For a regular letter: Use one Forever Stamp or one First Class Letter stamp in the top right corner of an envelope if mailing a standard letter. If the letter is normal size, a Forever stamp will suffice for sending within the United States. If the letter is oversized, then you should use First Class Mail.
If you have to send a packet of things like photos, books, or CDs, then it's best to use a Flat Rate Box ($35) from the Postal Service. These can be picked up at any post office location. They only hold a certain number of items so they are good for multiple sends of the same type of thing.
Flat Rate boxes come with detailed instructions on how to pack your items properly. Then when you mark your box "Package Weight Under 20 Pounds" it allows you to ship it with the cheapest rate option available. So generally speaking, packages under 5 pounds cost just as much as one-stamp letters!
There are two types of stamps: Regular and Express. Regular stamps are sold in sheets of 50 or 100 stamps. The price per stamp varies depending on the denomination. For example, a $1 stamp sells for $0.20 per stamp. Express stamps are sold in packets of five stamps and their price is always below $1 per stamp.
In the United States, a normal-size letter weighing one ounce or less requires only one first-class stamp (or a "Forever" stamp) to be mailed anywhere in the country, including Alaska and Hawaii. It costs the same to mail a letter to someone down the street as it does to ship one across the country. The rate has remained constant since 1970 at 46 cents for a first-class letter.
Up until 1845, when the post office was established, letters were delivered by private carriers who traveled on horseback through each town delivering letters for people they knew. Carriers usually went to houses where they were paid per letter delivered. This system was expensive and often resulted in letters being lost during transportation or going to wrong addresses. In order to make the letter delivery system more efficient, the government then took over the role of carrier by appointing postal clerks who would deliver letters from door to door.
Today, the post office operates under the authority of Congress and the power to create value-added services such as postage stamps, paper money, and packaging is delegated to the postmaster general. The U.S. Post Office Department has 323 post offices located in all 50 states, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands. There are also Postal Service retail outlets that sell stamps, money orders, and other postal products. These facilities include 7,200 postal stores spread throughout the country; larger cities have several locations including Brooklyn, New York, and San Francisco, California.
Letters over one ounce but under two pounds require postage totaling 7 cents. All other letters require postage of at least 14 cents. An estimate of how much money you'll save by sending only one-ounce letters is $1.32.
The number of first-class stamps needed to mail a letter of a given weight varies depending on how it's folded. If the letter is flat rather than folded, it weighs about 0.6 ounce and requires one first-class stamp. If the letter is folded once through the middle, then unfolded and sealed, it weights 1.25 ounces and requires a total of four first-class stamps. If the letter is folded three times, then unfolded and sealed, it weights 2.5 ounces and requires six first-class stamps.
A Forever stamp is a special one-ounce stamp that stays valid for your entire life. You can send just one Forever stamp to anyone in the world. It costs $119.90.
First-class mail has higher priority than ordinary mail, so your letter will arrive faster if more than one First-Class Stamp is used.
In the United States, the Forever stamp is the most often used postal stamp to post a message. The number of marks necessary to postage a letter is determined on the weight and destination of the letter. Without a doubt, eternal stamps are ideal for postal services. They are easy to cancel, have broad applications, and are relatively cheap.
There are two types of eternal stamps: panes and plates. A pane is a sheet of perforated cardboard on which several different images are printed. These can then be separated and kept for future use. A plate is a single image that is printed on paper and then coated with rubber. This prevents it from becoming worn over time.
Panes first came into use in 1847. Previously, letters were sent through the post office by hand or by courier service. There was no way to indicate what value letter there might be so letters were usually sent at face value. This meant that people had to pay even though they didn't want to. There was also no way to track letters so criminals could steal them and not be punished. The introduction of pans allowed for many more low-value letters to be mailed. Each letter would only cost enough to print one image so postal services could make some money while still giving people reasonable rates.
The panes used by the United States Postal Service (USPS) are designed and printed by private companies that work with the agency.
Forever Stamps are perfect for mailing one-ounce, standard-sized letters inside the United States. If you fear your letter may weigh more than one ounce, weigh it before applying a Forever Stamp, as larger letters will be returned owing to insufficient postage. Letters over a certain size must be sent via first class mail.
Standard-sized letters up to 1 oz in weight and a maximum of 7 1/4 x 10 inches in size can be mailed at a cost of $1.20 with a single Forever Stamp. Large envelopes ($3 or more) and oversized letters ($5 or more) are also available at some post offices and shipping stores. These items are priced higher because they include additional postage per item.
The Postal Service recommends that you use solid color paper when sending letters with stamps because colored ink costs more to process. However, white paper can be used instead if desired. Simply use cold water to wash off any residual color from your paper towel.
Stamps should be placed on the back of the envelope so they will not get bent out of shape during handling.
Stamps can be purchased at most post offices, but you may want to visit a post office before you leave home just to make sure there are no delays in the delivery of your letter.