Cost to Mail a Letter

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November 15, 2023

In 2022, the United States Postal Service (USPS) delivered 7.3 billion packages to about 165 million addresses within the United States. 

With such figures, you can imagine the considerable demand for postal services for sending mail across the country, not including letters heading overseas. Still, the Postal Service continually reviews its pricing approach for all its products.

If you plan to mail a letter, one of your considerations is the postage or the cost needed to send a letter or parcel through the mail.

What are the current prices for mailing letters? How much do First-Class Mail stamps cost? If you want to add other services like tracking and insurance, how much will they cost?

This article discusses the postage rates for sending letters through various U.S. Postal Service mailing services. It also details the costs to send postcards and USPS Flat Rate envelopes.

Moreover, this article explains USPS’ postage rate increases and what services these price changes affect.

Ready to visit your local post office to send mail and get an exact calculation of your mail postage costs? Go to FindPostOffice.org and use its online search tool to find a post office near you.

How Much Does It Cost to Send a Letter?

In the U.S., the cost to send a letter can vary depending on the Postal Service’s postage assessment and the mailing service you use. The following sections discuss the prices for sending letters domestically and internationally.

Current Postal Rates for Letters

USPS regularly assesses and proposes price changes to its services to help achieve financial sustainability and maintain service excellence. The following sections show the postal rates for sending letters through various mailing services as of July 9, 2023.

First-Class Mail

If you want an easy and affordable way of sending envelopes and postcards, consider using the USPS First-Class Mail service.

To send First-Class Mail letters, you need a standard, rectangular envelope stamp that costs $0.66 for the first ounce (oz).

For additional ounces, the table below shows the cost up to 3.5oz:

Weight not exceedingCost
1$0.66
2$0.90
3$1.14
3.5$1.38

Meanwhile, First-Class Mail stamps for oversized, square, or unusually shaped envelopes start at $1.06.

Priority Mail

USPS Priority Mail includes tracking and delivery in one to three business days. Priority Mail also offers Flat Rate pricing, listed in the table below:

ProductCost
Flat Rate Envelopes (12.5 inches (in) x 9.5in or smaller)$9.65
Legal Flat Rate envelope$9.95
Padded Flat Rate envelope$10.40
Small Flat Rate box$10.20
Medium Flat Rate box$17.10
Large Flat Rate box$22.80
Large Flat Rate box for Army Post Office (APO), Fleet Post Office (FPO), and Diplomatic Post Office (DPO)$21.20

Priority Mail Express

Priority Mail Express service offers next-day to two–day delivery by 6:00 PM with a money-back guarantee.

Similar to Priority Mail, this service also provides Flat Rate pricing, as seen in the following table:

ProductCost
Flat Rate Envelope$28.75
Legal Flat Rate Envelope$28.95
Padded Flat Rate Envelope$29.45

Media Mail

Media Mail is a cost-effective USPS service for sending books, media, and educational materials. This service ships in two to eight business days, and prices start at $3.92 at the post office.

New Stamp Rates

As of July 9, 2023, USPS has implemented price changes to the following services:

ProductPrevious prices (as of January 22, 2023)New prices (as of July 9, 2023)
Additional ounce$0.24$0.24
Letter (2oz)$0.87$0.90
Letter (3oz)$1.11$1.14
Postcard$0.48$0.51
Forever stamp$0.63$0.66
Global Forever stamp$1.45$1.50

Cost of First-Class Stamps

USPS First-Class Mail can accommodate single-piece envelopes weighing up to 3.5oz and large envelopes weighing up to 13oz.

Letter Stamps

Suppose you want to send a letter weighing 2oz. As shown in the tables above, postage stamp prices for First-Class Mail letters start at $0.66 at a post office, and additional ounces cost $0.24 up to 3.5oz. Thus, sending a 2oz letter costs at least $0.90 ($0.66 + $0.24 = $0.90).

Postcard Stamps

Based on the stamp rate table above, a standard-sized, rectangular postcard stamp costs $0.51.

Global Forever (International)

You can use one Global Forever stamp if you need to send international letters or postcards weighing up to 1oz. This international stamp costs $1.50 and does not expire, even when the postage price increases.

