Your Guide to Saving On Holiday Gift Shipping

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After spending hours scrutinizing what gifts to buy for the holidays, it's easy to forget how to actually get that Morning Dew Yankee candle to Aunt Bea in Tempe. And like scouring the holiday sales, shopping around the shipping companies can net you a sweet deal.

 

According to a study by Consumer Reports, the U.S. Postal Service was as much as 281% cheaper on next day shipping than UPS (STOCK QUOTE: UPS) and FedEx (STOCK QUOTE: FDX). That’s because USPS charges a flat rate for local and long distance shipping, while both UPS and FedEx charge by weight and distance. Consumer Reports shipped two books with each company: one from Yonkers, NY to Manhattan and the other from Yonkers to Oregon. The USPS shipped both locally and long distance for $16.50, which low-balled UPS ($29.55/62.87) and FedEx ($27.48/54.57).

The Postal Service also offers other ways to save your dough. "Free package pick up is available from home or office," says Michael Woods, a spokesman for USPS. They also offer free shipping materials like tape, labels, international mailing products and online customer forms to help you ship from your home or office. Also, there is no added fee for fuel from USPS, while UPS and FedEx add fuel surcharges that fluctuate from month to month. "The price you see is the price you pay," says Woods.

Consumer Reports did find one thing in favor of FedEx and UPS, which is that they both offer same-day shipping as well as more reliable drop-off times, while USPS can only guarantee next day and not delivery times. "We also offer tracking on all packages at UPS.com," says Michael French, a UPS spokesman.

Whoever you decide to ship with, make sure you're packing the right way.

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