Cost to Mail a Postcard

admin

March 9, 2024

According to the data provided by USPS (United States Postal Service), Americans mailed over 3.23 billion postcards in 2022. The sheer number of postcards shows the popularity of postcards to millions of people worldwide.

So, how much do you need to mail a postcard through USPS? How can you utilize bulk mailing for business promotions through postcards?  

This article explains the cost of mailing a postcard in the United States and to addresses abroad. It also tackles the different kinds of mail services you can use, like bulk mailing, to send postcards. 

If you need access to contact information for over 31,330 post offices in the country, visit FindPostOffice.org. Our website can help get the address of your local post office. 

You can visit these USPS retail offices and apply the advice provided by this article concerning the shipping of postcards in the United States and countries abroad.  

USPS Postcard Sizes and Postage Rates

A postcard is a simple yet effective way to send a message to a recipient. The U.S. Postal Service provides postcard mailing service to millions of customers in the United States. 

Here are postcard sizes and postage rates for people wanting to send postcards to their loved ones. 

Standard Postcard Size

For USPS to consider your mailpiece as a postcard, it should meet the following criteria: 

  • It must be rectangular in size.
  • It must be at least 3.5 inches high, 5 inches long, and 0.007 inches thick.
  • It must not exceed 4.25 inches high, 6 inches long, and 0.016 inches thick.

The current USPS rate for regular-sized postcards starts at $0.51.

Jumbo Postcards

Sometimes, regular-sized postcards are too small for your liking. However, you may not want to mail a letter, only a larger-sized postcard. In this kind of situation, you can use jumbo postcards. 

USPS calls the jumbo postcard an oversized postcard. These large postcards have the following dimensions:

  • Larger than 4.25in (height), 6in (length), and 0.016in (thick)
  • Does not exceed 6.125in (height) x 11.5in (long) x 0.25in (thick)

The current USPS postcard rate for oversized postcards starts at $0.66. This postcard rate is the same as the rate of a standard letter. So, if you’re going to send an oversized postcard, you’re paying First-Class letter rates. 

Extra-Large Postcard Sizes and Rates

Sometimes, you don’t mind paying extra for oversized postcards to be considered a flat or large envelope

Nothing’s stopping you from sending extra-large postcard sizes, although you should know that the rates will no longer be for the regular-sized ones. 

Extra-large postcards have dimensions of 9in x 12in. The current USPS rate for flats starts at $1.35. 

What Is a Postcard?

A postcard is a card you can use to send messages without needing an envelope. One of the first instances where senders used postcards was in 1869 when the Austrian government issued a straw-colored card called the “correspondence card” or Korrespondenz Karte.  

The United States followed suit when John P. Charlton obtained the copyright of a postcard design in 1861. He was the first person to copyright the first postcard in America. 

The U.S. government first issued a postcard with imprinted stamps in 1873. From there, the postcard industry grew and is one of the main ways to send correspondence via mail. 

Postcard Quantities

Because postcards can be used for advertisements and other promotional purposes, many people want to send these cards in bulk. USPS allows people to send, in bulk, postcards with a discount. 

USPS offers the EDDM (Every Door Direct Mail) service for businesses that want to create a direct mail marketing campaign. Through EDDM, business owners can save money because of the discounted price for bulk mail deliveries. 

For example, you can use postcards to advertise your services to people directly. Once you use the EDDM service, you can send 200 to 5,000 postcards daily per ZIP (zone improvement plan) code. 

Why Mail Postcards?

People use postcards in many ways. Travelers use postcards with pictures of the places they’ve visited to tell their loved ones their whereabouts and send a heartfelt message. 

Business owners use postcards in their marketing campaigns to promote their new products or services.

Additionally, a short message on a postcard feels more personal compared to a simple text message or an email. So, if you’re a business that wants to make an impression, using postcards can make a difference. 

How to Mail a Postcard

Mailing a postcard is simple, but you can do the following steps to turn this rectangular card into something special. 

Add Your Message or Artwork Ready

A postcard usually has a picture of some picturesque scenery, famous person, or something artistic drawn, painted, or photographed. If you’re going to send a postcard, make sure you ready your card’s design. 

You may need to consider the artwork design if you’re using postcards to advertise. Determine what you want to show on the postcard. It can be a new product, service, or promotion. 

Additionally, you need to prepare your message. A postcard has limited space for messages on the back, so you won’t be able to write a long letter. Still, you can make your draft your message as meaningful as you want it to be, as long as it can fit on the back of a postcard. 

