'Forever stamps' have cachet among frugal


Consumers apparently still believe a penny saved is a penny earned, as many rushed this week to buy "forever stamps" that will help them avoid a pending one-cent rate hike in first-class postage.

The U.S. Postal Service announced this week that the price of mailing a standard letter will rise from 41 cents to 42 cents beginning May 12. But forever stamps -- so named because they are good indefinitely at the price purchased, no matter how much prices go up -- allow postal customers to lock in the lower rate.

Forever prices will rise a penny if purchased from May 12 on, however, as the stamp's value is tied to the existing first-class letter rate. There also will be an average 2.9% rate increase for other mailing services, including postcards, international mail and certified letters. Price hikes for Priority and Express Mail will be announced next month.

Money orders up to $500 are one of the few postal services that won't see a bump, holding steady at $1.05.

A 2006 law allows the postal service to raise rates only once a year, in May, and prices can rise no faster than the Consumer Price Index. Businesses had pushed for more predictable pricing, said U.S. Postal Service spokesman David Partenheimer , because they found it hard to budget for random increases that might be spaced further apart but were larger.

About 5 billion forever stamps have been sold since they were first introduced in April, and another 5 billion will be in stock before May.

"And we also will have plenty of 1-cent stamps," Partenheimer said.

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