Shipping via USPS? Mail Your Packages Before May 12th

USPS Forever Stamps

Just a reminder for our American readers that new and increased USPS (United States Postal Service) postage rates take effect this coming Monday May 12th, 2008. If you are planning to ship any packages via USPS, now is the time to do so – today Friday May 9th or tomorrow Saturday May 10th – especially if you will be shipping a lot of items.

Below is a quick overview and reference for the various shipping options taken from a prior article I wrote back in February, Save by Knowing Your Shipping & Mailing Options, but with added info and updated rates that will take effect May 12th. (If you are new to this blog, be sure to check out the above referenced post for tips on how to save on shipping and why you should be aware of your shipping options rather than relying solely on postal clerks to advise you.)

A few items of note:

  • Express Mail is switching to a zone-based system with lower rates for closer destinations, so the new rates for some weights and destinations may be lower than current rates.
  • Printing postage online can save you time and money; Priority Mail postage printed online can save you about 3.5% and Express Mail 3%.
  • Purchase your Forever Stamps before Monday if you do a lot of mailing to save one cent per stamp. However, if you don’t do all that much mailing – i.e. by paying all your bills online (we’ve only used about half of a 20-pack I purchased last May) – it might be wiser to not stock up on a lot of stamps if you have a tendency to misplace them.

USPS Package Shipping Options

  • First-Class Mail
    • Time: 2-5 business days
    • Cost: Starts at $1.17 for 1 oz. up to $3.21 for 13 oz.
    • Description: This is a good option for small and light-weight items including a single book or DVD with a total weight (envelope + item) up to 7 oz. as it would only cost you $2.19 as opposed to the 1 lb. Media Mail Rate of $2.23, and is faster than Media Mail. Using a padded envelope is highly recommended to prevent damage to the book or DVD.
  • Media Mail (Book Rate)
    • Time: 2-9 business days
    • Cost: Starts at $2.23 for 1 lb. up to $26.38 for 70 lbs.
    • Description: Can be used for “books, film, manuscripts, printed music, printed test materials, sound recordings, play scripts, printed educational charts, loose-leaf pages and binders consisting of medical information, videotapes, and computer-recorded media like CDs and diskettes”, but cannot contain advertising.
  • Parcel Post*
    • Time: 2-9 business days
    • Cost: Starts at $4.55 for 1 lb. and increases with weight and distance (zones)
    • Description: Can be used for general shipments of gifts, merchandise, etc. You will need to use your own packaging (free Priority and Express Mail boxes cannot be used for Parcel Post).
  • Priority Mail*
    • Time: 2-3 business days
    • Cost: Starts at $4.80 for 1 lb. and increases with weight and distance (zone)
    • Description: Can be used for general shipments of gifts, merchandise, etc. You can also mail small, non-fragile parcels that will fit in the Flat Rate Envelope for $4.80 regardless of weight. While the 2-3 days estimated delivery time isn’t guaranteed, in my experience, Priority Mail is almost as fast as Express Mail. A package from California to most destinations is 3 business days, but some packages to New York City have been delivered in as quickly as 2 business days, delivery to Texas is almost always 2 days. Occasionally a package to destinations such as Georgia may take 4 days, and only one package in the past 3 years took 1 week.
  • Express Mail*
    • Time: 1-2 business days
    • Cost: Starts at $12.50 for 1/2 lb. and increased with weight and distance (zone)
    • Description: Guaranteed on-time delivery by USPS. If your package isn’t delivered by the guaranteed date and time, you are entitled to a refund of the postage you paid. Also includes up to $100 of insurance against loss or damage. I only suggest using Express Mail if the delivery date is of vital importance. Otherwise, I have found Priority Mail to be almost as fast and much less expensive. If you live in more outlying and remote areas, Express Mail usually takes 2 business days.

*Zone-based. Go to http://postcalc.usps.gov/Zonecharts/ and enter in your zip code to get a Postal Zone Chart based on your zip code.

A Note About the Priority Mail Flat Rate Box

USPS is always trying to promote the Priority Mail flat rate box and telling us how much time and money we can save by using it. In my opinion: Time – possibly. But money – not necessarily (again, refer to this article). Be sure you check the full rate chart and compare the actual cost of mailing your package via regular Priority Mail if you are really interested in saving money.

For example, you can still mail a 12 lb. regular Priority Mail package to a local zip code for $9.75. You can mail a 4 lb. package to a zone 3 zip code for $7.85. So spend a couple of minutes checking the actual regular rate before packing up the Flat Rate Box and you could save a few dollars.

In order to figure out the rates, go to:

  1. Postal Zone Charts and figure out what zone your recipient’s zip code is in
  2. Prices and Fees and see what the rate for regular Priority Mail (or even Parcel Post) is

The rates for the Flat Rate Priority Mail Boxes are as follows:

  • $9.80 for regular size (11″ X 8.5″ X 5.5″)
  • $12.95 for large box (12” x 12” x 5-1/2”)

More info:
New Prices Coming May 12, 2008
International Shipping Rates

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