All Things Shipping
Dec 18, 2020

A Deep Dive into the 2021 USPS Postage Rates

As expected, the USPS postage rates will increase on Jan. 24, 2021. All shipping providers, including Shippo, will be subject to these changes. However, rest easy knowing you will continue to get the lowest possible USPS rates using our USPS shipping software. Here’s our annual analysis covering what’s changing and by how much. 

USPS Postage Rate Changes Quick Links

Maximum Size Limitations Surcharge

Before we analyze the USPS rates, take note of a new surcharge this year. A $100 charge will be imposed on packages found in the mailstream that surpass the maximum size limitations of 130 inches (combined length and girth). 

2021 USPS First-Class Package Service Rates

The USPS First-Class Package Service (FCPS) is the absolute cheapest option to ship a package. To qualify, your package must be less than one pound and in your own standard packaging. You can use an envelope, poly mailer, or box, either plain or with your company logo, but do not use USPS-branded packaging. 

With FCPS, delivery is in 1-3 business days. Here are the 2021 FCPS rates. 

How Did FCPS Rates Change YOY? 

  • On average, the USPS First-Class Package Service rates increased by 6 percent. 
  • The increases range from 2.8 to 10.07 percent. 
  • Bottom line: USPS First-Class Package Service continues to be the cheapest option for shipping, despite these increases. 

How Do Shippo’s FCPS Rates Compare to Retail Rates? 

While rates are increasing across the board, it’s important to remember that you’ll still get steep discounts by using Shippo instead of buying postage at the Post Office (since there they offer what’s called Retail rates). 

Another benefit to using Shippo is that while the USPS website or Post Office will sell you FCPS postage for packages weighing up to 13 ounces, Shippo extends that up to 15.999 ounces, so you can take advantage of the low rates for even heavier packages.

As an example, let’s compare Shippo rates vs. Retail rates for packages traveling via Zone 8. 

2021 USPS Priority Mail Cubic Rates

Next up, we have USPS Priority Mail Cubic. For years, this has been the industry’s best-kept secret, only available to high-volume shippers. Shippo offers it to all customers without any volume requirements. (Thank our finance team for this one!) 

Priority Mail Cubic is typically the best option for packages weighing 1-20 pounds and about the size of a shoebox. It’s great because the rate is based on the package size instead of weight, making it highly attractive for heavy items especially. 

Pricing is based on Cubic tier (a fancy term that’s found by taking package volume and dividing by 1,728). We’ve got way more details on our in-depth Priority Mail Cubic page

How Did Cubic Rates Change YOY? 

  • USPS Priority Mail Cubic increased by 10 percent, on average. 
  • Most of the increases were felt by Zone 9 shipments, which are packages traveling to U.S. Territories, Commonwealths, and Freely Associated States (think: Guam, Palau, etc.) 
  • When we exclude Zone 9, the average increase was 7 percent.

How Do Shippo’s Cubic Rates Compare to Retail Rates? 

When you compare the USPS Priority Mail Cubic rates with the prices you’ll get at the USPS counter, you can see how astounding the Cubic discounts are. 

2021 USPS Priority Mail (Weight-based) Rates

If your package doesn’t qualify for USPS Priority Mail Cubic, you’ll want to consider USPS Priority Mail (weight-based) as another cost-effective option. It supports packages weighing 1-70 pounds and offers delivery in 1-3 business days.  

How Did Priority Mail (Weight-based) Rates Change YOY? 

  • On average, Priority Mail (weight-based) rates increased almost 10 percent. 
  • Again, Zone 9 shipments are seeing the biggest increase. When we remove Zone 9, the average increase drops to 7.79 percent. 
  • Zooming in a little further, packages weighing 0.5 – 10 pounds only saw a 3.52 percent increase YOY. 

How Do Shippo’s Priority Mail (Weight-based) Rates Compare to Retail Rates? 

As a whole, Shippo rates are 14 percent cheaper than the Retail rates. Here’s an example of the savings you’ll see. 

2021 USPS Priority Mail Flat Rate Pricing 

USPS Priority Mail Flat Rate is a straightforward approach to shipping: you simply order the free branded packaging from the USPS website, then whatever fits in the envelope or box (up to 70 pounds), can ship for a flat fee. It uses the same network as the other Priority Mail sub-services, so you can expect delivery in 1-3 business days. 

2021 USPS Priority Mail Express Pricing

USPS Priority Mail Express is an important part of your shipping arsenal for those urgent packages. Priority Mail Express offers overnight to 2-day delivery service with a money-back guarantee.

How Did Priority Mail Express Rates Change YOY? 

  • First notable mention: rates did not change for many lightweight packages traveling shorter distances. 
  • On average, USPS Priority Mail Express increased by 4.59 percent. 
  • The Zone 9 increases did not have as much of an impact as what we saw for other service levels. Without Zone 9, the average increase was 4.34 percent. 

How Do Shippo’s Priority Mail Express Rates Compare to Retail Rates? 

Shippo provides discounts even on Express postage rates. Here’s an example. 

2021 First-Class International Restrictions

The First-Class Package International Service (FCPIS) classification represents international small packages that weigh less than 4 pounds. Here are the updated 2021 restrictions when using the FCPIS:

Dimensions (other than rolls)

  • Maximum length: 24 inches. Length is the longest dimension.
  • Maximum length, height, and depth (thickness) combined: 36 inches.
  • Minimum length: 6 inches.
  • Minimum height: 4 inches
  • The postage, address, customs form, and other required elements must appear on a side that meets the minimum length and height dimensions (6 x 4 inches).

Dimensions (Rolls)

  • Minimum length: 4 inches.
  • Minimum length plus twice the diameter combined: 6-3/4 inches.
  • Maximum length: 36 inches.
  • Maximum length plus twice the diameter combined: 42 inches.

2021 Updated Accessorial Fees

The USPS also offers additional accessorial services including Certified Mail and Signature Confirmation.

Certified mail is a service that provides proof of mailing via receipt to the sender. Through electronic tracking, the sender is alerted when their package has been delivered (or if there was an attempted delivery). Signature Confirmation is a service that requires a recipient to be present to sign for the package. The name and signature of the recipient, as well as the date, time, and location of the delivery will be confirmed to the sender. 

Here are the updated 2021 Accessorial Fees: 

  • Signature Fee increased from $2.65 → $2.70
  • Adult Signature Fee increased from $6.65 → $6.90
  • Certified Mail Fee increased from $3.55 → $3.60
  • Certified Mail Adult Signature Fee increased from $9.00 → $9.15

What Does This Mean For You?

While most rates have increased, Shippo’s 2021 USPS postage rates are still the absolute lowest rates available. Plus, for every order, Shippo lets you compare discounted rates and transit times from multiple carriers and service levels to find the best option every time. We’ve got you covered!

Questions? Reach out to Happy shipping! 

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Michelle McNamara
is a Senior Marketing Manager at Shippo

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