It’s a difficult time to stay in touch with loved ones and continue to operate a business as the Coronavirus outbreak forces many people to shelter in place or self-quarantine at home. The USPS is an essential service that has committed to continuing to operate but if you’re trying to send mail without leaving home it can be difficult.
There’s one solution with three incredible benefits during this tough time:
Stay home – Weigh, purchase and print postage without leaving your house
Send official postage – Print official USPS postage domestic or international
Save money on stamps – Save money on postage with stamp discounts you can’t get at the Post Office
“Be like a postage stamp. Stick to one thing until you get there.”
― Josh Billings, 19th-century American humorist
Effective 1/27/19, the United States Postal Service (USPS) has made changes to the price of a stamp. While some decreases can be found, the big change came in the largest-ever stamp price increase in history. And some prices have seen no changes at all. Read on for a complete guide to the price of a stamp and other postage increases 2019!
USPS Postage Price Changes – At a Glance
Mailing Services Products – approximate increase of 2.5%
Priority Mail Express – approximate increase of 3.9%
Priority Mail increased approximate increase of 5.9%
Stamp Prices Are Low – An Overview
The USPS reportedly has some of the lowest postage rates in the world and offers competitive rates for shipping. The USPS, unlike other carriers, does not add extra fees for things like fuel, residential delivery, weekend delivery, or holiday season delivery. In addition, seeing zero tax dollars for operations, it subsists solely on sales of postage, products, and services to support its entirety. Before
we get into the new prices, to whet your appetite, here are a few other USPS
493.4 million mail pieces are
processed each day
That is 20.6 million each hour
Per minute, 342,638 are processed
And 5,711 mail pieces are
processed every second
So, when you send your grandmother a letter letting her know you’re doing just fine, and yes you did get that $5 she mailed last week (thanks, Oma!), that’s factored into these statistics. When you sell your DVD boxset of The Nanny on Ebay because you have a digital copy now, and you ship that on to Utah, that’s another tick on the ol’ USPS fact sheet. When your hand has uncramped enough to finally get around to physically mailing out those thank you notes from your graduation party six months ago, those too are included in the 493.4 million mail pieces process each day!
Price Increases for First Class Mail
Here’s a recap of what First Class Mail gets you, at just the price of a stamp:
Best priced service for mail up to 13 oz
Delivery in 1 to 3 business days
Insurance for loss or damage up to $5,000 for merchandise only
Can combine with extra services to confirm delivery
Up to 3.5 ounces free with commercial priced letters and cards
Changes to Price of a Stamp for Letters and Postcards
With the 2.5 percent price increase for Mailing Services products, the most notable of the new rates is a five-cent increase to the price of a First-Class Mail stamp, from 50 cents to 55 cents. The 10 percent hike is the largest price increase in the history of the USPS. The second largest price hike was in 1991, when the price of a stamp increased from 25 cents to 29 cents.
Even though the basic 1-ounce price of a stamp went up, another part actually went down. The “additional ounce” price for letters will see a decrease of six cents, from 21 cents to 15 cents. Additional ounces cover anything that weighs more than 1-ounce which is typically a larger document or invitation. This means the 150 wedding invitations (typically a 2-ounce stamped letter) you need to send out may only cost 70 cents a piece, rather than 71 cents. And who doesn’t want to save $1.50?
Complete Pricing Breakdown
Letters (1 oz.) $0.55
Letters – Additional Ounces: $0.15
Non-Machinable Surcharge: $0.15 (see below!)
Letters (metered 1 oz.): $0.50 (metered mail is when a postage meter stamps directly onto the letter)
Outbound (Outgoing) International Letters (1 oz.): $1.15
Domestic Postcards: $0.35
Please note the base price of $0.55 is for a standard-sized, rectangular envelope. If your envelope is square, oversized, or unusually shaped, costs for stamps begin at $0.70. This factors in your non-machinable surcharge (see below).
In the same vein, stamps for standard-sized, rectangular postcards start at $0.35. Any oversized postcards require letter stamps, which as we’ve now learned, start at $0.55.
Complete Sizing Guide
Letters qualify under the following dimensions:
Length – minimum 5”, maximum 11 ½”
Height – minimum 3 ½”, maximum 6 ⅛”
Thickness – minimum .007”, maximum ¼”
Cards qualify under the following dimensions:
Length – minimum 5”, maximum 6”
Height – minimum 3 ½”, maximum 4 ¼”
Thickness – minimum .007”, maximum 0.016”
What is a “Non-Machinable” Surcharge?
