How Much Is a First Class Stamp?
December 22, 2022
The price of First Class stamps, also called Forever stamps, has changed frequently over the years. Shippers must be updated with these price changes to avoid unnecessary expenses when sending First Class Mail through the United States Postal Service (USPS).
How much does a First Class Mail stamp cost? How do these stamps work? Do shippers require more than one First Class Stamp when sending mail?
This article discusses First Class stamps and how much they cost when sending mail. The article also explains the U.S. postage rate increases, what a First Class Mail is, and the different features and pricing of such mail.
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What Is the Cost of a First Class Mail Stamp?
First Class Mail letters usually include general correspondence such as credit card statements or billing invoices and typically weigh one ounce or less. These types of mail require a First Class Mail stamp.
These postage stamps cost $0.60 for a one-ounce First Class Mail when bought at the post office and $0.57 when you buy them online from Stamps.com. This website is an independent stamp retailer licensed by the United States Postal Service (USPS).
How Do First Class Stamps Work?
First Class stamps, also called Forever stamps, are non-denominational postage. This classification means you can use these stamps to mail First Class letters regardless of the postal rate.
The USPS First Class Mail service is an affordable and convenient way to send envelopes and lightweight packages. You can mail such correspondence in one to five days or small packages in two to three days.
As of July 2022, you can choose from 71 different stamp designs for First Class Mail from the USPS website. These stamps have various themes, including sports, history, animals, science, landscapes, and holidays. Shippers can also buy these stamps at the post office.
Forever Stamps are ideal for individuals who must mail regular-sized, one-ounce letters within the United States.
If you think your letter weighs more than an ounce, consider weighing your mail before affixing a Forever stamp to it. USPS returns heavier letters that lack postage back to the shipper.
Any domestic mail piece weighing more than one ounce requires you to include additional postage with your Forever stamp to ensure that the USPS delivers that mail.
For heavier postage, you can purchase higher denomination postage stamps at the post office.
Why Do You Have First Class Stamps?
First Class stamps make up a good part of the USPS’ revenue. With postage prices tied to inflation, the USPS can request postage rate increases whenever inflation rises.
To save on postage costs, some shippers buy Forever stamps in advance, meaning you can use old Forever stamps to send First Class Mail today, even when the rates go up.
Does this cost-saving method negatively affect stamp vendors? Not necessarily. Selling newer and pricier Forever stamps allows USPS to offset operating expenses related to collecting and destroying outdated stamps whenever the postage rate increases.
This situation can benefit the shipper and the post office since both parties can save on expenses.
How Many First Class Stamps Do You Need?
You have several factors to consider when determining the number of stamps required to mail a letter. There are also varying conditions where the shipper may need to use more than one stamp.
These factors include the following:
- The service class the shipper chooses, such as First Class, registered mail, or certified mail
- The size of the letter
- The weight of the letter
- The value of the stamps
Considering these factors, the required domestic Forever stamps when sending First Class Mail weighing under 3.5 ounces are the following:
- A one-ounce letter: One domestic Forever stamp
- A two-ounce letter: One domestic Forever stamp and one additional ounce stamp
- A three-ounce letter: One domestic Forever stamp and two additional 20-cent stamps
- A 3.5-ounce letter: One domestic Forever stamp, one postcard stamp, and one 10-cent stamp
When mailing flats or large envelopes, you may need to purchase a combination of Forever stamps, domestic postcard stamps, and regular stamps, depending on your choice of cost savings or convenience.
Can You Use Two First Class Stamps for Extra Postage?
When your mail weighs more than one ounce, the post office allows you to use two First Class or Forever stamps.
However, paying for two of these stamps for mailing heavier mail pieces can be more expensive than combining one First Class stamp with other stamp types.
Forever stamps cost $0.60 for a one-ounce mail. Meanwhile, additional ounce stamps cost only $0.24 per extra ounce.
