If there’s one thing we know for sure about USPS, prices increase all the time. Understandably, this is frustrating and worrisome for business owners and casual shippers alike.
Luckily, I’ve put together a guide to help you find the cheapest USPS shipping method possible. In addition, I’ll share some more money-saving tips to help give your wallet a break the next time you go to the Post Office.
Cheapest USPS Shipping Method In 2023
USPS First-Class Package Service is the cheapest option for packages weighing up to 13 ounces as of 2023. For letters and large envelopes, First-Class Mail Service offers the best rates. Media Mail provides some of USPS’ cheapest rates and is the most affordable option for mailing books. When it comes to Priority Mail, cubic pricing is the cheapest option.
Read the rest of this article to determine which USPS shipping service can save you the most money!
1. USPS First-Class Package Service
When it comes to mailing lightweight items, USPS’ First-Class Package Service is the cheapest option.
With that, shipping rates for First-Class packages are determined by the shipping zone and the package’s weight.
As a result, prices range from $4.50 for a one-ounce package traveling to zone one or two. Further, prices can be as much as $7.65 for a 13-ounce package traveling to zone nine.
Typically, packages are delivered in one to three business days, but this is not a guaranteed service, so delivery may take longer in some circumstances.
2. First-Class Mail Service
Although the names look similar, First-Class Mail Service and First-Class Package Service are entirely different.
For example, First-Class Package Service covers packages, while First-Class Mail Service covers postcards, letters, and large envelopes (known as flats).
While the services cover different kinds of mail, they have one thing in common—they’re some of the cheapest shipping services USPS offers.
At current rates, it will cost you $0.40 to send a postcard and $0.58 to send a one-ounce letter or greeting card.
Also, letters may weigh up to 3.5 ounces. However, you’ll have to pay for each additional ounce over one ounce, which costs $0.20.
Additionally, large envelopes weighing one ounce start at $1.16, while 13-ounce large envelopes cost $3.56.
Finally, whether you’re sending a letter or a large envelope, expect delivery to take one to five business days.
3. Media Mail
As its name suggests, you can use the Media Mail service to ship media and educational materials like books, printed music, CDs, and DVDs.
Because this service aims to distribute educational materials, USPS offers some of its cheapest rates for eligible packages.
Therefore, USPS determines shipping rates by weight, and packages may weigh up to 70 pounds.
Moreover, here’s what you can expect to pay when shipping via Media Mail:
- Packages weighing one pound or less: $3.19
- Packages weighing between one and two pounds: $3.82
- Packages weighing between two and three pounds: $4.45
- Packages weighing between three and four pounds: $5.08
- Packages weighing between four and five pounds: $5.71
Usually, Media Mail packages are delivered in two to eight business days; however, delays are possible as this is not a guaranteed service.
4. Priority Mail
USPS’ premier domestic shipping service offers surprisingly low prices, especially for packages weighing less than five pounds. That said, Priority Mail items can weigh up to 70 pounds.
Further, this service gives you the option of shipping based on a Flat Rate or based on weight and distance.
Usually, Flat Rate pricing tends to be a better deal for small, heavy packages. On the other hand, paying based on weight and distance is best for large, lightweight items.
Also, you should consider how far your package needs to travel.
For example, items traveling a long distance cost more when sent via regular Priority Mail, whereas those sent Flat Rate won’t change in price.
Currently, Flat Rate Envelopes (12 ½” x 9 ½” or smaller) cost $8.95, while a Small Flat Rate Box costs $9.45.
Here’s what you will pay for non-Flat Rate packages:
- Packages not exceeding one pound: between $8.70-$9.85
- Packages not exceeding two pounds: between $9.25-$11.75
- Packages not exceeding three pounds: between $9.90-$13.70
- Packages not exceeding four pounds: between $10.55-$14.95
- Packages not exceeding five pounds: between $11.25-$15.75
As you can see, the price points vary, which is due to which zone you are shipping to.
Knowing which option to choose can be a challenge, so head to the post office and have a clerk crunch the numbers for you if you’re concerned about getting the best rate.
Typically, Priority Mail takes between one to three business days. However, this isn’t guaranteed like Media Mail and First-Class Service, so delivery may take longer.
5. Priority Mail Cubic
Priority Mail Cubic is USPS’ version of a secret menu item. So, you won’t see it listed at the Post Office, but you can score some low prices if you know to ask for it.
With that, packages sent using this service are priced based on their outer dimensions rather than their weight.
On top of that, it is the fastest and cheapest USPS shipping option for mailing small but heavy packages weighing between one and 20 pounds.
Moreover, Priority Mail Cubic includes five pricing tiers, from 0.1 to 0.5, and your shipping rate depends on the cubic tier your package fits into.
Fortunately, you can calculate your package’s cubic tier using this formula: (Length x Width x Height)/1728.
Like other Priority Mail items, you can expect delivery in one to three business days.
To take advantage of this service, you’ll have to use a third-party shipping software like Pirate Ship, stamps.com, or Pitney Bowes.
What Is The Least Expensive Way To Ship With USPS?
There isn’t one USPS shipping method that will always be the cheapest because you have to account for your package’s size, weight, and where it’s going.
That said, First-Class Package Service will always be the cheapest when sending lightweight packages.
Similarly, Media Mail offers very inexpensive rates and is the best option when mailing books or other educational materials.
Finally, Priority Mail Cubic gives you the best deals if your package is small and heavy.
How Can I Ship With USPS For Free?
If only it were possible to ship with USPS for free!
While you won’t find any free shipping options, USPS does offer several free products and services to help you keep your mailing costs down.
For example, you can order free Priority Mail envelopes and boxes either online or by calling the Package Supply Center at 1-800-610-8734.
Also, USPS offers free access to its Click-N-Ship service, allowing you to pay for postage and print shipping labels from home.
Is It Cheaper To Ship USPS With Your Own Box?
USPS offers free Flat Rate Priority Mail envelopes and boxes. That begs the question—is it cheaper to use USPS packaging or your own?
Like a lot of things with USPS, it depends, so let’s take a closer look.
Typically, USPS Flat Rate Envelopes are almost always the cheapest option. However, you should use your own envelope if your package weighs exactly one pound and travels locally.
Similarly, if your package weighs less than one pound, use your own envelope and ship using First-Class Package Service.
For packages weighing one to 20 pounds, use Flat Rate boxes for long distances, and use your own box for short distances.
If you want to know more, you can also read our posts on the fastest USPS shipping method, does USPS ship to Singapore, and USPS shipping restrictions.
Finding cheap USPS shipping options isn’t hard if you know where to look.
To simplify things, remember that First-Class Package Service is the most affordable for lightweight packages.
In comparison, Media Mail is the cheapest for shipping books, and Priority Mail cubic is the best for everything else.