Print

Once you’ve composed your heartfelt message and chosen an appropriate artwork design, you can now have your postcard printed. 

Note that you need to adhere to the dimensions required for a postcard. Ensure you have an adequate printer to create crisp and visually appealing designs. 

Address the Card

Use the back of the postcard to write your message, your address, and the recipient’s address. Ensure that all information placed into a postcard is accurate. 

Attach a Stamp

Once your postcard is ready, it’s time to attach a stamp. You can use the standard postcard stamp provided by USPS, which costs $0.51. However, keep in mind that larger postcards and irregularly shaped ones, like square cards, may cost more.

You can use a Forever stamp for oversized postcards at the same price as First-Class Mail, starting at $0.66.   

Put It in the Mail

Once you have placed the address, stamp, and message, you can mail your postcard to the nearest post office. You can also have your postcard picked up from your location if you have a mailbox. 

Alternatively, you can drop your postcards at a special receptacle called a blue collection box in your local post office. 

These boxes, usually blue colored, are special containers where you can drop packages without the need to talk to any postal employee. 

Mailing and Shipping Prices

USPS provides a list of mailing and shipping prices for different types of mail, including postcards. The following is a list of current prices as provided by USPS. 

First-Class Mail

A standard letter mail is usually shipped via First-Class Mail service. This mailing service is an affordable way to send letters and postcards. The price of First-Class Mail is the same as one Forever stamp. 

Mail in One to Five Business Days; Small Packages in Two to Five Business Days

USPS delivery times depend on the service. For First-Class Mail, the shipping time is one to five business days for parcels that weigh up to 13oz. 

Let’s say the mailpiece weighs heavier than 13oz. In that case, it will be considered a package, and its shipping service becomes USPS Ground Advantage. 

The USPS Ground Advantage service delivers packages up to 70lbs within two to five business days. Package dimensions can be up to 130in combined length, and girth. 

Features and Pricing

Here are the following features and prices for First-Class Mail:

  • Delivery time ranges from one to five business days.
  • Pricing is affordable for shipping items up to 13oz.
  • First-Class Mail letters are eligible for Delivery Confirmation services like Certified Mail.
  • Postage prices are the same for parcels up to 3.5oz.
  • Commercial prices for letters or cards are based on weight and shape.

Letters

  • Prices for standard, rectangular-sized envelope postage stamps start at $0.66.
  • Prices for oversized or unusually-sized envelope stamps start at $1.06.

Postcards

  • Prices for standard, rectangular-sized postcard stamps start at $0.51.
  • Prices for oversized postcards that need letter stamps start at $0.66.

Large Envelopes or Small Packages

  • Prices for large envelopes or flats start at $1.35.

Weight, Size, and Shape Requirements

First-Class Mail letters have a maximum weight of 3.5oz. On the other hand, First-Class Mail large envelopes have a maximum weight of 13oz. 

Envelopes and postcards should be rectangular. Any oddly shaped parcels may incur an additional charge. Note that size restrictions depend on the mailpiece type you’re sending. 

Are There Additional Charges for Irregular Mailpieces, Envelopes, and Small Packages?

Yes. There are additional charges placed on irregularly shaped letters, envelopes, and small packages sent via USPS.  

Nonmachinable Envelopes

USPS facilities use scanning machines to process mailpieces through delivery. 

However, the machine only works appropriately for parcels with standard shapes. Once a parcel differs from the standard shape, like squares, it becomes a nonmachinable envelope. 

A surcharge is imposed even if the parcel weighs less than 1oz. This extra fee covers the cost of hand-canceling these mailpieces before shipping them. 

Large Mailpieces, Envelopes, and Small Packages

When the parcel exceeds the standard dimensions of a First-Class Mail, it’s treated as a large envelope or small package. 

You can use online calculators like the one provided by USPS to calculate the cost of your package if it exceeds the limit for large envelopes. 

Additional Information

Consider this additional information on USPS’s shipping service for this type of mailpiece. 

Mailing Restrictions and Prohibitions

There are mailing restrictions associated with First-Class Mail. However, when sending postcards, you don’t need to worry about these prohibited items. 

Note that USPS regulates and prohibits different types of items like the following:

  • Any hazardous materials
  • Smokeless tobacco
  • Cigarettes

For Businesses

USPS caters not only to the needs of private individuals but also to businesses and their customers. Companies, especially online stores, must have fast, affordable, and secure shipping services for orders. 

