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Do you need to mail an item and wonder whether to choose USPS First Class or Priority Class?
You likely have the following questions.
Is USPS First Class the same as Priority Mail?
If not, what is the difference between the two options?
USPS First Class vs Priority Mail: How much do they cost?
How fast is First Class mail?
Is First Class or Priority Mail faster?
You’ve come to the right place for answers.
I wrote this guide to discuss the difference between USPS First Class and Priority Mail. I’ll explain each option’s delivery timeframes, cost, maximum shipping weight and dimensions, and more to help you decide which is right for your needs.
USPS First Class Mail
USPS First Class Mail is an affordable mailing solution by the United States Postal Service.
USPS First Class Mail is ideal for sending small letters, bills, and packages. You can use this option as long as your letter weighs no more than 3.5 ounces and your larger items weigh no more than 13 ounces.
Besides this class, USPS also offers the following additional classes.
Second Class Mail – This class is for magazines and newspapers that come out more than four times a year.
Third-Class Mail – This class is ideal for sending marketing mail, flyers, or mailers.
Fourth Class Mail – This class is for items like CDs, books, DVDs, and bound print media with eight or more pages.
USPS Priority Mail
What is priority shipping with USPS?
USPS Priority Mail is like the speed racer of USPS services.
It’s as fast as the two-day delivery of services like Amazon Prime. The only difference is that you can send packages up to 70 lbs with fixed rates.
USPS Priority Mail’s speed means it costs more than First Class Mail.
The Difference Between First Class and Priority Mail
Choosing between USPS First Class Mail and USPS Priority Mail depends on the weight of your package and your desired delivery speed.
As mentioned above, The USPS First Class package service is best for lightweight options, unlike Priority Mail. It’s ideal for small letters, big envelopes, or packages weighing 3.5 ounces or less.
Meanwhile, Priority Mail is ideal for larger and heavier packages weighing up to 70 lbs. Priority Mail is the go-to choice for larger parcels.
If your package weighs less than 3.5 ounces, USPS First Class is your best bet. It’s only a little slower than Priority Mail packages.
USPS First Class vs. Priority Mail Price Comparison
Is Priority Mail more expensive than First Class? Let’s compare prices.
|Service||Starting Price||Pricing Options||Where To Pay Postage||Insurance|
|First Class Mail||$0.63 (at Post Office & Online), $0.471 (Commercial)||Variable Price||At Post Office||Available|
|Priority Mail||$9.35 (at Post Office & Online), $7.64 (Commercial)||Flat Rate, Variable Price, Prepaid||At Post Office & Online||$100 included|
Prices can also vary according to the package’s destination. Always determine the most affordable mail service for your package by checking the rates.
You can find updated shipping costs (domestic and international) on the USPS mailing and shipping prices page on the USPS website.
USPS First Class vs. Priority Mail Speed
USPS First Class shipping time takes one to five days, while USPS Priority Mail takes one to three days.
USPS First Class vs. Priority Mail Shipping Time (Domestic)
Here’s a detailed table showing the domestic mail transit time for USPS First Class Mail and Priority Mail.
|USPS Service||Zone 1||Zone 3||Zone 5||Zone 8|
|Media Mail||2 days||3 days||6 days||6-13 days|
|First Class Mail||2 days||3 days||3 days||3-5 days|
|Priority Mail||1-2 days||2 days||2 days||3 days|
|Priority Mail Express||1-2 days||1-2 days||1-2 days||1-2 days|
The USPS uses its Domestic Zone Chart for First Class Mail deliveries, letting you easily track and compare transit times. Using the info on the chart can help you avoid inconveniences and delivery delay complaints.
USPS First Class Package vs. Priority Mail Shipping Time (International)
Here’s the international transit time for USPS First Class Mail and Priority Mail.
|Service||Estimate Transit Time|
|First Class Mail International||Varies by destination|
|Priority Mail International||6-10 business days|
|Priority Express International||3-5 business days|
You can check USPS international shipping costs and services on their mail services pages.
USPS First Class International vs. Priority Mail International
First Class International is affordable for lighter packages but takes longer to deliver.
Priority Mail International is pricier but delivers faster and can handle heavier packages. So, pick the one that best suits your needs.
Dimensions: USPS First Class vs. Priority Mail: Maximum Box Weight and Dimensions
Here are the weight and dimension specifications for sending packages via First Class and Priority Mail.
|Restriction Type||USPS First Class Mail||USPS Priority Mail|
|Maximum Dimensions||22″ in length or 18″ in width or 15″ in thickness||108″ in combined length and girth*|
|Max Weight||15.99 oz domestic/ 4.4 lbs international||70 lbs*|
Note: The USPS will charge you $100 if you exceed these limits.