If you have
unusually shaped mail pieces – like uneven, stiff, square, or vertical
envelopes – and the machine is unable to sort them into the correct pile, or if
your mail has extras – like buttons, clasps, or string – it must be
hand-cancelled (processed by a human being). These mail items are considered
“non-machinable,” and a fee of $0.15 may be applied, even if they weigh less
than the standard letter 1 oz.
What About Forever Stamps?
If you’re wondering about First-Class Mail Forever stamps – introduced in 2007 and designated for 1 oz letters that don’t expire even if stamp prices increase – they will still be available for purchase, but at the increased rate of $0.55. Forever stamps purchased before the increase on 1/27/19 will, of course, be honored.
Changes to Priority Mail Prices
First, here’s a quick recap of what the USPS Priority Mail service includes:
Delivery in 1 to 3 business days
Delivery available seven days a week in most locations
Prices starting at $7.35
Can combine with extra services to confirm delivery
Domestic Priority Mail Retail Flat Rate (Boxes and Envelopes)
In an attempt to simplify things, the USPS introduced the first flat rate envelope in 1991 and the first flat rate box in 2004. As their name indicates, there is a flat rate – a one-time fee – and no further weighing or calculating is needed. If they fit in the box, the price is locked and predictable. These ship in 1-3 business days.
Small Flat Rate Box
8 11⁄16″ x 5 7⁄16″ x 1 3⁄4″
Medium Flat Rate Box (top loading)
11 1⁄4″ x 8 3⁄4″ x 6
Medium Flat Rate Box (side loading)
14″ x 12″ x 3 1⁄2″
Large Flat Rate Box
12 1⁄4″ x 12 1⁄4″ x 6″
APO/FPO Large Flat Rate Box*
12 1⁄4″ x 12 1⁄4″ x 6″
Regular Flat Rate Envelope
12 1⁄2″ x 9 1⁄2″
Legal Flat Rate Envelope
9 1⁄2″ x 15″
Padded Flat Rate Envelope
12 1⁄2″ x 9 1⁄2″
*The USPS offers a discount of $1.50 per Priority Mail Flat Rate Box to those who want to send loved ones serving in the military a special delivery. Just look for the abbreviation APO – which stands for Air or Army Post Office – or FPO – which stands for Fleet Post Office (Navy).
A Note On First-Class Package Service and Zone-Based Pricing
First-Class Package Service, the light, fast service primarily used by businesses for fulfillment purposes will move to zone-based pricing. These zones are predetermined and factor the distance from where shipping begins to the package’s destination. According to USPS, this is to better align with the cost of service and is intended to improve value based on distance.
Concluding Thoughts on Stamp Price Increase
According to the New York Times, within the last ten years, the number of first-class mail pieces sent through the United States Postal Service has fallen by more than 50 percent. If you don’t include invitations and holiday cards, the average American household receives only 10 pieces of personal mail each year. Although the statistics presented earlier certainly seem staggering (5,711 mail pieces are processed every second?!), the fact of the matter is Americans just aren’t communicating the way they used to. And yet, a postal worker visits every mailbox several days a week, regardless of the volume.
One needs only to briefly visit the USPS website before discovering that, though the information is certainly helpful, it isn’t the most navigable or consumer-friendly. Perhaps if data was arranged in a one-stop, confusion-free way, folks would be able to move past the terms “non-machineable” and “automation,” and quickly reference whether or not their letter or package fits in a particular category, and how much that category costs. Yeah, someone should probably make that quick-reference…
So, here it is! Our Ultimate Guide to the 2019 Price of a Stamp.
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!
The price of a stamp went up by 7% this Sunday, January 26th from 46 cents to 49 cents. Compared to typical standards enforced by the Postal Regulatory Commission, this is an enormous increase — all in the name of helping the USPS stay afloat as they face competition and economic challenges. And while the stamp price will have the most direct impact on consumers and businesses it isn’t the only the rate the Postal Service earmarked to hike this year. Surprisingly, some rates even went down.
Changes to Common Postage For Consumers: Forever Stamps, Postcards & Additional Ounces
While the price of a stamp for a 1-ounce letter went up by 3 cents, the changes are less observable in case of additional ounces and postcards, because the 2014 rates for each went up by only 1 cent. The change is 21 cents from 20 cents in case of additional ounces and 34 cents from 33 cents for postcards. This is not too much for a single mail piece, but multiplying the actual rate per additional ounces by ten (or any other value) will result in 10 cents (or more) paid in addition in 2014 by all consumers using USPS services. T
New Metered Mail Discount — One Way to Save
This year introduces a new loophole for the ordinary price of a stamp: by metering mail at home, a 1-ounce letter can be sent for 48 cents. This is a 1-cent saving now that the price has gone up.
