Stamp hike in the mail

Panel urges Post Office to institute two, instead of three-cent rate hike, and backs 'Forever Stamp' offering.

NEW YORK ( -- Americans may want to start bracing for another postage increase.

The Postal Regulatory Commission, an independent advising agency to the U.S. Postal Service (USPS), recommended a 2-cent increase on postage for first-class letters and postcards, the agency said Monday.

Under the proposed rate increase, the cost to mail a letter first class would now be 41 cents, instead of 39 cents.

The increase, which would bring the price to mail a letter first class to 41 cents and 26 cents for a postcard, was less than the 3-cent increase the USPS originally proposed last May.

The panel also backed the USPS' proposal to offer a "Forever Stamp", a stamp that would continue to cover the cost to mail a first-class, one-ounce letter even if the Postal Service instituted another rate hike.

Besides allowing consumers to hedge against future rate increases, the "Forever Stamp" would help eliminate the need to purchase 2-cent stamps and also help shrink lines at the post office, the Postal Regulatory Commission said.

"Adoption of this proposal is good for the Postal Service, postal customers and our postal system," Dan G. Blair, commission chairman, said in a prepared statement.

The earliest that consumers could see a rate increase for stamps would be in May, as the recommended rate increase and "Forever Stamp" still faces approval by the USPS' board members.

If the rate increase is approved, it would be the third time in five years that the Post Office has raised the price of a first-class stamp.

The proposed rate increase however goes beyond letters and postcards. The Postal Regulatory Commission also backed an increase in the price for packages and services like delivery confirmation, in addition to rates they charge non-profits and publishers of periodicals.

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