First Class Postage: Everything You Need to Know

First class mail letter sliding across colorful bars

From mailing a letter to sending a package, the United States Post Office (USPS) offers various services that you can take advantage of.

One of the most popular services is First Class Mail. First Class mail postage is generally considered the cheapest and fastest way to send postcards, letters, bills, larger envelopes, and flatpack parcels. If you have dropped the mail in a postbox in the last few years, it was most likely sent using First Class Mail. If you’re ever in a hurry to mail a letter, package, or parcel, try USPS’s First Class Mail online postage service. 

As a business owner or marketer, you’ll be looking for the best postage option. This article will explain what postage is, how much it costs, and what else you need to know to choose the best postal option for your needs. 

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What is the postage for First Class Mail?

Red mailbox receiving five letters

As mentioned earlier, First Class Mail is the least expensive way to send envelopes and light packages. This is the traditional class of mail that businesses use to mail to their customers. However, there are some important guidelines for this class of mail. First-Class letters must weigh less than 3.5 ounces, and packages must weigh less than 13 ounces.

The USPS offers a First Class Mail parcel option to make it easier to ship goods. This allows small business owners to post different items simultaneously, especially if they don’t have a mailroom. It also improves the customer experience, as it is a professional way of shipping.

One advantage of the First Class Mail online parcel service is that it can ship most packages regardless of their size or shape. This is useful as business owners often need to send larger packages that don’t fit into boxes or envelopes neatly. Parcel mail will accommodate tubes and items that cannot be folded or bent.

If you have a small package that needs to be shipped internationally, USPS’s First-Class Package International service is the best option. This class of mail delivers packages weighing up to four pounds overseas for a low price. Delivery time varies by location but can be up to 20 days.

First Class Mail postage rate increases 2024

In August 2021, the USPS implemented new postage rates, increasing First Class Mail postage by 6.8 percent to offset declining revenue. In 2024, postage prices for First Class Mail remained the same.

Here is an overview of the new postage prices for First Class Mail, sorted by price and maximum weight:

Domestic Mail Postage Prices 2024
First Class Mail Single-Piece Letters (1 ounce): $0.58
First Class Mail Single-Piece Letters additional ounce: $0.20
First Class Mail Letters (metered 1 ounce): $0.53
First Class Mail Postcards: $0.40
First Class Mail Single-Piece Flats (1 ounce): $1.00

International Mail Postage Rates 2024

First Class Package International – CanadaFirst Class Package International – UK
1 lb./16 oz. $21.001 lb./16 oz. $25.79
2 lbs./32 oz. $21.002 lbs./32 oz. $25.79
3 lbs./48 oz. $31.973 lbs./48 oz. $40.14
4 lbs./64 oz. $43.134 lbs./64 oz. $54.96

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Bars with money bags and a written question about the cost of mailing first class letter

How Much Does it Cost to Send First Class Mail? 

Based on First Class Mail postage increases for 2024, let us take a look at what you’ll have to pay for First Class Mail for letters, flat-rate envelopes, and packages, both domestic and international.

Letters: The rate for First Class letters (1 ounce) purchased from the Post Office is $0.58 for domestic letters. Each additional ounce for a First Class Mail letter is $0.20. Postage for International First Class Mail letters is $1.30.

Envelopes: Rates for First Class Mail flats/large envelopes (1 ounce) are $1.16. Each additional ounce is $0.20.

Domestic and International Packages: Rates for First-Class Package service domestically start at $3.37. Rates for international package service begins at $14.11. 

First class mail medal

First Class – Everything you need to know

So let us look at the details surrounding postage in this category. First Class Mail is a cost-effective way to send everything from letters to postcards with a flat fee regardless of the domestic destination. First Class Mail is also a fast option for delivery – you’ll receive your envelope or package at its destination within two to three business days, which is often much quicker than other delivery methods. 

Sending your mail via First Class is beneficial because US postal service will automatically forward mail that has been sent to an old address. If the USPS cannot deliver a First Class letter because an old address has been used, it will forward the mail to the correct address. This is at no cost to you, the sender.

Colorful mailbox and letter

Summary of features for First Class Mail

  • First Class Mail is delivered within 1-5 business days
  • Small First Class packages are delivered within 1-3 business days
  • It is the lowest priced service for shipments up to 13 oz.
  • Provides insurance for loss or damage to goods 
  • It has delivery confirmation services such as Certified Mail
  • Provides uniform pricing for letters and cards weighing up to 3.5 oz.
  • Postage rates are based on the shape and weight of the material

What is presorted First Class Mail?

If you have 500 or more items to mail, you may choose to presort. Presorted mail is less expensive for the USPS to process and distribute, so you will receive a 20% reduced shipping rate. The standard shipping time is the same as First Class. Your addresses must be grouped by ZIP Code, updated by National Change of Address (NCOA), and certified by Coding Accuracy Support System (CASS) to obtain the lower shipping rate.

Can I upgrade First Class Mail?

If you use First Class Mail, you can choose to upgrade to Registered Mail or Certified Mail, with optional add-ons such as insurance, proof of mailing, return receipt, signature confirmation, special handling, cash on delivery, and other options. 

Tracking information is provided for First Class Service Retail and First Class Package Service Commercial. But you must pay extra for the commercial option. The price and weight of your mail will affect the price of receiving tracking information.

Upgrade arrow pointing towards colorful bars

How to buy stamps for First Class Mail postage

When you purchase First Class Mail stamps, you choose between Forever Stamps and regular stamps. USPS introduced Forever Stamps in 2007. They are non-denominational stamps that can be used on any First Class letter, regardless of current postal rates. 

Forever Stamps are ideal for mailing regular-sized letters weighing up to one ounce within the United States. However, if you suspect your letter weighs more than one ounce, check before you use a Forever Stamp, as USPS can return heavier letters for lack of postage. For all domestic mail weighing more than one ounce, you will need to apply additional postage along with your Forever Stamp to ensure delivery by the USPS.

Four vintage stamps above colorful bars

How many stamps must I put on an envelope?

All envelopes (or flats) must be rectangular. Otherwise, an additional fee may apply. Other size restrictions come in based on the type of item you are mailing. Additional fees apply for: 

  • Nonmachinable envelopes
  • Mail that does not fit into a machine goes to a postal worker. Additional fees will apply for this service, even if the item weighs less than 1 ounce.
  • Large mail pieces and envelopes
  • If your mailpiece is too large, it will be charged at the next higher price and mail piece category.
  • Large First Class envelopes that are too long, too tall, or too thick will be charged parcel rates.
  • To find out how to correctly measure your envelope, use the USPS Price Calculator.

How can I pay for USPS First Class Mail postage?

To avoid postage hiccups, business owners have several payment options. The USPS offers prepaid envelopes for Priority Mail or accounts that automatically deduct your postage. You can also print postage on your labels using a postage meter.

Envelope with money

Final Thoughts on First Class Postage

If you are mailing a First Class letter, you will pay 58 cents and 20 cents per additional ounce. The more ounces, the higher the cost. The last thing you want is to underpay and have your letter returned. The best way to avoid that is to take heavier letters to the post office to have them weighed. Prices also vary depending on the mailpiece, as we outlined above, providing the costs for each USPS First Class Mail item (send postcards, letters, and large envelopes).

The increase in postage has affected the cost of mailing letters and packages. Despite the USPS increase, Postalytics has been able to keep First Class costs low for our customers. In fact, some prices have gone down. One welcome change is that postage for the 6×9 First Class postcard has been reduced by approximately 20%. And don’t worry about keeping track of all the shipping labels.

You can view our postage rates here and find the most affordable and easy way to send your mail.