Postal rate change and Forever Stamps

US postal rates are changing on May 12. Some prices are going up, some are going down, but the most obvious change for most people is that the cost of the first ounce for a First-Class Mail letter is going up from 41¢ to 42¢.

This change has provoked a certain amount of discussion in comments on an old entry of mine about the Forever Stamp, including some comments that contradict statements made by USPS employees when the Forever Stamp was first released. In particular, I had seen information to the effect that a Forever Stamp could be used only for very specific purposes, on very specific kinds of mail, but commenters were saying that wasn't true.

So I poked around on the USPS website for a while, but I couldn't find specific answers to my particular questions. They don't provide a lot of detail about how the Forever Stamps work, at least not on any pages I could find when I searched their site.

This morning, I was looking at a news release on their site titled "Every Time a Bell Rings... Another Forever Stamp is Sold," which gives some information but doesn't quite answer my question. So I dropped a note in email to David Partenheimer, the media contact listed on that page, using the email address provided on that page. I figured I probably wouldn't get a response at all, and that if I did it would probably take a week, given how busy I would expect the USPS's main media contact to be just before a rate change.

Instead, I received a detailed response less than three hours after my query. On a Sunday afternoon. That is dedication; I'm very impressed.

Anyway, Mr. Partenheimer explained (I'm paraphrasing) that the limitations on the use of Forever Stamps that I'd heard about aren't real. You can use Forever Stamps on anything you want to mail.

To put it another way: at any given moment, if the cost of a one-ounce First-Class Mail stamp is n¢, then a Forever Stamp is worth n¢ in postage. You can put a Forever Stamp and some additional postage on a two-ounce letter. You can put several Forever Stamps (and additional postage if needed) on a five-ounce letter, or on a package. And so on. It's just like regular postage, except that its value increases as rates go up.

Sounds like it's time to stock up on Forever Stamps.

7 Responses to “Postal rate change and Forever Stamps”

  1. Debby B.

    I just realized that all the SASE’s I just sent out will not have enough postage by the time the editors get around to sending my responses. The forever stamp would have the perfect choice there.

  2. SJB

    I always thought the constantly changing rates were n-sense.

  3. Anonymous

    My favorite rate change moment was sometime when I was in college and they couldn’t decide between a 1c or 2c rate hike. With insufficient time set aside between decision day and the effective rate hike, and faced with the need to either make a gazillion 1c stamps, or a gazillion 2c stamps, or perhaps two gazillion 1c stamps, they finally settled on producing a stamp with a paragraph printed on it, saying roughly “This stamp, when combined with a Xc stamp [the previous first class postage], equals the cost of first class postage as of [date].”

  4. Eric L

    What do “Forever” stamps look like? Is there just one design that says “forever” on it? Are there various designs, some of which say “forever” and others that show no value, say “First Class” but do not say “forever” ???

    I bought a roll of “flag” stamps five months ago. Long after the “forever” stamps appeared. The stamps I bought say “First Class” but do not say “forever” and they do not show a value. I thought they were good “forever” but yesterday, 13-days after I mailed a letter, the USPS returned my letter with a cryptic note saying they wanted an additional 1-cent of postage.

  5. jere7my

    Eric: Yes, they do say “FOREVER” on them. The ones I know of feature the Liberty Bell; you can do a Google Image search to see them. For now and forever, you can use a Forever Stamp that you buy today to mail a one-ounce letter, however much the price increases.

    The ones that say “First Class,” as you discovered, are worth whatever you paid for them — which was the price of sending a one-ounce letter first class at the time of purchase. If you bought them for 41¢, they’re worth 41¢, now and forever.

  6. Ron French

    Are ALL 42¢ stamps “Forever Stamps”? or does our post office actually sell “Forever Stamps and 42¢ “First Class” stamps side by side ( with the 42¢ First Class stamp NOT a “Forever Stamp”.)?

  7. angelsix

    Not only does the USPS sell non-forever First Class stamps, but they make them look just like the forever stamps, except that the stamps don’t say (in tiny print) “forever”. I went to the Post Office and requested a roll of forever First Class stamps, and they sold me a roll that said “First Class” with no statement of how much (i.e. no “42 cents”). I relied on the postal worker who sold me the stamps, and now am getting my letters returned with demands for an additional one cent. Of course, it’s costing them much more in labor to do this than to just send them on.

    Of course, they’re not bothering to send my letters on to the recipient and requesting the addt’l postage, like they did formerly.

    I am a very unhappy customer.


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