USPS Padded Envelope

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March 11, 2024

In 2020, the United States Census Bureau survey showed a 4.8% increase (equivalent to $0.7 trillion) in the total value of nationwide shipments over five years, resulting in a grand total of $14.5 trillion in shipment worth.

This surge in shipment value may be one of the reasons shipping costs have significantly increased in recent years. 

Suppose you’re an e-commerce merchant. In that case, rising shipping costs may also increase fulfillment expenses, negatively impacting your profit margin. 

Businesses usually pass on additional shipping expenses to customers to maintain profitability. So, if you’re a consumer, there’s a good chance you also bear the impact of increased delivery costs.

Either way, you’re looking for ways to cut shipping costs. One way online shoppers and retailers can do so is by accessing cost-effective delivery supplies, such as USPS (United States Postal Service) padded envelopes.

FindPostOffice.org is a one-stop resource for many topics related to post offices in the U.S. Our search tool and database can provide you with vital details, such as post office schedules, addresses, and shipping services.

Whether you run a small business or are a frequent online shopper, this article can give you crucial information regarding USPS padded envelopes, including their features and potential costs.

Learn more about various shipping tips and services.

How to Get USPS Padded Envelopes

You can order these easy-to-use bubble mailers from USPS online stores, local post offices, and other shipping supplies platforms and locations.

USPS offers specific padded envelopes, like the Priority Mail Flat Rate padded envelope, at no cost. These items come with free shipping via the USPS Ground Advantage service.

You can order these items online and wait for the postal worker to drop them off at your address during their rounds. USPS delivers padded envelopes in packs of 10, with a maximum order of 30.

Things You Can Ship With USPS Padded Envelopes to Save Money

Suppose you’re an eCommerce business owner. In that case, you likely know that shipping expenses are one of the top reasons shoppers leave online shops without purchasing.

You probably also know that sellers cannot just adjust shipping rates. 

Fortunately, there are several ways to ship your products for less fees. One way to do so is to use particular flat-rate padded envelopes, which you can get free from USPS.

This option allows you to send small- to medium-size items without spending much on shipping materials.

For example, free Priority Mail Flat Rate padded envelopes can hold books, boxed jewelry, and clothing.

Remember, you must still pay the standard cost for the USPS product you purchase. 

So, you might have to spend $8.80 (commercial pricing) or $10.40 (at the post office) for shipping via the Priority Mail Flat Rate service.

Some might call you cheap for using free padded envelopes when packaging items. 

But if you think about it, the only thing that should concern you when packaging and shipping products is the item’s safety and integrity during transit. 

Priority Mail Flat Rate padded envelopes may be good enough (for some, even ideal) to meet this requirement.

Did USPS Discontinue Priority Mail Flat Rate Padded Envelopes?

No. As shown above, these envelopes are still available on the USPS platform. 

You can see the product description, specifications, and other shipping information when you go to the USPS online postal store, click “Shipping Supplies,” and choose “Priority Mail Flat Rate Padded Envelope.”

The Magic Behind USPS Priority Mail Padded Flat Rate Envelope

Some eCommerce sellers might consider this envelope a “magic bullet” to resolve shipping costs and product safety concerns.

Priority Mail Flat Rate padded envelopes may be free. Still, they are lined with bubble padding, providing extra protection to the mail pieces.

These mailing supplies are compatible with Priority Mail, so you can monitor them through the USPS Tracking service.

Moreover, each Priority Mail shipment already includes a standard $100 insurance coverage. 

Lastly, you do not have to pay for the shipment of these packaging supplies. USPS will ship them to you within two to five business days via USPS Ground Advantage at no cost.

Suppose you want to expedite the shipment of these packaging materials. In that case, you can have them sent via Priority Mail for a fee.

The Mystery of Missing USPS Padded Envelopes

In 2022, many people online thought USPS discontinued Priority Mail flat-rate padded envelopes.

Some observant sellers noticed then that the packaging materials were marked “Out of Stock” in the USPS online store.

One blog post appeared in August 2020 describing the difficulties of obtaining flat-rate padded envelopes. 

 The conversation only resurfaced when merchants began having problems obtaining the materials again. The sellers even raised the issue on an eBay weekly chat session. 

The article noted that USPS usually announces when a product will be discontinued. 

