One of the reasons people are sending less and less mail every day is the cost of stamps.
To send a letter, the individual has to buy and stick a stamp on the envelope.
Since the USPS relies on stamps as their primary source of funding, they‘re a necessary part of the mailing procedure.
The stamp essentially pays for the mail deliverer’s time and effort.
However, stamps can be expensive, especially if you need to use more than one to send a heavier envelope.
You may wonder why stamps are so expensive for such a small paper product.
Here are 10 reasons stamps are expensive.
Why Are Stamps So Expensive? (Top 10 Reasons)
Contrary to popular belief, although the USPS is a government service, it doesn’t receive funding from the government.
That means none of your taxes go towards funding it.
Instead, the USPS relies on things like stamp sales and package sales to fund their offices.
Before the internet, the USPS had great funding.
The primary way of getting information to people en masse was through letters and newspapers.
Everyone was sending letters and buying stamps to send those letters.
The USPS was also the primary way for packages to arrive at doorsteps, aside from UPS, which also contributed to its funding.
Since the internet and the rise of online retailers, however, other companies have taken over those positions.
People send emails instead of letters.
Online retailers use their own carriers, though many still use the USPS for the final stretch of the delivery.
Since the sale of stamps has gone down, the USPS has to increase the prices of the stamps now and then.
They have to ensure that even though stamp buying has decreased, they’re still receiving enough funding from those who are still buying stamps.
Stamps are expensive because the USPS relies on them to keep their services available.
2. Limited Editions
Another reason stamps are expensive is that some of them come in limited edition packages.
Every now and then, the Postal Service releases a special type of stamp.
It may use a design that heralds a momentous occasion in history.
It may feature the art of a famous artist.
Whatever it is that makes the stamp unique also allows the USPS to release the package of stamps as a limited edition.
Like all other limited editions, this means that there are only a few packages produced.
Since the supply of this particular design of stamps is small, the demand for it is going to be higher than what’s available.
That allows the company to sell the package for a higher amount than they would normally.
Part of the reason people buy limited editions is that they can sometimes be worth something later to collectors and historians.
Stamp companies know this which is why selling limited editions is popular.
Since all stamps help fund the USPS, the limited editions also help out the service.
If you notice that a package of stamps is expensive, then you should check and see if they’re a limited edition.
If so, then you’re paying a limited edition price tag instead of a standard stamp price tag.
3. Bulk Sizes
When you shop for stamps, you often find a few options.
You can buy a single stamp, a few stamps, and then a box filled with stamps.
The cheapest option is the single stamp since you’re really only paying for shipping.
However, few people need a single stamp.
Because of that, they often shop for larger bulk sizes.
These boxes tend to contain anywhere from 20 to 200 stamps.
Depending on a few other factors, they can range in price from moderately expensive to extremely expensive.
The trade-off is that you receive a large number of stamps that should most likely keep you adequately supplied for some time.
If you’re someone who doesn’t use stamps all that often, you may even find that buying stamps in bulk doesn’t end up being that expensive after all.
Since you’re not using that many every week, you can stretch how long they last over the course of a few months.
That, in turn, stretches your dollar.
However, while you shop for bulk stamps, you’ll find that they carry a high price.
That’s simply because there are more stamps available in the box.
Each stamp comes with its own price, and they all add up.
The more stamps you buy in a box, the more expensive the final price tag is going to be.
4. Designer Stamps
Like everything else, some artists or designers will design a stamp from time to time.
These stamps may not exactly be a limited edition, but they are special.
The USPS releases stamps every year.
They’re usually patriotic in nature and feature the flag or some other sort of American heritage symbol.
Outside of the USPS, people design different stamps using different art.
They tend to connect to a theme as well.
For example, one designer set of stamps may be watercolor flowers.
Another set may be a series of working dogs.
These stamps are more expensive because the stamp maker had to hire an artist or designer to make the stamp.
Since more cost goes into the making of the stamp, the final price of the stamp is also more expensive.
Well-known artists or designers who design stamps tend to have more expensive stamps.
That’s because the stamp maker is banking on fans of that artist or designer to buy the stamps.