Priority Mail — Nearly Unchanged; Deeper Discounts Online
The 2014 Priority Mail rates will remain largely the same since the product was recently re-vamped in 2013 to include tracking, insurance and predictable delivery dates. Except from the Priority Mail Large Flat Rate Box and APO/FPO/DPO Large Flat Rate Boxes, which both increase by 0.60 cents, and 3-pound Priority Mail, which goes down in price by about 10 cents, all the other rates for 2014 Priority Mail Flat Rate stay the same and see no increase nor decrease compared to the last year.
Deeper discounts will come with printing postage online in 2014. Savings came to a maximum of 20% for folks printing Priority Mail postage from home and in 2014, savings will increase to up to 35%.
Many Changes to Priority Mail Express and Flat Rate Services
The Priority Mail Express rates are facing an average increase of three percent in 2014. These changes are spread across weight ranges and mailing distance, or “zones.” Even though the rates for 0.5 pounds stay the same, they are going up by 59 cents, 98 cents and 66 cents for one, two and three-pounds packages respectively for Zone 3 packages. The rates go up by 1.79 dollars for Zone 4 mailing, 1.98 dollars for Zone 5, 2.32 dollars for Zone 6, 2.15 dollars for Zone 7 and again 2.32 dollars for Zone 8 – all prices are applicable only for one-pound packages. The increases might not correspond very much –- for instance, the rate for 2-lbs packages in zone six is higher (1.49 dollars) compared to the rate for 3-lbs packages in the same zone (1.29 dollars) — so it may be worth looking over the USPS’s full breakdown.
Among Flat Rate Express services, the Flat Rate Boxes rate is the only one that suffered a change in 2014 compared to the previous year, going up by 5.00 dollars (from 39.95 dollars to 44.95 dollars). The other rates, Flat Rate Envelope, Legal Flat Rate Envelope and Padded Flat Rate Envelope, remain at 18.11 dollars in 2014, which is the same rate as in 2013.
If you’re following USPS news and the price of a stamp closely, you’d know that the first class rate for postage stamps is rising this year. But even the Postal Service is making it hard to answer the two most fundamental questions: By how much is the price of a stamp increasing? And when is this all happening?
The simplest answer is: 49 cents and January 26th, 2014. That’s not all — so read on.
The Stamp Price Increase
The new price for a first class stamp will be 49 cents. That’s a never-before-seen 6% increase to the old price which was only 46 cents. It might not seem like that much of a hike but for a rate that businesses depend on, it’s huge. If the USPS were following the convention typically enforced by the Postal Regulatory Commission, the price would only go up by 1 cent. The real change is 3 cents. So, relative to expectations, the new price is a 300% rate surprise!
Forever stamps will increase in value when the price of a stamp changes this year.
Don’t forget that the USPS has already helped us deal with its constant price changes by selling Forever stamps. If you own Forever stamps (or buy them before the price changes!), their value will automatically rise with the price increase. However, if you go to the post office even just the day after the price increase to buy Forever stamps, you’ll pay the new price of a stamp: 49 cents.
When the Price Changes
The price of a stamp increases to 49 cents on Jan. 26th, 2014 according to the USPS, but what does that really mean? Jan. 26 is a Sunday — very few corner mailboxes are serviced on Sundays and nearly every single post office is closed. The postal service doesn’t even deliver mail on Sundays.
The USPS’s wording suggests that the new 49-cent price takes effect on January 26th, so we can assume that the actual change takes place at midnight or close-of-business on Saturday, Jan. 25th. In other words, if you drop something in the mail on or after Jan. 26th, you should plan to apply postage valued at the new price: 49 cents. Or, if you buy stamps at a kiosk or at a post office that’s open on Sunday, you’ll get charged the new price of a stamp.
However, we know from past price increases that the USPS permits a very unofficial “grace period” where it will continue to deliver mail stamped for the old postage price. If you’re lucky, this will last all day Sunday, Jan. 26th. On Monday, Jan. 27th, be sure that all of your mail has 49 cents of postage attached or it might be returned or discarded.
Today, the USPS announced a proposal requesting permission to increase the price of a stamp by 3 cents in January 2014. That would hike the price of a stamp from 46 cents to 49 cents. But don’t jump the gun and invest in forever stamps just yet — the rate increase might not get approved.
It’s no secret that the Postal Service is losing tons of money — some say up to $15 billion per year. The reasons behind these losses run the gamut: from truck fuel and retired employee healthcare to competition from email, social media and private mail services. This increase request is another attempt at raising revenue to help cover ballooning costs and impossible margins. According to the USPS, these new price changes will add $2 billion in revenue in 2014.
