Forever Stamps: What They Are and How They Work

Save Money on Mail-In Sweepstakes with Forever Stamps

Image of the 2007 Forever Stamp issued by the USPS.
Image of the 2007 Forever Stamp issued by the USPS. Image © United States Postal Service, used with permission.

What Are Forever Stamps?

Forever Stamps are first-class stamps issued by the United States Postal Service. What makes them special is that you can buy them at the current first-class postage rate, and they remain valid even if that rate rises in the future. So if you buy a Forever Stamp at $0.49 cents per stamp and the first-class postage rate rises in six months to $0.55 per stamp, you are saving $0.06 cents for every letter you send.

If you assume postal rates will always rise and never sink, then Forever Stamps are a good investment. And there's good reason to make that assumption. According to a Wikipedia article on the history of US postage rates, the last time postage prices fell was in 1919, when the cost of mailing an envelope dropped from three to two cents.

Update: In April of 2016, the USPS dropped their first-class postal rate slightly, from $0.49 to $0.47 for a standard letter. You can read more in this USA Today article. However, the prices rose again in January of 2017, back to $0.49 per stamp.

What Forever Stamps Are Worth:

Forever stamps don't have a dollar amount printed on them. They are worth whatever the first-class postage rate is on any given day. (If you're curious, you can check the USPS website for the current first-class postage rate).

So you can send a first-class envelope with a Forever Stamp today, tomorrow, next year, five years from now, no matter what the current cost is.

How Forever Stamps Work:

Forever Stamps are very easy to use. Simply buy stamps at the current first-class rate, and you don't have to worry about how much sending a standard letter costs. Slap Forever Stamps on your #10 or other standard-sized envelopes, drop them in the mailbox, and voila, you're covered.

You can use more than one Forever Stamp if you need to send a package or a letter that weighs more than an ounce. Each single stamp is worth the current first-class rate (not what you paid for them). So if the rate is $0.49 and you use two stamps, you will have $0.96 worth of postage for your package.

You can also use Forever Stamps to send letters internationally. Simply calculate how much it costs to send your international letter and determine how many Forever Stamps you'll need to cover the price.

Be aware that you might save money by getting the exact postage you need at the post office or on the USPS website rather than using only Forever Stamps.

The Forever Stamp Program's Success is a Win for Everyone:

The Forever Stamp was so successful for the USPS that in 2011, they made all first-class stamps into Forever Stamps, with a few exceptions. In 2015, the postal service extended the Forever Stamp concept to postcards and more.

Why? According to a 2015 notice from the Postal Service, the Forever Stamps eliminate "the need for customers and the Postal Service to acquire and distribute new denominated stamps in anticipation of price changes affecting these stamp types, each time a price change occurs."

The Postal Service saves money when they don't have to collect and destroy outdated stamps. And customers are spared the inconvenience of having to buy stamps worth just a few cents in order to be able to use their old stamps when prices rise.

Why Forever Stamps Are Great for Entering Sweepstakes:

If you enter mail-in sweepstakes, buying Forever Stamps can protect you from rising postage stamp costs.

For example, mailing an envelope with your entry form in it today might cost you $0.49. In the future, sending the same letter could cost you $0.55 or more. That's only a few cents per stamp, but when you send dozens, or even hundreds, of sweepstakes entries every month, those cents add up.

Stocking up on Forever Stamps now mean that you won't overspend on your sweepstakes entries... as long as postage costs keep rising.

If you think that postage rates will fall in the future, buying a Forever Stamp now is not a good decision.

Where to Buy Forever Stamps:

U.S. Forever Stamps can be purchased from the United States Postal Service at your local post office, online, or by telephone. Many other stores carry stamps, like grocery stores and gift shops.

For people who live in other regions, the Canadian Post offers a similar product, the Permanent Stamp. Many European countries also have versions of the Forever Stamp. Ask your local post office for more details.

How to Save Money on Forever Stamps:

If you're looking for a bargain on stamps, some creativity can get you stamps at lower prices. Try searching for stamp sales on eBay, for example. You can then increase your savings by using cashback deals from your credit card, from an online site like eBates, or from eBay Bucks. Sometimes club stores like Costco offer small discounts on Forever Stamps. You can also try to win a gift card to stores like Staples which sell stamps.