So, instead of paying $1.20 for two Forever stamps for a two-ounce letter ($0.60 x 2 = $1.20), you can purchase a Forever stamp and an additional ounce stamp for $0.84 only ($0.60 + $0.24 = $0.84).
To find out the current prices of sending international letters or domestic documents, FindPostOffice.org provides a USPS shipping calculator to help compute your estimated expenses.
The website also links to other helpful tools such as USPS tracking, USCIS case status, and USPS address change.
Info on the USPS Postage Rate Increase
An April 2022 report from Washington, D.C., mentioned that the USPS filed a notice to the Postal Regulatory Commission (PRC). The organization seeks a postage price increase that takes effect July 10, 2022.
Once implemented, the new prices will include a two-cent increase for a First-Class Mail Forever stamp from $0.58 to $0.60.
The proposed price hike, approved by the U.S. Postal Service governors, will raise First-Class Mail prices by approximately 6.5%. This rate is lower than the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) annual inflation rate of 7.9% as of February 2022.
This price change reflects a practical implementation of the postal service’s pricing authority provided by the PRC.
Summary of the Postage Rate Increase
As of July 10, 2022, the USPS implemented the following postage rate changes for most market-dominant mailing products:
Mailing Letters, Postcards, and Large Envelopes (Flats)
- The price of a First Class stamp for one-ounce postage purchased at the post office increased two cents from $0.58 to $0.60.
- The metered mail rate for one-ounce First Class Mail letters, including online postage and postage meters, increased four cents from $0.53 to $0.57. Metered mail for this category is three cents less than the post office rate.
- Additional ounces for First Class Mail letters based on the post office and metered mail rates increased by four cents from $0.20 to $0.24.
- One-ounce First Class Mail flat or large envelope rates increased by four cents from $1.16 to $1.20. Each additional ounce costs $0.24.
- Rates for postcards increased by four cents from $0.40 to $0.44.
- One-ounce First Class Mail International letter rates for postage bought online or from the post office increased 10 cents from $1.30 to $1.40.
- Rates for certified mail increased by 25 cents from $3.75 to $4.00.
- Rates for special services, such as signature confirmation, registered mail, and return receipt, increased in July 2022.
- Media Mail rates increased by 9%. Rates that are previously at $3.19 now start at $3.49.
- Priority Mail now includes a $100 insurance for free. Previously, this free insurance was $50.
- Cubic pricing (discount rates for small and heavy packages) is being introduced for the Parcel Select ground service.
First Class Mail
First Class Mail is a shipment type with a higher priority than Retail Ground, Marketing Mail, or Media Mail.
This classification means the USPS prioritizes First Class Mail delivery speed over the other services.
Meanwhile, Priority Mail Express and Priority Mail service take precedence over First Class Mail in delivery speed.
First Class Mail or First Class package service is an easy and affordable way to send envelopes and postcards.
Forever stamps do not expire, even when the First Class postage rate increases. Thus, you can use old Forever stamps for sending First Class Mail anytime.
USPS Tracking does not track letters, flats, and postcards. However, you can use other services, such as collect on delivery and return receipts. These services provide some tracking information. Insurance is also available for First Class Mail.
You should also ensure that your shipping information is correct since USPS does not provide refunds for First-Class Mail.
Features and Pricing
The USPS First Class Mail has the following features:
- Delivers mail in one to five business days
- Delivers small packages in two to five business days
- Offers best-priced service for items up to 13 ounces
- Provides insurance for damage or loss of up to $5,000 for merchandise only
- Qualifies for delivery confirmation services such as Certified Mail
- Implements one price for up to 3.5 ounces with commercially priced cards and letters
- Implements pricing based on weight and shape
Pricing for different letter sizes includes the following:
- Stamps for standard-sized rectangular envelopes start at $0.60
- Stamps for oversized, square, or unusually shaped envelopes start at $0.99
Rates for postcards in varying sizes are as follows:
- Standard-sized, rectangular postcard stamps start at $0.44
- Oversized postcards that need letter stamps, start at $0.60
Large Envelopes and Small Packages
Postage prices for small packages and large envelopes are specified below:
- Large envelopes (flats) start from $1.20
- Small packages start from $4.50
Historical U.S. First Class Postage Rates
The USPS introduced Forever stamps in 2007, meant for non-denominational First Class Mail postage.
