The cost of first- and second-class stamps for standard letters is rising by 1p from 27 March, Royal Mail has announced – but you can stock up at the current price before the increase hits.

A first-class stamp (for letters of up to 100g and up to a certain width and thickness) currently costs 64p, while a second-class stamp costs 55p – these will rise to 65p and 56p.

The cost of a first-class stamp for large letters (weighing up to 100g and meeting other size rules) will rise by 2p to 98p, while a second-class large-letter stamp will increase by 1p to 76p.

This is just one of many public service price changes coming ahead of the new tax year:

- Tax code... It's your responsibility to check yours on 6 April – use our Tax Code Calc.
- Water bills... rise by up to 4% in England and Wales on 1 April. Can you save?
- Prescriptions... will climb to £8.60 on 1 April in England – see Cheap Medicines help.
- Dental costs... Basic check-up charges in England rise to £20.60 – see full costs.
- Council tax... bills increase on 1 April, yet some overpay – challenge your tax band.

If you're an avid letter-writer, have invitations to send or are just looking ahead to your Christmas card list, it's possible to beat the price rise by stocking up on stamps now at the cheaper rate.

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 Monday 27 March.

The latest price increases follow a similar rise last year – first-class and second-class stamps went up by a penny in March 2016.

Defending the latest price changes, Royal Mail said its stamps remained among the cheapest in Europe – across the Continent, the average price of a first-class stamp is 87p.

A spokesperson said: "Royal Mail understands how hard it is for many companies and households in the current economic environment. For that reason, we have considered any pricing changes very carefully and have sought to minimise any impact on our customers."

For how to cut the cost of sending larger packages, see our Cheap Parcel Delivery guide.

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