The following are services provided by USPS for businesses.

Data-Driven Shipping

Services like First-Class Mail are targetable, measurable, and trackable, but only with certain extra services. This mailing service offers a range of business options like address correction and forwarding that help spread your message to your audience. 

Commercial Prices and Automation Discounts

USPS provides commercial prices and discounts for bulk shipments.

You can send up to 5,000 postcards daily for your advertising campaign needs, similar to the discount given to users of EDDM service. 

USPS Marketing Mail

The USPS Marketing Mail service is a shipping option focused on how to provide discounts to businesses for bulk deliveries. Marketing Mail, which was formerly called Standard Mail, is a type of shipping option used by companies for mailing the following:

  • Flyers and circulars
  • Advertising printed matter
  • Newsletters, bulletins, and catalogs
  • Small parcels

Presorted vs. Non-presorted Postcard Postage Rate

Presorted mail is not an actual USPS mail class. However, it’s a service a post office provides when processing mail for their area. Customers can experience the efficiency of presorted mail when they send in bulk. 

Presorting is bunching mail together via ZIP code, service type, and size to speed up the process. However, you should have a minimum of 200 mailpieces or 50lbs of mail to use this sorting service.

Commingled Postcards

Sometimes, the Postal Office groups mailings from multiple companies. USPS calls the type of mail sorting as commingling or blending. 

The commingling concept aims to help businesses save money by combining customer’s mail with other marketers. The courier organizes the mail into trays or tubs based on ZIP codes. 

Mailing a Postcard Is Cheaper Than Sending a Letter via First-Class Mail

Sending a regular-sized postcard is cheaper than sending a letter using the First-Class Mail service. 

The regular postcard size price starts at $0.51. Meanwhile, the price for oversized postcards, which require a First-Class Mail letter stamp, starts at $0.66. 

Sending a Postcard Internationally

Suppose you want to send postcards to people living in other countries to connect with them. USPS provides a way to ship postcards to addresses abroad using the Global Forever stamp. 

You only have to pay $1.50 for this stamp, and you can send your postcard to other countries reached by USPS, including military installations abroad. 

USPS Postage Rate Changes

The postage rate has changed multiple times. The most recent price increase took effect in July 2023. The price hike affected many USPS mailing services, including the Forever stamp, which rose from $0.63 to $0.66. 

However, USPS announced a 2-cent increase in its First-Class Mail Forever stamp by January 21, 2024. The rate increase will cause another set of adjustments to millions of USPS customers nationwide. 

Domestic Prices

The First-Class Mail price, as mentioned above, is the same as the domestic Forever stamp, which is $0.66. The costs for regular-sized postcards start at $0.51. 

If you need a handy post office locator, visit FindPostOffice.org. You can access thousands of post offices in the country, including military installations. You only need to enter the city or state to get a list of post offices near your area. 

FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions)

  1. Do postcards have to be a specific size?

Size is only of concern if you want to pay postcards at its cheapest rate. The standard, regular-sized postcard costs $0.51 to send. The cost increases once your postcard exceeds the regular size, and you may be charged with package rates. 

  1. Do 5in × 7in postcards require extra postage?

Postcards with a dimension of 5in x 7in fall into the oversized postcard size. Its price is similar to the First-Class Mail letter, which is $0.66. 

  1. How much does it cost to mail a 4in x6in postcard?

The cost to mail a 4in x 6in postcard is the same as that for a standard regular-sized postcard: $0.51. 

  1. What postcard size is most effective?

Many business owners prefer using the oversized postcard, which has dimensions of 6in x 11in. A postcard of this size has enough space for you to include all the necessary marketing materials to capture your customers’ attention. 

  1. Do postcards need unique stamps?

No, they don’t. Postcards use the same standard stamps used in any U.S. mail. Also, there are no special postcard stamp prices other than the cheaper price of a regular-sized postcard. 

  1. Can I mail a 4in x 6in photo as a postcard?

Yes, you can. Homemade or custom postcards can be sent via USPS. A photo you took from a great vacation can be shipped as a postcard. However, the price will be the letter rate or the rate for an oversized postcard. 

  1. Do postcard mailers work?

Postcard mailers work depending on the marketing strategy used by a business. 

Many eCommerce entrepreneurs see the potential of postcard direct mail marketing. However, this strategy will not work with any business automatically. Doing the necessary research before spending money on a marketing plan is best. 

