How Much is a Stamp | 2017 Postage Rates

How much do postage stamps costHow much is a stamp? Stamps change in price from year to year. Below are the rates you pay for stamps in 2017 according to the amount of ounces of the envelope, flat, or parcel you are mailing.

How Much is a Stamp

Below are the rates for 2017 First Class mail stamps. A Forever stamp is the standard for a one ounce envelope and can purchased at various retail  stores besides the post office. This is a non-denominational stamp which means it can be used to mail a First Class one ounce letter no matter what the current postage rate is. It should be noted that after you exceed one ounce in weight the cost for postage decreases per additional ounce.

How Much is a Stamp in 2017?

To determine how much is a stamp, use the chart below for the current rates. You will then need to consider how much does your package weigh to determine the toal cost of shipping.

MAIL CLASS2017 POSTAGE RATE
First-Class Mail® Letter (1 oz.) – Retail/Post Office Rate$0.49
First-Class Mail Letter (1 oz.) – Metered Mail$0.46
First-Class Letter – Additional Ounce$0.21
First-Class Flat/Large Envelope (1 oz.)$0.98
First-Class Flat/Large Envelope – Additional Ounces (1 oz.)$0.21
First-Class Letter International (1 oz.)$1.15
Post Card$0.34
Media Mail® (1 lb.)$2.63
First-Class Package Service$2.61

How Many Stamps Do I Need?

The answer to this question varies depending on the size the weight of the item you plan on sending. Additionally, rates for envelopes, flats, and parcels all differ. Follow the two example below for envelopes and flats to determine how many postage stamps do you need….

Standard Size Envelope Example

Mailing a 1 oz First Class envelope costs just $0.49. You can cover that cost with 1 Forever stamp. For additional ounces you apply the current additional ounce rate.

For example, using the chart above, you could mail a 3 oz First Mail Letter with 2 Forever stamps. 2 Forever stamps cover $0.98 worth of postage and the cost to mail a 3 ounce letter is $0.91.To under stand how to calculate the postage you would do the following: First Ounce for Letters + Additional Ounce

In the example I calculated:

$0.49 (1 oz first class letter)  + $0.21 (additional oz)+ $0.21 (additional oz) = $0.91

If you used 2 Forever stamps to mail your 3 oz letter you will actually have overpaid for postage by $0.07.

Flat or Large Envelope Example

Mailing a 1 oz First Class flat costs $0.98. You can cover that cost with 2 Forever stamps. For additional ounces you apply the current additional ounce rate.

For example, using the chart above, you could mail a 3 oz First Mail flat with 3 Forever stamps. 3 Forever stamps cover $1.47 worth of postage and the cost to mail a 3 ounce flat is $1.40. To under stand how to calculate the postage you would do the following: First Ounce for Flats + Additional Ounce

In the example I calculated:

$0.98 (1 oz first class flat)  + $0.21 (additional oz)+ $0.21 (additional oz) = $1.40

If you used 3 Forever stamps to mail your 3 oz flat you will actually have overpaid for postage by $0.07.

How to Determine The Weight of Your Envelope or Flat

To be precise the only method to get the exact weight of your envelope or flat is to weigh it. If you don’t own a postage scale, a food scale is often sensitive enough to weigh items below one ounce. Many food scales measure in ounces, but if you have one that is in grams you would have to convert the calculation to ounces. One ounce is equal to 28.3495 grams.

You can get a free postage scale when you sign up for Stamps.com. You can read my review of their service here.

Postage Price Calculator

There are a few different postage price calculators on the web, but the best one is offered by USPS. You can access it here. There are only a handful of fields to fill out and it will even tell you how long it will take for your mail to reach its destination.

Postage Calculator

Why are Post Card Stamps Cheaper Than Regular Stamps?

You may notice that the cost of a post card stamp is significantly less than the cost of a First Class stamp for letters. This is because the weight standard weight of an envelope with a piece of paper in it is about 1 oz, while the standard weight of a post card is about .15 oz. Not only does a post card weigh less, but they are also very efficient in the USPS mail sorting machines.

How Much is a Stamp for International First Class Mail?

For mailing letters outside the continental US, the cost for how much a stamp is increases. The rate listed above in the chart is for a one ounce first class letter. If you had additional ounces you would use the additional rate for first class letters to calculate the proper postage.

What is a Bad Envelope Penalty?

Sometimes you can be charged extra for something called a bad envelope penalty. This can happen with an envelope or a flat if there is something lumpy or obscure inside of it. If you were to try and mail a pen inside of a normal envelope it would make the envelope have a strange shape. The reason for the extra charge is that the USPS machines can’t handle a piece like this and this would need to be sorted by hand. Hand sorting the mail costs more for the postal service and is less efficient.

If you have put your stamps on a strange shaped envelope and put it in a drop box, you might have it returned for insufficient postage if you incur the bad envelope penalty. If it get returned. The best thing to do is put it in a padded envelope and pay the fee for a flat or parcel.

What Happens If You Use the Incorrect Amount of Postage?

Return to SenderIf you use too much postage, you will simply overpay and there are no ramifications for overpaying.

If you don’t apply enough postage you will get your letter returned marked “Returned for Additional Postage”. Many post office clerks will also tell you how much more postage you owe by writing it on the envelope. Many USPS offices use a stamp like the one shown on the right . This is also why its important to include your return address. If there is no return address it gets put into something called “nixie” and often doesn’t get resolved.

In my years as a supervisor I am sure plenty of letters and flats made it through the process with insufficient postage. However those that made it through were probably very close to being correct. Normally the letters that get sent back for insufficient postage are obvious. I have seen people put one postage stamp on an 5 to 6 ounce tax return. I have additionally seen letters get returned for being 1 cent short on postage, but these rarely get caught.

Are There Discounted Rates on Stamps

If you are doing a bulk mailing you can get discounted postage rates. These rates are usually specific to businesses and require you to send at least 200 pieces. There is an upfront fee and a form you need to fill out.

It is possible to find stamps on sale at retail and grocery stores, but these discounted rates usually only save you a few  cents per stamp and the sales don’t occur very often. There are opportunities to save a lot of money on stamps, when you buy them from online auction sites. You can read more about how to save money on stamps here.

How Much is a Stamp for Postage Conclusion

Really the question isn’t just how much is a stamp?…it is also is how much does my envelope, flat, or parcel weigh? You need to know both pieces of information to apply the correct amount of postage to your item. You can use the charts and tables above to get the current rates for postage stamps this year, but for the weight of your package you will need a means of determining it.

Now that you know how much is a stamp…go and weigh your item and apply your postage.

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