Is USPS Shipping Free?

No, USPS shipping is not free. While USPS, a government agency, provides some free shipping supplies and strives to keep its rates low, it charges for postage services to cover operational costs. These include transportation expenses, employee salaries, infrastructure maintenance, and service expansion to remote areas. Prices vary depending on the type of service used.

Although USPS is not a traditional profit-making business, its services are not entirely free. Some services may appear to be free because of the free shipping supplies, but the actual postage services themselves come with some associated costs.

Free shipping usually means that the sender will use whatever service that costs the least amount of money. On most shipping services, USPS rates are lower than others because USPS’s business model is not profit-driven like its rivals.

Why Isn’t USPS Shipping Free?

USPS thrives hard to provide postage services at the lowest possible rates to the masses. However, the services are not entirely free due to the reasons listed below:


Although USPS is a government agency, sending mail and packages through USPS comes with associated costs to cover the transportation expenses involved in the mailing process. Even though the company’s goal is not to maximize profits, they need money for self-sustainability. So, the company tries to balance its overheads with its revenue.

Maximum Reach

USPS delivers mail and packages to even the most remote areas where other postal companies fail to operate due to low or no profit margins. USPS needs to make some revenue to keep up with this service obligation. In the absence of ongoing revenue, the company may not be able to provide its services to less populated and remote areas.

Employment Costs

To keep up with the massive volume of mail and packages, USPS employs boatloads of employees. The revenue generated from their postal services is used to train and pay the employees. The money is also used to maintain their infrastructure and other day-to-day operational expenses, which require ongoing investments.

Stiff Competition

Remember, USPS faces stiff competition from other profit-driven private shipping companies. Free shipping services will make it impossible for the company to compete with them because USPS will only be able to better its services by investing in improved infrastructure and technology.

Affordable Pricing

A government agency such as the USPS prevents private companies like UPS, FedEx, and others from creating a market monopoly. Although not absolutely free, USPS aims to keep its pricing low. This allows the company to generate decent revenue and ultimately keep affordable pricing on most of its shipping services.

How Much Does USPS Shipping Typically Cost?

Here is an overview of the pricing for some of the major USPS shipping services.

USPS ServiceCost
First-Class Package ServiceStarting around $4
Priority MailStarting around $7
Priority Mail Flat RateStarting around $8.45
Priority Mail ExpressStarting around $25
Media MailStarting around $3.65
First-Class Mail Letters (1 oz.)$0.66
First-Class Mail Letters (metered 1 oz.)$0.63
Domestic Postcards$0.51
First-Class Mail International Letter (1 oz.)$1.50
First-Class Mail International Postcards$1.50
Small Flat Rate Box$10.20
Medium Flat Rate Box$17.10
Large Flat Rate Box$22.80
APO/FPO Large Flat Rate Box$21.20
Regular Flat Rate Envelope$9.65
Legal Flat Rate Envelope$9.95
Padded Flat Rate Envelope$10.40
FCM Letters (1 oz.)$0.63
FCM Letters (metered 1 oz.)$0.60
Domestic FCM Postcards$0.48
FCM International Postcards$1.45
FCM International Letters (1 oz.)$1.45

Are There Any Ways to Get Discounts on USPS Shipping?

There are many programs and ways to get discounts on USPS shipping, which are mentioned below:

Bulk Discounts

Like traditional shipping companies, USPS offers discounted pricing to frequently returning customers who ship on large volumes.

Click-N-Ship Discounts

Customers qualify for Click-N-Ship discounts using Express Mail, Priority Mail, and Flat-rate shipping services.

Nonprofit Organizations

USPS offers special prices on certain mailing services to qualifying nonprofit organizations.

Educational Institutes

Some qualifying educational institutions are also offered lower than usual postal rates.

Commercial Pricing

Commercial customers are charged less than retail customers. This is to say that special commercial pricing is offered for businesses.

Online Platforms

Depending on the available USPS offers, many online platforms advertise discounted rates on their websites now and then.

What Are Some Alternatives to USPS for Affordable Shipping?

There are a few alternatives to USPS for affordable shipping that potential customers can consider.

Flat Rate Boxes

For certain shipments, the fixed cost associated with Flat Rate Boxes can prove to be a cost-effective mailing solution. Both UPS and FedEx offer Flat Rate Boxes shipping service.

Freight Brokers

You can also obtain quotes from freight brokers to see if they can offer better pricing than USPS for your shipping needs. Since freight brokers work with many shipping carriers, their rates are sometimes cheaper than others.

Regional Carriers

Depending on specific routes, the services of a regional carrier can be cheaper than USPS. Regional carrier services usually cost less than USPS for larger or heavier packages.


On specific shipping services, FedEx shipping rates are cheaper than USPS. Generally, it’s cheaper to ship large packages through FedEx both nationally and internationally.


For international shipments, DHL shipping prices are usually lower than USPS. Therefore, you can consider DHL services over USPS for cross-border shipments.

How to Calculate Your Shipping Costs with USPS

The company provides a postage calculator on its website to help determine the shipping cost based on one’s specific shipping needs. For cost calculation, you need to visit

Once on the link, enter the zip code of the destination. Then, select the type of package, product dimensions (height, width, weight, length), and shipping service from the drop-down menu.

Depending on your needs, choose additional services if required. Based on the information entered by you, the calculator will provide you with the estimated delivery time frame and shipping cost.

USPS Flat Rate Boxes: A Cost-Effective Option for Small Businesses

USPS provides standardized box sizes for shipping items, which can be a cost-effective shipping solution for small businesses. The main benefit of this service is that the cost remains fixed, irrespective of the weight or destination.

If the item fits inside the box, you can ship even heavier items without paying more. Another striking benefit of this service is that USPS offers Flat Rate Boxes for free, eliminating the need to spend money on packaging materials.

When Should You Choose Another Carrier Over USPS?

While USPS offers unbeatable pricing on most postal services, some scenarios can compel you to choose other carriers over USPS.

Time-Definite Delivery

Although affordable, USPS deliveries take time. Therefore, they are not suitable for time-sensitive packages.

Perishable/Valuable Items

For perishable and valuable items, it’s better to choose a carrier specializing in shipping items of this nature.

Large/Heavy Packages

USPS rates are less cost-effective for larger and heavier packages than lightweight packages.

Special Care Items

Items requiring special care or expertise can be better handled by other carriers specializing in handling products of this nature.

Global Shipments

USPS has a limited international reach. So, you may have to choose other carriers for greater global reach.

Bulk Volume

Private companies like UPS, FedEx, and DHL usually offer discounted pricing for large-volume shipping, allowing returning customers to enjoy better pricing than USPS on bulk volume.

Extensive Tracking

The USPS tracking system is less advanced than its leading competitors. If you would like to monitor your package every step of the way, FedEx or UPS is a better choice.