Shipping

Ultimate Guide to USPS First Class For Ecommerce Sellers

  • Written by Rachael Pilcher
Ultimate Guide to USPS First Class For Ecommerce Sellers

There’s a dizzying variety of shipping services out there for ecommerce sellers who are based in the USA. But when you’re a small to medium sized business, you need to narrow things down to find a reliable postal solution that a) helps reduce shipping costs, and b) offers reliable and affordable postage to keep customers happy. 

USPS is one of the world’s postage giants, processing an eye-boggling 4,877 pieces of mail every second.

No single postal operation in the world comes close to their level of deliverability for households and businesses. So it’s no surprise that around 54% of online stores in the USA choose to ship their products using USPS.

In this guide, we’re taking a walk through the features and pricing of USPS First Class shipping, so you can learn why it’s a go-to service for small ecommerce businesses.

We’ll also take a look at how you can get discounted USPS First Class shipping when you fulfill your orders using Veeqo. 

USPS First Class overview

USPS First Class is an affordable postage method that gives online sellers a low-cost way to ship lightweight items across all USPS shipping zones with their business or personal account, using:

  • USPS First Class Mail

  • USPS First Class Package (recently rebranded as USPS Ground Advantage)

  • USPS First Class International

A big advantage of using USPS for small businesses is that they offer free packaging for many of their shipping methods, such as Priority and Certified mail. 

However, as First Class is considered basic shipping, you’ll need to pay for suitable USPS packaging, or scout around your local stationers or dollar shops to find low-cost options.

When you’re ready to send, you can either hand in your USPS First Class Package at the post office, or drop First Class Mail into a USPS mailbox.

Further reading: Comprehensive Guide to Shipping with USPS

USPS First Class Mail 

This option is perfect if you’re sending letters, postcards, or flat envelopes domestically.

Your letters and small items need to meet the USPS size and weight guidelines to qualify for First Class Mail. Essentially this service is what you think of as “regular” mail, and it’s the most basic USPS shipping option.

With First Class Mail, your items will be delivered in the US between 1 to 5 days, and you can send items that weigh up to 13 ounces. Shipping prices are dependent on the price and weight of your parcel.

USPS doesn't deliver First Class Mail on Sundays, as it isn't considered a priority service.

Further reading: Comparing UPS Ground vs USPS Priority

USPS First Class Package (Ground Advantage)

With USPS First Class Package services (now officially known as Ground Advantage since 2023), you can ship items weighing up to 70lbs. This service delivers to all 50 states, including U.S. military bases and US territories. 

If you’re sending items that can’t go by air, or are too big for First Class Mail, this is a fast and affordable option.

Packages will be delivered in 2 to 5 business days to most places in the US, and tracking is included in the price. While USPS First Class Packages (Ground Advantage) are not delivered on Sundays, you can get them delivered on Saturdays at no extra cost.

USPS First Class International

For customers outside the US states, USPS First Class Mail International and First Class Package International both deliver to over 180 countries, covering parcels of most shapes and sizes.

Transit times depend on how fast the local postal networks are in the delivery country, but the USPS advises that most First Class International shipments will take 12 to 20 business days to arrive. If your customers want faster shipping, USPS Priority International is a better option, but it will come with a higher price tag.

Like the other First Class services, international parcels might show up to customers on a Saturday, but there is no delivery on Sundays. You’ll also need to ensure you fill in and attach a customs form so your parcels arrive safely overseas.

Further reading: 

USPS First Class pricing

Shipping rates for USPS First Class can get a little complex depending on the size, weight, destination, and type of First Class service you need.

We’re going to take a quick look at price comparisons* for each service, but for more accurate shipping costs, it’s best if you check the current USPS postage pricing, or use their handy pricing calculator.

If you use Veeqo, you can use their rate shopping feature to compare each service instead. It's important to remember that you'll also get up to 5% back in Veeqo Credits if you purchase your USPS ecommerce labels through the software. As an example, beauty retailer A1 Great Deals received over $13,000 back in Veeqo Credits between September 2023 and April 2024.

USPS First Class Mail pricing

  • Standard letter sizes start at $0.68

  • Oversized, square, or unusually shaped envelopes start at $1.12

  • Standard postcards start at $0.53

  • Oversized postcards will need letter stamps, which start at $0.68

  • Large flat envelopes start at $1.39

You can also buy First Class Mail Forever stamps to get USPS flat rate shipping. These stamps cost $0.68 each, and will never expire, even if the First Class postage rates go up. If you send a lot of small, flat items out to customers, it’s worth your while stocking up on these to sidestep future price hikes.