At the time, the blog’s author had seen warnings regarding USPS discontinuing prepaid Priority Mail Flat Rate envelopes. No such notices were issued regarding padded envelopes.

After several back-and-forth conversations with a USPS spokesperson, they got a confirmation via email, indicating that USPS was not discontinuing padded flat-rate mailers and that these supplies were available on the shipping company’s website again.

Six Products or Items You Can Ship for Eight Bucks Across the U.S.

As you know, flat-rate shipping offers cost-effective delivery options by providing free padded envelopes for select mail classes. 

USPS padded envelopes are relatively smaller than other packaging or mailing materials. 

For instance, Priority Mail padded flat-rate envelopes have dimensions of 12 1/2 inches (length) by 9 1/2  inches (width) with the flap closed.

Note: You must pay $8.80 (commercial rate) when shipping Priority Mail Flat Rate items via padded envelopes.

Suppose you want to maximize the features and affordability of USPS padded envelopes. In that case, you should know what mailpieces to put in these mailing supplies.

Here are six items you might be able to fit in a USPS padded envelope:

1. Hoodie or Sweater

Sweatshirts and hoodies can be thick and heavy. Still, you can fit a sweatshirt or hoodie into a USPS padded envelope by folding it. This step might reduce your overall shipping cost. 

2. Pillow

You can compress pillows to a smaller size since their insides mostly comprise air. This feature makes small- to medium-sized cushions ideal for padded envelopes.

You might not be able to stuff an oversized body pillow into a flat-rate envelope. However, you might be able to do so for a decorative sofa pillow 

3. Jeans

Like sweaters and hoodies, you can also fold jeans to fit them in padded flat-rate envelopes. If you run an online clothing store, this option can help you save on shipping expenses. 

4. Metal Art Pieces

Suppose you’re an artist or a seller of metal art pieces. In that case, you can put smaller versions of your crafts inside a padded flat-rate envelope.

The reduced delivery expenses can help you share your artistic talents with a broader audience without spending too much on logistics.

5. Books

Books are beloved treasures. Sending them through flat-rate shipping envelopes is a smart choice. These envelopes protect the literary gems during transit and offer a budget-friendly way to deliver knowledge, stories, and adventures to your recipients.

6. Wooden Cutting Board

Wooden cutting boards can be shipped conveniently using padded envelopes despite their sturdiness. 

Properly packaged, they can make their way to your customers’ kitchens, offering a functional and aesthetic addition to their culinary arsenal.

The Current Rates

Staying up-to-date with shipping costs and postage pricing isn’t just a matter of curiosity for online retailers and frequent shoppers.

They follow updates regarding current shipping service rates to manage their budget better.

The following sections list and explain the rates for various shipping options offered by UPS (United Parcel Service) and USPS.

UPS

This shipping carrier is a premier package delivery company in the U.S. UPS is also a leading provider of international supply chain management services.

The company delivers parcels for 1.6 million shipping clients to 11.1 million delivery recipients across 200 countries and territories each business day.

Like USPS, UPS offers flat-rate shipping solutions through its Simple Rate service. As of 2023, UPS has the following pricing for flat-rate mail services:   

  • Extra Small: Prices start at $10.20
  • Small: Prices begin at $13.35
  • Medium: Prices start at $16.05
  • Large: Prices begin at $21.05
  • Extra Large: Prices start at $26.05

USPS

Aside from the Priority Mail Flat Rate padded envelope, USPS offers Priority Mail Express Padded Flat Rate envelopes for free.

Other no-cost packaging supplies from USPS include the following:

  • Priority Mail medium flat-rate box
  • Priority Mail large flat-rate box
  • Priority Mail Tyvek envelope

You may also buy Priority Mail Forever Prepaid Flat Rate padded envelopes for $10.40 each. 

Suppose you ship items online using the enhanced Click-N-Ship service. The enhanced Click-N-Ship comes with new label printing features, allowing you to organize and edit your labels before paying. In that case, you will save cash due to lower commercial rates. 

 You may find shipping complicated if you send items of various sizes and weights.

Flat-rate delivery solutions help address this concern by letting you fit as many mailpieces as possible in your chosen packaging up to a specific weight limit.

Here’s a breakdown of how a typical USPS Flat Rate shipping works:

  • Pick your packaging: Flat Rate options do not put a limit to the number of items you send. 

