USPS Priority Mail vs. First Class (Differences, Which Is Faster, Cost + More)

USPS offers a wide array of options when it comes to shipping a package, but narrowing down which option is right for you can be a challenge.

The two most popular choices are Priority Mail and First Class Mail- but what is the difference between the two, and how do you know when to use each option?

USPS Priority Mail vs. First Class

The main difference between USPS Priority Mail and First Class is the size of packages. Priority Mail will send any package less than 70 lbs and is faster than First Class Mail, whereas First Class Mail depends on the weight, size, and destination of a package but is offered at a lower cost than Priority Mail. Priority and First Class Mail offer tracking numbers, although only Priority Mail offers insurance.

Learn the key differences between these options and when and how to use each service below!

What Is the Difference Between USPS Priority Mail and USPS First Class Mail?

USPS Priority Mail was created to help eCommerce merchants get their products to customers faster and with fewer size restrictions, whereas USPS First Class Mail has been the best way to send mail like letters and envelopes for years.

The most crucial difference to note is the size restrictions that come with Priority Mail and First Class.

First Class Mail can only be used for packages weighing less than 15.99 oz, while Priority Mail can be used for any package less than 70 lbs.

Is USPS Priority Mail Or USPS First Class Mail Faster?

Shipping times with USPS often depend on the destination you’re shipping to, which is categorized into shipping zones.

However, if speed is your top priority when shipping a package, Priority Mail is your best option.

Priority mail typically delivers within 1-3 days, and First Class mail usually delivers within 2-7 days, although neither service guarantees delivery days.

Is USPS Priority Mail Or USPS First Class Mail More Expensive?

Is USPS Priority Mail Or USPS First Class Mail More Expensive?

Because USPS is a federal organization, its rates change regularly based on inflation prices.

That being said, it is typically less expensive to use First Class rather than Priority Mail, as Priority Mail fees are based on the distance a package travels.

The costs associated with sending a package via First Class mail depend significantly on the shipment’s dimensions, weight, and destination, whereas Priority Mail offers a flat rate.

The difference in cost between Priority Mail and First Class mail is usually $3, with First Class mail being the less expensive option.

When Should I Use Priority Mail vs. First Class Mail?

All of the factors we’ve previously touched on play a critical role in deciding whether Priority Mail or First Class Mail is a better option to meet your shipping needs. Listed below are some common examples of items sent with each option that are both cost and time-effective.

First Class Mail Packages

  • Letters
  • Padded Envelopes
  • Gift Cards
  • T-shirts
  • Marketing Information
  • Lightweight Jewelry
  • Brochures

Priority Mail Packages

  • Shoes
  • Books
  • Toys
  • Anything less than 70 lbs but greater than 1 lb in weight

Another important factor to note is the destination you’re shipping to.

For nearly all international mail, Priority Mail is typically the best option as it cuts shipping times nearly in half and offers insurance to protect your package.

If cost is the most important factor when shipping your package, First Class mail will be the best option for you, provided your package meets the necessary size and weight requirements.

How Do You Send USPS Priority Mail and First Class Mail?

The easiest way to differentiate between Priority Mail and First Class Mail when shipping a package is by using USPS’ prelabeled boxes.

You can do this by going to your local post office and selecting one of the boxes or envelopes set out that are labeled either Priority Mail or First Class Mail.

After packing the item(s) you wish to ship into your box or envelope, simply take the package back to your post office and speak to the postal worker available to ship your package.

If you don’t want to make the trip back to the post office, you can also drop your package off in a USPS dropbox to save time and energy.

What Are the Different Features Of USPS Priority Mail and First Class Mail?

First Class package deliveries offer tracking as a built-in feature, which means you don’t pay extra to be able to track your package, whereas regular First Class mail does not offer tracking information.

Priority Mail also offers tracking as a built-in feature, as well as package insurance of up to $100 for domestic shipments and $200 for international shipments.

Both shipping options also offer services such as delivery signatures, money-back guarantees, and other add-ons to ensure safe delivery at additional costs.

To learn more about USPS delivery, you can also read our related posts on whether or not USPS first class has tracking, whether USPS reused tracking numbers, and whether you can use any box to ship at USPS.

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Marques Thomas

Marques Thomas graduated with a MBA in 2011. Since then, Marques has worked in the retail and consumer service industry as a manager, advisor, and marketer. Marques is also the head writer and founder of

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