You’d think that the easiest thing to figure out when dealing with the post office will be how much it costs to mail a letter.
Most of us have an idea of putting our letter in an envelope, addressing it, putting a stamp in the corner and then stuffing it in the mailbox or dropping off at the post office – and that’s it, taking care of.
And while a first-class stamp will cover the overwhelming majority of letters sent through the mail, the truth is sending a letter can get a whole lot more expensive than that (as you’ll soon see).
Below we dig into the ins and outs of exactly how much you can expect to spend sending a letter through the mail these days.
Just remember that these numbers are current as of early 2021.
The USPS is always increasing prices (a good reason to get your hand on Forever Stamps, something we mentioned in a minute) which is why it’s a good idea to check at the post office depending on when you come across this guide.
Let’s jump right in!
How Much to Mail a First Class Letter?
Those looking to send a standard letter through the mail (maybe three or four pages of regular sized paper, stuffed in a letter sized envelopes) are usually going to be able to get away with a first-class stamp.
That first-class stamp (retail stamp) is going to set you back $0.55 as of January 2021.
This is up from the previous year a little bit, and it’s likely that the price of a first-class stamp will go up next year – and the year after that, too!
You can save money on first-class postage if you go with a metered stamp or purchase your stamps from a platform like Stamps.com. Right now (as of early 2021) that same $0.55 first-class stamp from the post office will only cost you $0.50!
Knowing that first-class stamps are always going to go up in price it’s not a bad idea to get your hands on Forever Stamps.
The stamps are the same price as first-class stamps ($0.55 from the post office) but are always going to be enough to cover first-class postage – no matter how much a single stamp might cost in the future.
This means you could walk down to the post office, buy 100 Forever Stamps (spending $55 along the way), and could use them – literally forever – even if the price of stamps jumps to $55 per stamp sometime in the future!
That’s a pretty good deal.
If, however, your first-class letter is a little bit on the long side of things and goes beyond 1 ounce in weight you’re going to have to pony up some money to cover that extra postage.
Right now the current price for each additional ounce of first-class weight is $0.15, with those fractional stamps available directly from the post office (as well as from Stamps.com).
Just as a heads up, the overwhelming majority of post masters and postal workers are going to let slightly overweight letters go through without you having to pay anything extra.
You might be able to squeeze 1.5 ounce letters through the mail with a $0.55 stamp, though the closer you get to 2 ounces and above the more likely you are to have to pay extra.
How Much to Mail a Postcard?
If you can fit your entire letter on a postcard and want to save a little bit of money it might not be a bad idea to go in this direction.
As of early 2021, postcard postage is only going to set you back $0.35 flat.
This has been the standard rate for postcard postage for quite a while, and postcard postage hasn’t climbed as quickly or as aggressively as first-class mail postage has over the years.
In fact, while first-class mail postage changes pretty much every year (and has more than quadrupled in the last 50 years) postage for postcards really doesn’t move that much at all.
It certainly doesn’t hurt that postcards are pretty much nothing but card stock (no envelopes, no extra weight, etc.) to keep prices low!
You do lose a little bit of privacy with a postcard, though. That’s something to consider when you’re sending anything through the mail for sure.
How Much to Mail a Priority Mail Envelope?
Let’s say that you have a critically important letter that you absolutely have to get to someone as quickly as possible, like overnight or in just a couple of days.
In those circumstances you’re probably not going to want to drop your letter in the post or in your mailbox with a first-class stamp attached. That could take anywhere between two or three business days to a week or longer!
No, you’re going to want to think about sending your letter via Priority Mail.
There are two different kinds of Priority Mail you’ll want to consider when you are sending a letter.
The first is standard Priority Mail, solution that offers expedited delivery services for mail that weighs up to 1 pound and is to be delivered in Zones One or Two.
This Priority Mail level will set you back $6.95 (at a minimum), with prices going up depending on the ultimate destination for the letter and a handful of other situation specific factors.
The other version of this expedited mail services you might take advantage of is Priority Mail Express.
This guarantees that your letter arrives the next day that it was sent out, as long as it weighs less than half a pound and is going to be sent to Zones One and Two.
Because this letter is sent via such an expedited service you can expect prices to begin at $22.75 and then go up from there. Just like standard Priority Mail, your final price tag for postage on these kinds of letters will be wholly dependent on a variety of situation specific factors.
How Much to Send a Flat Rate Envelope?
