We’re all used to a certain amount of inflation in the U.S., but if you haven’t used the Postal Service in a while and then went to buy stamps, you might have received a shock.
Yes, the United States Postal Service’s prices have increased, sometimes as much as 30 percent, for services that cost much less just a few years ago.
It’s not your imagination – things are more expensive at USPS, but the answer to “why” isn’t always obvious. Here are nine reasons why USPS is so costly these days.
Why Is USPS So Expensive? (9 Reasons Why)
1. It’s Not Funded By Tax Dollars
Next time someone grumbles about slow Postal Service delivery and mentions something about their tax dollars going to waste, you can step in and correct them.
In fact, the Postal Service, despite being a government agency, is actually an independent agency (an offshoot of the executive branch).
As such, USPS doesn’t receive a dime in taxpayer dollars.
Where do they get their funding from, then?
The USPS is a self-sustaining organization that runs on the sales of postage and supplies. Everything you buy from USPS, online or in Post Offices, keeps them afloat.
Unfortunately, the rise of email and other digital forms of communication has meant that USPS’s sales are on a continual dip.
In just one quarter, the Postal Service saw a nearly $3 billion loss, after the previous quarter saw a $2.4 billion loss.
The latest U.S. Postmaster General to step in, Louis DeJoy, formulated a plan to make USPS more solvent (only time will tell if it works).
Part of his plan involved cutting some services, like late or extra delivery trucks, and yes, raising prices on stamps, flats, postcards, and more.
2. It’s the Holiday Season
Another part of Postmaster General DeJoy’s plan involved hiking parcel shipping prices at the outset of the holiday season.
If you plan to ship via USPS between October and December, you’ll be dipping deeper into your wallet.
For example, Priority Mail and Priority Express flat-rate boxes will be 75 cents more expensive than usual.
On the plus side, though, if you’re an Amazon Prime member, you will continue to get free Prime shipping, even when USPS is the delivery service.
3. You’re Purchasing Postage at the Post Office
In a world where every little bit adds up, if you do a lot of shipping and you’re not using USPS.com, you could be paying more – possibly significantly more – at the Post Office.
Why is this?
USPS actually ships for discounted rates if you use their Click-N-Ship tool online. You’re saving them money by not using a Post Office clerk’s time in-store.
While the savings are about 40 cents for Priority Express, five cents for Priority, and five to 50 cents for Flat-Rate boxes and envelopes, those pennies matter if you ship a lot!
4. You’re Using the Wrong Service
If you’re a regular, frequent shipper who sends out multiple packages each day, you might think you’re getting the best deal by using USPS Retail Ground.
But have you heard of Parcel Select?
With Parcel Select, you could be saving a pretty decent chunk of change each week, month, and year.
But many people overpay for one service because they aren’t aware of other, cheaper kinds.
To be fair, I personally find USPS services confusing at times, so it’s unsurprising that others find USPS expensive.
The best thing you can do to combat this is to educate yourself on all the different methods of shipping that USPS offers.
Check out their website at USPS.com or browse the USPS articles here. You could learn something new – and cost-effective!
5. You’re Shipping Internationally
Sending something over a national border is just more expensive by virtue of the journey.
In addition to a package oftentimes traversing great distances, it might also have to go through customs and/or cross several borders to reach the destination.
That’s a lot of manpower for one letter or box, so it stands to reason that it will cost more to achieve.
6. You Chose a Bunch Of Add-Ons
If you got USPS Tracking for free with your shipment, you might think the Restricted Delivery or Signature Required services were free, too.
Unfortunately, they are not; you have to pay for them.
And while they are quite affordable individually, if you added on all of them for multiple packages, your Postal Service total was probably enough to make you go postal.
This likely happened at the Post Office; if you use Click-N-Ship at home, you can get an itemized total before you check out and decide if you really need insurance on that $10 box.
7. You Chose Sunday Delivery
Another option that can really ratchet up the price at USPS is Sunday Delivery.
Unlike Saturdays, which are considered normal days of operation for the Postal Service, Sunday delivery requires a special fee.
That extra $12.95 so that your recipient doesn’t have to wait until Monday would bloat any bill, never mind a next-day Priority Express envelope.
8. Your Package Is Nonmachinable
USPS has some general guidelines for size and shape when you ship with them.
If your box happens to not meet those measurements, it’s considered “nonmachinable,” and you can be charged more.
While a $0.15 butterfly stamp covers the nonmachinable surcharge, if you ship in bulk, it’s not only an extra expense, it’s going to annoy your Post Office workers.
That’s because they have to “hand-cancel” the nonmachinable packages!
9. You’re Being Scammed
If you go to submit an address change and you’re charged $80 – you just got scammed.
USPS tries to keep on top of all the scams that are out there pertaining to their services, but sometimes people don’t see the warnings.
When they wonder why it was so expensive to do something like an address update (it should only be about $1), and they Google it – that’s when they find out.
If you suspect you might have been scammed by a site pretending to be USPS or pretending to handle USPS services, you should report it to the U.S. Postal Inspection Service.