Updated on August 7th, 2023

USPS is the official postal service used in the United States; it is popular for offering flexible and cost-effective shipping options to individuals and businesses alike. Their flat rate options are especially popular, which are available for Priority Mail and Priority Mail Express. Their leading competition is FedEx and UPS, both well-known for their reliability and speedy deliveries, but neither beat USPS when it comes to cost.

Why is the right mail service important for your business?

If you have an e-commerce business, you probably deal with a lot of shipments, domestically and internationally. When you ship hundreds of packages a month, even the slightest difference in shipping would make an impact on your total profit.

Instead of opting for the overnight shipment, maybe consider the 3 to 4 days option to save on shipping costs; you can save up to 30% on shipping if you select this shipping option! We’ve compared all of the USPS mail services in regards to price, delivery speed, returns, incentives, etc. so that you’d easily be able to pick the right mail & shipping service for your business.


What are the different Classes of USPS Mail Services?

USPS mail services are also known as classes, USPS has 6 mail classes available, and each one has different delivery speeds, prices, weight limits, and incentives.

  • Priority Mail
  • Priority Mail Express
  • First-Class Mail
  • USPS Marketing Mail
  • USPS Media Mail
  • USPS Retail Ground/ Package Services

You may find an option that is suitable for local shipping but could easily break the bank for international shipping, so learn more about all of your options before making a choice!

Class of Mail Speed Cost Free Forwarding & Return Extra Services Incentives
Priority Mail 1 – 3 Business days $$ Yes Yes Yes
Priority Mail Express Overnight Guaranteed $$$ Yes Yes Yes
First-Class Mail 1 – 3 Business days $ Yes Yes Yes
USPS Marketing Mail 2 – 8 Business days $ No Packages only Yes
USPS Media Mail 2 – 8 Business days $ Free for 60 days No Yes
USPS Retail Ground 2 – 8 Business days $ No Yes Yes

  1.  Priority Mail:

Priority Mail is the best-selling USPS mail service, with deliveries ranging from 1–3 business days for local shipments and 6–19 business days for international shipments. This service is used for thick envelopes, tubes, and packages that could include gifts, magazines, documents, or merchandise.

The service includes Flat Rate envelopes and boxes, where you pay a flat rate price, no matter the weight of the package or the destination – but it needs to weigh 70 lbs. or less. Check out the available Flat Rate options to find a suitable envelope or box size.

Besides the flat rate option, shipping cost is set on how far your package is being delivered, the distance is measured according to shipping zones. USPS has a Domestic Zone Chart, you can enter your zip code, the zip code of where you’re mailing to, and the shipping date to learn the cost. You don’t need to pay for the envelope or box, just postage, and shipping labels. Tracking and insurance are included in this service and prices start at $7.50.

  1. Priority Mail Express

Priority Mail Express is USPS’s fastest shipping service, with overnight delivery (it can sometimes take 1 day) and money-back guarantee policy. It also includes $100 of insurance coverage. The service is available all-year-round, with almost no exceptions to weekends or holidays.

Prices are slightly higher than Priority Mail rates because of the speedy and time-on deliveries; this is a good option for businesses looking for deliveries for urgent packages or if you want to offer customers an overnight delivery option, but it isn’t a sustainable option in the long run.

Prices are set according to the weight of the package and distance but with the free flat rate envelopes, you can send packages under 70 lbs. (flat rate boxes not available) – purchase postage or shipping labels at the Post Office or online, prices start at $26.35.

  1. First-Class Mail

First-Class mail is a great option for lightweight mail like letters, documents, or small packages. Its delivery speed is from 1 to 3 business days and prices are based on weight and distance. Envelopes can weigh up to 13 oz. or less and packages are up to 3.5 oz. but it can’t be of a value higher than $400, postage for each envelope costs $0.55 including free forwarding and return services.

This is a great option for beginners looking to mail standard-sized envelopes, for businesses that mail single-piece lightweight items. You just need to put the stamp on the envelope and leave it in your mailbox or drop it off at the Post Office.

  1. USPS Marketing Mail

This service can be used to send marketing material like flyers, catalogs, bulletins, coupons, newsletters, or any small parcels for advertising or promotional reasons; the maximum weight is 16 ounces.

All of the marketing mail prices are bulk prices, each shipment must have a minimum quantity of 200 pieces or 50 lbs. in weight. In this service, there are prices for small envelopes, flats/large envelopes, and small packages – there is no single-piece USPS Marketing Mail postage.

Incentives include tracking, bulk insurance, and return receipt for merchandise; however, additional costs are applied for forwarding and return services. This is a great option for e-commerce businesses that have a lot for printed marketing material because it offers the lowest price ranges for bulk mail!

  1. USPS Media Mail

USPS Media Mail, also known as Periodicals, is printed media or periodical publications like newspapers, magazines, catalogs, or educational material. Prices start at $2.80 per envelope; you can get postage at the Post Office.

However, there are restrictions on the type of media that can be sent. Items that you can send are books (at least 8 pages), printed music, test materials, play scripts, medical loose-leaf pages, and binders, printed educational reference charts, video or sound recordings, and computer-readable media.

Packages need to be 70 lbs. or under and the price is based on the weight; delivery speed is from 2 to 8 business days. This is a cost-effective option for online magazines, learning centers, or other businesses that deal frequently with print media.

  1. USPS Retail Ground/ Package Services

Package Services is slower than Priority Mail, with delivery speed ranging from 2 to 8 business days. It isn’t an ideal solution for businesses looking to ship packages in a timely manner but it is an economical option for less-than-urgent packages. Prices start at $7.50 at the Post Office with a weight limit of 70 lbs. or under.

This is suitable for large, over-sized packages that are 70 lbs. and up to 130 inches in combined length and girth. The price is set based on weight, distance, and shape – dimensional weight rates apply to packages shipped to Zones 1 – 9. This service includes tracking but doesn’t include free forwarding and return services.

How to choose the right USPS Mail Class for your business?

As your business grows, so will your mail & shipment requirements to match your customer demands. Each business has its own set of needs; for example, some businesses will prioritize delivery speed while another would prioritize cost.

Most businesses use Priority Mail and Priority Mail Express because they combine the best of both worlds, low cost and quick delivery times as well as having the popular flat-rate option.

Prices of your shipment depending on the weight of the package, the distance it’s traveling, and how fast you want the recipient to receive your shipment. USPS offers a completely flexible and easy structure with multiple options to choose from!

Image Credit: By Syda Productions


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