Priority Mail VS First Class — Which One Is Right For You?

Ready to send out your mail? Here is a guide on whether First Class or Priority Mail is your best option. Read through and see which mail type is right for you.

Deciding between Priority Mail and First Class can be a pretty arduous task if you aren’t 100% sure of the differences. You might be constantly asking yourself questions like:


  • Is it worth the money?
  • What are the differences?
  • Does each service come with insurance coverage?
  • What are the delivery times?


And that’s understandable! But don’t stress, we’re going to debunk the myths and confirm the truths. Everything you need to know is right here.


Shall we get started? Let’s go!


The All-New USPS


Before we get into the real nitty-gritty you should be aware that the United States Postal Service has made a few alterations to the services it provides.


The biggest change is that they are standardizing delivery times and they’re now leaving undelivered items to go out the next day. Why? It’s so the mail carriers can start their workday earlier. Mail sorting is now completed in the afternoon, once they have delivered yesterday’s mail that morning. It’s roughly 2 pm when the mail sorting starts nowadays.


So, what does this mean for you?


Essentially, this new initiative is going to extend delivery times. Only by a day though, so it shouldn’t affect you and your items too much. Although, it could be quite a challenge for eCommerce store owners promising quick and efficient delivery. But, there is absolutely nothing you can do about it so try not to stress! You will just have to inform your buyers about the new initiative; the majority of people will understand.


priority mail packages



Why Is It Named Priority Mail?


Priority Mail is rightly named. Why? Because it denotes the mail items that are top priority to the mail carriers. It is a lot quicker than First Class postage and has a bigger weight limit so large orders from online stores tend to favor this method over others.


As far as the international Priority Mail goes, it promises to rival all other shipping speeds (hence the name priority). However, you should expect to pay more for this service (that probably goes without saying but there it is in black and white anyway!).


Aside from all of this, the United States Postal Service Priority Mail tends to act a bit like the UPS or FedEx in terms of speed and quality. But, it should be noted that it is far more economical to use Priority Mail rather than UPS/FedEx for items weighing under 10 pounds. Why is this the case? Because the USPS vehicles move past the majority of addresses every single day. The smaller packages or parcels can slide into the average mailbox anyway, making the United States Postal Service a more bank account friendly choice.


People tend to favor shipping items such as shoes with Priority Mail because they are generally worth a lot more, thus making the price of Priority Mail worth it. However, that isn’t necessarily always the case. If an item weighs under 16 ounces, you should opt for something much cheaper. But, ultimately, the choice is yours!


We’re going to take a deeper dive into the specifics later on. So let’s continue, shall we?


Why Is It Named First Class Mail?


Whenever you put “First Class” in front of something it always sounds like it’s the best of the best. And while First Class mail is generally the best, it isn’t necessarily when compared to Priority Mail.


With this mail class, you can ship items inside padded envelopes, thicker envelopes, standard letters, and lightweight parcels. When you compare this class to the following, you can see that it is definitely the cream of the crop:


  • Fourth Class Mail — generally, this is called Media Mail. You can ship things like print media (8 pages or more), DVDs, books, CDs, and records with this one.
  • Third Class Mail — this is used for mailing flyers, marketing mail, mailers, etc.
  • Second Class Mail — this type is typically used for posting newspapers, magazines, and periodicals.


We’ve found that people prefer to send items like t-shirts by First Class Mail. They are lightweight and can withstand most adverse weather conditions so they don’t need to be tightly packaged or bound by the safety net that Priority Mail provides.


Okay, now you’re almost an expert on both First Class and Priority Mail. But, it’s time to take a look at the in-depth differences.


priority mail in a mailbox


Priority Mail VS First Class: What’s The Difference?


It’s true, both Priority Mail and First Class do seem pretty much the same from the outside. Technically, they are just a step up from the standard second class mail scheme. But, there are distinct differences.


The most important difference is the weight, size, shape, and speed of the delivery process. Generally, these are the only considerations you are thinking about when deciding on the specific service to buy for your item.


Priority Mail can be used to send parcels weighing a maximum of 70 pounds. You have probably already gathered that it is regarded as more important than standard mail thanks to the word “priority” in its title. For most eCommerce owners and people sending heavy Christmas mail, this is the service that is usually preferred.


For those of you who are sending packages weighing less than 3.5 ounces, First Class is the way to go. Why? Simply because it costs far less than its Priority Mail cousin.


The Maximum Dimensions


As we said, the size of your package is a very important factor when deciding which United States Postal Service feature to go for. So, we’re going to have a look at how they split the difference.


First Class Mail Maximum Dimensions and Weight 108 inches in totaled length and girth, 15.99 ounces
Priority Mail Maximum Dimensions and Weight 108 inches in totaled length and girth, 70 pounds


You can see that Priority Mail is more efficient when you are trying to send heavier packages. It’s simply impossible to send it any other way.


