overnight shipping must usually be picked up or dropped off by a cutoff time of 6:00 PM so workers will have enough time to sort, process, and load them into trucks before shipping them to their final destinations.

Expedited shipping, simply means faster shipping. Packages that are sent using expedited shipping simply arrive quickly, not necessarily overnight. It is important to note, however, that some companies do consider overnight shipping to be a form of expedited shipping.

Shipping via Smaller Couriers

There are couriers besides the big three (USPS, FedEx, and UPS), and some of them offer exceptional service. These smaller couriers may offer overnight shipping, but you will want to make sure they are up to par before utilizing their services.

The reliability of a regional shipping service can vary from city to city, and in many cases, there are some locations where packages are more likely to be mishandled or not delivered at all. Smaller couriers may also not be the best option if you need to ship a package long distance or to a rural area.

If you are intent on using a smaller courier, be sure to check out reviews from their customers first. If they have numerous positive reviews and their prices are reasonable, you may consider using them. However, if you can’t find a reputable smaller courier in your area, and you need an item shipped overnight with confidence, it may be best to go with one of the big three.

Cutoff Times

All three of the major couriers offer overnight delivery, but if you want to ensure your package is successfully delivered on time, you will need to be sure your package is picked up or dropped off before the cutoff time.

Often, overnight shipping cutoff times are earlier than those for end-of-day shipping, so you should familiarize yourself with these times. Here are some helpful tips for meeting cutoff times:

  • Arrive approximately an hour prior to the cutoff time if you are taking your package to a courier. This will ensure you aren’t left trapped in line.
  • Arrange on-time pickups with the overnight shipping courier from your warehouse or storage facility. Have your packages on hand before they arrive.
  • If you need to unexpectedly send a package at the last minute, reach out to your courier directly to learn more about your shipping options.

There may also be different cutoff times for shipping outside the United States, so be aware of these times if you need to send a package to Canada or Mexico.

Guarantee of Delivery

In addition to ensuring your recipient receives their package on time, you should choose a courier that offers a guarantee of delivery. Not all couriers offer a guarantee of next-day shipping services, but the three largest carriers (USPS, FedEx, and UPS) do. The USPS offers a guarantee with Priority Mail Express. If the overnight deadline is not met, you will receive a full refund. FedEx states it will issue a full refund even if your package is one minute late.

If you elect to use a smaller courier, be sure to ask about a guarantee of delivery. Find out if they offer any form of compensation if they fail to deliver your package on time.

Sending a Letter Overnight

You may not always need to send a product or large item. There may come a time when you need to send documents, such as letters or other important forms, overnight. Sending a letter overnight is much like sending any other type of package, and in terms of cost, the same factors will be considered to calculate your final expenses.

Fortunately, there are ways to reduce the costs associated with sending a letter overnight:

  • Examine the dimensions of your mail. Oddly shaped and large pieces of mail cost more to send than those in standard envelopes.
  • Use lightweight packaging to avoid weighing your mail down.
  • Use flat-rate envelopes or boxes.

By keeping the tips mentioned above in mind, you can send a letter overnight with relative ease and at a low cost.

Learn More About Our Overnight Courier Cost

Here at FirstMile, we offer domestic and international shipping services to a wide range of customers. We can ship to more than 220 countries, and we offer both economy and expedited shipping. All packages come with full tracking with a delivery confirmation guarantee.

Contact Us today to learn more about our overnight shipping courier costs.