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USPS First-Class Mail: Price, Types, and How to Send

The United States Postal Service offers various mail products with different features, estimated delivery dates, and price points. The most affordable of these products is USPS First Class Mail.

If you want to send a short letter or postcard to your family, friends, or just about anyone, First Class Mail is the way to go. It’s not the fastest USPS mail class but your letter will be in your loved one’s hands in less than a week. Not bad for a sweet and heartfelt piece of correspondence that costs less than $1.

Let’s take a deep dive into the details and procedures for sending USPS First Class Mail. We’ll cover what letter types are considered First Class, how much First Class Mail postage costs, and a few other fun questions. 

What’s USPS First Class?

First Class Mail service is the most affordable way to send letters, postcards, and large flat envelopes. It’s available for individuals and for businesses that send letters by bulk.

Here are the basic features of USPS First Class Mail:

  • Estimated delivery in 1 to 5 business days.
  • Best value for your money for mail up to 13 ounces.
  • Standard one price for up to 3.5 ounces.
  • Prices based on shape and weight.

Businesses that send out large volumes of mail can take advantage of Commercial Prices for First Class Mail. They’re typically discounted and come with different size and weight requirements.

Types of Domestic USPS First Class Mail Service

There are three different types of First Class Mail. Let’s take a look at all three:

  • First Class Mail Postcards
    • First Class Mail service postcards use postcard stamps. Sizes allowed are between 3.5 x 5 inches or 4.25 x 6 inches. For Commercial First Class Mail Postcards, the maximum size is 6 x 9 inches. The maximum thickness allowed for this First Class Mail type is 0.0016 inch.
  • First Class Mail Letters
    • First Class Mail Letters are mail in envelopes that can measure between 3.5 x 5 inches or 6 x 11.5 inches. The maximum thickness allowed for this type is a quarter of an inch, while the maximum weight mailable is 3.5 ounces.
  • First Class Mail Flat (Large Envelope)
    • If the letter that you’re sending is a lot bigger than the maximum allowed size for First Class Mail Letters, the Flat or Large Envelope type is your best alternative. This allows you to send a letter that weighs up to 13 ounces.
    • The minimum size for Large Envelopes is 6 1/8 by a little over 11 inches. The largest envelope that you can send must not exceed 12 x 15 inches and a thickness of a quarter to three-quarters of an inch.
    • Note: First Class Large Envelopes that weigh more than 13 ounces will be mailed with Priority Mail postage rates. Similarly, if your letter is not flexible, not rectangular in shape, or isn’t uniform in thickness, the post office will mail it under First-Class Package Service-Retail.

International USPS First Class Mail

  • First Class Mail International is the cheapest way to send postcards, letters, and large envelopes internationally.
  • The service is available for sending mail to over 180 countries.
  • The accepted maximum weight for First Class Mail International is up to 3.5 ounces for postcards and letters and up to 15.994 ounces for large envelopes of flats.
  • Prices vary based on weight and destination country.

How Much Does First Class Mail Cost?

Like other USPS products, First Class Mail pricing depends on the type, weight, and other factors. Sometimes, depending on extra services you may require, the postage fee may be higher. Here’s a closer look at how much it costs to send First Class Mail via USPS:

  • Retail Mail Pricing (For Individuals, Not Businesses)
    • Postcards – Postcards that are of standard size and need only postcard stamps will cost you at least $0.53 to mail. If the postcard is bigger than usual, you’ll need to pay for letter stamps, which start at $0.68.
    • Letters – Pricing for a rectangle or standard envelope starts at $0.68. If you’re sending something that has an unusual shape, such as a square for example, or is somewhat oversized, the fee will be at least $1.12.
    • Large Envelopes – These have postage that start at $1.39.
Letters (Stamped)1,4
Weight Not Over (oz.)
Letters (Metered)1,4
Weight Not Over (oz.)
Large Envelopes (Flats)2
Weight Not Over (oz.)
Flats up to 3.3 oz.$0.203
Semipostal Stamps
Breast Cancer Research, etc.$0.850

If you’re sending First Class Mail to another country, the minimum rate is $1.55 for up to 1 ounce. For anything heavier than 1 ounce, the price will depend on the shape and weight of your letter and the destination country’s price group.

  • Commercial Pricing
    • For businesses that send out a high volume of letters or postcards, the postal service offers commercial pricing of their USPS First Class Mail product.
    • Bulk discounts are available for presorted letters and flats with a minimum quantity of 500 pieces.
    • You can access details of First Class Mail commercial pricing here.

How to Send First Class Mail

Sending First Class Mail is an easy and straightforward process. Follow the steps below:

1. Pick Your Envelope or Postcard

  • If you’re sending a letter, some paper goods, checks, forms, or anything flexible, put them inside an envelope.
  • For sending a short message that doesn’t need to be placed inside an envelope, choose a postcard.
  • Be sure that you follow the maximum size and weight allowed for First Class Mail.

2. Write the Address

  • On the envelope, the sender’s address should be in the top left corner. Write the recipient’s address in the center of the envelope.
  • For postcards, write the recipient’s address in the provided address space. It’s usually on the same side where you write the message and affix the stamp.

3. Calculate Postage and Add Stamp

  • The best way to go about this is to weigh your letter or envelope first.
  • Consider using a kitchen scale for accuracy.
  • You can also weigh it at the Post Office counter.
  • Affix the stamp in the upper right corner of the envelope or the side of the postcard where you write the recipient’s address.

4. Send Your First Class Mail

  • After calculating the correct postage for your envelope or postcard, you’re now ready to send your First Class Mail. There are several ways to send your letter:
  • Put it inside your mailbox and raise its flag to alert the mail carrier.
  • Drop your letter in the outgoing mailbox of a cluster mailbox system.
  • Put it inside a blue collection box.
  • Take it to the Post Office to mail.

How Long Does First Class Mail Take to Deliver?

  • Every USPS product comes with its own set of estimated delivery times. When you send out First Class Mail, it’ll reach the recipient in 1 to 5 business days.
  • Take note that ‘business days’ are days when the post office is open, This most often doesn’t include weekends and postal holidays.
  • Another thing to keep in mind is that First Class Mail is not the fastest way to send mail. If you want your mail to reach its recipient much faster, choose USPS Priority Mail or Priority Mail Express.

First Class Mail Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

How Can I Send a First Class Package?

Does First Class Mail Come with a Tracking Number?

  • First Class Mail doesn’t come with a tracking number. However, you can purchase a tracking number for your mail by adding Extra Services to your postage. Simply inform the Post Office staff that you want Proof of Mailing & Delivery of your letter.

For a better way to track your mail, however, consider opting in to the USPS Informed Delivery program or signing up with a virtual mailbox provider so that you can manage and track you mail from an app on your mobile device.