September 12, 2023

The United States Postal Service (USPS) plays a vital role in connecting people and businesses nationwide. From sending letters to shipping packages, USPS offers various services tailored to meet various needs and budgets. However, with so many options available, it's easy to feel overwhelmed when choosing the correct USPS services for your specific requirements. 

Whether you're a small business owner seeking efficient shipping solutions or an individual looking to send a special package to a loved one, understanding the USPS services and selecting the right one can save you time and money and ensure your package reaches its destination promptly.

USPS Mail Types: The 6 Classes of USPS Mail

USPS categorizes mail into six distinct classes, each offering varying service levels, postage prices, and pre-sort requirements. The class of mail you choose is typically determined by the content of your shipment and the required postage. If you're uncertain about which class of mail suits your specific mailing needs, refer to the matrix below to identify the class that best aligns with your priorities.

Priority mail (The Fastest Shipping Option)

Priority Mail Express is the fastest and most expedited shipping option USPS offers. It provides guaranteed overnight or 1-2-day delivery to most locations within the United States, including delivery on weekends and holidays. This service includes features such as tracking and coverage up to $100. Priority Mail Express is commonly used for time-sensitive documents, important letters, or valuable items that require secure and prompt delivery.

Priority Mail

Priority Mail is a fast and reliable shipping service that offers delivery within 1-3 business days throughout the United States. It includes features such as tracking and coverage up to $50. Priority Mail is suitable for larger packages, including heavier or bulkier items, and it provides excellent value for the speed and convenience it offers.

First-Class Mail

First-Class Mail is the most affordable option for sending lightweight items that do not require expedited delivery. It is commonly used for letters, postcards, and small packages weighing up to 13 ounces. Delivery time for First-Class Mail varies but generally takes 1-3 business days. This class of mail includes features such as tracking (for packages), and it offers competitive pricing for smaller, non-urgent shipments.

USPS Marketing Mail

Formerly known as Standard Mail or Bulk Mail, USPS Marketing Mail is designed for businesses and organizations that send advertising and promotional materials in bulk quantities. It offers discounted postage rates for larger volumes and can be used for both letters and flats (larger envelopes). Delivery time for USPS Marketing Mail varies, typically ranging from 2-9 business days. However, this class does not include tracking by default.


Periodicals class is specifically for publishers of newspapers and magazines. It offers discounted postage rates for the distribution of regular publications. Delivery time for Periodicals mail varies, depending on the frequency and destination of the publication. This class of mail is subject to specific requirements and eligibility criteria defined by USPS, and it offers tracking options for publishers.

Package Services/USPS Retail Ground

Package Services, also known as USPS Retail Ground, is a cost-effective option for sending large, heavy, or oversized packages that are not time-sensitive. Delivery time for Package Services can range from 2-9 business days. This class does not include tracking by default, but additional tracking services can be added for a fee. Package Services/USPS Retail Ground is commonly used for shipping items like books, merchandise, and other bulky goods.

Understanding the different USPS mail classes allows you to choose the appropriate service based on factors such as delivery speed, package size and weight, tracking requirements, and cost considerations. Priority Mail Express, Priority Mail, and First Class Mail are usually the preferred options for most e-commerce businesses.

At PostalAnnex, we offer USPS services as well as FedEx, UPS, and DHL services. We compare shipping rates to ensure you get the best price and suitable option that meets your specific needs. Contact us today to receive a quote on your next shipment or visit a location near you and let us help you find a price that makes the most sense for you.