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Factors Deciding Cost of Mailing a Letter

If you need to know the cost of mailing a letter in USA, this article has what you are looking for.
OpinionFront Staff
Even in today's age of electronic mail, the written or printed word still travels around, through postal services. How much ever tech savvy we become, nothing can match the personal touch of a handwritten letter. Letter writing is still alive and it will always remain in vogue, till people know the value of that personal touch.

Other than personal correspondence, postal services can deliver anything from documents to parcels, of various sizes and weights. The competition offered by private courier companies has made the US postal service improve over time and today, they offer first-class service throughout America.

Before we go into the technical details of letter mailing costs in USA, let us know something about the United States postal service and its mode of operation. It is an interesting fact that the national postal service is the second largest employer of civilians in the USA, after Walmart. About 656,000 people work for the postal service, delivering about 660 million pieces of mail for you, through 32,741 post offices throughout the country, every day. The United States Postal service also has the largest fleet of vehicles in the country, with 260,000 vehicles running around to deliver mail. The reason I talk about all these facts is because all these expenses, spent on the machinery, to deliver mail to every doorstep in the US, affect the mailing costs.

Factors Affecting Letter Mailing Cost
Let us see what are the factors that decide letter mailing costs. Here are the prime factors:
  • Weight: This is the most important factor deciding the cost. It is so because, ultimately, the weight of bulk mail increases delivery costs.
  • Distance: Another important factor is the distance to which your mail will travel. If the letter is domestic, it will cost considerably less than an international letter.
  • Time of Delivery: Postal service puts a premium on speed of delivery and the faster you want the mail to travel, the more it will cost.
So overall, the cost of mailing a letter is a function of weight, distance, and time of delivery. These are the parameters, according to which, the United States Postal Service offers various mailing options. It has a range of standard options which you can choose from, according to the urgency of mail delivery and the distance of its posting.

Total Cost
According to latest changes issued by the United States Postal Service (USPS), from May 11, 2009, the cost to mail a first-class letter is 44 cents, provided the weight doesn't exceed 1 oz. So, the domestic mailing of a letter costs upwards of 44 cents for envelopes and 28 cents, if you send a postcard. There are various other mailing options that you can opt for. They are divided into domestic mail and international mail prices. They are differentiated by time of delivery, weight, and distance. The cost of a stamp is included in the prices. Postage stamps can be ordered online and the USPS offers a special service to philately enthusiasts. Stamps can be printed out online or purchased in post offices. Here are the domestic letter mailing options, offered by the USPS:
  • Express Mail: Delivery time is less than 24 hours and prices start from USD 13.65
  • Priority Mail: Delivery time is 1-3 days and prices start from USD 4.9
  • First-Class Mail: Delivery time is 1-3 days and prices start from USD 0.44
International letter mailing options are as follows:
  • Global Express Guaranteed: Delivery time is 1-3 days and prices start from USD 33.95
  • Express Mail International: Delivery time is 3-5 days and prices start from USD 26.95
  • Priority Mail International: Delivery time is 6-10 days and prices start from USD 11.45
  • First-Class Mail International: Delivery time varies and prices start from USD 0.75
The prices I quote here, are only starting prices and the total cost, domestic or international, will depend on weight and distance. Some options even come with an insurance cover. For more detailed information, you should visit the USPS site. It is just amazing how this single institution manages to deliver such gargantuan amounts of letters, every day.