Forever stamps now cost 66 cents | Something to Think About

Just when you figured out how much it will cost to mail those bills, cards and letters (if you are old school) the U.S. Postal Service changes the rules! On July 9, the cost of a first-class “forever” stamp increased an additional 5 percent from 63 cents to 66 cents.

Kudos to AARP and its article author John Waggoner for shedding a light on the increase and doing all the legwork on changes ahead, as well as a bit of history.

A first-class stamp covers the cost to mail a 1-ounce letter. An additional ounce will remain 24 cents.

Forever stamps aren’t the only item whose price is rising on the U.S. Postal Service’s menu. Metered letters will rise to 63 cents from 60 cents. Postcards did not escape a rate change either. Domestic postcards will rise to 51 cents from 48 cents. Outbound international letters will rise to $1.50 from $1.45.

columnist Debbie Kulick
columnist Debbie Kulick

If you have that book or roll of forever stamps in hand, you will definitely beat the new price increase until they are all used. The “forever” in their name means that even after the price rise in July, a single forever stamp you paid 63 cents for before July 9 will still send a 1-ounce letter to any U.S. address. You won’t have to add additional postage to make up for the price increase. You can still use an original forever stamp purchased 15 years ago for 41 cents to mail a first-class letter today without additional postage.

Forever stamps, introduced in 2007, are always equivalent to the current price of a first-class stamp. Since 2011, virtually all first-class stamps sold are forever stamps. Time to dig into the drawer and see what unused forever stamps are hiding out there!

You can even use forever stamps for outbound international letters. You’ll have to add additional stamps to get to the correct amount of postage for international mail, however. For international letters, a forever stamp has the monetary value of the price of a first-class stamp on the day it is used.

The cost of a 1-ounce letter has increased 10 percent the past 12 months, compared with a 4.4 percent rise in the consumer price index.. A 1-ounce letter cost 6 cents in 1863, according to the USPS historian, and 8 cents 50 years ago.

Of interest: U.S. Postal Service to honor civil rights icon John Lewis with a 2023 postage stamp

The original U.S. Post Office Department, established in 1792 as part of the federal government, was reorganized in 1970 as the USPS, a separate agency, and generally receives no taxpayer money for operating expenses. According to a May 28, 2021, statement from USPS, the proposed postage price hikes are a first step in a plan to reverse a projected $160 billion in operating losses over the next decade.

A 2006 law capped postage increases at the consumer price index, the government's main measure of inflation. The same law, however, allowed the Postal Regulatory Commission to review the effects of the postage price cap, and in 2017, the commission ruled that the price cap hurt USPS profitability. In November 2020, the commission issued new rules that gave the Postal Service more flexibility when it comes to rate increases.

Obviously the widespread use of email and the shift to online banking have taken a toll on the post office. People need fewer stamps for letters and bills these days, and businesses can reach customers more affordably and efficiently with email instead of junk mail. I would maintain that the Postal Service is grateful for election years — the number of mailers must help them meet their budget numbers!

This article originally appeared on Pocono Record: Kulick: Dig out unused forever stamps as USPS prices rise again