UPS Simple Rate

What is UPS simple rate & how does it work? Read more below.

Shipping options have become increasingly complicated over the years, and if you’re looking for an easier option, you might have come across UPS Simple Rate – but what is it and how does it work? UPS Simple Rate was introduced in 2019 and it is intended to offer shippers accurate shipping costs, with the ability to avoid surcharges. The pricing bands are simple, with just 5 options, all based on package size and shipping speed. You can ship to any of the 50 states, but Hawaii and Alaska have slightly higher costs.


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What Is UPS Simple Rate?


UPS Simple Rate is a service that UPS began offering in 2019, and it lets shippers send mail anywhere in the US for a simple, flat rate. The charge is often lower than it is for other kinds of mail, and there are just 5 price bands, which makes it much easier for shippers to work out how much they will pay for a package before they send it.


How Does It Work?


Simple Rate allows you to ship packages based on size, rather than zone, so it’s similar to USPS’s Flat Rate options. There are 5 different price bands, and a package can be extra small, small, medium, large, or extra large. The maximum weight that can be shipped using this service is 50 lb., and the maximum size is up to 1728 cubic inches.


What Is The Pricing Structure?


The pricing structure is based on two things: the size of the box and the shipping speed that you wish to achieve. Below, you will find some examples.


  • An extra small costs $9.45 to send at the slowest speed (5 business days).
  • A small costs $12.40 to send at the slowest speed.
  • A medium costs $14.95 to send at the slowest speed.
  • A large costs $19.60 to send at the slowest speed.
  • An extra large costs $24.30 to send at the slowest speed.


If you want to send items more quickly, you will need to pay more for each of these price bands. See the table below for more information.


Ground (5 business days) 3 Day Select 2nd Day Air Next Day Air Saver
Extra Small $9.45 $16.10 $18.60 $27.35
Small $12.40 $19.50 $22.15 $34.85
Medium $14.95 $27.70 $28.35 $39.05
Large $19.60 $37.10 $50.55 $58.60
Extra Large $24.30 $46.60 $65.50 $75.75


As you can see, packages will cost a lot more if you want them to go by next day delivery, and are often nearly 3 times as expensive as ground delivery. However, having different shipping speeds offers the sender a lot more flexibility, and there may be instances in which you need to send something via the fast rate service – so it’s useful to have. These rates are very competitive, especially if you are sending something over a long distance and you would normally be paying by zone. If you are sending something local, you may find that it is cheaper to use one of the zoned services, so make sure you bear this in mind.


ups worker delivering a package


What Are The Size Brackets?


The size brackets for these packages are as follow:


  • An extra small packet can be 4 x 4 x 4 inches or 6 x 4 x4 inches or 8 x 6 x 2 inches. It may be 1-100 cubic inches.
  • A small packet can be 6 x 6 x 6 inches or 8 x 6 x 5 inches or 12 x 9 x 2 inches. It may be 101-250 cubic inches.
  • A medium packet can be 8 x 8 x 8 inches or 12 x 9 x 6 inches or 13 x 11 x 2 inches. It may be 251-650 cubic inches.
  • A large packet can be 10 x 10 x 10 inches or 12 x 12 x 7 inches or 15 x 11 x 6 inches. It may be 651-1050 cubic inches.
  • An extra large packet can be 12 x 12 x 12 inches or 16 x 12 x 9 inches or 18 x 12 x 6 inches. It may be 1051-1728 cubic inches.


This gives you plenty of flexibility, but make sure that you check which size bracket your package falls into when you are getting ready to mail it. This will ensure you know what shipping label to purchase, and you don’t end up surprised by the cost. The largest box that you can use overall is a 12 x 12 x 12 box, so make sure you take this into account when choosing the service. The weight of your package does not matter, as long as it is below 50 lb. This is true for all the size brackets, which makes the service highly flexible and ideal for shipping reasonably heavy items.


How Long Does It Take?


As mentioned above, the speed will depend on the service that you choose. However, you can opt for 5 day shipping, 3 day shipping, 2 day shipping, or next day shipping, all at different rates. This makes Simple Rate ideal for many customers, because the speed flexibility means you can enjoy low costs or ensure your package arrives fast.


airplane that says "alaska"


What Are The Costs To Alaska And Hawaii?


As mentioned, you will pay more if you want to send your package to Alaska or Hawaii, and this also depends on whether you are sending it somewhere rural or not. You will also find that your speed options are more limited. See the tables below.