There’s a lot of demand for them which means the price of the stamp increases.
If you see a particularly expensive set of stamps while doing you’re shopping, then it’s worth finding out who designed it.
Chances are the stamp comes from a well-known artist and everyone wants to get their hand on the set.
5. Pop Culture
If the stamp doesn’t come from a well-known artist or designer and it’s still expensive, then it may tie to pop culture in some way.
Stamps featuring characters from Star Trek, Marvel, Disney, Star Wars, and other big-name pop culture hits are expensive.
That’s because these types of stamps tend to see a lot of popularity.
Few people want to use boring stamps to send a letter.
They like to show a bit of personality when mailing their friends or loved ones.
One way of showing their personality is to decorate their envelope with a stamp featuring their favorite pop culture character.
Besides its popularity, which increases demand and thus the price of the stamp, pop culture stamps are also expensive because they’re using existing IPs.
In order to use the IP, or intellectual property, they usually have to pay some amount of money to the owner of the IP.
Depending on who the owner is, the price could be quite high.
They know that their IP is going to generate a lot of money, so they want to make sure they get a slice of the cake, too.
The problem is that this then requires the stamp maker to set the stamps at a higher price.
Not only do they need to cover the cost they took on to use the IP, but they also need to ensure that the USPS also gets their share of the funds.
Finally, they have to make enough to cover their own costs and keep their company alive, too.
Using pop culture stamps is costly for businesses, but it usually means the stamps sell better than other types of stamps.
If you see a stamp using an IP from pop culture, then you’ll also likely find that its price is higher than standard stamps from the USPS.
Another reason stamps are expensive is that many of them are collectible.
Stamps are one of the mainstays of collectibles.
People have been collecting stamps since the 1840s.
It all started when England started releasing pre-paid stamps.
People saw that rare stamps could hold some value over time.
They collected them as a result.
Others who have a penchant for collecting things found the journey of finding rare stamps to complete their sets thrilling and worthwhile.
It sparked a new hobby that continues to this day.
Most people tend to collect limited editions, but there are stamps outside of that spectrum that some people collect as well.
If a stamp company knows that a certain stamp set is going to be popular among collectors, then they may increase the price.
Since demand for the stamp is high, they know that people are going to be more willing to pay for a slightly higher stamp because there are only so many available.
Collectors compete with one another to determine who can get their hands on the new stamp to add to their collection.
When going to a museum or seeing an expensive set of stamps up for auction, you may find some surprise at how expensive the collection is.
Like any other collectible, the price for the item increases when collectors have an interest in it.
7. Type Of Stamp Service
Not all stamps are equal.
Basic stamps grant you access to basic services from the USPS.
It usually means they’ll take your letter and then process it and deliver it in five to seven business days.
Businesses or those who need letters to arrive faster can buy more expensive stamps that make their mail become first class.
First-class stamps are more expensive because they make your mail a priority over everyone else’s.
The USPS will ensure this mail is sorted first and processed first.
It’s guaranteed to arrive at its location in a matter of a few days if not the next day.
Since it requires more work and effort on behalf of the USPS, it only makes sense that the extra labor receives its fair pay.
The higher price on the stamp goes towards paying for that expedited service.
When shopping for stamps, you may find that some are more expensive than others despite having the same design and being the same size.
This likely means that one is a first-class stamp and the other is a standard stamp.
8. Focus On Packages
A problem that the USPS is facing with its finances is that fewer people are buying stamps.
That’s because they’re using email to send messages.
That said, they are noticing that the packages part of their business is increasing.
Their union with Amazon and other online retailers allows the USPS to handle some of the delivery of smaller packages.
They’ve been focusing on nurturing the delivery of packages since that’s seen a good amount of growth over the past few years.
The sale of stamps, on the other hand, has stagnated.
Because the USPS is focusing on growing their package delivery services, they’re more prone to offering incentives to people looking for package delivery.
Stamps, on the other hand, keep increasing in price because their sales aren’t growing.
The USPS has to raise the prices of the stamps to ensure selling them is still worth it.
As the USPS continues to focus on its package business, stamps will likely continue to increase in price.
