Comparing UPS SurePost and Ground Shipping: What’s the Difference?

As a business owner or someone who regularly ships packages, you may have heard of both UPS SurePost and ground shipping options. Both options are reliable and affordable alternatives for sending your packages, but there are subtle differences between them that you should know before making a decision. In this article, we’ll delve into the basics of each service, compare their cost, delivery timeframes, tracking capabilities, and much more so that you can make an informed choice tailored to your specific needs.

Understanding the Basics of UPS SurePost and Ground Shipping

Before getting into the details of each shipping service, it’s essential to understand how they work. UPS ground shipping is the company’s standard shipping option. It delivers packages to all 50 states and several international locations. The delivery timeframe for ground shipping ranges from 1-5 business days, depending on the distance and location of the receiver.

UPS SurePost, on the other hand, is a hybrid service that combines the efficiency of UPS ground shipping with the economical benefits of USPS (United States Postal Service) mail delivery. Packages shipped using SurePost are initially transported by UPS and then handed over to the USPS for the final delivery to the receiver’s address. SurePost is only available for shipping packages to residential addresses within the United States.

It’s important to note that while UPS ground shipping is a reliable and efficient option, it may not be the best choice for urgent deliveries. In such cases, customers can opt for UPS Next Day Air or UPS 2nd Day Air services, which guarantee delivery within one or two business days, respectively. However, these expedited services come at a higher cost than ground shipping or SurePost.

How to Choose Between UPS SurePost and Ground Shipping for Your Package

The choice between using UPS ground shipping and SurePost ultimately depends on your shipping needs. If you’re looking for a cost-effective option for shipping packages that are not urgent, SurePost is a great choice. On the other hand, if you’re shipping packages that need to get to the receiver as soon as possible, UPS ground shipping is a better option.

Additionally, UPS ground shipping offers additional services such as signature confirmation, shipping insurance, and same-day pickup, which may be necessary for some packages and situations. In contrast, SurePost does not offer these services, which is another reason why it’s more affordable than ground shipping.

It’s important to note that UPS SurePost is a hybrid service that combines the efficiency of UPS with the affordability of the United States Postal Service (USPS). This means that UPS will handle the package for the majority of the journey, but the final delivery will be made by USPS. This can result in slightly longer delivery times compared to UPS ground shipping, but it’s still a reliable and cost-effective option for non-urgent packages.

Another factor to consider when choosing between UPS SurePost and ground shipping is the weight and size of your package. SurePost has a weight limit of 70 pounds and a maximum length of 130 inches, while UPS ground shipping can handle packages up to 150 pounds and 165 inches in length and girth combined. If your package exceeds these limits, you may need to consider other shipping options such as freight or air cargo.

The Cost Differences Between UPS SurePost and Ground Shipping

As mentioned above, UPS SurePost is cheaper than ground shipping. SurePost rates are generally lower than UPS ground shipping rates, mostly because the USPS handles the final delivery of the package. However, there are some variables that can affect the shipping cost, such as package weight, size, and distance of the receiver.

Another factor that can affect the shipping cost is the additional services you require. For instance, if you need your package to be insured or require signature confirmation upon delivery, you’ll have to pay extra fees on top of the shipping cost. In contrast, these services are included in UPS ground shipping rates, which may make it a more affordable option in some cases.

It’s important to note that UPS SurePost may not be the best option for time-sensitive deliveries. While it is generally cheaper, it can take longer for the package to arrive due to the involvement of the USPS. If you need your package to arrive quickly, UPS ground shipping may be a better choice, as it is typically faster and more reliable.

Additionally, it’s worth considering the environmental impact of your shipping choices. UPS has made efforts to reduce its carbon footprint, and offers carbon-neutral shipping options for an additional fee. If sustainability is a priority for you or your business, this may be a factor to consider when choosing between UPS SurePost and ground shipping.

Delivery Timeframes: Which is Faster, UPS SurePost or Ground Shipping?

The delivery timeframes for UPS ground shipping and SurePost are different. Ground shipping offers faster delivery times than SurePost. The delivery time for ground shipping ranges from 1-5 business days depending on the destination address, while a SurePost package can take up to 7 business days to reach its destination.

However, SurePost can occasionally deliver packages faster than ground shipping if the package is going to an address that is close to the origin or destination. UPS ground delivers packages in trucks, while SurePost hands packages over to USPS, which delivers packages using lightweight methods like mail carriers. As a result, SurePost can be more efficient for deliveries going to remote or rural locations.

It’s important to note that the delivery timeframes for both UPS ground shipping and SurePost are estimates and not guaranteed. Factors such as weather conditions, package volume, and delivery location can all impact delivery times. Additionally, both UPS ground shipping and SurePost offer tracking information so that customers can monitor the progress of their packages and receive updates on any delays or changes in delivery times.

