General Question

guywithanaccountnow's avatar

How are postage prices calculated by USPS?

Asked by guywithanaccountnow (313points) November 13th, 2012

Do they go by weight? I also know that it depends on what kind of item you’re shipping sometimes. I’ve been to the post office after looking up a price on, and they told me there that the price was significantly more than the website had said it would be, so what’s up with that? I know I wasn’t looking at the online price, because it said “Post Office Price” above the price.
It’s less likely that I was using the site wrong than it is that their website just needs to be updated.
Either way, their system is confusing me. Whatever I hear seems to always be contradicted by some other thing I hear, and I don’t know where to go to start learning, other than here. I want to know how not to pay too much before I ever try it, not after I’ve already wasted money, so trial and error isn’t an option for me.

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6 Answers

marinelife's avatar

It depends both on the weight and where you are shipping it to. For example, if I was shipping something to Washington State from the East Coast that would cost more than if I was shipping something to Ohio.

The USPS does have flat-rate shipping boxes that you can fill up and ship for a pre-determined price.

SpatzieLover's avatar

Prices are determined by weight &size (including thickness). If you were checking online prices via Ebay (see that on your tags) as a seller, our shipping prices for printing shipping at home is a reduced rate.

If you were thinking your package was based just on weight for 1st class, if it’s a package and not a flat envelope, that is a different price.

Ex: A 1oz envelope ships 1st class for $0.45.
If you ship a 1oz package (say a 4×6 clasp envelope with a 1” depth) then the reduced rate is $1.64 online
That same package ships for $1.95 if you purchase the postage at a USPS office.

JLeslie's avatar

This is the link to calculate the price. When you go to the post office let them know you want the cheapest way, or ask if they can tell you the price difference between the dfferent ways to ship. If the items are books you can send it media mail if you are in no rush, media mail is usually the least expensive.

CWOTUS's avatar

Postal rates are based on more than just weight and size, as some have incompletely suggested.

“Class” is important in determining postal rates. So sometimes what you’re sending is as important as its size and weight. You cannot (legally) send letters using a parcel post rate, and though it is possible to send parcels as first class mail, you probably would not want to do that because of the prohibitive rate that would apply.

“Media mail” (and bulk rate) are potential classes, but again, content matters. You can’t just decide to send a box of cookies as “media mail”, because cookies are not considered “media”. In the case of bulk rate mailing, I believe that you need to have prior arrangements set up with the Post Office (a contract, in other words), and they also have very specific regulations regarding pre-sorted mail (sorted by ZIP code, so the sending post office doesn’t have to sort it) and quantity. (You can’t send letters in ones and twos as “bulk”.)

MollyMcGuire's avatar

Go to to calculate postage.

Kpeacock22's avatar

I know it is based on the weight and where it is going to. I used to work where we would ship packages via ups and usps. There are different zones throughout the united states and those zones are determined based on the zip codes of where you are going to send it. If it is farther away, it will be more expensive to ship also if it is heavier. I am not quite sure if there are other factors used in calculating the price

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