USPS First CLass vs Priority Mail | 5 Main Differences

The e-commerce market is so competitive. No matter what you sell online, the customer will buy your product if you offer a faster delivery option than others. This is the best way to crush your competitors. Therefore, the pressure of providing the best shipping experience is always on the seller’s head. 

Understanding this pressure, the United States Postal Service (USPS) offers a wide variety of shipping options to e-commerce merchants. Out of these options, the two most popular are First class mail and priority mail. But it’s quite challenging to choose which option is right for you first-class or priority mail?

If you’re selling on Amazon or eBay, you already know how important it is to deliver the product on time. Otherwise, the buyer will give you negative feedback. If you’re still confused between Amazon and eBay, read our blog on Amazon vs eBay Comparison and choose the best platform for your business.

At first glance, you may not understand the difference between them; therefore, we will discuss the key differences between first-class and priority mail in this article.

What is USPS First Class Mail?

USPS First Class Mail

“First class” sounds like something that is best of best, and generally, it is. USPS first class mail is the best economical option for sending lightweight parcels like letters, postcards, padded envelopes, gift cards, t-shirts, lightweight jewelry, and brochures. 

It is considered the top-tier shipment method compared to second, third, and fourth-class mail.

What is USPS Priority mail?

USPS Priority mail

“Priority mail,” as the name suggests, is a priority shipping option. USPS priority mail is used to send heavy parcels like shoes, books, toys, and anything that weighs less than 70 lbs.   

Priority mail is closer to UPS and FedEx, but still, it’s low-cost from both of them. 

Difference Between First Class and Priority Mail

Here are a few differences between USPS first class vs priority mail that will help you choose. 

1- Delivery Time

Shipping or delivery time is the backbone of an online e-commerce business. So, before choosing any shipping method, make sure you compare first-class vs priority mail speed because you don’t want to make any false commitments and disappoint your customers.

The delivery time highly depends on the destination. Still, let’s talk about the first-class vs priority mail speed. Priority mail is faster than first-class mail and is best for international shipments. First Class usually takes 1-5 business days, whereas priority mail takes 1-3 business days. 

Different zones show the domestic shipping time.

Shipping Zone USPS First Class and Priority Mail

 First Class mail and priority mail international shipping time.

But always remember that neither first-class nor priority mail will guarantee any delivery date for international mail.

2- Weight and Dimensions

Package size is one of the most important factors that need to be considered while making a shipment. Package size includes two things weight and dimensions of the item. There is a significant difference between first-class and priority mail size, weight, and shape. 

usps first class weight limit | usps first class package weight limit

The maximum weight for first-class USPS mail is 13 oz, whereas the products over 1 pound fall under the priority mail. The maximum weight limit for priority mail is 70 lbs.

The minimum dimensions of First-Class mail are 3½ inches by 5 inches, and the maximum size is 4¼ inches by 6 inches. The thickness is 0.007 inches to 0.016 inches. In contrast, the maximum size of priority mail parcels is 108 inches combined in length and girth (the distance around the thickest part).

3- Service Charges

When it comes to first-class vs priority mail price, first-class shipping is a cost-effective option. But the shipping charges depend on various factors like weight, size, and destination. They tend to change regularly due to inflation rates.

Here is the difference between their prices:

Service Charges USPS FIrst Class vs Priority Mail

You can see the difference through this example that parcels shipped via First Class vs priority mail have a 3$ difference.

4- Insurance

While sending parcels, there is a high chance that your product might get lost. Therefore, to ensure the safety of your parcel, you must choose a service that provides you insurance coverage.

Insurance Coverage USPS First Class vs priority mail

The biggest difference between first-class package service vs priority mail service: is that first-class mail does not offer you any default insurance service, whereas priority mail offers you insurance coverage up to $100 for domestic shipments and $200 for international shipments.

5- Tracking 

Tracking info is very important for keeping your order on track to minimize the risk of loss. In that case, you should always choose a shipping service that offers you tracking updates about your parcel. Usually, the tracking info includes the delivery date and time.

Priority mail provides tracking updates until your package arrives at your intended address. On the other side, first-class mail does not provide you nay tracking info.

Advantages and Disadvantages of USPS First Class Mail

Advantages and Disadvantages of First-Class Mail:

Advantages of USPS First Class Mail:

  • Delivers between 1-3 business days.
  • Cost-effective.
  • Includes return and forwarding services.
  • Consistent delivery timing from the USPS.
  • Provide Tracking info.
  • Best choice for sending letters and postcards in affordable price.
  • Presorting can be done to get significant postage discounts.
  • Reach people with outdated address.
  • Best choice during the holidays.
  • Provide certified mail facility.

Disadvantages of USPS First Class Mail:

  • Cannot mail parcels more than 15.99 ounces.
  • Extremely restrictive.
  • Cannot use this option with any US territories or non-contiguous states.
  • Does not provide insurance coverage,
  • No signature services are included.
  • First Class mail does not provide delivery on Sunday.
  • Cost of parcel rises with every ounce.
  • Cost more than the other mailing options.
  • International delivery is non-guaranteed.
  • Does not provide end-to-end delivery.

Advantages and Disadvantages of USPS Priority mail:

Advantages of USPS Priority Mail:

  • Delivers between 1-2 business days.
  • Provides insurance coverage.
  • Free pick-up.
  • Provide tracking info.
  • Guarantees over-night delivery.
  • Best choice for sending large parcels weights more than 13 lbs.
  • Provide signature service.
  • Shipping boxes and envelopes are free.
  • Fastest delivery over other mailing services.
  • Includes return and forwarding services.
  • Delivers internationally is guaranteed.
  • Provide weekend delivers.
  • Reliable with non-contiguous states.
  • Provide certified mail facility.
  • Includes special handling.

Disadvantages of USPS Priority Mail:

  • Costly.
  • They keep changing the price.
  • Lithium batteries packed with the shipment are prohibited.

Which One Should I Choose: USPS First Class or USPS Priority Mail?

The answer to this question highly depends on your product. For example, if you want to ship small, lightweight items at an affordable price, the USPS first class mail option will be the best. However, if you have larger items to ship internationally, you should choose a USPS priority mail service. That will not only cut shipping time but will also offer you insurance coverage.

But in the end, the choice will be yours, and it will depend on your product’s weight, dimensions, and destination.



Both first-class and priority mail are the two popular services of USPS that most sellers choose for their e-commerce business.

First-class mail is cheaper than Priority mail but comes with more size restrictions and is used to ship small, lightweight items.

Priority mail is expensive and faster than First-class mail used to ship large, heavy items. It comes with fewer size restrictions and offers insurance coverage.

So, now you know the difference between priority mail and first-class, you can better make your choice.

If you still have any questions, feel free to ask. We will be happy to help you. Thank you.

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