The United States Postal Service (USPS) offers a range of delivery options when sending mail or packages across the United States. The most common methods are First-Class Mail or Standard Mail- also known as Retail Ground Mail.
To make an informed decision about which option is best for you, it is essential to understand the differences between USPS shipping times, costs, and benefits. It isn’t just a matter of looking at how long does First-Class mail take.
In this article, we will look at these differences as well as some significant changes that the USPS is bringing into effect soon and how this may impact the First-Class mail delivery time map.
Table of contents
- What is First Class Mail?
- Why do businesses and individuals use First Class Mail?
- How long does the First Class mail take to arrive?
- How long does standard shipping take USPS?
- What is the difference between First Class and Standard?
- When does USPS deliver?
- What are the new changes coming into effect?
- What is the impact of the policy change?
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What is First Class Mail?
First-Class Mail is one of the most popular and affordable ways to send envelopes and postcards. Any letter weighing less than 3.5 ounces and any parcel weighing less than 13 ounces are available to be sent in this class.
The Direct Mail options offered by Postalytics fall within this range, so First-Class mail is often recommended to our clients.
Why do businesses and individuals use First Class Mail?
First-Class Mail offers an affordable solution, especially when compared to other bulk mailing services that USPS provides. In addition, there is no minimum number of pieces required to use this service allowing individuals and small start-ups to access this service.
Other benefits to using First-Class Mail are:
- It is forwarded automatically or returned to the sender if it is undeliverable. This is an excellent way for businesses to update their customer database with correct addresses and reduce returned mail.
- It is often perceived to be of higher importance by the recipient, so it is more likely to be opened and reviewed.
- It gets prioritized over Standard mail during peak times, particularly around holidays. This makes First-Class mail particularly useful for time-sensitive or urgent mailings.
How long does the First Class mail take to arrive?
First-Class mail is delivered faster by the USPS than Bulk or Standard mail.
Currently, the USPS offers shipping times of 1-3 business days, but as we will see, these are not always met and will be changing soon. Therefore, we recommend allowing a direct mail delivery time of 5-7 business days.
How long does standard shipping take USPS?
USPS shipping times for Standard/Retail Ground are longer than for First-Class Mail.
We recommend allowing a direct mail delivery time of 14-21 business days for standard shipping class.
What is the difference between First Class and Standard?
Aside from direct mail delivery time, one other point of difference between First-Class and Standard Mail is that Standard Mail won’t be forwarded or redirected if the address is incorrect or outdated. This can result in mail wastage and an out-of-date customer database.
Many people choose to use Standard Mail as it is cheaper than First-Class, however, before making a decision, it is wise to compare the two options. A detailed summary of the pros and cons between First-Class and Standard Mail can be found here.
When does USPS deliver?
Deliveries are generally made between 7 AM and 8 PM (local time) Monday through Saturday. Neither of the two classes is delivered on a Sunday.
Inclement weather can affect deliveries though the USPS tries to adhere to the Post Office creed of “neither rain nor snow.”
What are the new changes coming into effect?
In March, Postmaster General Louis DeJoy released his report outlining his 10-year makeover of the Postal Service, entitled “Delivering For America.”
Following recommendations from Postmaster General Louis DeJoy, there will be a change to the delivery times for First-Class mail from October 1.
First-Class mail service standards will increase to one to five days for first-class mail from that date.
In announcing the policy change, USPS states that the “addition of one or two days to current service standards for first-class mail and periodicals would enable the Postal Service to convey a greater volume of mail within the contiguous United States by surface transportation.”
In addition to the changes in First-Class Mail delivery times, a USPS price increase took place from August 29.
Despite this USPS price increase, there is some good news for Postalytics clients. We are able to absorb some of the price increases and not pass along the total amount of the price rise for some of our formats. Some items will actually decrease in price. One welcome change has been the reclassification of the 6×9 First Class Postcard so that it will receive a lower postage rate of approximately 20%.
What is the impact of the policy change?
At first glance, the changes regarding longer delivery times announced by USPS could be perceived to be negative for people using their services.
However, they have reassured the public that 70% of first-class mail will remain at its current standard shipping time. For the remainder, “the standard would only change by one or two days (with most of such volume experiencing a one-day change).” The USPS has advised that Mail traveling the greatest distances will be most affected.
The USPS has relied heavily on air transportation using a combination of air cargo transportation services and commercial passenger air carriers. The change in service standards will allow it to utilize ground transportation and be less impacted by “weather delays, network congestion, and air traffic control ground stops.”
The mix of transportation will also allow USPS to move larger volumes of mail, benefiting its clients.
It is also worth noting that previously USPS was unable to achieve service performance targets. For example, the Postal Service said that the three- to five-day standard shipping time for first-class mail delivery was met just 83.6% of the time in its fiscal year third quarter. This is a drop from 88.9% in the same period last year.
The new transportation model will ensure the targets can be met and provide more certainty for people using its First-Class mail service. It is also expected that costs can be kept at reasonable levels by improving service reliability and increasing efficiency.
The decision on whether to choose First-Class or Standard email is an important one for many businesses. However, when considering the First-Class mail delivery time map, it is essential to remember that they are service standards and not guarantees.
We are hopeful that these service standards are more likely to be met with the proposed policy change. Overall we believe that First-Class mail shipping is an affordable way to send items quickly and efficiently.
For updated pricing on how much is First-Class and economy shipping, please check our latest direct mail pricing rates.