December 21, 2014

Postage Rates Go Up Jan. 26: Stamps, Bulk Mail, Packages

usps-postage-rates-2014

The U.S. Postal Service will be charging higher postage rates effective later this month, starting Jan. 26, 2014.

(UPDATE Jan 17, 2014:  New rates are now posted on the USPS website – here. )

Following is a summary of some of the increases likely to affect small businesses.

Letters and Postcards

  • Regular 1st class letter stamps, such as the Forever stamp, will increase from 46 to 49 cents.  A single stamp covers a one ounce letter (typically 4 to 5 sheets of paper plus an envelope).
  • Additional ounces will cost a penny more, at 21 cents each.
  • Postcard rates also go up a penny, to 34 cents.
  • Bulk mail rates and the cost of mailing periodicals such as magazines, will go up by 6%.

Packages

Packages will see a number of increases:

  • First class package rate (used for domestic mail up to 13 ounces) goes up an average of 5%.  For instance, there’s a flat rate for the first 3 ounce, and it goes up 24 cents, to $1.93.
  • Media mail rate (used for books, DVDs and CDs) goes up an average of 6.3%.
  • Most flat rate Priority remains the same.  One exception is the large flat rate box, which goes up 60 cents.
  • Priority Express  (formerly called Express mail) will increase on average  3%.  There will also be a new option for 10:30 am delivery, costing an extra $5 — so if it absolutely must get there by the morning, you now have this option as long as you are willing to pay extra.

In a few sizes, Priority Express package rates and Priority Regional box rates may actually go down slightly.  But taken as a whole, the rates are increasing.

The rates for packages are complex.  Stamps.com has a good series of charts showing various increases and decreases.  

Back in September the Postal Service requested the rate hikes as “exigent” (emergency) increases needed to make up for losses due to the Great Recession of 2008-2009.  The Postal Regulatory Commission, which has oversight,  approved the changes in a 2 to 1 split decision, but refused to make them permanent.  However, it’s not clear how long “temporary” will be. 

Any mailings up through January 25th will be at the old rates.

What can you do to save money on 2014 postage?

Many small businesses have already moved toward electronic communications.  Electronic invoicing, direct payroll deposit, electronic bill payment, email marketing instead of printed mailers, and other techniques cut down on paper and attendant postage costs.

But electronic is not always feasible. Here are a few other techniques to consider, in order to guard your bottom line. While not always big savings, they may help a bit:

  • Stock up on Forever stamps, if you mostly do onesy-twosy mailings.  The Forever stamp will be good for a 1st class letter, no matter what you paid for it or when you use it.  Example: if you purchased 5,000 Forever stamps before the rate hike kicks in (at a cost of $2,450) you’d save $150.
  • Use a postage meter or online postage.  The changes include a new category, called the “First-Class Meter.”  You get a one-cent discount off the single-piece rate for all First-Class letters, up to 3.5 ounces. That equates to a 2% savings.  But you must use a postage meter, online postage or a commercial mailing permit.
  • Adjust your shipping and handling costs to recoup the rate hikes from end customers, if you are an e-commerce seller.  Make sure shipping calculators take the increases into account, especially on heavier packages where costs really add up.

Editor: Updated January 17, 2014 to include official link to new postal rates.

Image: USPS

27 Comments ▼

Anita Campbell - CEO


Anita Campbell Anita Campbell is the Founder and Publisher of Small Business Trends and has been following trends in small businesses since 2003. She is the owner of BizSugar, a social media site for small businesses, and also serves as CEO of TweakYourBiz.com.

27 Reactions

  1. Though the cost of first-class postage stamps is set to go up, it’s still cheaper than over here (UK). In the UK, first class stamps are 60 pence each (equiv. to about 98 cents).

  2. I guess they have to do it. While postage is still okay when it comes to product deliveries, it seems that the rates of snail mail has lowered over the years. After all, we don’t only have e-mail. We also have our mobile phones and other alternative ways to communicate.

  3. Anita,

    I find it amazing that the USPS keeps raising rates with no change in the quality of service.

    It’s amazing; the only reason they’re hiking their rates is to stay afloat, albeit temporarily.

    When I raise my consulting rates and/or advertising rates on my websites and blogs, I do so because of value-added reasons. Or because my website traffic and/or rankings increase. Not to stay afloat.

    I hope they get it together, and soon.

    The Franchise King®

    • I’m not versed with the US postal system, Joel, but my assumption is that they’re a monopoly or are so huge, no other postal company can compete against them. If so, they’re therefore in a position to hike up prices, as wrong and unfair as it may seem, because they weld most of the power.