  1. Does a postcard need an envelope?

Postcards don’t need an envelope for you to mail them. That said, you can place your postcards in an envelope, especially if the material used is flimsy and prone to damage. 

  1. Does a postcard need a return address?

USPS doesn’t require people sending postcards to add a return address. However, if you want to add tracking services to your parcel, you must provide a return address. 

  1. How can I protect my postcards in the mail?

You need to choose a postcard that uses durable or sturdy material. If you send photos as a postcard, place them inside a clear plastic sleeve to prevent crumpling or scratches. 

  1. How are postcard stamps sold?

USPS sells stamps, including those used for postcards, in sheets of 20 stamps or rolls of 100 stamps. 

You can buy these stamps at your local office or purchase them online via The Postal Store or from third-party sellers like Amazon. However, buying stamps at your local post office is often more affordable. 

  1. How many stamps should I use on my mailed postcard?

You only need one standard stamp for your postcard. It’s usually enough to cover the postage for this lightweight parcel. 

  1. What are the design requirements for my postcard?

There’s no specific design requirement for postcards. However, it should have enough space for the recipient’s address, space for the stamp, and the message. 

  1. Which postcard size should I use?

Every postcard size has its specific purpose. One can use any postcard size, depending on the needs and purpose. 

  1. Can I submit my mailing list for the courier to address?

Yes. You can create your mailing list for the courier to address. Also, you can purchase a mailing list from a vendor if you don’t have a ready address list. 

  1. Does my design have to follow a certain template to qualify for bulk mail rates?

You must ensure that your postcard adheres to USPS’s bulk mail mailing standards. 

Standard bulk mail must be made of printed prices that have identical content, size, and weight. You must adhere to this requirement, so your design must adjust to this template and enjoy the benefits of bulk mail rates. 

  1. Do I have to purchase a special indicia for my bulk business mail?

No. You don’t need to purchase any particular indicia for bulk business mail shipping. An indicia can replace a stamp typically printed directly to the mailpiece. An indicia is an imprint on each mailpiece that indicates the postage has been prepaid.

  1. Do I have to worry about my postcardsbulk mail address format?

You don’t need to worry about your postcard’s bulk mail addresses. USPS uses an address verification tool to format an address into its correct form. 

  1. What’s better — bulk mail vs. First-Class?

The answer depends on your preference and purpose. Bulk mail service is suitable for shipping multiple mailpieces at once. However, using First-Class Mail is good for sending light parcels.  

  1. Is there a bulk mail minimum to receive the lower U.S. postcard postage rates?

Yes, there’s a bulk mail minimum that you need to reach before you can take advantage of its discounts. For commercial business mail, the minimum is the following:

  • For First-Class Mail, it’s 500 pieces.
  • For USPS Marketing Mail, it’s 200 pieces or 50lbs of mail.
  • For Parcel Select, it’s 50 pieces.
  • For presorted mail, it’s 300 pieces.
  • For Library Mail, it’s 300 pieces.
  • For Media Mail, it’s 300 pieces.
  1. How much is the bulk U.S. postage for postcards?

The postage rate for bulk mailing services for postcards is $0.335 to $0.359 per postcard via First-Class Mail. 

  1. What other USPS bulk mail information do I need to know?

When using the bulk mail service with USPS, ensure to follow the storing instructions for bulk mail. 

You also need to presort your mail before handing it over to USPS. This policy means you must sort your postcards by geographical area to make it easier for the courier to deliver. 

  1. Is there a way to track my mailing?

USPS allows you to track your bulk mailing using the Postal Service’s tracking system. You can monitor your mail via the online platform provided by the United States Postal Service.

References

  1. Sizes for Postcards
    https://pe.usps.com/businessmail101?ViewName=Cards
  2. First-Class Mail
    https://www.usps.com/ship/first-class-mail.htm
  3. Using Every Door Direct Mail
    https://www.usps.com/business/every-door-direct-mail.htm
  4. How to Send a Letter or Postcard: Domestic
    https://www.usps.com/ship/letters.htm
  5. How to Send a Letter or Postcard: International
    https://www.usps.com/international/letters.htm
  6. How Do I Get Started Using Direct Mail?
    https://faq.usps.com/s/article/How-Do-I-Get-Started-Using-Direct-Mail
  7. What is Commercial Mail? Is it Right for You?
    https://pe.usps.com/businessmail101?ViewName=WhatIsBulkMail