For over a century and a half, postage stamps have been required to send mail. Before postage stamps were an option, however, postal services operated on a COD (cash on delivery) basis. As you can imagine, this wasn’t a sustainable business strategy. A significant amount of shipments were never paid for, and to cover these types of losses, the postal services were forced to increase their rates. Eventually, the postal services switched to prepaid stamps to help prevent money loss and keep shipping costs affordable for the masses.
Since the pricing on many stamps changes over time, many people wonder if it’s still worthwhile (and acceptable) to use their old stamps. To help you understand whether stamps expire or not, and the way stamp pricing works, we’ll break down those concepts in more detail below.
Do Postage Stamps Expire?
It’s not uncommon to feel confused about the validity of your postage stamps. Many people wonder if their stamps expire, especially as postage rates continue to climb. Luckily, there’s good news for you here, because postage stamps never expire! You can use postage stamps for as long as you’d like.
Instead of worrying about buying a new book of stamps every time postage rates increase, it’s much more effective to purchase stamps that will supplement the cost of your old stamps. Throwing out an old book of stamps simply because the postage is no longer exact means you’d be wasting quite a bit of money over time. Instead, you can figure out if you need five or ten more cents (for example) to make up for the difference.
One major exception regarding older stamps revolves around the care of your stamps. Now that you know your stamps will never expire, you should always store your stamps in a cool, dry place. It’s also essential to keep them covered, so they never appear stained. If they look stained or used, then those stamps will likely not be accepted when you try to use them to send something. Also, if you have already used a stamp, you’ll never be able to re-use that stamp again.
Do Forever Stamps Expire?
If you own any Forever Stamps, then you can safely take another deep breath. No, Forever Stamps don’t expire either. In fact, Forever Stamps offer a nice bonus compared to standard stamps. Not only do Forever Stamps never expire, but their value never changes even if the postal service increases their rates. If you purchase Forever Stamps, you’ll be able to use them for their intended purpose without incurring additional charges over time.
For instance, if you purchased a Forever Stamp for twenty-eight cents and later discover that first-class mail postage went up to thirty-two cents a stamp, you’d still be able to use your Forever Stamp (which now holds a functional value of thirty-two cents).
Forever Stamps were first introduced to us back in 2007 as a way to appease complaints about postage stamp price increases over time. Forever Stamps were a great way to counteract some of the negative PR that postal services were experiencing. By 2011, almost every single stamp bought through USPS was Forever Stamps. If you send a lot of mail or enter mail-in sweepstakes often, then Forever Stamps are an excellent way to save money.
In addition, Forever Stamps provide a unique opportunity for investors. Postal rates have steadily increased throughout history (and rarely decrease – more details in a moment). Therefore, stocking up on Forever Stamps and then selling them after a few price increases would be an excellent way to make some side cash.
In the past one hundred years or so, postage rates have only decreased on two occasions. The first occurrence was in 1919. At that time, the price for a usual stamp was three cents, and it dropped to two cents. The second time postal rates fell happened in April 2016. At that time, the USPS decreased its first-class postal rate from forty-nine cents to forty-seven cents. The last rate drop didn’t last long, though, and by January 2017, the prices went back up to forty-nine cents per stamp.
How Do US Stamp Rates Work?
For the public, it may very well seem as if the Postal Service randomly decides to increase prices (for their benefit). However, the Postal Service lacks the authority to make stamps cost whatever they’d like. In reality, the rate increases we see in our stamps are solely due to inflation. When the economy experiences inflation, then the Postal Service can ask to increase the price of stamps. That’s why we see stamp rates rise in predictable patterns every year or two.
As long as inflation continues, the cost of US stamps will still increase too. Again, you can see how monitoring inflation can quickly make Forever Stamps a worthwhile investment. Stamps are one of the few material objects that you can purchase where the pricing is almost guaranteed to rise. There’s quite an opportunity to profit off of your stamps as long as you are willing to buy them in bulk and wait a few years to sell them.
Now that you know about this neat little trick, you might be wondering if you should run to your local post office and purchase as many Forever Stamps as you can afford. Honestly, you don’t need to do so because you still have plenty of time to make an informed decision. It’s standard for the Postal Service to warn the country before it raises the price of stamps. That means you can wait for the next price increase to be announced before investing.
Another interesting fact is that because of a recent lawsuit (regarding the Postal Service’s latest rate increase), it’s unlikely that the first-class stamp rate will rise during the year 2020. We’re likely looking at another year or two before you should consider loading up on Forever Stamps.
Using Forever Stamps
Using Forever Stamps is quite straightforward. All you need to do is purchase them at today’s first-class rate, and then you won’t need to worry about stamps for quite some time. In particular, Forever Stamps work well for standard-sized envelopes that weigh less than an ounce. If your package weighs more than an ounce, you’ll need to opt for additional postage.
Forever Stamps can also be utilized for international postage. Once you know the cost of your international letter, divide that price by the first-class postage rate, and then you’ll determine the number of Forever Stamps to use on your envelope.
Now that you know about the benefits of Forever Stamps, you can always consider using them as a future investment strategy. If you’re a stamp collector, there’s no reason why you couldn’t invest in a beautiful collection of Forever Stamps to kick start your collection. Whatever the reason is for you to purchase Forever Stamps, you’ll undoubtedly reap plenty of their advantages over the years.