What Is the Cheapest Way to Ship Internationally?

May 2020
cheapest way to ship internationally
Nikolay Pasholok
Nikolay Pasholok
Product Owner, Calcurates
One of the best ways of expanding your client base and boosting sales in 2022 is to offer worldwide shipping for your products. Maintaining the quality and speed comparable to those of domestic shipping, while not overspending, can be challenging. The best way to ship internationally depends on your average volume order, delivery speed, and destination.

While there are inexpensive carriers, like USPS, one cannot tell how long international shipping will take them. In turn, paying extra will provide better service, faster shipping, and more precise delivery times, but the cost may be too high.

If you want to find out how to ship in a cost-effective way, check out our international shipping feature for e-commerce owners.

Which Shipping Services Are Available in the USA?

When shipping internationally from the US, there are three principal options: FedEx, UPS, and USPS.
USPS is the answer to the question of which international shipping carrier is the cheapest; FedEx provides the fastest shipping time, and UPS has the broadest coverage.

Besides those crucial selling points, there are also shipping restrictions, surcharges, service-specific rates, discounts, and other details to be taken into account.

USPS International Shipping Rates

USPS international shipping rates are kept low by compromising on some other features. Nevertheless, the carrier offers a wide variety of services for international shipping:

  • Global Express Guaranteed — 1–3 business days
  • Priority Mail Express International — 3–5 business days
  • Priority Mail International — 6–10 business days
  • First-Class Mail International — a low-cost option for parcels under 16 oz
  • First-Class Package International Service — a low-cost option for packages under 4 lbs
  • Airmail M-Bags — the cheapest way to send printed materials (max. 66 lbs)
USPS offers free shipping supplies for its international deliveries. Search for a global express guaranteed kit which includes mailing labels, envelopes, stickers, and custom forms.
The most apparent pitfalls of shipping with USPS are faulty tracking, the impossibility to schedule a delivery at a specific time, and the fact that they delegate their last-mile job to third-party foreign contractors.

So, does USPS ship internationally? — Yes. Should you choose it? — Only if your deliveries aren't urgent and you don't require premium features.
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UPS International Shipping Rates

United Parcel Service may not be the best pick for domestic shipping, losing the competition in features and prices. However, when it comes to international shipping, UPS takes the crown with the largest office network and reasonable rates.

Thanks to its broad coverage, UPS offers the widest array of services for shipping overseas. So, what are the international shipping options provided by UPS?
UPS international shipping
  • UPS Express Critical International — a same-day option for eligible countries
  • UPS Worldwide Express — standard packages and freight options
  • UPS Air — one- to three-day delivery
  • UPS Worldwide Saver — a next-day delivery option for Canada and a two- to three-day option for other countries
  • UPS Next Day Air — an overnight option
  • UPS Worldwide Expedited — day-definite expedited shipping
  • UPS 2nd Day Air
  • UPS 3-Day Freight
  • UPS Standard — a cheaper ground option
  • UPS Worldwide Economy — five- to 10-day shipping
  • UPS Hundredweight Service — for multi-package shipments

What is UPS Worldwide Saver?

UPS Worldwide Saver might be one of the best options to ship internationally conditioned that you need guaranteed afternoon delivery within 1-3 days. There are three major shipping zones that influence the duration of delivery. The first one is the next business day delivery to Canada by the end of the day. Second business day delivery to Mexico by the end of the day and third business day delivery worldwide depending on destination. The delivery is door-to-door with 3 delivery attempts.
Calcurates Related Features

FedEx International Shipping Rates

Although FedEx has the highest prices for overseas deliveries, the carrier offsets that with its superb reliability and service quality. With international shipping, tracking is likely to go wrong because of the countless variables involved; however, FedEx has perfected its system so that customers can see the whereabouts of their parcels at any minute.

What are the international shipping options provided by FedEx?
FedEx international shipping
  • FedEx® International Next Flight (next available flight) — 24-hour delivery to most countries
  • FedEx International First® — 1–3 business days
  • FedEx International Priority® — 1–3 business days
  • FedEx International Economy® — 2–5 business days
  • FedEx International Ground® — 2–7 business days
  • FedEx International Priority® Freight — 1–3 business days
  • FedEx Freight® Priority — Fast-transit delivery of LTL Freight to Canada and Mexico
  • FedEx Freight® Economy — Cost-effective delivery of LTL Freight to Canada and Mexico
FedEx also offers free shipping supplies including small, medium, and large size boxes, tubes, envelopes, and padded envelopes.

Find the Cheapest International Shipping Rates

We've compared the three carriers side by side to find out which is the best for international shipping. Considering worldwide shipping rates depend on size and weight, let's look at the price for delivery of a 5 lb package in a standard medium box from New York City to London.
It's possible to get good deals even with no international shipping discounts like we managed to do with FedEx. Because of coinciding factors, the cheaper International Economy option appears to secure faster delivery than International Priority and International First (the latter two are also more expensive).

UPS looks like the ultimate solution for time-sensitive packages, while USPS remains faithful to itself with the lowest rates.

Also, if you want to obtain the cheapest rates on international shipping for WooCommerce have a look at our shipping calculator for WooCommerce.

What is the Cheapest Way to Ship Internationally?

Quick Summary
To summarize, USPS seems like the best solution for the cheapest shipping according to the price comparison between UPS, USPS and FedEx in the table displayed above.
USPS is around 50% cheaper than UPS and FedEx

How to Achieve the Cheapest International Shipping with Calcurates?

The cheapest worldwide shipping for e-commerce on Magento, WooCommerce, and Shopify
Monitoring and managing international shipping options may be critical for the success of your online store, but when it is done manually, it consumes much time. Fortunately, there are automated eCommerce international shipping solutions like Calcurates that relieve you from these routines and allow you to focus on strategic decisions.
Calcurates is a shipping software that checks for the best rates, services, and options for every order; it helps you make both domestic and international shipping transparent and easy to manage. Calcurates is available for e-commerce stores on WooCommerce and Magento.

How to Ship Internationally in 4 Easy Steps:

  1. Implement smart packaging and start dimensional shipping to increase the accuracy of shipping rates

2. Display landed costs at the checkout to your customers

3. Custom international shipping methods to specific countries and regions only

4. Make international shipping available to a certain customers group

These are the 4 main steps on how to ship internationally. All the shipping features are available at Calcurates.
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