There are a ton of different places where you can buy stamps.
While the USPS is the go-to place for many shoppers, you can find them at other stores, too.
Even Amazon sells stamps.
The problem with buying stamps at other stores is that they’re sold at a higher price.
That’s because the store has to add a small markup to ensure they earn money for selling the stamps, too.
Because stamps take up inventory space in the store, they need to ensure it’s worth it for them.
They’ve already taken on the cost of buying the stamps from the USPS.
Now, they need to make their money back and earn a profit.
To do that, stores mark up the price above what it cost them to pay for it.
Every business marks up its products differently.
Some rely on bulk sales to cover their expenses whereas others don’t.
Either way, you can expect a stamp set sold at a store to be a bit more expensive than one sold directly from the USPS.
At the USPS, you’re paying for the base price of the stamp.
At a store, you’re paying the base price plus the marked-up price that the store sets to earn a profit on the sale.
Stamps are more expensive if you buy them anywhere other than the USPS.
Another big cause of expensive stamps is inflation.
Like everything else, inflation also impacts stamps, albeit not as much as other goods.
Because inflation causes prices to increase, like gas and materials, it only makes sense that stamp prices would also increase.
The USPS has to cover fuel costs and the cost of producing the stamps in the first place.
If fuel and materials become more expensive, then it becomes more expensive for them to do business.
To help offset the cost, they raise the price of stamps.
Most price increases are only ever by a few cents.
However, if the USPS is raising the price of their stamps, then you can be sure that all the stores selling stamps are raising their prices, too.
They may not increase the sale of their stamps by only a few cents, however.
Instead, they may increase the price of stamps by a few dollars.
What may already have been an expensive set of stamps before is suddenly an even more expensive set of stamps.
Inflation causes the price of everything to increase.
That also includes stamps.
How To Save Money On Stamps
While stamps are generally not expensive in the long run and considering the service you receive, you may want to find a way to help stretch your dollar.
Here are a few ways you can save money on stamps.
1. Switch To Electronic Mail
Although you’ll be hurting the USPS, one way that you can save on stamps is to switch to electronic mail.
Most businesses are happy to put you on their newsletter list or send emails to you instead of offers through the mail.
Besides some government letters, you can receive most if not all of your mail through email.
Whether it’s billing statements, bank statements, or even a friendly letter, all of that can go through email or social media.
Since sending those types of messages is free, you never have to worry about buying stamps again.
2. Buy Forever Stamps
If you know that you’re going to need to send mail the old-fashioned way, then it’s worth buying Forever stamps.
Throughout its history, the USPS noticed that people were becoming upset when they were forced to purchase one-cent or two-cent stamps as the stamps they had on hand became no longer usable when the USPS changed the price of their stamps the next year.
To combat this frustration, the USPS released Forever stamps.
These stamps had a slightly higher price than the one-cent or two-cent stamps, but the benefit of them is that they held their value.
Mailers can use Forever stamps even if the USPS changes how much a stamp costs.
An example is if someone buys a Forever stamp at 50 cents one year.
Then, the next year, the USPS changes the price of stamps to 60 cents.
Those who bought the Forever stamp at 50 cents are still able to use them despite the new stamps costing 10 cents more.
They don’t have to buy additional stamps to make up the cost.
This ensures that you save money in the long run, especially as the USPS raises the price of the stamps over the years.
Buying Forever stamps in bulk can save you a lot of money down the line.
3. Use Standard Stamps
A final way to save money is to buy standard stamps.
If you don’t care how long it takes for your letter to arrive, then standard stamps are the best ones to use.
Your mail will reach its destination in about a week or a little more.
You’ll be able to save on the price of a stamp since you’re not paying for expedited shipping with a priority or first-class stamp.
Standard stamps bought from the USPS are the cheapest option out there.
The USPS relies on the sale of stamps to fund its services.
Because of this and the collectability of stamps, the price for them can sometimes be quite high.
Luckily, there are a few ways that you can make buying stamps even cheaper.NEXT: Why Are Plumbers So Expensive? (Top 10 Reasons)