If your business does a lot of mailing and shipping, you need to be up-to-date on the latest postage meter rate changes — and postage rates in general — in order to foresee changes in business expenses. Although some of the changes are small, we know they will have an impact on your bottom line. 

Each year, the Postal Regulatory Commission (PRC) updates its postage rates according to both the consumer market price and the competition within the shipping industry. As of January 24th, the new 2021 postage rate update is in effect. Be sure to update the software on your postage meter to update the USPS postage rates. 

2021 Postage Meter Rate Change Highlights

  • Metered letter postage will increase $.01 each, from $.50 per letter to $.51 per letter, while stamped letter postage rates will not increase from $.55.
  • The postage rate for additional ounces on both metered letters and stamped letters has increased from $.15 to $.20. 
  • First-class postcards increased from $.35 to $.36.
  • One-ounce Flats will remain at $1.00, and additional ounces will remain at $.20.
  • A $100 fee will be added to any Priority Mail packages that exceed the maximum mailable size limits (a combined length and width greater than 130 inches).

Postage meters can be used for all USPS classes of mail except periodicals. In the following sections, we will cover the updated postage rates for 2021, and highlight ways you can save on postage. 

First-Class Mail Postage Rates

Product2021 Prices2020 PricesChange
Letters (metered 1 oz.)$.51$.50$.01
Letters additional ounce(s) metered & unmetered$.20$.15$.05
Domestic Postcards$.36$.35$.01
Letters (1 oz.)$.55$.55-
Flats (1 oz.)$1.00$1.00-

In 2021, metered letters cost $0.51 each, whereas stamped letters cost $0.55 each. Although unmetered letters used to cost a whole $.05 less than stamped letters, metered letters will still save seven percent on mailings. 

2021 Changes to First-Class Mail Metered Postage Rates

With 1-3 day shipping, First-Class mail is the best-priced service up to 13 ounces in 2021. To ship a package that weighs less than 13 ounces, you will only pay $4.00. 

Weight Not Over (Oz.)Metered LettersStamped LettersSavings
1$.51$.55$.04
2$.71$.75$.04
3$.91$.95$.04
3.5$1.11$1.15.$.04

Using a postage meter will save $.04 per First-Class letter up to 13 ounces. If you haven’t leased your postage meter – or simply don’t want to – you can buy First-Class postage online through Stamps.com and also save $.04 per letter.

USPS Flats (Large Envelopes)

USPS Flats are large envelopes that are smaller than 11.5” x 15”, but larger than a regular envelope. Although postage meters can be used to apply postage to a Flat, there is no discount for doing so. 

There has been no change in the postage rates for Flats in 2021. Nor has the $.20 rate for additional ounces increased in 2021. 

Not to Exceed (Oz.)Price
1$1.00
2$1.20
3$1.40
4$1.60
5$1.80
6$2.00
7$2.20
8$2.40
9$2.60
10$2.80
11$3.00
12$3.20
13$3.40

USPS First-Class Package Rate Changes

This is the cheapest and fastest shipping option for packages under 1 pound. Note that with First-Class Package Service, you are allowed to ship only up to 13 ounces, but commercial rates allow you to ship up to 15.999 ounces.

2021 USPS First-Class Package (Weight not over)Zones 1 & 2Zone
3
Zone
4
Zone
5
Zone
6
Zone
7
Zone
8
Zone
9
1oz$3.01$3.03$3.06$3.12$3.22$3.35$3.49$3.49
2oz$3.01$3.03$3.06$3.12$3.22$3.35$3.49$3.49
3oz$3.01$3.03$3.06$3.12$3.22$3.35$3.49$3.49
4oz$3.01$3.03$3.06$3.12$3.22$3.35$3.49$3.49
5oz$3.46$3.49$3.51$3.57$3.58$3.69$3.85$3.85
6oz$3.46$3.49$3.51$3.57$3.58$3.69$3.85$3.85
7oz$3.46$3.49$3.51$3.57$3.58$3.69$3.85$3.85
8oz$3.46$3.49$3.51$3.57$3.58$3.69$3.85$3.85
9oz$4.04$4.09$4.12$4.20$4.38$4.53$4.68$4.68
10oz$4.04$4.09$4.12$4.20$4.38$4.53$4.68$4.68
11oz$4.04$4.09$4.12$4.20$4.38$4.53$4.68$4.68
12oz$4.04$4.09$4.12$4.20$4.38$4.53$4.68$4.68
13oz$5.19$5.23$5.27$5.42$5.66$5.81$5.98$5.98
14oz$5.19$5.23$5.27$5.42$5.66$5.81$5.98$5.98
15oz$5.19$5.23$5.27$5.42$5.66$5.81$5.98$5.98
15.999oz$5.19$5.23$5.27$5.42$5.66$5.81$5.98$5.98

Nonmachinable surcharge

Some letters and Flats that are of odd shapes or materials are subject to a nonmachinable surcharge – even if the mailpiece is under one ounce. Your mailpieces may be subject to a nonmachinable surcharge if:

  • The piece is more than 4.25 inches high or 6 inches long and the thickness is less than 0.0009 inch.
  • The length divided by the height is less than 1.3 inches or more than 2.5 inches.
  • It is poly-bagged, plastic-wrapped, or enclosed in any material that is not paper. 
  • It is decorated with clasps, strings, buttons, or the like. 
  • It is too rigid or contains lumpy objects like pens, keys, or coins. 
  • It has a delivery address parallel to the shorter dimension of the mailpiece.

It’s important to consider the nonmachinable surcharge if you plan to send out any oddly-shaped marketing materials. The nonmachinable surcharge could cost more than what you save with discounts from postage meter rates. 

