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USPS Priority Mail vs. First Class (Full Comparison)

usps priority mail vs first class

Are you looking for the best way to send and receive parcels? The United States Postal Service is the oldest way of sending mail to destinations both domestically and globally. The company offers a wide range of services for customers to choose from.

If you are a retailer, it is important to make sure your products reach your clients as quickly as possible. You need to make sure that the shipping method you choose is both cost-effective and reliable.

So, let’s take a closer look at USPS Priority Mail vs. First Class to help you find the best option. 

The Different Mail Classes 

The United States Postal Service has created several different tiers for parcels and other types of post. Each of these tiers is designed for a different type of post. The tier that you choose when sending your post will depend on what you want to send and a few other factors. 

First Class

First Class

This is the top tier and is a fast and effective way to send parcels, thick envelopes, and other items. The letters and parcels that you send using this tier should measure 22 inches by 18 inches or smaller. It usually takes between two and five days for a parcel sent in this way to reach its destination. 

However, letters are sorted more quickly and will reach their destination a little faster. 

Read more: How Do You Cancel a USPS Passport Appointment?

Second Class

This tier is also called periodicals and is designed for companies that send material to their regular subscribers. To qualify for this tier, you have to ship at least four periodicals each year to subscribers. Each batch of periodicals that you send has to weigh less than seventy pounds. Items in this category include newspapers, magazines, booklets, and newsletters. 

Third Class

Also known as marketing mail, this tier is reserved for business owners who regularly ship promotional material. To qualify for this tier, you send at least two hundred individual pieces of post or fifty pounds in one batch. Each piece of post that is included in the batch must weigh less than sixteen ounces.

People who use this tier are given a bulk price for sending out their materials. This means that the more materials you send, the lower the price will be per piece. Acceptable items for this tier include circulars and flyers, newsletters, advertisements, bulletins, catalogs, and merchandise. It is also possible to send small parcels in bulk as long as each parcel weighs less than sixteen ounces. 

Fourth Class

This tier is also called Media Mail and is designed for people who want to send large volumes of media. The tier is designed for printed music, books, educational materials, CDs, DVDs, vinyl records, and other types of media. There is a three-piece minimum, and packages must weigh seventy pounds or less.

 It is also important to note that advertising restrictions apply to this tier. 

About Priority Mail

About Priority Mail

If you choose this shipment method, you can be sure that your post will be given top priority. This service is ideal for parcels that are sent domestically and weigh seventy pounds or less. It usually takes between one and three days for this type of post to reach its domestic destination.

Sending your parcel in this way is the equivalent of using a special service like FedEx or UPS. You can be sure that your parcel will receive VIP treatment and will reach its destination safely. If your parcel is fragile or contains valuable items, this is likely to give you extra peace of mind.

Does it weigh 10 pounds or less?

If your parcel weighs ten pounds or less, the service is cheaper than those offered by FedEx and UPS. This is because there is a higher number of United States Postal Service vehicles making deliveries. However, the price can rise dramatically if the size of your parcel is too large for the delivery driver’s messenger bag.

USPS Priority Mail vs. First Class – The Main Differences

After checking out the two options, you may have a good idea of which one you want to use. However, several factors may influence your decision. It is important to make sure that you take each of these factors into account before choosing the best one. 

Shipping times

Shipping times

Time may be of the essence if you are sending a parcel to a loved one for a special occasion. The exact shipping time will depend on the shipping destination and where you are sending the post. Generally speaking, first class takes between two and seven days, while Priority takes one to three days. Therefore, you are sure to find that post shipped using the second option reaches its destination more quickly. 

The costs

The rate of shipping your package is connected to inflation and tends to change regularly as a result. However, the first class option is usually the cheaper of the two methods. You will usually find that you save around $3 by selecting the first class option. 

Maximum dimensions

The size of your package has a big impact when deciding which option to choose. Generally speaking, the maximum size that is permitted is basically the same for the two options, which is a maximum of 108 inches in combined girth and length.

