Direct Mail Pricing Explained (Plus 2021 Rates)

If you’ve wondered how USPS prices their products, you aren’t alone. With prices changing over the years and with costs varying for different products, it’s easy to assume that USPS pricing is arbitrary. However, this is not the case. United Graphics & Mailing Group  thoroughly explains USPS’s direct mail pricing below. We’ll also discuss 2021 rates, so you’ll know what to expect for the new year.

How Does USPS Price their Direct Mail?

According to federal law, USPS products are divided into two categories: market-dominant and competitive. There are different pricing rules for both categories.

Market-Dominant Products

Market-dominant products are considered to be market-dominant because there is no other way to physically deliver them besides through USPS.

Market-dominant products include:

  • First-class mail
  • Marketing (Standard) mail
  • Periodicals
  • Package services (i.e. library mail)
  • Extra services (i.e. certified mail)

For market-dominant products, USPS is required by law to seek approval from the Postal Regulatory Commission (PRC) in order to change prices. In other words, market-dominant products have a “price cap” that can’t rise above the inflation rate.

Competitive Products

Competitive products are products that can be delivered through other means, such as items that can be delivered electronically.

Competitive products include:

  • Priority mail
  • Priority mail express
  • Commercial package services

With competitive products, USPS has the ability to change the prices with more flexibility. However, the Postal Regulatory Commission will regularly check the USPS’s prices in order to make sure that they follow legal requirements.

Is it More Cost Effective to Ship in Bulk Through USPS?

Yes, it is typically more cost effective to purchase in bulk through any company or organization – and USPS is no exception. Bulk mail postage rates for USPS tend to be around 27 cents for Standard or $17 for Non-Profit wit 200 pieces of direct mail, compared to 55 cents for a 1 oz. letter.

What Does USPS’s 2021 Direct Mail Pricing Entail?

On January 24, 2021, USPS changed many of their prices on direct mail products. Below, United Graphics & Mailing Group discusses the changes for several different products.

2021 Price Changes for Letters

In order to remain competitive for 2021, the Postal Service Board of Governors has approved to raise Mailing Services product prices 1.8% for First-Class Mail and raise prices 1.5% for other letters in this category. For domestic letters, this price change is based on the consumer price index. For international shipping, however, the prices have been adjusted based on market conditions. Below is a break down of 2021 prices for USPS letters at the Mailing Class rate:

  • Mixed AADC:
    • Marketing Letters: 30.4 cents (compared to 29.9 cents in 2020)
    • Marketing Flats: 72.6 cents (compared to 63.2 cents in 2020)
    • Non-Profit Letters: 18.3 cents (compared to 17.8 cents in 2020)
    • Non-Profit Flats: 53.2 cents (compared to 43.2 cents in 2020)
  •  5-Digit:
    • Marketing Letters: 25.9 cents (compared to 25.9 cents in 2020)
    • Marketing Flats: 45 cents (compared to 41.2 cents in 2020)
    • Non-Profit Letters: 13.8 cents (compared to 13.8 cents in 2020)
    • Non-Profit Flats: 25.6 cents (compared to 24 cents in 2020)
  • ECR Basic:
    • Marketing Letters: 29.6 cents (compared to 29.4 cents in 2020)
    • Marketing Flats: 32 cents (compared to 30 cents in 2020)
    • Non-Profit Letters: 21 cents (compared to 20.9 cents in 2020)
    • Non-Profit Flats: 23 cents (compared to 21.6 cents in 2020)
  • ECR High Density Plus:
    • Marketing Letters: 20.1 cents (compared to 20 cents in 2020)
    • Marketing Flats: 23.2 cents (compared to 23.2 cents in 2020)
    • Non-Profit Letters: 11.6 cents (compared to 11.7 cents in 2020)
    • Non-Profit Flats: 14.4 cents (compared to 14.4 cents in 2020)
  • ECR High Density:
    • Marketing Letters: 21.9 cents (compared to 20.9 cents in 2020)
    • Marketing Flats: 25.8 cents (compared to 25 cents in 2020)
    • Non-Profit Letters: 13.3 cents (compared to 12.4 cents in 2020)
    • Non-Profit Flats: 16.8 cents (compared to 16.6 cents in 2020)
  • ECR Saturation:
    • Marketing Letters: 19.1 cents (compared to 19.1 cents in 2020)
    • Marketing Flats: 22.4 cents (compared to 22.6 cents in 2020)
    • Non-Profit Letters: 11.1 cents (compared to 11.1 cents in 2020)
    • Non-Profit Flats: 13.6 cents (compared to 13.6 cents in 2020)

2021 Prices for First-Class Mail is as follows:

  • Non-Auto Single Piece (Machinable) (Up to 1 ounce):
    • Letters: 55 cents (compared to 55 cents (with stamp) in 2020)
    • Cards: 36 cents (compared to 35 cents in 2020)
    • Flats: $1 (compared to $1 in 2020)
  • Non-Auto Single Piece (Additional Ounce):
    • Letters: 20 cents (compared to 15 cents in 2020)
    • Flats: 20 cents (compared to 20 cents in 2020)
  • Presorted (up to 3.5 ounces):
    • Machinable Presorted:
      • Letters: 46 cents (compared to 45.9 cents in 2020)
      • Cards: 29.3 cents (compared to 28 cents in 2020)
      • Flats: 87 cents (compared to 80.3 cents in 2020)
    • Mixed AADC Automation:
      • Letters: 45 cents (compared to 43.9 cents in 2020)
      • Cards: 28.5 cents (compared to 27.4 cents in 2020)
      • Flats: 77.4 cents (compared to 72.7 cents in 2020)
    • AADC Automation:
      • Letters: 42.8 cents (compared to 41.9 cents in 2020)
      • Cards: 27.9 cents (compared to 26.8 cents in 2020)
      • Flats: 66.6 cents (compared to 63.6 cents in 2020)
    • 3-Digit Automation:
      • Flats: 61.8 cents (compared to 77.7 cents in 2020)
    • 5-Digit Automation:
      • Letters: 39.8 cents (compared to 38.9 cents in 2020)
      • Cards: 26.9 cents (compared to 25.7 cents in 2020)
      • Flats: 46 cents (compared to 63 cents in 2020)
    • Additional Ounce:
      • Flats: 20 cents (compared to 20 cents in 2020)

Get Started On Your Next Direct Mail Project at United Graphics & Mailing Group

Interested in getting started on your next direct mail project? Contact us at United Graphics & Mailing Group today. Our experts work on developing, producing and mailing direct mail marketing materials for hundreds of organizations and can help bring your vision to life.