New Price of a Stamp 2013 Starts Tonight!

A stamp price change is imminent! Tomorrow, the price of a stamp will rise one cent to 46 cents.

This is why I made Price of a Stamp — the stamp price changes every once in a while and it’s an easy number to forget. So that’s why the homepage is always accurate and up to date. Tonight will be no exception! The stamp price is always correct on Price of a Stamp so you don’t have to remember it.

Postage Increases — Why the Price of a Stamp Keeps Rising

Nearly every year since the 1990s, the US stamp price has risen steadily. While the differences are basically nominal — only a few cents — the yearly changes cause an uproar because of their logistical impacts on companies that depend on sending mail as a part of their business. Even though the price of a stamp’s frequent rise is controversial, it is necessary to keep the USPS running and in fact, it barely rises enough to meet the US postal service’s costs.

One of the main reasons the price of a stamp rises in such small increments so regularly is because the US postal service’s price hikes are regulated heavily by the US government. An independent part of the executive branch regulates the price. It’s called the Postal Regulatory Commission and its sole purpose is to regulate the Postal Service. It was created in the 1970s by the Postal Reorganization Act of 1970 and then restructured by the Postal Accountability and Enhancement Act of 2006. The act and the commission enforce what’s effectively a price cap on postage rates. This has forced the postage stamp’s price history to basically track with inflation over the years. The USPS can only increase the price of a stamp as much as the dollar has inflated over the past 12 months.

The problem with forcing the postal service to bind its stamp price to inflation is that it ignores the realities of the mail and shipping business today. The Postal Service can no longer cover its costs because profit margins are limited by the caps — and those profits can’t come back to cover the USPS’s overhead in other areas of the business. For instance, if inflation is low and mail volume decreases (and it currently is) then the USPS can’t increase the US stamp’s cost to balance the expenses associated with lower demand. An ordinary private business could increase its prices to deal with lower demand. In fact, the USPS can easily demonstrate that these increases don’t cover their overhead for several products. Competitors like email, electronic bill pay and other private companies mean that mail volume is decreasing, so the USPS will continue to loose money under the strict price cap of the Postal Regulatory Commission.

Another reality for the Postal service is the cost of fuel. Fuel and gas is one of the Postal Service’s largest costs since they depend on an enormous network of trucks and planes to shuffle mail all over the world. Fuel prices are rising more quickly than inflation so the economics here can’t work out for the USPS as a business.

In spite of all of these facts, the USPS is still regulated by the Postal Regulatory Commission and prevented from increasing the price of a stamp enough to cover its costs. Even though the historical timeline of the Postal Service’s increases frustrate consumers and businesses, the regulations according to inflation are outrageously restrictive and keep the US post office from running a stable business. Every year, in spite of postage stamp price increases, the USPS loses billions of dollars.

Stamp Price 2013 — New Postage Rates

The 2013 stamp price will be 46 cents in January — a new postage rate and an increase of one cent compared to the current price of a stamp. The postal service also announced a number of other postage increases and new services coming in 2013.

The USPS receives no tax dollars to operate so these increases to the price of a stamp are the only way the USPS can continue to pay for its operating expenses. Additionally, the postal service isn’t allowed to increase the price of a stamp more than the rate of inflation — even while enormous costs mount with Americans using the internet to pay bills and communicate — causing the postal service to lose a projected $15 billion.

The USPS has asked for a special postage rate increase of 5 cents but Congress hasn’t followed through. $15 billion reaches the USPS’s borrowing limit, after which they have to operate solely off of sales and other new products.

Other new postage rates and services in 2013:

  • There’s a new “First Class Mail Global Forever Stamp” which will deliver a letter weighing about 1 ounce anywhere in the world for $1.10. This is unique since the current international price of a stamp varies depending on the country you’re sending to.
  • Parcel Post (now called “Standard Post”) and Priority Mail will include free tracking and delivery information, though they will also experience a postage increase which depends on an item’s size.
  • First Class Mail International (now called “First Class Package Service International”) is eligible for discounts online and commercial pricing but also has a significant postage rate increase, which depends on weight
  • Flat rate packaging, which is free to customers who pay for the service, can now request expedited delivery for a fee of $2.50

Some other details surrounding 2013 stamp prices are in the USPS’s official press release on the matter.

The new postage rates and price of a stamp will become effective January 27th, 2013. The new products will be released in January.