You have a couple of different options available if you want to send your letter via flat rate envelopes, generally broken down by the different sizes of the envelopes themselves.
With flat rate shipping you get to take advantage of a couple of cool benefits, not the least of which is the fact that your letter will be guaranteed to be delivered within 1 to 3 business days.
You can also take advantage of free envelope pickup at your home or business, free USPS tracking, and up to $50 in package insurance with almost all deliveries. Combine that with the lack rate pricing – if it fits, it ships – and this is a no-brainer for larger letters for sure.
Small flat rate envelopes begin at $7.15 or $7.75, depending where you purchase the flat rate envelopes from.
Prices increase to $7.45 or $8.05 for legal flat rate envelopes, with padded flat rate envelopes setting you back between $7.75 or $8.40.
The best place to get your hands on flat rate envelopes is at your local post office.
You won’t have to pay anything for the envelopes themselves (in fact, you can stock up on them and keep them at your home so that you always have some available when you need to send large letters out), only paying the flat rate at the post office when you pay for postage.
The cool thing about these flat rate envelopes is that you don’t have to just send letters with them.
You can add photos, physical media, little gifts, or anything else that you can trust not to get damaged in these envelopes – so long as they fit!
How Much Extra Does Tracking Cost?
Tracking information is not always made available for first-class mail, especially if you don’t specifically request it right out of the gate at your local post office.
And while tracking information is included 100% free of charge with Express, Priority, Parcel Select, and First Class Package services from the USPS, first-class standard mail is going to require you to pay a little extra for this helpful info.
Depending on the specifics of your envelope and where it is headed, you can expect your tracking information add-on to cost anywhere between $0.20 and $0.90 – and sometimes even just a little bit more than that.
That’s not a lot of money to spend on something as useful as tracking information, especially with the peace of mind that it provides.
It’s almost always recommended to spring for this extra feature if you want to know exactly where your letter is along its journey and when it’s set to arrive.
How Much Extra is Insurance?
Insurance is another add-on that you can attached to your letter, though most people bump up their postage from first-class to flat rate envelopes or something similar – mostly because insurance comes free with those kinds of postage programs.
The odds are pretty good that if you’re sending a letter through the mail you won’t need more than $50 in insurance, and that’s exactly what flat rate envelopes provide standard.
Priority Mail also provides up to $50 in insurance for free, so consider that if you’re looking to ensure your envelopes and letters but don’t want to spend a lot of extra money on top of first-class postage.
Can I Buy Delivery Receipts for Letters?
Delivery receipts can be ordered as extra add-ons for your letters, even if you don’t want to send your letter via Certified or Registered mail.
Certified and Registered mail can get pretty pricey (especially if your letter is a little bit on the heavier side of things), and some people don’t need the chain of custody or the extra insurance that those two postal services provide.
Some people are just looking to take advantage of delivery receipts to confirm that their letter did in fact get to its ultimate destination and the right person has received it.
Delivery receipts can be purchased for as little as $0.50 on first-class envelopes, though the price does increase a little bit if you’re going with other postal solutions.
It may be worth looking into both Certified and Registered mail programs if the extra postage on your letter is going to approach those kinds of price points.
There are a lot of benefits that those USPS programs offer that a first-class stamp and delivery receipt won’t enjoy.
US Global Mail Streamlines Your Mailing Situation Big Time
At the end of the day, figuring out how much it’s going to cost to send a letter is a relatively simple and straightforward process.
All you have to do is jump online, visit the USPS website directly (or head over to Stamps.com), and calculate the kind of postage that you’ll need to send your letter to its ultimate destination.
Of course, if you are looking for a more modern solution for all your mailbox needs you probably grown a little dissatisfied with the way that the USPS works.
That’s where US Global Mail comes into play.
One of the most prestigious modern mailbox solutions on the planet today, US Global Mail has helped to revolutionize the virtual mailbox industry since it first offered these services more than 20 years ago.
Providing customers with the ability to get a physical street address for their virtual mailbox (much better than a PO Box number, especially for those that want to credibility and privacy a different street address provides), you’ll get a range of other benefits when you become a client, too.
We are talking about digital mail scanning, instant notifications about mail as it arrives in real time, full package acceptance from all of the major delivery services that USPS does not handle, and so much more.
Combine that with top-tier pricing, some of the best customer support in the industry, and a reputation for making the lives of their clients much easier with a very modern mailbox solution and it’s not hard to see why so many people love US Global Mail already.
For more information, check out their website or contact customer service directly today.