The following table shows the historical rates for U.S. postage:
|Date Introduced||Letters(first ounce)||Packages(first ounce)||Postcards||Additional cost per ounce|
|March 3, 1863||$0.06||$0.06||$0.06||$0.06|
|October 1, 1883||0.04||0.04||0.04||0.04|
|July 1, 1885||0.02||0.02||0.02||0.02|
|July 1, 1898||0.02||0.02||0.01||0.02|
|November 2, 1917||0.03||0.03||0.02||0.03|
|July 1, 1919||0.02||0.02||0.01||0.02|
|April 15, 1925||0.02||0.02||0.01 (stamped cards)0.02 (postcards)||0.02|
|July 1, 1928||0.02||0.02||0.01||0.02|
|July 6, 1932||0.03||0.03||0.01||0.03|
|January 1, 1952||0.03||0.03||0.02||0.03|
|August 1, 1958||0.04||0.04||0.03||0.04|
|January 7, 1963||0.05||0.05||0.04||0.05|
|January 7, 1968||0.06||0.06||0.05||0.06|
|May 16, 1971||0.08||0.08||0.06||0.08|
|March 2, 1974||0.10||0.10||0.08||0.10|
|September 14, 1975||0.10||0.10||0.07||0.09|
|December 31, 1975||0.13||0.13||0.09||0.11|
|May 29, 1978||0.15||0.15||0.10||0.13|
|March 22, 1981||0.18||0.18||0.12||0.17|
|November 1, 1981||0.20||0.20||0.13||0.17|
|February 17, 1985||0.22||0.22||0.14||0.17|
|April 3, 1988||0.25||0.25||0.15||0.20|
|February 3, 1991||0.29||0.29||0.19||0.23|
|January 1, 1995||0.32||0.32||0.20||0.23|
|January 10, 1999||0.33||0.33||0.20||0.22|
|January 7, 2001||0.34||0.34||0.20||0.21|
|July 1, 2001||0.34||0.34||0.21||0.23|
|June 30, 2002||0.37||0.37||0.23||0.23|
|January 8, 2006||0.39||0.39||0.24||0.24|
|May 14, 2007||0.41||1.13||0.26||0.17|
|May 12, 2008||0.42||1.17||0.27||0.17|
|May 11, 2009||0.44||1.22||0.28||0.17|
|April 17, 2011||0.44||1.71 (3 oz.)||0.29||0.20 (letters)0.17 (packages)|
|January 22, 2012||0.45||1.95 (3 oz.)||0.32||0.20 (letters)0.17 (packages)|
|January 27, 2013||0.46||2.07 (3 oz.)||0.33||0.20 (letters)0.17 (packages)|
|January 26, 2014||0.49||2.32 (3 oz.)||0.34||0.21 (letters)0.17 (packages)|
|May 31, 2015||0.49||2.54 (3 oz.)||0.35||0.22 (letters)0.20 (packages)|
|April 10, 2016||0.47||2.54 (3 oz.)||0.34||0.21 (letters)0.20 (packages)|
|January 22, 2017||0.49||2.67 (3 oz.)||0.34||0.21 (letters)0.18 (packages)|
|January 21, 2018||0.50||3.50 (4 oz.)||0.35||0.21 (letters)0.35 (packages)|
|January 27, 2019||0.55||N.A||0.35||0.15 (letters)|
|January 26, 2020||0.55||N/A||0.35||0.15 (letters)|
|January 24, 2021||0.55||N/A||0.36||0.20|
|August 29, 2021||0.58||N/A||0.40||0.20|
|July 10, 2022||0.60||N/A||0.44||0.24 (letters)|
- U.S. Postal Service Announces New Prices for 2022
- First-Class Mail