Factors That Affect the Delivery Time for UPS SurePost and Ground Shipping

A few factors can impact the delivery times for your packages sent using either UPS SurePost or ground shipping option. One of the primary factors is the weather conditions in the area where the package is going. Winter snowstorms, rain, and other natural disasters can cause delays in shipping. Other factors that can impact delivery time are the package’s weight, size, and distance from the origin address.

Another factor that can affect the delivery time is the shipping option selected by the sender. UPS SurePost is a hybrid service that combines the speed of UPS Ground with the final delivery by the United States Postal Service. This means that the delivery time may be longer than UPS Ground, but it can be more cost-effective. On the other hand, UPS Ground is a reliable and fast option for shipping packages within the United States.

Additionally, the delivery time may also be impacted by the volume of packages being shipped during peak seasons, such as holidays or special events. During these times, UPS may experience a higher volume of packages, which can cause delays in delivery. It is important to plan ahead and allow for extra time when shipping packages during these peak seasons.

What You Need to Know About Tracking your Packages with UPS SurePost and Ground Shipping

Regardless of whether you choose UPS SurePost or ground shipping, you’ll receive a tracking number that enables you to monitor the location of your package throughout the journey. By tracking your package, you’ll get notifications when your package is in transit or out for delivery.

However, it’s important to note that the tracking capabilities are different for each shipping method. Ground shipping packages can be tracked using the UPS tracking system, which is generally more accurate and provides more detailed information. SurePost packages, on the other hand, have more limited tracking capabilities as they’re transferred to the USPS system to complete the delivery process.

The Maximum Weight and Size Limits for UPS SurePost and Ground Shipping Packages

The maximum weight and size limits for packages are also important when choosing between UPS SurePost and ground shipping. SurePost can only accept packages that weigh less than 150 lbs and have dimensions that fall within three different size categories. These dimensions are Small (18x14x12 inches max), Medium (36x17x17 inches max), and Large packages (130 inches max.). On the other hand, ground shipping packages allow for packages up to 150 lbs and within the maximum size of 165 inches (length+girth).

Tips on How to Package Your Items for Safe Delivery with UPS SurePost and Ground Shipping

Proper packaging is crucial in ensuring that your package arrives safely and undamaged. Here are some tips to ensure safe package delivery while using UPS SurePost or ground shipping options:

  • Use a sturdy box to pack your items.
  • Use bubble wrap or packing peanuts to protect fragile items.
  • Use strong tapes such as packing tapes to secure the box.
  • Include proper packing labels like “fragile” or “handle with care” to ensure appropriate handling.

Customer Reviews of Their Experience with UPS SurePost and Ground Shipping

It’s always essential to look at customer reviews before making a decision on which shipping service to use. Many factors affect the experiences of different customers, such as the package’s size, weight, destination, and additional services required. However, based on several online reviews, customers generally report good experiences in using both UPS SurePost and ground shipping options.

Customers appreciate the affordability of SurePost and the tracking capabilities of ground shipping. Several customers also appreciate the efficient delivery of SurePost to remote and rural locations where ground shipping may take longer.

Comparing the Environmental Impact of UPS SurePost and Ground Shipping

As the world becomes more conscious of environmental impacts, it’s crucial to consider the carbon footprint of shipping services. UPS SurePost is typically considered more eco-friendly than ground shipping. This is because SurePost relies on the USPS to complete the last-mile delivery, which can be done by mail carriers who are already on their routes, making it more efficient in terms of transportation.

Additionally, UPS has invested in eco-friendly practices that reduce the overall carbon footprint of both SurePost and ground shipping services. For instance, the company utilizes technology that optimizes delivery routes, has vehicles that run on alternative fuel sources, and recycles the packaging materials used for shipping.

Alternatives to Consider: Comparing UPS SurePost and Ground Shipping with Other Services

While UPS SurePost and ground shipping are both reliable and effective options for sending packages, there are other shipping services to consider. Some of these include USPS priority mail, FedEx, and DHL.

Each of these services offers unique benefits and can be suitable depending on your shipping needs. For instance, USPS priority mail is generally faster and cheaper than UPS ground shipping. FedEx and DHL are more suitable for international shipping and can be more expensive depending on the destination.


Choosing between UPS SurePost and Ground Shipping comes down to knowing your specific shipping needs. Each option offers unique benefits, depending on package weight, size, and destination. By understanding what each service offers, customers can make an informed decision on which shipping method is better for them.

Rate this article:
Share it:

Join hundreds of smart shippers. Guaranteed to save.