The Difference Between a First Class Stamp & Others

By John Peterson
The Difference, a First Class Stamp, Others
Image by, courtesy of Kevin Dooley

Stamp collectors, or anyone who has ever mailed anything, should know about the different types of U.S. postage stamps. The most common is the first-class stamp used for everyday mail and packages.

First-class cost

First-class stamps are used to send letters or small packages up to 13 ounces. As of November 2009, first-class postage was 44 cents per ounce.


Postcards can be mailed a little cheaper with a postcard stamp (currently 28 cents). The maximum postcard size allowed for postcard postage is 6 by 4 1/4 inches.


Airmail stamps, specially priced for international mail, have been popular with collectors since they were first issued in 1918. A first-class stamp can also be used for international mail, but the stamp value (priced for domestic use) makes it a less practical choice than an airmal stamp.


Pre-canceled stamps are preferred for bulk mailing and are cheaper than first-class stamps. Prices vary according to what is being mailed, but most pre-canceled first-class stamps were 25 cents in late 2009.


Priority mail stamps cost more than first class stamps but should get letters and packages to their destination faster. The price depends on the size and address of the package. In 2009 the minimum price was $4.95.

About the Author

John Peterson published his first article in 1992. Having written extensively on North American archaeology and material culture, he has contributed to various archaeological journals and publications. Peterson has a Bachelor of Arts from Eastern New Mexico University and a Master of Arts from the University of Nebraska, both in anthropology, as well as a Bachelor of Arts in history from Columbia College.