There are a variety of ways to mail packages and letters, but they are not all created equal. Here, the mailing and shipping experts at Three Dog Logistics details the differences between First-Class, standard mail (recently renamed as Marketing Mail by the USPS) and the many options in between.

What is First-Class Mail?

First-class mail is for any small package, postcard, letter, or large envelope (known as a “flat envelope”) that weighs under 13 ounces with the contents being personal in nature. The rate to send mail or packages via First-Class is higher than standard class, but the value of that higher cost is that First-class mail is given priority in delivery. Mail sent via First-class should arrive at a local destination in one to three business days, and to a national location in three to four. It is important to note, however, that these delivery times are not guaranteed. If the recipient has moved, the mail will be forwarded at no additional cost up to a year after they have moved. If a piece of mail is undeliverable, it will be sent back to the sender’s address free of charge, and should include the reason the piece was not delivered. First-class mail offers faster delivery times and a higher standard of service than standard mail.

If a small package or a flat envelope is over 13 ounces, the First Class Postage is converted to Priority Mail Postage, with a National Delivery of 1 to 3 days.

What is Pre-Sorted First Class Mail?

If you or your organization have 500 or more First-class-eligible pieces of mail, a postage discount is applied, potentially saving you up to 20% on shipping costs. The name “pre-sorted” is used because the sender must pre-sort the mail before shipping. Pre-sorting makes the Post Office’s job easier, which allows them to pass along a discounted price to the sender. In order to receive the largest discount, pre-sorted mail must be NCOA-updated (a database that provides a national list of changed addresses for businesses and residents), CASS certified (the acronym stands for Coding Accuracy Support System—the address and 11-digit zip code must be matched against the USPS Address Matching System) and grouped by zip code. This option gives you the speed of First-class mail with a discounted price tag.

What is Marketing Mail (aka Standard)?

Marketing mail, the mail of many names: previously known as bulk or Third-class mail, and most recently Standard mail, requires only 200 pieces at 3.3 ounces or smaller to get a marketing rate. Pieces over 3.3 ounces can ship via marketing mail for a slightly higher rate. Unlike First-class, marketing mail has no expected delivery date. Local mail usually takes one to fourteen business days, and national mail can take anywhere from one to three weeks. Marketing mail, while approximately half the price of First-class, is not the best choice for those who are sending pieces related to a soon-to-occur event or providing offers that have expiration dates. Marketing Mail must have contents that are not personal in nature. If the mail piece has personal information, the USPS requires the mail piece to me sent via First Class or Priority. Marketing mail is also neither forwarded to recipients who have moved, nor sent back when undeliverable—instead, Marketing mail is recycled by the post office when it is undeliverable.

What is Non-Profit Marketing Mail?

If your organization has non-profit status, you should take advantage of non-profit marketing mail, formerly non-profit standard mail, when shipping or mailing. Reduced rates are provided when you complete PS Form 3624, and discounts can be up to 70% off First-class mail prices. Besides the discounted rate, non-profit marketing mail is treated similarly to standard mail. Contact your local USPS if you have any questions regarding non-profit status.

How Can Three Dog Logistics Help?

At Three Dog Logistics, we understand how confusing and expensive mailing options can be. While First Class mail sounds enticing, the price point can really take a toll on your ROI. From our years of experience, we have found Marketing and Non-Profit Marketing mail along with our logistics capabilities and connections get our clients a similar speed of delivery, at a reduced cost. In fact, we saved a client $4 million annually by switching to Marketing mail, all while maintaining similar speeds to First Class! It is our mission to make mailing and shipping easier for businesses large and small; to reduce costs and increase efficiency and productivity. Give your business a boost—to speak with one of our dedicated mailing and shipping experts and learn about the ease and savings Three Dog can provide, please contact us online or call 410-284-5494 extension 220 to schedule a complimentary consultation today.