USPS First Class vs. Priority Mail: Insurance
USPS Regular Mail vs. Priority Mail: Is First Class Mail insured? What about Priority Mail?
USPS Priority Mail’s advantage is that it has insurance coverage if your package gets lost or damaged during shipping.
Meanwhile, USPS First Class or Regular Mail package service doesn’t automatically provide coverage.
However, the USPS lets you purchase additional coverage from them or third-party providers for both Priority Mail and First Class Mail.
Here’s a breakdown of USPS insurance coverage costs.
|Service||Domestic Coverage||International Coverage|
|First Class Mail||Not insurable||Not insurable|
|Priority Mail||$100 is included in the service.||$200 insurance each for loss, damage, and missing contents and $100 for document reconstruction.|
This section only covers the basics of USPS shipping insurance. Determine if shipping insurance is worth the added cost before getting it for your package.
Shipping With USPS First Class Service and USPS Priority Mail
Consider these factors when deciding on which shipping option to use.
Weight and Size
Consider the weight and size of your package. USPS First Class Mail suits smaller and lighter packages, while Priority Mail is for larger or heavier items.
The Urgency of Delivery
Consider how fast you want the package to reach its destination.
USPS Priority Mail offers faster delivery times compared to First Class Mail.
If you want your package to reach its destination quickly, Priority Mail is the ideal USPS shipping option.
If speedy delivery isn’t essential and you want a more practical choice, First Class Mail is more suitable.
If your package contains valuable items that require better insurance coverage, Priority Mail may be preferable.
If you only send letters and other inexpensive items, go with First Class Mail because you don’t need expensive insurance.
USPS First Class Mail vs. Priority Mail: When To Use Each One
Knowing when to use USPS First Class Mail or Priority Mail depends on your shipping needs.
Here are some guidelines to help you decide.
When To Use USPS First Class Mail
When you are shipping smaller and lightweight packages
When affordable pricing is a significant factor, and speed isn’t a priority
When your package isn’t expensive and doesn’t require insurance
When To Use USPS Priority Mail
When you are shipping larger or heavier packages
When you have a timeline for your delivery
When shipping high-value items and needing automatic insurance coverage (You can purchase additional insurance from the USPS at an extra cost.)
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
USPS First Class vs. Priority Mail: Which One Is Better?
Choosing between Standard vs. Priority Shipping depends on your package’s dimensions and weight and your desired delivery speed.
It’s cheaper to ship First Class Mail and only takes one to five business days. Meanwhile, Priority Mail takes one to three business days.
Does USPS Do One-Day Shipping?
Yes. The USPS offers next-day shipping via Priority Mail Express.
However, the availability depends on the time of drop-off and destination ZIP codes.
Does USPS First Class Have Insurance?
First-Class Mail doesn’t provide insurance against loss, damage, or missing contents,
Is Priority Mail Faster Than First Class Mail?
First Class Mail and Priority Mail have similar delivery timelines. The only difference is that Priority Mail can be more consistent with this timeframe.
How Do the Costs of Priority Mail and Priority Mail Express Differ?
Priority Mail Express is more expensive than Priority Mail. However, the cost depends on the package’s size, weight, and destination.
Is Priority Mail Express the Fastest?
Yes. Priority Mail Express is USPS’s fastest domestic service. It offers next-day delivery to most US addresses.
Does the USPS Guarantee That Priority Mail Will Arrive in Three Days?
Standard Priority Mail ensures delivery within one to three business days for domestic shipments.
Is Media Mail First Class or Priority Mail?
Media Mail vs. Priority Mail: These are two separate shipping options.
Media Mail is Fourth Class Mail. It’s ideal for shipping CDs, vinyl records, DVDs, books, and bound print media of eight or more pages.
How Accurate Is the USPS Priority Mail Map?
The USPS Priority Mail Delivery Map provides accurate delivery time based on origin and destination ZIP codes.
Can I Use Priority Mail Box For First Class Mail?
No. A Priority Mail box must have Priority Mail postage.
Does First Class Mail Delivery Take One to Three Days?
Yes. Delivery times only take one to three business days throughout the entire US.
Can US Postal Service First Class Mail Take Longer Than Five Days?
Yes. Deliveries can take longer during peak mailing periods or bad weather events.
The Bottom Line
I hope my in-depth comparison of USPS First Class and Priority Mail makes it easier to decide which option is right for you.
Use the info in my guide to avoid expensive shipping and insurance fees, unnecessary inconveniences, and lengthy shipping times.
Learning the cheapest ways to send a package is ideal if you’re looking for other shipping options.