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One way to save money this holiday season: Mail your packages early. Very early.
The United States Postal Service (USPS) will increase its package rates temporarily, from Oct. 2, 2022, through Jan. 22, 2023. The rate hikes will affect Priority Mail Express, Priority Mail, First-Class Package Service, Parcel Select and USPS Retail Ground. The cost to mail a first-class letter will not increase over the holidays.
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The USPS uses weight and a dynamic zone system, based on a shipper’s zip code, to determine parcel prices. Postage for a 5-pound first-class package that travels from zones 1 through 4 would increase 30 cents; for a similar package mailed to zones 5 through 9, the increase would be 60 cents.
The cost of a small Priority Mail flat rate box, which generally arrives within one to three days, will rise 95 cents, to $10.40. Priority Mail Express, which provides next-day or two-day delivery with a money-back guarantee, will also see an increase of 95 cents, to $27.90. International rates will not be affected.
Overall increases in retail package rates:
- Priority Mail Express, 2.8 percent
- Priority Mail, 6.3 percent
- First-Class Package Service, 8.2 percent
- Retail Ground, 5.8 percent.
In July, the USPS raised the prices for nearly all of its services by an average of 6.5 percent. The price of a first-class Forever stamp rose to 60 cents from 58 cents. The “forever” in the name means that even after a price rise, a single Forever stamp will send a 1-ounce letter to any U.S. address. You can, for instance, still use an original Forever stamp purchased 15 years ago for 41 cents to mail a first-class letter today without additional postage.
The USPS said the temporary holiday increases were due to inflation as well as the implementation of a 10-year plan to invest $40 billion in core USPS infrastructure. The Consumer Price Index (CPI), the government’s main gauge of inflation, rose 8.5 percent during the 12 months ended July 31.
A 2006 law capped postage increases at the same level as the CPI. The same law, however, allowed the Postal Regulatory Commission to review the effects of the postage price cap, and in 2017, it ruled that the price cap hurt USPS profitability. In November 2020, the PRC issued new rules giving the USPS more flexibility when it comes to rate increases.