However, the maximum weight of the package you can send with the first class option is sixteen ounces. This rises to seventy pounds if you choose the other option. Therefore, the choice is clear if your package weighs seventeen ounces or more. 

Insurance policies

If you opt for the first class postal service, you will not be treated to a default insurance policy. This means that you will not be covered if your package is lost or damaged during delivery. You can choose to pay an additional fee to insure your package, but this will raise the total dispatch cost. 

However, you receive insurance if you choose the priority mail method of sending your parcel. This insurance covers up to $100 for domestic dispatch and up to $200 for international dispatch.

Take the contents into consideration…

When choosing whether or not insurance is necessary, you should think about the items you are sending. If you are sending a lightweight yet expensive item, it may be best to opt for Priority shipment. This will ensure that you receive the cost of your item back if it is lost or damaged. However, there may not be a cause for concern if the item you are sending is cheap and difficult to damage. 

The Best Option To Choose

The Best Option To Choose

All of the factors listed above place a part in determining the best shipping method to use. Of course, the items that you want to send will also influence the best shipping method. Let’s have a look at the best shipping option for different types of items. 

First Class mail is best for:

  • Letters
  • Padded envelopes
  • T-shirts
  • Gift Cards
  • Marketing material
  • Brochures
  • Small and light pieces of jewelry

Priority mail is best for:

  • Shoes
  • Books
  • Toys
  • Packages weighing between one and seventy pounds

International post

The destination you are sending your post to is also an important consideration. Priority is generally the best option for most types of post that is shipped internationally. Not only will the shopping time be cut in half, but your package will also be protected by insurance. 

The cost

However, the cost may be the most important factor if you are on a tight budget. If you are trying to reduce your shipping costs, it may be best to choose the first class option. You need to make sure that your package meets the weight and size requirements for this category. 

How To Use The Mail Services

How To Use The Mail Services

Before you get started, you need to make sure that the items you want to send are securely packaged. The best way to do this is by using one of the pre-labeled boxes from the United States Postal Service. If you regularly send a number of parcels, it is a good idea to pick up envelopes or boxes in advance.

Once you have securely packed the item or items you want to send, head over to your nearest post office. You can choose the shipping method when you reach the counter. The postal worker behind the counter will go through the different options with you. 

No queues at the USPS Drop Box!

Alternatively, you can deposit your package in a United States Postal Service drop box. This will save you the time and trouble of having to line up at the post office. However, you need to make sure that your parcel meets the drop box size and weight requirements.

Questions About Posting Parcels!

We all have that feeling in the back of our minds that something could happen to the all-important parcel you’re waiting for! So, let us help you put your mind at ease as we answer  What Is A USPS Parcel LockerDoes USPS Have First Class Tracking, as well as Can You Track A USPS Package Without A Tracking Number, and what is the Departed USPS Destination Facility Meaning?

Furthermore, we also have guides on Can I Drop A Package In A USPS Mailbox or What Does Delivered To An Agent Mean USPS, and if your delivery is late, find out Does USPS Deliver On Sunday and Does USPS Deliver At Night in 2023.

You could always get a job at USPS and make some good money as a driver, if so, check out my USPS Application, or if you’re interested, my USPS Mail Processing Clerk Job Description, and don’t forget to check up on Does USPS Hire Felons if you have a criminal record before applying.

USPS Priority Mail vs. First Class – Final Thoughts

The United States Postal Service offers several different tiers for different types of post. Each of these is designed for sending different types of parcels and customers. If you wish to send a package to a customer or loved one, the best options are either Priority or First Class Mail.

Each of these shipment options comes with pros and cons that need to be taken into account. If time is of the essence, priority may be your best option. While this option comes with fewer size restrictions and enhanced benefits, the cost for this service is slightly higher.

So, which do you prefer posting with? Let us know in the comments below.

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