Royal Mail is to increase the price of first- and second-class stamps from Tuesday 29 March – the third successive annual price rise. But you've still time to beat the hike by buying now.

The price of a first-class stamp will rise by 1p to 64p and the price of a second-class stamp will increase by 1p to 55p.

A large letter first-class stamp (for items weighing up to 100g) will also rise by 1p to 96p, while a large letter second-class stamp is going up by 1p to 75p.

Other types of parcel delivery costs are also going up – see our Cheap Parcel Delivery guide for more on cutting the cost of sending a parcel. Full price info is available on the Royal Mail website.

This is the third year running stamp prices have gone up. Prices increased by 1p for each class of stamp in March 2015, and by 2p for first-class stamps and 3p for second-class stamps in March 2014.

Beat the price hike

Royal Mail's confirmed that as long as stamps say "1st" or "2nd" on them rather than a price, they remain valid – even if you buy them now and use them after 29 March.

This means you can stock up now, getting all the stamps you need before the price rise applies. This works especially well if you're planning to send a lot of post later this year, eg, wedding invitations or Christmas cards.

What does Royal Mail say?

A Royal Mail spokesperson says that stamp prices in the UK "remain among the best value in Europe".

He adds: "We have carefully considered the impact on our customers and our own business before deciding to apply the smallest possible increase in stamped letter prices. This is needed to help ensure the sustainability of the universal postal service."

Royal Mail is the designated provider of the universal postal service in the UK until at least 2021. This means it has to reach minimum service requirements that must be available to all addresses in the UK, such as ensuring at least one delivery of letters every Monday to Saturday to every address.