You can look here to check if you will have a nonmachinable surcharge and what that surcharge will be. 

Postage Rates for Priority Mail

Priority mail is USPS’s fastest and most popular service. In 2021, Priority Mail retail postage rates have increased by an average of 3.5%, and Priority Mail commercial pricing has increased by an average of 3.6%.

Any First-Class mail weighing more than 13 ounces is automatically sent as Priority Mail, whether it is in an envelope or a box. 

Flat-Rate Priority Mail Postage

The price increases for the 2021 Flat Rate Postage ranges from $.25 to $1.00, so make sure to fill your boxes up all the way to get the maximum value. You can pack up to 70 pounds into a Flat Rate box. 

USPS Priority Mail2021 Rate2020 RateChange
Flat Rate Envelopes$7.40$7.15$.25
Legal Flat Rate Envelopes$7.70$7.45$.25
Padded Flat Rate Envelopes$8.00$7.75$.25
Small Flat Rate Box$7.90$7.65$.25
Medium Flat Rate Box$13.75$13.20$.55
Large Flat Rate Box$19.30$18.30$1.00
APO/FPO/DPO Large Flat Rate Box$17.80$16.80$1.00

Flat-Rate Priority Mail Metered Postage

Depending on who you lease from, you may be able to get up to 40.3% discounts on Flat-Rate USPS Boxes by using a postage meter. By using a postage meter, you can almost negate the 2021 price increase on Flat Rate Priority Mail. For example, the SendPro postage meter by Pitney Bowes offers the following postage rate discounts on Flat Rate Postage:

Flat Rate Priority Mail2021 Retail Rate2021 SendPro Rate2021 SendPro Savings
Flat Rate Envelope$7.40$7.15

$.25
Legal Flat Rate Envelope$7.70$7.45

$.25
Padded Flat Rate Envelope$8.00$7.75

$.25
Mall Flat Rate Box$7.90$7.65

$.25
Medium Flat Rate Box$13.75$13.20

$.55
Large Flat Rate Box$19.30$18.30

$1.00
APO/FPO/DPO Large Flat Rate Box$17.80$17.80

-

Priority Mail Express Postage

Domestic Priority Mail Express will see no price increases in 2021. Note that Flat-Rate Priority Mail Express boxes were discontinued prior to 2020.

Priority Mail Express Product2021 Pricing
Flat-Rate Express Envelope$26.35
Legal Flat-Rate Express Envelope$26.50
Padded Flat-Rate Express Envelope$26.95

Media Mail Rate Change

Media Mail rates are determined by the size and weight of the package. This differs from Priority Mail, which uses a zone-based pricing system. Media Mail shipping can take up to 10 days, but it is significantly cheaper than Priority Mail. 

Postage meter users will get even more discounted rates on Media Mail, though the rate depends on who you lease your meter from. 

Weight (Lbs.) Not to Exceed20212020Change
1$2.89$2.80$0.09
2$3.45$3.33$0.12
3$4.01$3.86$0.15
4$4.57$4.39$0.18
5$5.13$4.92$0.21
6$5.69$5.45$0.24
7$6.25$5.98$0.27
8$6.81$6.52$0.29
9$7.37$7.06$0.31
10$7.93$7.60$0.33

USPS Special Services Postage Change

Additional services can add extra costs to your bottom line, but some of them are necessary. Using a postage meter will not give you an additional discount for most of these services.

Service20212020Change
Certified Mail$3.60$3.55$0.05
Restricted Delivery$9.15$9.00$0.15
Adult Signature Required$9.15$9.00$0.15
Certificate of Mailing - Basic$1.55$1.50$0.05
Insurance - Up to $50 of coveragestarts at $2.30starts at $2.25$0.05
Live Animal Transportation Fee$0.20$0.20-
Package Intercept (Domestic)$14.65$14.65-
Pickup on Demand$24.00$24.00-
Return Receipt - electronic$1.75$1.70$0.05
Registered Mailstarts at $12.90starts at $12.60$0.30

How to Save on Shipping in 2021

Fill up envelopes and Flats

Because additional ounces cost less than the first ounce, you should fill up envelopes and Flats as much as possible. 

For example, the first ounce of an envelope costs $.51, and a two-ounce envelope will cost $.71. Alternatively, sending two one-ounce envelopes would cost $1.02. This is a savings of $.31, which can add up in the long run. 

Use regular envelopes instead of Flats when possible

If you are able to fold your documents, you may be able to fit them into a regular sized envelope and avoid paying for a Flat. Flats / large envelopes start at $1, while a regular envelop starts at only $.55 for a stamped letter and $.51 for a metered letter. 

Minimize weight

Don’t add more weight than necessary to envelopes, Flats, or Media Mail, which have weight- based postage pricing. To minimize weight in envelopes, you should try to print on both sides of the paper. 

If you can get by with a postcard instead of an envelope, you can pay $.36 compared to the $.55 retail cost of an envelope. 

Avoid dimensional weight surcharge

Large (over one cubic foot) but lightweight packages are subject to a higher pricing rate. This is because large but lightweight packages still take up valuable space. 

You can calculate the dimensional weight by multiplying the length by width by height, and dividing this figure by a divisor determined by your carrier. USPS’s dimensional weight divisor is currently 166, though this is subject to change. 

Take advantage of Flat-Rate boxes

Flat-Rate Priority Mailboxes can hold up to 70 pounds. Because other package shipping is based on weight, you should take advantage of Flat-Rate Boxes if your items will fit. 

Choose the right postage meter

Postage meters can give you shipping discounts, but they come with operational costs. If you don’t choose the right one for your business, you could end up losing money. For instance, if you ship heavier packages than your postage meter can handle, then you won’t be able to get the postage discounts or measure accurate volumes.

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