When sending large envelopes (flats) up to 15.994oz, your postage prices will vary depending on destination and weight.

How Much to Mail a Postcard

You must use letter stamps starting from $0.66 to send an oversized postcard.

On the other hand, sending a 1oz postcard outside the U.S. requires a Global Forever stamp, starting at $1.50.

How Much to Mail a Priority Mail Envelope

As discussed earlier, you can send Priority Mail using Flat Rate pricing, starting from $9.65 for envelopes.

However, you can also send Priority Mail by weight, especially when sending an item using your own box. This option lets you send items up to 70 pounds (lbs). Prices start at $9.35.

How Much to Send a Flat Rate Envelope

Flat Rate pricing is available for items being sent through Priority Mail and Priority Mail Express.

To know the cost of sending Flat Rate envelopes through these services, refer to the tables listing the Flat Rate prices under the Priority Mail and Priority Mail Express sections.

How Much Extra Does Tracking Cost?

Some mailing services like Priority Mail and Priority Mail Express have USPS Tracking included.

You don’t need to pay any additional cost for the tracking mechanism on these products that automatically include USPS Tracking. One exception is USPS Marketing Mail, which requires an additional $0.28 to have the tracking option.

Other services like First-Class Mail do not have the tracking feature.

How Much Extra Is Insurance?

Insurance is available for specific USPS products like Priority Mail, Ground Advantage, and Priority Mail Express for a coverage of up to $100.

If you’re shipping merchandise products, you can buy additional insurance for up to $5,000. The table below shows the breakdown of insurance fees:

Amount of desired merchandise insurance coverageFee
$0.01 to $50.00$2.70
$50.01 to $100.00$3.45
$100.01 to $200.00$4.55
$200.01 to $300.00$5.95
$300.01 to $400.00$7.50
$400.01 to $500.00$9.05
$500.01 to $600.00$12.15
$600.01 to $5,000.00$12.15 plus $1.85 for every $100 or fraction thereof over $600 in declared value

“Can I Buy Delivery Receipts for Letters?”

Sometimes, you may want to confirm whether your letter has arrived at its final destination and the intended recipient has received it. You can receive this confirmation through delivery receipts.

Some USPS services like Certified Mail and Registered Mail have added services that let you confirm whether your recipient received your mail. Using other mailing services, you can purchase delivery receipts as an add-on.

Electronic return receipts cost $2.20, while the hard copy costs $3.55.

Prices

The USPS website provides a list of starting prices for many of its domestic and international mailing and shipping services. The following sections list these services and corresponding prices.

Domestic Prices

The table below shows the mail rates for domestic USPS services as of July 9, 2023:

ServicePrice (starting from)
Priority Mail Express$28.75 at the post office$24.90 for commercial pricing
Priority Mail Express Flat Rate envelope$28.75 at the post office$24.90 for commercial pricing
Priority Mail$9.35 at the post office$7.64 for commercial pricing
Priority Mail Flat Rate envelope$9.65 at the post office$8.05 for commercial pricing
First-Class Mail$0.66 at the post office$0.498 for commercial pricing
USPS Ground Advantage$4.75 at the post office$3.59 for commercial pricing
USPS Marketing Mail$0.193
Parcel Select$3.78
Parcel Select Lightweight$2.46
Media Mail$3.92 at the post office$2.59 for commercial pricing
Library Mail$3.72 at the post office$2.46 for commercial pricing

International Prices

If you need to send parcels outside the U.S., USPS offers the following international services and their prices based on July 2023 rates:

ServicePrice (starting from)
Global Express Guaranteed$71.10 at the post office$67.55 for Commercial Base and Commercial Plus
Priority Mail Express International$56.00 at the post office$53.07 for Commercial Base and Commercial Plus
Priority Mail Express International Flat RateFor envelopes:$54.75 at the post office$51.98 for Commercial Base and Commercial Plus
Priority Mail International$42.10 at the post office$39.53 for Commercial Base and Commercial Plus
Priority Mail International Flat RateFor envelopes:$30.35 at the post office$28.57 for Commercial Base and Commercial Plus
For small Flat Rate boxes:$31.45 at the post office$29.64 for Commercial Base and Commercial Plus
For medium Flat Rate boxes:$60.55 at the post office$56.10 for Commercial Base and Commercial Plus
For large Flat Rate boxes:$74.00 at the post office$69.10 for Commercial Base and Commercial Plus
First-Class Mail InternationalLetters and postcards from $1.50Large envelopes (flats) from $3.00
First-Class Package International Service$15.75 at the post office$14.96 for Commercial Base and Commercial Plus