It’s worth noting that USPS will slap additional charges on First Class Mail items that fall outside their accepted envelope descriptions. For example, lumpy mail, letters with string or clasps around them, square envelopes, letters that exceed the maximum size or thickness, or envelopes that weigh too much.

If you’re not sure whether your products will fit within the First Class Mail parameters, it’s best to be on the safe side and ship with First Class Package (Ground Advantage) instead.

USPS First Class Package pricing 

For First Class Package (Ground Advantage) shipments, prices start at $5.00. If you ship online with USPS Click-N-Ship, or as we mentioned previously, if you use shipping software like Veeqo, you’ll be able to access even cheaper rates. 

Prices scale up from the base rate depending on actual and dimensional parcel weights. For example, if your parcel measures 22 to 30 inches in length, you’ll need to add an extra $4.00 for postage, and if a parcel exceeds 2 cubic feet, you’ll need to factor in another $18.00 to the postage price.

USPS First Class International pricing

For First Class Package International, retail shipping prices start at $17.00. You can ship items up to 64 ounces, with up to a $400 value, to most global destinations. 

If you’re shipping letters weighing under 1 oz, you can use a First Class Global Forever stamp, which currently costs a flat rate of $1.55. This stamp never expires, even if the postage price goes up. For larger or heavier envelopes, the postage prices will vary depending on weight and delivery destinations.

Some destination countries may have restrictions on parcel weights and item values which could incur hefty taxes and duties for customers, so it’s best to do your homework before shipping your First Class Package International items.

* Prices current as at May 2024

USPS First Class insurance and tracking

Most USPS First Class shipping services offer some type of tracking and insurance for customers. Some services have this included as standard, while others will incur an extra fee for your customers to get total peace of mind during their parcel’s journey.

USPS First Class Mail

  • Tracking - as this is a basic service, there’s no tracking available for First Class Mail items.

  • Insurance - this is available as an extra if you’re sending merchandise and need to cover the dollar value, but you won’t be able to insure any correspondence. 

USPS First Class Package (Ground Advantage)

The First Class Package service has all your insurance and tracking covered automatically if you’re shipping within the USA.

  • Tracking - included in the total postage price.

  • Insurance - $100 insurance is included with all packages, which covers both outbound and return shipments.

Additional coverage can be purchased for up to $5,000 to cover loss or damage of expensive merchandise. Parcels must have an applicable USPS Tracking barcode on them to qualify for any insurance payouts.

USPS First Class International 

  • Tracking - This isn’t included for First Class Mail International. For specific global destinations, USPS includes tracking with First Class Package International. You’ll get an electronic delivery confirmation so that you and your customer can keep an eye on progress. USPS will ship your package out of the USA, then the local postal company in the destination country will take care of last mile deliveries.

  • Insurance - USPS does not include insurance for any international items going by First Class services. Depending on the destination country, you might be able to send them with USPS Registered, which will include insurance coverage for your customers.

Get cheaper USPS First Class shipping

If USPS First Class sounds great so far, we’re about to make it even better! 

With Veeqo’s free shipping software and USPS integration, you’ll be able to instantly access the lowest commercially available rates, based on our pre-negotiated pricing from UPS, USPS, FedEx, and DHL and up to 5% back with Veeqo Credits. Plus, you can save a ton of time by buying up to 100 labels with one click using Veeqo’s smart rate-shopping tool.

Getting 5% back on shipping with Veeqo Credits has been a huge cost-saving for Veeqo's sellers. Mike Truffa, the owner of beauty retailer, A1 Great Deals, says, "We get Credits daily, we’ve gotten $13,469.36 back since September. It’s been a lot.”

How can you get these awesome Veeqo and USPS benefits? It’s as simple as creating a free account, connecting your ecommerce stores and marketplaces, and then clicking on your orders to see discounted USPS First Class options at a glance. No confusing pricing tables or manual calculations needed! All you need to do is choose the best shipping option for each customer, tap to create shipping labels, and let Veeqo take care of the rest.

Further reading: UPS vs USPS vs FedEx: Which is the best shipping carrier?

USPS First Class shipping services give you the best of both worlds in terms of low costs and global deliverability. 

Tracking and insurance options will give your customers peace of mind that they’re protected at every stage of the shipping process, and your small business can grow faster with all the rave reviews about how flawless your shipping process is.

Create your free Veeqo account today to start shipping even cheaper with USPS First Class using our discounted rates. You’ll also get up to 5% back in Veeqo Credits.

About the author

Written by Rachael Pilcher

Copywriter

Rachael Pilcher is a freelance copywriter specializing in content for B2B SaaS and tech companies.

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