If you buy a first-class stamp at the post office today, it will cost you 55 cents. But if the US Postal Service (USPS) request is approved, starting August 29 stamps will cost 58 cents, an increase of 5.5%.
A first-class stamp covers the price of a one-ounce letter. An extra ounce costs 20 cents, and that won’t change under the new proposal. Other postal products would also see a price increase:
- postage stamped letters would increase from 51 to 53 cents
- domestic postcards would increase from 36 to 40 cents
- letters with an international destination would increase from $1.20 to $1.30
- large one-ounce packets would increase from $1 to $1.16
The Postal Regulatory Commission (PRC), an independent federal agency that oversees the Postal Service, must approve price increases before they take effect.
Buy “Forever” stamps
Forever stamps are currently priced at 55 cents and are also expected to increase in price to 58 cents in August. But the “forever” in its name means that even after a price hike in August, a single Forever stamp you paid 55 cents for will be enough to send a one-ounce letter to any address in the United States. You will not have to add additional postage to offset the increased price. You can still use an original Forever stamp you bought 14 years ago for 41 cents today to send a first-class letter, with no additional postage required.
Forever stamps, which appeared in 2007, are always equal to the current price of a first-class stamp. As of 2011, virtually all first-class stamps sold are Forever stamps.
You can even use these stamps to send letters out of the country. However, you will need to add additional stamps to arrive at the correct postage amount for an international shipment. For international letters, a Forever stamp has the monetary value of the price of a first-class stamp on the day it is used.
Timeline: How much did a first-class postage stamp cost?
January 7, 2001, $0.34
June 30, 2002, $0.37
January 8, 2006, $0.39
May 14, 2007 $0.41
May 12, 2008 $0.42
May 11, 2009 $0.44
January 22, 2012 $0.45
January 27, 2013 $0.46
January 26, 2014 $0.49
April 10, 2016 $0.47
January 22, 2017 $0.49
January 21, 2018 $0.50
January 27, 2019 $0.55
Source: Historian, US Postal Service, February 2021
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blame the internet
It’s no secret that the widespread use of email and the shift to online banking have taken their toll on the postal service. Today, people need fewer stamps for letters and bills, and businesses can reach customers more cheaply and efficiently with email rather than spam.
The original Post Office Department, established in 1792, was reorganized as the USPS postal service, an independent agency, in 1970, and generally receives no money from taxpayers for operating expenses. According to a USPS statement dated May 28, the proposed increases in postage prices are the first step in a plan to reverse projected operating losses of $160 billion over the next decade.
A 2006 law limited postage increases to the consumer price index, the government’s main measure of inflation. However, the same law allowed the PRC regulatory commission to review the effects of the price cap on postage, and in 2017, the commission ruled that the price cap harmed USPS profitability. In November 2020, the PRC issued new rules that gave the Postal Service more flexibility regarding rate increases.