First Class Mail
Advantages:
  • Speedy Delivery: First Class mail, in-state, is generally delivered in 1 to 2 days, and rarely takes longer than a week to anywhere in the continental U.S.

  • Returned Mail: Bad addresses and moves that are 12 to 18 months old come back to the sender at no charge. Moves within 12 months automatically get forwarded (or could be directed by the use of postal endorsements) to come back to the sender. In either case, there is no charge.

  • Postal employees try harder: Postal employees are instructed to make every effort to deliver first class mail. No directional indicator? Bad handwriting? If it's first class there's a good chance of arrival.

  • Likely to be opened by the recipient: Because things of importance are mailed first class (bills, travel confirmation, etc.) recipients often feel compelled to open their first class mail.

Disadvantages:

  • Cost: The postage on first class mail is higher than some of the other classes of mail to compensate for the additional services provided.

  • Weight / Cost: Standard mail keeps the same rate as long as the piece weighs less than 3.3 ounces. The cost of first class mail rises incrementally with every ounce.

  • Weight Restriction: Weight of a single piece cannot exceed 13 ounces.

Standard Mail (Bulk Rate)
Advantages:
  • Low Cost: The Post Office gives standard mail users a low postage rate.

  • Up to 3.3 ounces: While first class postage increases with every ounce, standard mail gives you the same low rate of postage up to 3.3087 ounces.

  • Incremental postage increase: After 3.3 ounces, postage goes up incrementally as the weight goes up.

Disadvantages:

  • Slow Delivery: Standard mail generally takes 4 to 8 business days, in-state. Across the U.S., 10 days to 3 weeks is normal delivery time. Worse yet, there is no guarantee that a portion of the mail will not take longer.

  • Not required to return mail: The Post Office is not required to return undeliverable mail, and in fact throws most undeliverable standard mail away. While a mailer can use an endorsement to be notified of moves or bad addresses, it is not a free service.

  • Weight Restriction: Weight of a single piece cannot exceed 1 pound, unless your piece qualifies for bulk printed matter.

  • Qualification: To qualify for standard mail, one must have 50 lbs. or 200 pieces of mail. Either way, all the pieces must have identical weight.
Nonprofit Mail
Advantages:
  • Low Cost: The Post Office gives additional discounts off the regular standard rates if nonprofit qualifications are met.

  • Up to 3.3 ounces: While first class postage increases with every ounce, nonprofit mail gives you the same low rate of postage up to 3.3087 ounces.

  • Incremental postage increase: After 3.3 ounces, postage goes up incrementally as the weight goes up.

  • Mailer may be seen as frugal: Some nonprofit organizations make it a point to use their nonprofit status to show how frugal they are with donors' money.

Disadvantages:

  • Restrictions: Nonprofit mail has certain restrictions on what content the mailpiece can contain. If the nonprofit mailer has not complied, they can be charged back the additional postage.

  • Slow Delivery: Nonprofit mail generally takes 4 to 8 business days, in-state. Across the U.S., 10 days to 3 weeks is normal delivery time. Worse yet, there is no guarantee that a portion of the mail will not take longer.

  • Not required to return mail: The Post Office is not required to return undeliverable mail, and in fact throws most undeliverable nonprofit mail away. While a mailer can use an endorsement to be notified of moves or bad addresses, it is not a free service.

  • Weight Restriction: Weight of a single piece cannot exceed 1 pound.

  • Qualification: To qualify for nonprofit mail, one must have 50 lbs. or 200 pieces of mail. Either way, all the pieces must have identical weight.
    
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