What is First-Class Mail®?

April 22, 2021
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First-Class Mail is the most widely used and affordable way to send standard business communications through USPS. Those communications could be invoices, bills, statements, letters, postcards, large envelopes, and even small packages up to 15.99 ounces*. First-Class Mail delivery time typically takes between 2 to 3 days to destinations in the United States. So what makes this mail type “first-class”?  Well, let’s start with the price. The cost to send First-Class Mail remains the same, regardless of destination.

What qualifies as First-Class Mail®?


The USPS® groups all mail into different services, called “classes.” Each class of mail has its own features, service levels, postage prices and presort requirements. To qualify as First-Class Mail your item must meet size dimensions and weight restrictions (see those rates below). Envelopes that can’t be sent through USPS automated machines have a $0.20 surcharge, which has a lot to do with the shape of the envelope. First-Class Mail is for standard-sized envelopes, postcards, and envelopes (also called “flats”).

To qualify as First-Class Mail your item must meet the size dimensions and weight restrictions listed below. Envelopes that can’t be sent through USPS automated machines have a $0.20 surcharge, which has a lot to do with the shape of the envelope. When sending First-Class Mail, you can also include additional features like Certified Mail. That gives you the option of acquiring signature confirmation and USPS tracking, but only for small packages.

What can you send through First-Class Mail® and what are the rates?

Here’s a breakdown of all the costs associated with standard First-Class Mail:

Mail Item Width Length Weight First Class Rate - 1 oz.
Post Card 4.5 in max 6 in max Up to 1 oz. $0.36 Standard
$0.55 Oversized
Letter 6.125 in max 11.5 in max Up to 3.5 oz. $0.55 Standard
$0.75 Oversized
Large Flat Envelope 12 in max 15 in max Up to 13 oz. $1.00
Small Packages 18 in max 22 in max Up to 15.99 oz. $4.00

 

What are the benefits of First-Class Mail®?

Let’s start with the price! The cost to send First-Class Mail remains the same, regardless of how far the mail travels, and even includes built-in forwarding and return services. Price, however, is not to be outdone by priority. The USPS puts the “first” in First-Class Mail by giving that mail class the top priority over other classes of mail, no matter what. This comes in handy during peak mailing seasons, such as the time between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day. While Marketing Mail delivery times might be longer during these periods, your First-Class Mail piece will still be delivered in an average of one to three days. It remains the best way to send time-sensitive business communications like invoices and bills during busy mailing periods. First-Class Mail® is the most common class because it’s fast, easy, and affordable. This mail class is meant for letters or parcels up to a certain weight. For more information check out the USPS website.

Here’s the full list of all the benefits of First-Class Mail:

  • Delivered in 1-3 business days
  • Most affordable service for mail that meets the size and weight requirements
  • Gets processed quickly and has top priority!
  • Eligible for delivery confirmation services such as Certified Mail®
  • One price for up to 3.5 ounces with commercially priced letters and cards
  • Applies to postcards, business letters, flat envelopes, and even small packages

The cost to send a First-Class business mail piece is only $0.51. That’s because using a meter gets you a discount on every letter. So you don’t need to stock up on Forever Stamps or drive back and forth to the Post Office! The savings is automatically calculated for you by the postage machine. Learn how your business can save time and money just by choosing the right postage meter for your business. Check out our full line of postage meters and then contact a Mail Expert to find one that fits your mail volume.

 

*Note: Any communication over 15.99 ounces must be sent through the USPS using Priority Mail.

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Have more questions about mail classes?

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