      • Dear Ebele,

        Do you still have Morning and Afternoon Post in England? I always thought that was such a delightful idea. Someone sends you a letter in the Morning and your response could go out in the Afternoon. :)

      • They are a monopoly and competition is not allowed for sending regular ol’ mail like letters.

        And if anything the service is getting worse. It recently took 10 days to get a box that was sent priority. And there’s not jack you can do about it.

  4. Yes, much cheaper than the price of postage in the UK. Is franking an option in the US?

    • Hi Mel, if you mean stationery with postage printed on it, yes, that’s an option. “Permits” are popular among business usage, too.

      Of course with Internet postage today, you can create your own stamps in the U.S. with your kids’ pictures (or your own) on them over at places like Stamps.com.

      – Anita

  5. I haven’t been able to send a snail mail for years now. So I’m not familiar anymore with the rates. Now I wonder why they’re increasing rates when fewer people are using it.

  6. Could you please tell me where you got the information on the new flat rate priority price increases? I can’t seem to find an “official” site with that info and no matter how many post offices I call, they don’t know anything. I have been on hold for over an hour waiting for someone to pick up at the DC post office.
    Thanks

    • Hi Rose,

      I see that the new prices for 2014 are now on the USPS.com website. You can find them here:
      https://www.usps.com/new-prices.htm

      You have to click on the tab for Shipping Rates. Then you have to find the right service (look all the way down). Then you have to download either an Excel spreadsheet (XLS) or CSV file.

      Nothing is simple…. :)

      – Anita

      PS, as I noted in the article, most flat rate Priority remains unchanged.

      • I see for example, two changes for Priority retail rates:

        – the large flat rate Priority box goes from $16.85 to $17.45.
        – an APO box goes from $14.85 to $15.45.

        I can’t see any other changes, off hand, in flat rate, non-zone Priority mail. But check the downloadable spreadsheets at the above link.

  7. I think it is still a bargain, at $.49, to send mail from one end of the US to the other! I could never deliver a birthday card to my sister in California, driving or flying, for that price.

  8. We need to get our arms around this USPS problem. Congress certainly won’t do it!

    Let’s use common sense. I, and I’m sure everyone else, receives a half pound of junk mail with every mail delivery containing none, one, or two first class items.

    Some of this junk mail is absurd and an abuse of the bulk mail rates. I must spend my time looking at each and discarding them into the trash. Not very environmentally friendly is it! If it was winter and I had a fireplace I could burn them for heat but then the local officials would probably site me for air pollution.

    Bulk mail rates must be raised to the point where businesses think twice about the importance of the delivery costs.

    It may well be that the volume of this junk mail would decrease to the point that daily delivery is no longer required. This could result in mail deliveries being reduced to two or three times per week. The postal workers wouldn’t like it but the current system is not sustainable.

    • Did it not occur to you that businesses/junk mail are probably supporting the bulk (haha) of the p.o.? What a foolish idea!

    • To me it is Direct Mail as those of us that make our living producing it do not consider it junk.
      Some things you obviously do not know. Yes, you are right is is less expensive, but companies take great pains to keep the cost as low as possible. It is still a significant portion of costs. There is a reason it is less expensive. The mailer pays to have the pieces carrier route sorted and shipped directly to the sorting center where the carrier picks it up for the route already sorted. The post office does not handle it until the tray gets to the post office. It is put out for the carrier, in the order the carrier walks the route, and brought to your house. The larger print shops are now commingling mail. The route sorted mail is brought to the commingling center and machines sort the pieces into combined carrier route sorted boxes. When your carrier gets one of these, the box may have pieces from many different mailers all in order of the route. They stuff the bag and go. The post office gives significant discounts for this service and they should.

  9. Postage rates go up and in my country, petrol and toll fees hike up too this year and adds to the inflation that reduces the purchasing power of paper money. Goods and Services Tax (GST) will also be implemented next year at 6%, locally.

  10. I’m very concerned with the increase in postal rates with no advance of services. If I raise my rates, my customers can expect better service, better products and a better performance. If my customers started using alternative services, I would adapt my product to fit their needs. The USPS has not done any of this.

    Sure, 49 cents is not much to get a letter across the country. But multiply that by dozens of letters and packages and it really adds up.

  11. OK so we are now 3 days after the new rate increase and NO postcard stamps are available at the new price! No wonder our government is losing money with the post office. Do you know any other business that on launch day did not have their product available. I needed 1000 minimum. The woman from San Jose Main post office said she has another client with time sensitive mailings that needs 11000 stamps. Sad state of affairs.

  12. None of these sites help with prices! Whoever designed the webpages should be fired.
    Flat rate prices “From” $xxx. What’s flat rate about a posted price that starts with “from”? No other info anywhere. Guess what, I’m using UPS!

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