mail classes

Get to Know the USPS and the Classes of Mail

By Tim O'Hanlon

As of October 2020, the price of a single stamp for a First-Class Mail® letter is $0.55 when purchased from a retail Post Office™. The price of a stamp, or “single piece” postage, refers to the full price of postage.  

Commercial mailers, or those who send large quantities of mail, can prepare and send their mail at reduced prices. If you’re a commercial mailer, it’s important to learn about the different classes of mail available to you, and how these options can impact your project timeline and budget.  

What are the USPS Classes of Mail?  

The USPS® designates mail according to different services available, called “classes.” Each mail class has varying features, service levels, requirements for presorting the mailpieces by ZIP codes and postage prices. 

What Types of Mail Classes are Available to Business Mailers? 

The most common classes of commercial mail are First-Class Mail and USPS Marketing Mail®. See more information on all classes of mail here.    

  • First-Class Mail – First-Class Mail is the most popular mail class. Postcard, letter, large envelope and small package (up to 15.99 ounces) mailings containing at least 500 pieces can be sent as First-Class Mail.

    Did You Know?: Have you noticed envelopes from your banks, credit card companies and utilities are sent by First Class Mail? The USPS requires bills, statements of account, invoices and credit cards to be sent via First-Class Mail. 
     
  • USPS Marketing Mail – Formerly known as Standard Mail, USPS Marketing Mail is a class of mail not required to be mailed as First-Class Mail or as a Periodical. It can only be used for domestic mail, and includes letter, flat or large envelope and parcel mailings of at least 200 pieces or at least 50 pounds of mail. USPS Marketing Mail requires a Business Mail Permit.

First Class Mail vs. USPS Marketing Mail  

Once your mail enters the USPS mailstream, delivery time depends primarily on the postage rate you pay and the distance each mailpiece has to travel. First-Class postage provides faster delivery than lower-cost standard/marketing mail postage: 

First Class Mail 

  • Cost: Commercial prices start at $0.389 per piece regardless of how far it will travel. 
  • Timeline: First Class Mail takes 1-3 days to arrive. 

USPS Marketing Mail 

  • Timeline: Local mail can arrive in five days and national mail may take up to three weeks to arrive.  
  • Cost: Commercial prices start at $0.19 per piece and prices are assigned according to zones based on how far the mailpiece will travel. Nonprofit organizations can qualify for even lower prices with USPS Nonprofit Marketing Mail®. Unlike First Class Mail, there is no single piece price available for USPS Marketing Mail nor are there separate prices for postcards as there are for First Class Mail postcards.  

Get to Know the USPS White PaperGet to Know the USPS white paper cover

Become better acquainted with the USPS and how they can be your mail ally with our white paper, “Get to Know the USPS.” Click here to download.  

Contact Us 

Get the most out of your mailing with a class of mail that’s right for your project, and its timeline and budgetary needs. Contact the experts at Tension for advice on your next mailing.

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