Info on the USPS Postage Rate Increase

On April 10, 2023, USPS filed a notice with the Postal Regulatory Commission (PRC) regarding price changes to the courier’s mailing services.

The USPS governors approved these changes, which took effect on July 9, 2023.

The new rates include a three-cent increase in the price of First-Class Mail Forever stamps. This increase raises First-Class Mail prices by approximately 5.4%, which USPS said should help offset cost increases due to inflation.

Other services like metered mail and domestic postcards will also have a price increase. However, USPS will not implement changes to the single-piece letter and additional-ounce price surcharge, which remains at $0.24.

The Postal Service also adjusted prices for special services like Certified Mail, post office box (P.O. box) rental fees, money order fees, and insurance costs.

Summary of the Postage Rate Increase

The price increases that took effect on July 9, 2023, for specific USPS services are as follows:

  • The price for First-Class Mail letters weighing 1oz increased from $0.63 to $0.66.
  • A 1oz metered First-Class Mail letter increased in price from $0.60 to $0.63.
  • Domestic postcard prices increased from $0.48 to $0.51.
  • The price for a 1oz First-Class Mail International letter increased from $1.45 to $1.50.
  • The price for First-Class Mail International postcards increased from $1.45 to $1.50.

It Costs More to Mail a Letter

With the cost of sending a 1oz First-Class Mail letter increasing to $0.66 in July 2023, it costs twice as much to send a letter now than in 1999, when the postage was $0.33.

When USPS introduced the Forever stamp in 2007, the cost back then was $0.41. As of July 2023, this stamp’s cost for a 1oz mail is $0.66.

These price adjustments may help provide USPS with the much-needed revenue to achieve the company’s financial stability goals for the 10-year “Delivering for America” plan.

Despite these price increases, USPS postage prices remain among the most affordable worldwide.

How to Send Letters in the Mail

With digital communication services like email and social media available almost everywhere, some people may have yet to experience sending a letter through the mail.

If you’re one of these people and need to write one soon, the following guide provides a brief discussion on how to send letters regardless of the mail delivery service you choose.

First, have a standard-sized envelope or postcard on hand. Post offices, department stores, office supply stores, and online ships usually have these postcards and envelopes.

Once you have your envelope, properly address it to your recipient by carefully writing or printing the delivery address in the middle of the envelope. Start with the recipient’s name and follow it with their street address, town and state information, and ZIP code.

Next, write or print your return address in the envelope’s top left corner. This address helps ensure that if a delivery problem occurs, USPS has a good chance of returning the letter to you.

Lastly, apply postage to your envelope and drop your mail at a local post office. You can also place your letter in a P.O. box or mailbox. Just don’t forget to ensure your mailbox’s flag is upright.

Once you’ve done all these steps, your next step is to wait for USPS to deliver your mail to your recipient.

References

  1. 2023 Postage Price Changes
    https://faq.usps.com/s/article/2023-Postage-Price-Changes
  2. First-Class Mail
    https://www.usps.com/ship/first-class-mail.htm
  3. Price List
    https://pe.usps.com/text/dmm300/Notice123.htm
  4. Priority Mail Express
    https://www.usps.com/ship/priority-mail-express.htm
  5. Mail & Shipping Services
    https://www.usps.com/ship/mail-shipping-services.htm
  6. First-Class Mail International
    https://www.usps.com/international/first-class-mail-international.htm
  7. Priority Mail
    https://www.usps.com/ship/priority-mail.htm
  8. USPS Tracking® – The Basics
    https://faq.usps.com/s/article/USPS-Tracking-The-Basics

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