What exactly does "Priority Mail" mean?

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Original Post

This may be a dumb question, but all I know about Priority shipping (USPS) is that it costs a lot more for me to ship my packages (I ship in small mailers that typically weigh 1-1.5 oz.) and that they get there sooner.

Are there other benefits? Does Priority really speed shipping?

Sorry if I am so naive about this ...

Thanks for your help!

Posted at 5:26pm Oct 30, 2010 EDT


Means you will pay more and your item will not arrive any faster.

Posted at 5:28pm Oct 30, 2010 EDT

it means we want to charge you more to tell you it will get there in 2 days but we make no promises and no refunds if it doesn't. It is really for items over 14 ounces

Posted at 5:28pm Oct 30, 2010 EDT

Haha - Okay - That's what I thought, but I wasn't sure ... This is why I ask fellow Etsians instead of visiting the USPS website :)

Posted at 5:29pm Oct 30, 2010 EDT

Priority Mail has flat rate options which you can ship any weight for a flat fee. The boxes and envelopes for Priority Mail flat rate are free of charge at your post office or you can order them for free online.

This is what I send. I ship my books for only $4.75 (which includes tracking, this is the online discount price) and it gets there in 2 - 3 days in USA.


Posted at 5:30pm Oct 30, 2010 EDT

Well - it means that there's definitely tracking, for one thing. At least if you're mailing within the U.S.

Actually if you purchase even first class through paypal, you get a tracking number there, too, so the benefit of the "Priority Mail" is a little less.

I think Priority gets a little more attention - but that's a subjective feeling and may or may not be true. I do think that if your item is higher ticket, the buyer feels more secure if you use Priority.

And as a side note, purchasing International Priority (through the USPS, anyway) is pretty useless, I think. To the best of my knowledge (correct me if I'm wrong, everybody) there is NO tracking once the package leaves the U.S.

Also, within the U.S. again, Priority Mail is "guaranteed" 2-3 business days' delivery. Actually there's fine print that allows them to slip through a loophole, so it's not truly guaranteed. But it's a pretty good bet - I don't think I have ever had a Priority package take more than three days.


Posted at 5:31pm Oct 30, 2010 EDT

Here's another question then, for a shipment that is in a small mailer and weighs less than 2 oz - What upgrade option WILL get it to the customer faster?

I am considering adding an upgrade option to purchases and I don't want to offer something like Priority if it really doesn't promise quicker delivery.

Posted at 5:32pm Oct 30, 2010 EDT

I agree. I always ship Priority. The free boxes that get delivered to my home is worth it. Plus, the difference between first class and Priority for my items is very little. Guess it depends on what you are shipping.

Posted at 5:33pm Oct 30, 2010 EDT

They both take about the same amount of time.

If you choose Priority Mail, the post office will give you free boxes. Many people who sell on Ebay do it this way, then they get to use a free box, and you pay the expensive shipping. Everybody on Ebay did it like this, and people expect to pay minimum $5 shipping on Ebay.

On Etsy, people expect to pay first class, but that means the seller provides the box/shipping materials, and many customers expect the seller to eat that cost.

Once you're above 13 oz., it doesn't matter, first class isn't available anymore.

Also with Priority, you can schedule a pickup. With first class, you can also leave it out for your carrier, but if you are on a walking route, or if you don't happen to receive mail that day, your item doesn't get picked up.

Posted at 5:33pm Oct 30, 2010 EDT

Express Mail is overnight and guaranteed, but it will cost and arm and a leg.

Posted at 5:34pm Oct 30, 2010 EDT