The cost of mailing a letter is a month away from increasing by three cents. That means the rate will be 49 cents for a first-class stamp.
But many consumers won't have to pay the extra cost immediately. That's because 'forever stamps' can be purchased at the lower price until the new rate is effect Jan. 26.
The temporary rate increase will remain in effect only until the Postal Service can recoup $2.8 billion in losses. The independent Postal Regulatory Commission rejected a request to make the price hike permanent.
Bulk mail, periodicals and package service rates will rise 6 percent. The new price of a postcard stamp, raised by a penny to 34 cents in November, also is effective next month.
The post office has been hit hard by declining mail volume because of the recession and growing Internet use. It also struggles because Congress requires it to prepay $5.6 billion annually for the health care costs of future retirees.