Still, you must use a container appropriate to the content. USPS offers multiple options for envelopes, weight limits, and shipping labels.

  • Prepare your package: Next, you put the content into the corresponding Flat Rate packaging. 

You can put as many items as your Flat Rate box (or envelope) can handle, provided the weight does not exceed the service’s imposed limits.

  • Pay the set fee: Flat Rate shipping charges you a predetermined fee regardless of your package’s size, weight, or destination. This fixed cost makes price calculations easier.
  • Wait for the package’s arrival:  Once you’ve securely packed your items and paid the fixed rate, complete the necessary steps. 

All that’s left is to wait for the shipment to arrive at its intended destination. 

Domestic Priority Mail Flat Rate shipping typically takes one to three business days.

USPS Flat Rates Are Awesome

USPS Flat Rate services are ideal mailing options for many as their price ranges remain the same regardless of what you’re shipping.

Shipping costs typically depend on the package’s weight when shipping anything through the post office. However, you can pay a flat shipping rate if your item fits a predetermined package.

With flat-rate services, your payment usually depends on the package type you choose, such as different sizes of boxes or envelopes.

For example, the shipping cost for First-Class Mail starts at $0.66 and increases depending on the item’s weight, shape, and size.

Media Mail, another USPS service for shipping media items like books, printed music, and recorded video tapes, charges extra if you include items in the package that the service does not allow. 

Flat-rate services can be convenient, especially if you cannot predict whether shipping by weight will cost less or more than your initial estimate. 

This option can also benefit you if you do not have a weighing scale at home to measure package weight.

 USPS flat-rate services may appeal to you if you’re a U.S. eCommerce merchant shipping domestically because they are often cheaper than weight-based rates.

FAQs

  1. How much does it cost to ship a padded envelope via USPS?

The answer to this query depends on what USPS mail class you purchase. As mentioned above, the prices for shipping padded envelopes via Priority Mail are as follows:

  • $8.80 (commercial pricing)
  • $10.40 (at the post office)

On the other hand, the shipping price for Prepaid Forever Priority Mail Flat Rate Packaging starts at $9.65 (at the post office).

  1. Is it cheaper to mail a box or padded envelope?

Shipping a padded envelope is almost always less expensive than sending a box since the former products are usually free. However, it will help to examine which packaging material is best for your shipment.

  1. Can you use USPS padded envelopes?

Yes. As you know, USPS still offers free and low-cost padded envelopes in their online store. These mailing supplies are compatible with services like Priority Mail and Priority Mail Express.

  1. What size of padded envelopes does USPS sell?

The answer to this question depends on the type of padded envelope. A Priority Mail padded flat-rate envelope has a size of 12 ½” (length) by 9 ½” (width).

References

  1. Census Bureau Reports Nationwide Shipment of Goods in 2017 Reached 12.5 Billion Tons and $14.5 Trillion
    https://www.census.gov/newsroom/press-releases/2020/commodity-flow.html
  2. Global shipping costs increase after 16-month freefall
    https://www.digitalcommerce360.com/2023/08/03/global-shipping-rates-increase/
  3. The Postal Store
    https://store.usps.com/store/results/shipping-supplies-envelopes/_/N-1r6djno?_requestid=230651
  4. Priority Mail Flat Rate Padded Envelope
    https://store.usps.com/store/product/shipping-supplies/priority-mail-flat-rate-padded-envelope-P_EP14PE?_gl=116r4myh_gcl_au*MTAxMjU0ODcxMi4xNjkxOTQ5Mjc2#moreinfofooter
  5. Priority Mail
    https://www.usps.com/ship/priority-mail.htm?_gl=11ycojoa_gcl_au*MTAxMjU0ODcxMi4xNjkxOTQ5Mjc2#regular-table-1:~:text=Clothing,Boxed%20Jewelry
  6. What Priority Mail Flat Rate® Envelopes Are Available?
    https://faq.usps.com/s/article/What-Priority-Mail-Flat-Rate-Envelopes-Are-Available
  7. Customer First, People Led, Innovation Driven
    https://investors.ups.com/company-profile
  8. Flat Rate Shipping – UPS Simple Rate
    https://www.ups.com/us/en/support/shipping-support/shipping-costs-rates/flat-rate-shipping.page
  9. First-Class Mail
    https://www.usps.com/ship/first-class-mail.htm