The United States Post Office (USPS) has announced that stamp prices will increase this weekend. What does that mean for the typical household who mails greeting cards, thank you notes, bills, and letters? For starters, the price of a stamp will now be 55 cents, up 5 cents from the previous price. You can also expect to pay anywhere from 2.5% to 5.9% more for shipping services with the USPS such as Priority Mail or Priority Mail Express.
Read on to learn more about how you can ensure that yourmail has sufficient postage with the imminent stamp price increase.
When will the new stamp price be effective?
The new price of a stamp will take effect Sunday, January 27, 2019. This is the date when the price changes are slated to take effect. Whether your post office will continue to postmark and deliver mail that has been dropped off in post office boxes before Sunday with the old pricing depends on your local post office’s practices. Many post offices will return mail with insufficient postage to the sender and others will let some letters through for the next few days.
Those who have already mailed First Class letters which have been postmarked before Sunday, January 27 will not be affected by the price increase. A postmark is meant to cancel affixed postage and indicate that the USPS has taken custody of the letter or package for its delivery. You can read more about postmarks in the USPS handbook here.
Individuals who use a Forever Stamp to mail letters weighing less than 1 oz. will not be affected by the price change, and can continue to use their old Forever Stamps which they bought at the lower stamp prices.
How much are postal rates increasing?
The most significant change to the postal rates for those who regularly pay bills by mail, send greeting cards, etc., is the price increase for the cost of the Forever Stamp. Forever Stamps were created by the USPS in 2007 to mail First Class letters regardless of the postage rate. On January 27, 2019, the price of Forever Stamps will increase from 50 cents to 55 cents.
Does this increase apply to any other postage pricing?
- First Class letters that are metered will undergo a rate increase from 47 cents to 50 cents for metered mail weighing less than 1 oz.
- First Class outbound international letters will not undergo a rate increase and will remain at the current rate – $1.15 for letters weighing up to 1 oz.
- First Class Domestic Postcard stamps will remain at their current rate – 35 cents.
- Priority Mail and Priority Mail Express services will also see a price increase. Priority Mail Express prices will go up by 3.9%, while Priority Mail will increase by nearly 6 percent. This includes both Priority Mail flat rate boxes and envelopes as well as “zone-based” Priority Mail pricing (which is based on geographic location as well as the weight of the letter or package). In general, as reflected by its most recent price increase, the USPS is moving toward zone-based pricing for both consumers and businesses to improve its efficiency. Check with your local post office for specific zone prices.
Will my stamps still work the same way?
Because the Forever Stamps were designed to work regardless of the exact “price of a stamp,” those who use Forever Stamps will largely remain unaffected by the rate change. You can still use your old Forever Stamps, regardless of how much you paid for them and when you bought them, to mail First Class letters weighing up to 1 oz. without affixing additional postage to the envelope.
First Class mail which weighs more than 1 oz. will require additional postage, but the price for additional ounces of mail will decrease with the most recent stamp prices which go into effect this weekend – down to 15 cents for each additional ounce rather than 21 cents. Therefore, using the old pricing rate for mail greater than 1 oz. will still ensure that your mail arrives promptly without interruption (because you’ll be paying a little more!). However, it’s best to consult with your local USPS office or use a postage scale to determine the new rate you will need to pay for letters weighing more than 1 oz.
The bottom line is that unless you are mailing heavier envelopes that are greater than 1 oz., you can continue to use your Forever Stamps with no interruptions or changes. You can continue to use the old pricing for extra ounces on First Class Mail (as the additional ounces pricing has decreased in the most recent price updates). For First Class letters greater than 1 oz., obtain the most up-to-date postage pricing to ensure that your mail is delivered without interruption and at the lowest price.
What do I do with old stamps worth 50 cents or less?
For stamps you have purchased at the post office that are not Forever Stamps – for example, specialty stamps or extra postage you may have received at an Automated Postal Center – you will need to ensure that you affix at least 55 cents of postage – the current Forever Stamp rate for 1 ounce letters. This will ensure you’ll have no interruptions in mail delivery, such as your mail being returned to you as undeliverable due to insufficient postage.
What are my options for buying the new stamps and postage?
Your options for buying the new stamps and postage remain exactly the same as before. Postage can still be purchased at a local post office, online at usps.com, though a postage scale and at a variety of local retailers such as drugstores and grocery stores. On the USPS website, you can continue to purchase stamps and postage at the most up-to-date rate.
Why is the stamp price increase so large this year?
The postage rate increases were approved by the US Postal Regulatory Commission, the US Postal Service’s regulating body, last fall. The USPS is constantly balancing competitive pricing with making sure the operation actually works. The across-the-board average increase of 2.5% is meant to ensure that the USPS postal prices can keep up with inflation.
Before this weekend’s price increase, the largest stamp price jump occurred in 1991, when postage stamp prices increased 4 cents to 29 cents (a 16% hike). Therefore, this weekend’s First Class stamp price increase, while only a 10% hike, is the largest increase – 5 cents — in USPS history.
The Bottom Line
The USPS is raising postage prices in an effort to keep up with inflation, stay competitive, and be able to deliver the best services to customers while also generating enough revenue to operate.
In summary, for those who are mailing normal-sized envelopes using Forever Stamps, with a weight of both less than or greater than 1 oz., you do not need to make any changes as your mail will still have sufficient postage and therefore be delivered without delays or interruptions. Those using Priority Mail or Priority Mail Express services to mail packages and letters can expect to pay anywhere from 2.9-5.9% more.
Customers can obtain the most up-to-date pricing at a USPS location or bookmark our homepage to make sure they always know the price of a stamp!