The Insurance Coverage


Arguably, the insurance coverage is the largest difference between Priority Mail and First Class. The former offers an insurance policy as standard, while the latter does not. If your First Class package is damaged by the mail carrier or it’s lost in transit, you (the sender) will not be covered. Of course, you do have the option to pay for an insurance policy with First Class mail but with Priority, you don’t even have to think about.


Generally speaking, Priority Mail covers a maximum of $100 on domestic shipping and $200 on international shipping. So, you need to consider the specific items you’re sending. If your package is super lightweight yet fairly expensive, you may well benefit from the coverage that Priority Mail provides.


Priority Mail VS First Class: Let’s Take A Peek At Delivery Times


It goes without saying that delivery times are an important factor when shipping items across the country (or the world). It’s even more crucial when you have promised your customers a speedy delivery.


So, what’s the difference between First Class and Priority Mail? To tell you the truth, both services tend to arrive within one to three business days if you are shipping domestically. However, for quick international shipping, you should opt for Priority Mail. Why? Because it is significantly quicker.


Typically, international First Class mail drastically varies depending on your item’s destination. On the other hand, Priority Mail cares less about the location and simply promises that your parcel will arrive within six to ten working days.


You do need to consider the fact that neither one of these services offered by the USPS is guaranteed to deliver on a specific date when shipping internationally. You can’t always promise your abroad-dwelling recipient that their parcel will arrive by *insert date here*. It’s near-on impossible!


calculating the cost of priority mail



Priority Mail VS First Class: What Will It Cost Me?


Now, you’ve probably been wondering about the price difference between Priority Mail and First Class Mail since we started addressing the topic. Are we right? Yup, we thought so! Let’s get right on into that.


This is quite a hard question to answer since there is not a guaranteed pricing structure. Regardless of the service you choose, the cost varies wildly depending on the weight and size of the item, as well as the destination. Having said this, you should expect to pay roughly $3 more for Priority Mail.


If you know the item that you need to ship already, you can easily calculate the cost before you head down to your local Post Office. Just head to the United States Postal Service website and locate the USPS Shipping Calculator. From there, you can input all of your parcel’s information and rapidly check how much your wallet is going to hurt afterward.


The more you use the service, the easier it becomes to make a well-informed estimate of the price you will be expected to pay. This is incredibly useful for those of you who run successful eCommerce stores but it can still be rather helpful if you send a lot of Christmas or birthday packages across the country.


Which One Is Right For You?


Deciding between Priority Mail and First Class has hopefully been made a lot easier now that you are well-informed about both services. However, we are going to dive into a bit more detail to ensure your mail experience is as simple as possible.


The first aspect to think about is the item you are sending. Ask yourself questions like these:


  • Is my item valuable? If so, how valuable is it?
  • Is my item heavy? If so, how heavy is it?
  • When do I want my recipient to receive my parcel?
  • Is it worth me paying for ultra-speedy delivery for my international item?
  • Where is my item going to end up?
  • What will happen if my item is lost or damaged in the mail? Will I be out of a lot of money? Should I get insurance coverage just to be on the safe side?
  • How large is my item? What is the total of its girth and length?


Once you can answer all of these questions, it will quickly become obvious which mail service to purchase.


We mentioned that First Class mail is much better for light items. And this still stands since it’s less expensive and will still reach its new owner relatively quickly. However, if your parcel is worth a substantial sum of money, Priority Mail might be the one for you thanks to its amazing insurance coverage.


Use the international or domestic shipping calculator on the United States Postal Service website to see which service will suit you the best. You can change everything from the shipping weight to the delivery terms with their handy-dandy calculator. It’s the best way to choose which one you should spend your hard-earned cash on (especially if you plan to ship a load of items at once!).


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Is There A Better Solution?


Yep, all of this seems like a bit of a fuss, doesn’t it? That’s because it is! But don’t worry, there is a much better solution to all your mail woes.


Get started with a virtual mailbox! You heard us — a virtual mailbox. It’s pretty amazing really. All you have to do is follow the speedy sign-up process to glean all the benefits that this US Global Mail service has to offer. What are these benefits we speak of? Well, let’s take a look.


A digital mailbox allows you to see scanned previews of all your mail items. You can then decide whether you want to save them, simply read the previews, or have them printed and sent to your current location. Oh, and all of this is achieved with one easy-to-understand app! No more trekking down to your mailbox; you have full control over your postal life inside one compact dashboard.


Regardless of your mail needs, a virtual box is the way forward. It is there to not only save you time and energy but also save you a boatload of money. Since everything is virtual, there are no unnecessary costs! Just the best security system around and A* customer service.


What are you waiting for? Achieve mail freedom right this instant!

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