Stamp it out: Postage costs to increase May 11

Published 11:56 pm Tuesday, May 5, 2009

As of May 11, postage rates will increase for the fourth consecutive year. The cost to mail a one-ounce letter first class will increase two cents, from 42 to 44 cents.

The cost to mail a postcard will increase from 27 to 28 cents. Starting May 11, the cost to mail a letter to Canada will be 75 cents, a letter to Mexico will be 79 cents, and it will cost 98 cents to mail a letter to all other countries.

The impending spike in postage rates has caused a rush on Forever stamps, whose value is guaranteed, regardless of rate increases.

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“There’s been a rush,” Demopolis postmaster Buddy Pickel said. “We’re down to our last roll of 100 (Tuesday morning), but we’ve got more on order that I hope will be here Wednesday.”

Customers can purchase the Forever stamp by May 10 for 42 cents and continue to mail letters at that rate after the price increase. The stamp does not have a denomination and can be used without additional postage for a one-ounce letter.

On May 11, the price of the Forever stamp will be 44 cents as will all other first-class stamps.

“The face value of the Forever stamp is whatever the first-class postage rate is,” Pickel explained. “If you buy one today, it will cost you 42 cents. But if the price of postage increases 2 cents or two dollars, that stamp you bought for 42 cents will be enough to mail a letter first class.”

Aside from the Forever stamp, postal patrons also have the option to purchase 2-cent stamps.

Those, combined with a 42-cent stamp, will ensure that your mail will arrive on time.

Pickel said the postage increase was needed to help cover higher U.S. Postal Service operating expenses.

USPS receives no tax dollars for its operations and relies on its mail volume and the sale of postage, products and services to cover its costs. With the poor economy and mail volume being down nationally by at least 12 percent, the Postal Service is facing a $6-billion budget deficit this year.

While the cost of a first-class stamp will increase,, other postage and services such as the Breast Cancer Research stamp, Priority Mail, Express Mail and package shipping will remain the same.

Over the last decade, the cost of a first-class stamp has increased 11 cents. In 1999, the cost increased to 33 cents, and has steadily increased since. The price climbed to 34 cents in 2001, 37 cents in 2002, 39 cents in 2006, 41 cents in 2007 and 42 cents in 2008.

In the wake of the rate increase, the USPS is also rolling out several new stamps.

Pickel described some of the 44-cent stamps that will be coming out in May. They include The King and Queen of Hearts, which was released May 8, The Simpsons stamp issued May 7 and the Bob Hope stamp set for a May 29 release.