When the USPS wants to enforce a postage rate increase, it proposes them to the “Postal Regulatory Commission” or PRC. The commission is an independent government body which regulates how the Postal Service operates and it’s required by law to prevent the price of a stamp from increasing by more than the rate of inflation each year. This is what would makes this proposal so controversial: the dollar has only inflated about 1% in the past 12 months and isn’t expected to deviate much more than that by 2014. Unfortunately at 1% inflation, the USPS should only be allowed to increase the stamp postage rate by one cent. Instead, they’re asking for 3 cents. The last time this happened, this year in January, the USPS raised the stamp price to 46 cents from 45 cents… which was copacetic with inflation and approved by the commission.
The USPS is hoping to increase stamp prices to 49 cents.
Mickey Barnett, the Chairman of the Postal Service Board of Governors, called this a “last resort” to help deal with the USPS’s financial challenges. They’ve made attempts at reforming the organization through legislation, including a threat to end Saturday delivery, which wasn’t successful. The Postal Regulatory Commission has the latitude to raise prices faster than inflation if circumstances are “extraordinary or exceptional,” and while the Post Office’s fiscal situation may suit that qualification, it hasn’t been a sufficient justification in the past. So, it seems unlikely that you’ll find the stamp price increasing by more than one cent in January. If your business depends on mailing letters, do count on a postage rate hike early next year (and stock up on forever stamps!) but it’s unlikely to outpace inflation.
The USPS hopes to enforce the new postage pricing on January 26th, 2014. The full proposal also includes a one-cent hike to the postcard rate, making it 34 cents; and a one-cent increase on additional weight for letters, making it 21 cents per ounce. They’ll submit the proposal to the PRC tomorrow.
Update 9/26/13: The USPS submitted their proposal today, as promised. The chair of the House Oversight & Government Reform Committee commented, pointing out that such a hike is a desperate measure and will push businesses away from using the USPS all together. Other blogs are posting about how buying forever stamps in advance of the increase could be a scheme for making quick cash.
The USPS has improved its Priority Mail service without even raising the price of a stamp. If you use the post office frequently, you hardly expect improvements without a postage rate increase. There’s now faster, better Priority Mail service without a single penny added to the postage price.
What’s New with Priority Mail
There are many new features and benefits for Priority Mail including: new packaging, better tracking and free insurance. Also new to Priority Mail is faster service — packages may arrive a day earlier. Before, Priority Mail could take two to three days. Now depending on from where and to where you are mailing, your Priority Mail could arrive overnight. In many cases Priority Mail service will now compete with the big overnight delivery companies like FedEx an UPS. And — you won’t be shocked by how much it costs!
Real Overnight Service without Price Hike
There is no postage rate increase for Priority Mail Service (yet!) even though packages could arrive as soon as overnight. While packages may arrive early, you won’t have a deliberate choice between overnight, two-day, or three-day delivery. This is always determined by the market you live in and you’ll get an estimate of the service speed when you purchase it. So if you are in a big city, chances are that you will get all the perks you are looking for with none of the punch to your pocketbook. The postage price for Priority Mail will remain flat, even though packages are expected to reach their destination sooner.
USPS Packaging, Tracking and Insurance Improved
The stylish new priority mail boxes.
The packaging at the Post Office has gotten an update, the tracking is better and there is now automatic insurance for all Priority Mail. For now, you can still use your old Priority Mail boxes but the new, stylish ones are already on the shelf at your local post office branch. In general, the tracking services for Priority Mail has also improved. New barcodes on the labels make finding your package easier and you will learn your expected delivery date as soon as you place your order. The free insurance depends on which payment method you use. You can get up to $50 of insurance for shipments sent at the Post Office or sent using Commercial Base Pricing. Businesses can get up to one hundred dollars worth of free insurance for shipments sent using Commercial Plus Pricing. (Commercial Base and Commercial Plus services depend on mailing volume.) You can always buy more insurance but this new feature will surely give you peace of mind.
Express Mail Changed to “Priority Mail Express”
The USPS has also rebranded Domestic Express Mail as Priority Mail Express. It’s still the same service but there is new packaging for this service as well. The USPS did a good deal of market research and found that the old packaging and service details were often confusing for customers. All of these changes were made in order to streamline the options for post office customers.With so many shipping services that compete with the USPS, making these changes seems like a smart move.
To stay competitive, it will be important for the USPS to continue to listen to its customers and to create valuable services in the future. Don’t be surprised if the prices go up, though. It is well known that the USPS is struggling and it will be a big win for their growth if people are satisfied with the changes. The best advice is to check out the new Priority Mail while the old pricing is still in effect.