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Cost of a first-class stamp to rise by up to 14p from next year

The price of first-class stamps will rise by up to 14p in the new year, Royal Mail has announced. Below we round up what's happening and what you can do to try to cut costs.

From 1 January 2021, stamp prices will increase as follows:

  • A first-class stamp for a standard letter will rise by 9p (12%) from 76p to 85p.
  • A second-class stamp for a standard letter will rise by 1p (2%) from 65p to 66p.
  • A first-class stamp for a large letter will rise by 14p (12%) from £1.15 to £1.29.
  • A second-class stamp for a large letter will rise by 8p (9%) from 88p to 96p.

A standard letter can weigh up to 100g and measure a maximum of 24cm x 16.5cm x 5mm. Meanwhile, large letters can measure 35.3cm x 25cm x 2.5cm, but still have to weigh 100g or less – if they weigh more, you'll have to pay extra. See our Parcel Delivery guide to help cut the cost of couriers.

Biggest increase since 2012

The increase is the biggest since 2012 and is also much higher than the rate of inflation, which is used to track annual price changes. The Consumer Prices Index (CPI) measure of inflation was just 0.7% in October, according to the latest Office for National Statistics data.

January's increase will also be the second rise in less than a year. Stamp prices usually go up every March, and this year was no different, with Royal Mail increasing the price of first and second-class stamps by 6p each.

Royal Mail blames the rise and its timing on extra costs incurred due to the coronavirus pandemic, such as protective equipment, paying staff for overtime and paying for agency workers when others may have been off sick or isolating. It adds that the volume of letters posted has also fallen over this time.

How to beat the price hikes

It's possible to beat the rises by stocking up on stamps at the cheaper rate before 1 January 2021.

If you buy an ordinary first or second-class stamp, they won't have a monetary value printed on them, just '1st' or '2nd'. This means if you buy these stamps now they'll still be valid after prices have risen. 

We spoke to one MoneySaver in 2019 who reckons he's saved £100s over the years by bulk-buying stamps in advance of price rises to beat hikes.

What does Royal Mail say?

Nick Landon, chief commercial officer at Royal Mail, said: "Like other companies, 2020 has been a challenging year for Royal Mail. Our people have worked tirelessly to keep the UK connected throughout the pandemic and associated restrictions.

"These price increases will help us continue to deliver and sustain the universal service in challenging circumstances."

Under the so-called 'universal service obligation', Royal Mail must deliver letters to every address in the UK six days a week, and at a standard price.

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