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DHL Vs. FedEx Vs. UPS: Shipping Carriers Compared in 20226 min read

As a retailer who ships to your customers, have you struggled to choose the carrier that suits best for your business?

Luckily, there aren’t hundreds of companies for you to skim through and choose the ultimate one, which is obviously a tedious process.

There are three basic choices for you — namely, DHL, FedEx, and UPS.

The three private giants have been in business for decades and have transported billions of parcels. Yet, there remain doubts aplenty about each of their strengths and weaknesses.

What about USPS, you ask?

The government-run carrier is most often significantly cheaper and a great option for small business shipping. It, however, does not have the variety of short-term expedited options that DHL, FedEx, and UPS have.

For our purposes, we will limit our study to the three private carriers, so that you can choose the carrier that is tailored to your business.

DHL Vs. FedEx Vs. UPS: Comparing the Carriers

Although competing with each other daily, DHL, FedEx, and UPS have their uniqueness. Knowing in-depth about them, their services, their pricing model, etc can help you understand them better. 

Let’s start with DHL.


Overview of DHL

DHL is an American-founded company that is now part of Deutsche Post. It is headquartered in Bonn, Germany.

Today, Deutsche Post DHL is known to be the world’s largest logistics company. Its international game is by far the strongest among the three, and it is the only carrier that delivers to sanctioned nations like North Korea.

DHL operates a gamut of services to cater to the shipping needs of its customers – Some of its domestic non-freight service types are DHL SameDay Sprintline, DHL Express 9:00 Domestic, DHL Express 10:30 Domestic, DHL Express 12:00 Domestic, DHL Express 18:00 Domestic, and DHL Express Easy.

Its international non-freight offerings include DHL Sameday Jetline, DHL Sameday Sprintline, DHL Express 9:00, DHL Express 10:30, DHL Express 12:00, DHL Express Worldwide, DHL Express Envelope, DHL Express Easy, and DHL Globalmail Business.

Since DHL is a non-American company, it is not permitted to make domestic flights between U.S. airports. As a result, it contracts U.S. domestic services to other carriers.

Dr. Frank Appel is the current Chief Executive Officer of Global Business Services and Ken Allen is Head of eCommerce Solutions at DHL. The carrier currently employs 590,000 employees including trainees.


An American multinational corporation founded in 1971, FedEx is headquartered in Memphis, Tennessee.

In its early days, FedEx was the pioneer that introduced an overnight shipping service as well as a system capable of tracking packages and providing real-time location updates. Today, it operates services in over 220 countries and territories. Within the US, it’s possible to pick up, drop off, or ship at more than 50,000 FedEx locations.

FedEx offers the following service types for non-freight shipments within the US – FedEx SameDay, FedEx SameDay City, FedEx First Overnight, FedEx Priority Overnight, FedEx Standard Overnight, FedEx 2Day A.M., FedEx 2Day, FedEx Express Saver, FedEx Ground, FedEx Home Delivery, and FedEx SmartPost.

The carrier offers the following service types for non-freight international parcels – FedEx International Next Flight, FedEx International First, FedEx International Priority, FedEx International Economy, FedEx International MailService, FedEx International Priority DirectDistribution, FedEx International Economy DirectDistribution, and FedEx International Ground.

Frederick W. Smith is the founder, Chairman, & CEO of FedEx.The organization has over 570,000 team members worldwide and operates 5,000 hubs and facilities. 180,000 motorized FedEx vehicles pick up and deliver over than 12 million shipments per day


Overview of UPS

UPS, the oldest of the three majors and the reigning private behemoth in the US was founded in 1907.

Today, UPS has a presence in 220 countries and territories. It delivers an average of 24 million shipments per day.

UPS offers non-freight shipping service types for both domestic and international shipments –  Within the US: UPS Express Critical – Domestic, UPS Ground, UPS Next Day Air Early, UPS Next Day Air, UPS Next Day Air Saver, UPS 2nd Day Air A.M., UPS 2nd Day Air, and UPS 3 Day Select.

International: UPS Express Critical – International, UPS Worldwide Express Plus, UPS Worldwide Express Shipping, UPS Worldwide Saver, UPS Next Day Air, UPS Worldwide Expedited, UPS 2nd Day Air, and UPS Standard.

David Abney is the current Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of UPS. 495,000 employees work at UPS locations worldwide with a majority (413,000) based out of the US.

DHL, FedEx, or UPS: What Works Best for Your Business

While DHL, FedEx, or UPS each work in the same niche, retail businesses who choose their services often come from varied domains that require different catering from shipping carriers. This is what makes the three major carriers unique — working best for specific kinds of businesses.

DHL vs FedEx vs UPS: Shipping rates compared

The shipping price for DHL, FedEx, and UPS depends on 

  • The kind of package shipped
  • The destination, and
  • The expected date of delivery. 

All three carriers offer express shipping solutions, with the possibility of same-day collection and next-day delivery. However, these services come at an extra cost.

Added with the already skyrocketing shipping prices are the service rate increase these carriers pull off YoY. Similar to the years before, DHL, FedEx, and UPS have increased the rates of their services by an average of 5.9% this time. But if there’s something to make you feel better — all three carriers provide the option to file refund claims for service failures on their part. 

Meanwhile, to find out which one is cheaper, DHL, FedEx, or UPS, compare the price estimations for their domestic and international shipping below.

DHL, FedEx, or UPS: Suitable shipping options

Here are a few details about the shipping options of DHL, FedEx, and UPS to help you get an idea about which one of them might best serve your requirements.

A chart comparing DHL, FedEx and UPS

DHL, FedEx, and UPS – each of them have their own unique pros and cons: 

  • FedEx is strong with overnight shipping and expedited 2- and 3-day deliveries
  • UPS is strong with a ground shipment game, and
  • DHL has the broadest global presence among the three and is the most vocal about its environmental commitments.

Apart from all these aspects, an important factor i.e always overlooked while choosing a carrier is their delivery performance. Especially during times of high volume such as the holiday season or the pandemic period, shipping carriers have been known to have struggled to deliver on time amidst supply chain limitations.

Therefore, irrespective of shipping with DHL, FedEx, or UPS, start automatically auditing your parcel invoices with a tool like to instantly save up to 20% of your shipping costs

  • Recover refunds for 50+ carrier service failures like Late Deliveries, Lost Shipments, and Billing Errors
  • Gain delivery performance metrics to know where you’re seeing profits and review areas where you’re not
  •  Compare cross-carrier spending to identify those that require reevaluation.
  •  Not just DHL, UPS, and FedEx — supports all major global shipping carriers supported

DHL, FedEx, or UPS: What to choose

Like we said earlier, all three are behemoths with their own distinct advantages and disadvantages and it is actually quite unfair to pick the best one out of them. 

Ultimately, the choice between the three carriers comes down to your own specific business needs. A good ploy would be using multiple carriers for different requirements so that you get the best in each of them.

Joelah James

Writer. Wanderer. Impulsive artist. Always on the lookout for great coffee, books, and more coffee.

Rohan Rinaldo Felix

I've traditionally been a poem-writer, but poems don't pay. I eat cereal for breakfast, but only sometimes. I eat insults for lunch and convert them into renewable energy.

1 comment

  • What a great article! Thank you author for giving such detailed information about the three largest delivery companies in the world. Really liked the table at the end of the article which summarized all the information said above and made the comparable analysis very easy to perform. I also found out many interesting facts about these companies, like DHL can deliver packages even to North Korea wow. I’ve been trusting them with my documents for over a decade, and now I know I’ve been doing it for a reason!

    // Marina Teramond (NMPL Company)