First Class Mail vs Priority Mail: The Best Comparison

First Class Mail and Priority Mail are the two famous services which USPS offers. There are quite a lot of basic differences between the two. This article will provide a vivid idea and give you proper knowledge about First Class Mail vs Priority Mail. 


United States Postal Service, mostly known as USPS, is a very well-known and convenient courier solution for every e-commerce merchant. USPS offers a great many options suitable for both international and domestic shipping. 

If you are an e-commerce merchant, you should be well aware of different factors before considering either First Class Mail or Priority Mail. 

USPS Delivery timelines and cost of delivery are the two main factors of which you should have detailed knowledge. So, read the article further to compare both of them.

First Class Mail vs Priority Mail Detailed Comparison

Different Types of Mails

  • First Class Mail 

First Class Mail is the easiest, convenient, and affordable way of shipping if you want to deliver a lightweight package, such as enveloping a d letter. 

  • Second Class Mail 

Second Class Mail is best suitable for newspapers, periodicals, and magazines. 

  • Third Class Mail

Marketing mails, flyers, and mailers are the perfect ones for Third Class Mail. 

  • Fourth Class Mail 

Fourth Class Mail is ideal for media mail. If you need to ship CDs, DVDs, vinyl records or books, and any other bound media, you should go for this type of mail. 

  • Priority Mail

USPS’s priority shipping option is called Priority Mail. It is certainly the fastest shipping option. Besides being much quicker than First Class Mail, it is also the best choice for heavy packages. Although Priority Mail is the most suitable option for international shipping, it is more expensive. 

First Class Mail vs Priority Mail Comparison

First Class Mail is definitely more economical as compared to Priority Mail. But the benefits of Priority Mail make it a better option for international shipping. So, let’s now go into details and discover what the differences between these two are. 

  • Transit Time

One of the most important and crucial factors of shipping is transit time. First Class Mail and Priority Mail, both options deliver your package between a two to three days time frame. But, USPS uses shipping zones in order to arrange delivery timings. So, let’s take a look at the tables below, which accurately depict the shipping time for different shipping zones for both international and domestic shipments. 

Domestic –

ZoneFirst Class MailPriority Mail ExpressPriority Mail
12 Days1-2 Days1 Day
33 Days1-2 Days2 Days
52-3 Days1-2 Days2 Days
83 Days1-2 Days3 Days

International –

First Class Mail InternationalNo Exact Time
Priority Mail Express International3-5 Days
Priority Mail International6-10 Days
  • Packaging Weight and Dimension

Another essential factor that needs to be checked out before choosing a shipment method is determining your package’s weight and dimension. 

If you are planning to choose First Class Mail, you need to consider many sizes and weight specifications. First Class Mail has a proper specification that your mail should not exceed the weight of 15.99 oz. The dimensions are about 108″, combining the girth and the length of the shipment. 

On the other hand, 70 lbs is the maximum weight a Priority Mail offers. Any weight over this specification is going to have additional restrictions.

  • Cost

Usually, First Class Mail costs you less than Priority Mail. But the shipping cost depends on various factors. USPS changes its postal rates very often based on inflation. 

For First Class Mail, the parcel’s price majorly depends on the destination, weight, and size. Whereas, there are different rates given to specified envelopes and boxes in Priority Mail. 

The difference of 3$ is mostly common between Priority Mail and First Class Mail if the shipment is delivered at the same destination. 

Choosing between First Class Mail and Priority Mail

Some factors should be noted before choosing First Class Mail or Priority Mail. These are –

  • First Class Mail is definitely a cheaper option if your parcel weighs within 1 lb. It is the best choice to send bills or handwritten letters, notes, postcards, brochures, and envelopes. 
  • You should choose the Priority Mail option for larger and heavier packages because it can deliver a parcel that weighs upto 70 lbs. You will also get access to the beneficial features of Priority Mail, such as insurance and free tracking. 

Shipping Features of First Class Mail and Priority Mail

Though First Class Mail is a more cost-effective option, Priority Mail service offers some brilliant features, which definitely make this one far more convenient. 

  • Insurance 

Insurance is probably the most useful thing offered by Priority Mail. Many a time, your parcel gets lost or can gain some unwanted damage during transit. Priority Mail has an insurance plan for lost, damaged shipments, which will get you covered.

For domestic shipment, generally, it offers 100$ coverage, whereas, for international delivery, Priority Mail service comes with 200$ of default insurance. Apart from these, there is also an option to buy more insurance coverage through third-party providers or USPS. 

Unfortunately, First Class Mail has no insurance to offer. 

  • Tracking

It is important for you to note that both Priority Mail and First Class Mail offer tracking updates for absolutely no cost. You will be getting updates till your parcel reaches its destination. This tracking facility also sends you updates about delivery time or date and attempted delivery if there occurs a case of a missed delivery. 

  • There are some additional features of Priority Mail which are enough to overshadow First Class Mail, like,  Deliveries, Certified Mails, Mailing Certificate, Special Handling, Cost of Return Receipts, and Signature Service. 

Conclusion –

Comparing First Class Mail and Priority Mail is quite easy but needs a good consideration of the parcel’s size and weight. Although Priority Mail delivers packages very fast, it will be going to cost you more. Sometimes we do not even need a superfast delivery. In those cases, First Class Mail is the most cost-effective and convenient option. For heavier and larger parcels, Priority Mail is the most suitable because it gives insurance in case of a lost or damaged package, which you will not get from First Class Mail services.

Avatar for Charles Helms

Charles Helms is the owner and head writer of the well-known platform TrackingAdvice. With a career as an Operations Manager and over a decade of first-hand experience working with major courier shipping companies, Charles has the knowledge to help you to solve shipping and packaging-related queries.

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