Courier Services vs Postage Services

Jun 4, 2021

How do you decide between the shipping services courier services vs postage services? Let’s take a look at pricing, quality, packaging, and more.

It’s estimated that the United States Postal Services loses around 5% of all mail each year. Of course, the actual percentage of lost mail is difficult to know and could potentially be much higher.

Luckily, you can employ a courier service to deliver your packages and parcels. There are a few differences between these delivery services. So how do courier services vs. postage services compare?

This guide will walk you through everything you need to know about the major differences between couriers and postage services.

What are Postage Services?

Postage services are generally defined as any shipping company operated by a national government. So, the United States Postal Service (USPS) would be the one commonly used in the US.

You can use postage services to ship parcels and documents. However, they are usually best for routine, non-urgent shipments. It’s safest to use the postal service only for those less valuable shipments.

So, what do you do when you have a valuable package that needs to arrive ASAP? Enter, courier services.

What is a Courier Service?

Courier services are usually privately-owned companies. Like a postage service, they ship documents and parcels. However, there a few key differences.

Generally, courier services offer specialties that postal services can’t. They’re also usually much faster. They can offer things like:

  • Same-day local shipping
  • Fast overnight delivery
  • Other special shipping needs

If you need to ship perishables, valuable items, or urgent items, a courier service is just what you need.

Types of Courier Services

In the same way that there are various types of restaurants or roof replacement options, there are many different types of courier services, designed to meet a variety of shipping needs. Usually, services are classed by how fast or how securely they ship your items.

There are also a few specialty types you may come across, such as those for perishables or hazardous materials.

Some common courier service types you may come across include:

Same-Day Local Delivery

This is exactly what it sounds like. Same-day delivery will make sure your parcel arrives on the same day you ship it.

In general, these will have to be locally-shipped items. This ensures the courier has enough time to arrive at their destinations. This type of shipping is great for extremely urgent items.

Time Sensitive Deliveries

While not all couriers offer same-day delivery, there are also many other types of time-sensitive options. These include things like overnight shipping, next-day delivery, and on-demand shipping.

Delivery times for these types of items will largely depend on how far they’re going. But, in general, most couriers can get items to their destinations in one to three business days.

Medical Courier Services

When shipping medical supplies or other medical materials, you’ll need specialized shipping. Some services offer special medical couriers for this exact purpose.

Medical courier services offer things like:

  • Professionally dressed couriers
  • Streamlined order tracking
  • Super speedy delivery
  • Climate-controlled delivery vehicles

They also supply medically certified staff, so that you can be sure your items are in safe hands.

For medical professionals, this is really the ideal way to ship items.

International Shipping

Some couriers also offer overseas shipping. This helps make it easier to ship to foreign countries. To do this, they offer services such as frequent tracking, tax handling, and customs handling at no extra cost.

Using a courier for international shipping will ensure that your package arrives when and where it’s supposed to.

Additional Services

Some courier services have a few additional services that they provide to customers. These add-ons are especially useful for commercial courier service.

Examples of these additional services include:

Warehouse and Distribution Services

This service is especially useful for handling supply chain issues. How you manage your supply chain can play a major role in costs and customer satisfaction.

The major benefit of warehouse and fulfillment services is that it offers you a place to store items when you can’t keep them at your primary facility. For things like large equipment or hazardous material, this is especially useful.

In some cases, a third-party courier service may also offer warehouse crews who will package your items for you. Altogether, this service helps make distribution and shipping a breeze.

Fewer Size Restrictions

Courier services have fewer shipping restrictions than postage services. This is especially true for sizes and weights.

Postage services can also make it more difficult to ship larger or heavier items, even if they fit within the restrictions. Courier services make these types of shipments a breeze.

Tracking in Real-Time

One of the biggest benefits of courier services is the specialty tracking services. Dispatchers and customer service representatives help keep your shipment data up-to-date in real-time.

That means, from the time your parcel leaves your home or business until it arrives at its destination, you’ll know exactly where it is.

Courier Services vs. Postage Services: What’s the Difference?

Courier services and postage services may sound pretty similar. After all, they both get your items from one place to another.

So, what sets them apart from each other? How do you know which one to choose?

The main differences between courier services and postal services are:


Postal services are designed with pretty much everyone in mind. This means it’s usually relatively cheap to send items. With a postal service, you generally only have to pay for the cost of shipping, which is usually determined by weight.

Courier services, on the other hand, are a bit more specialized. All these extra perks and services can come at an additional cost.

Quality of Service

While postage services may be cheaper, they may also be lacking in service. When shipping through postage services, you’ll often face many different challenges. These include long delivery times, no tracking features, and limited customer service options.

Not all postage services are built the same, though. Some may be more reliable than others. Sometimes, even the region you’re in can affect the quality of shipping.

Courier services, however, may come with some surcharges. These include charges for gas, remote deliveries, and additional handling fees.

However, these surcharges often mean you’ll get additional service quality. With streamlined customer support, more shipping options, and faster, more secure delivery the cost might be worth it.

The quality offerings of a courier service can provide a lot of additional value to your business. You’ll have to weigh the costs and benefits to decide which one is right for you.

Differences in International Shipping

International shipping can be a bit tricky. This is because of customs, taxes, and item restrictions across various countries. Each shipping service type handles things a little bit differently.

When you ship internationally with a courier service, they’ll be responsible for your package throughout the whole trip. That means your parcel will remain in pretty much the same hands while at home and abroad.

Postage services have a different process, however. So, let’s say you’re shipping from the U.S. to the U.K. The USPS will handle your package until it’s received at U.K.’s customs department.

Once the package moves through customs, the U.K. postal service will take care of the rest of the delivery.

Drawbacks of International Postage Delivery

Since postage services are run by national governments, there are a few issues to consider when shipping internationally.

To begin with, getting customer service if problems arise will likely be difficult. This is because one country doesn’t handle the entirety of the delivery. You’ll also find that tracking may be entirely inconsistent.

With inconsistent tracking, it could be difficult for a customer service representative to determine exactly where your delivery went wrong.

Courier services, on the other hand, will handle your delivery the entire time. That makes tracking much more consistent. This makes it much easier to determine what went wrong if a package goes missing.

Taxes and Duties

Postage services may also run into trouble when it comes to taxes and duties. Courier services usually pre-pay these fees, at an additional cost to you, to ensure a smoother delivery process.

Postage services, on the other hand, will not pay these fees for you. The customs department will have to contact the recipient of your parcel for payment. That means your shipment may be held up at customs until the fees are settled.

Courier or Postage: Which Should You Choose?

The choice between courier services vs. postage services will mainly depend on what you’re shipping, where you’re shipping it to, and how soon you need it to arrive. Your budget will also have to be taken into consideration.

Types of shipments that will likely benefit from a courier service include:

  • Commercial shipments
  • Medical shipments
  • Perishable delivery
  • Large or heavy item delivery

Getting Packages On-Time and On-Demand

When deciding whether to ship through a courier service or a postage service, the decision will come down to what you need and what you want.

Contact us to learn more about courier service deliveries. We can make sure your package arrives exactly when and where it needs to.

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