To send mail to Metro Hawaii and Alaska:


Ground (5 business days) 2nd Day Air
Extra Small $29.25 $31.25
Small $31.50 $33.50
Medium $38.95 $40.95
Large $50.50 $52.50
Extra Large $61.95 $63.95


To send mail to remote Hawaii and Alaska:


Ground (5 business days) 2nd Day Air
Extra Small $38.50 $58.25
Small $40.50 $62.95
Medium $48.35 $70.95
Large $59.00 $82.50
Extra Large $71.15 $98.50


As you can see, it costs significantly more to ship mail to Alaska and Hawaii than it does to the lower 48, so make sure you are aware of this when you package your mail.


Where Can You Ship Items To Using UPS Simple Rate?


Items can only be shipped to the 50 US states using the Simple Rate service. It is not intended for international shipping and you can’t send any mail abroad using it. If your mailing address is outside the 50 states, you will have to choose another option. UPS offers some international shipping options, such as UPS Worldwide Saver, UPS Worldwide Express, UPS Worldwide Express Plus, UPS Standard, and UPS Worldwide Expedited. Any of these services will work for shipping mail outside of the US.


fedex truck driving on a road


What Are Comparable Services?


There are other services that are similar to UPS’s Simple Rate shipping option, including FedEx’s One Rate and USPS’s flat rate services. However, there are some differences that may make one service more suitable for you than another. Let’s take a bit of time to compare the three main options and what they offer. Both FedEx and UPS’s flat rate services have a maximum weight of 50 lb. per package, while USPS will carry packages up to 70 lb. If your package is over 50 lb., USPS may therefore prove the better option, because you can still get the benefit of flat rate mail.


However, UPS’s Simple Rate service offers more volume, allowing for up to 1,728 cubic inches in the extra large package. By contrast, USPS only offers 900 cubic inches and FedEx only offers 1,452 cubic inches. For sending more bulk but less weight, UPS is therefore the better option. You can also use your own packaging when sending mail with UPS, so if you already have boxes or envelopes ready, this is ideal. It’s particularly good for businesses that wish to brand their packaging.


If you’re interested in the zones, only USPS and UPS are offering a true flat rate service; FedEx’s One Rate service has three different destination zones. It’s still cheaper than the full zoning criteria that are often used, but it’s more complicated and could be more expensive.


Furthermore, UPS offers a delivery guarantee or a full refund of your shipping costs. FedEx makes this same promise, but USPS doesn’t, so if you are paying extra for faster shipping, UPS may be preferable. If your package doesn’t arrive in the window offered, you can claim a full refund for your shipping fees. Added to this, UPS offers more flexibility on shipping speeds than either FedEx or USPS. FedEx and USPS only have one shipping speed, but with UPS, you can decide how urgent the package is and pay the company accordingly. This may make it considerably cheaper if you aren’t in a hurry for the item to arrive, but it also means you can get it delivered quickly if necessary.


FedEx doesn’t offer ground shipping with its flat rate option, meaning it is likely to be more expensive, and even USPS only offers Priority Mail. Your packages might arrive more quickly, but you will have to pay more.


Does UPS Have Branded Boxes?


You can buy boxes branded for Simple Rate from UPS, yes. These are only intended to be used with the Simple Rate service, and must be purchased; they are not a free option. This makes them slightly less attractive than USPS’s boxes, which are given to customers for free. If you prefer, you can use your own packaging, rather than the UPS boxes; there is no penalty for doing this. You must make sure you check the dimensions with care, however.


Do You Get Insurance?


Yes, UPS’s Simple Rate comes with insurance of up to $100 per package. This is comparable to FedEx’s offering, but better than USPS’s, which will only insure flat rate mail up to $50. If you are sending valuable items, this makes UPS’s service much more attractive. If your item is worth more than $100, you may wish to take out some third party insurance on it to make sure that you are covered if it gets lost.


What Happens If My Box Doesn’t Fit The Stated Size/Weight?


If your package is too heavy or too large for the UPS Simple Rate service, you will have to choose another mailing service. There is no option to upgrade or pay extra while still using the Simple Rate service. If your mail doesn’t fit inside the parameters mentioned above, you will need to send it using a different service.


Is UPS Simple Rate The Cheapest Service?


Unfortunately, it isn’t easy to tell what the cheapest service is without checking the package weight and measurements, and the shipping speed. UPS will often come out as cheaper than the other options if you wish to mail an item slowly, but otherwise it may cost more. The best way to determine which the most economical service will be is to enter your package information into an online shipping fee calculator, and check which courier is going to be the cheapest.


You will get the most up to date information about the different services on offer, and you should be able to find out which to send your package with. Remember to take things like delivery guarantees and insurance values into account when making a decision; price isn’t the only thing that matters.


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