Forever stamp © 2007 USPS, all rights reserved

Extra5/8/2008 12:01 AM ET

Stamp sales surge before rate increase

The cost of sending a letter goes up Monday, but Americans are saving now by snapping up millions and millions of Forever stamps. The stamps will remain good for full postage.

By The Associated Press

With a postal rate increase just days away, Americans are buying 30 million Forever stamps a day.

The cost of sending a first-class letter will rise a penny, to 42 cents, on Monday. But Forever stamps, now selling for 41 cents, will remain valid for full postage after the increase.

Forever stamps were introduced last year, and since then more than 6 billion have been sold, with interest growing as the rate increase nears.

"We knew the Forever stamp would be a big hit with our customers, and we continue to replenish our stock to meet demand," said Delores Killette, the U.S. Postal Service's consumer advocate. "We introduced these stamps as a customer convenience to ease the transition during price changes."

But don't wait forever, because starting Monday the price of a Forever stamp goes up to 42 cents, too.

Unlike Forever stamps, other 41-cent stamps will require additional postage when the new rate goes into effect, and postal officials said they had printed an additional 1.5 billion 1-cent stamps in anticipation of the demand.

New stamps available now

Also, for the first time, the Postal Service has been selling stamps at the new rate in advance. A set of five 42-cent stamps honoring pioneering journalists went on sale in April, as did a set of four stamps featuring the U.S. flag flying at different times of day.

Postage rates last went up in May 2007, with a first-class stamp jumping 2 cents to the current 41-cent rate. The first-class postal rate is the one that most people notice, but other prices will also rise Monday.

Like Americans nationwide, the Postal Service has been feeling the pinch of higher gasoline prices. Each penny increase in the per-gallon price of gas costs the post office an estimated $8 million a year.

In the past, raising postage rates was a long, complex process involving hearings before the independent Postal Regulatory Commission, a process that could take nearly a year.

Continued: Other new rates

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