How to Send a Postcard

Blog author Alex Cook's photo

By Alex Cook

Sending a postcard is easy! Whether you buy a single postcard from a gift shop or a multipack from Amazon, they typically feature a template on the back.

On the left side is where you place your message, on the right side on the lines provided is your recipient’s address and on the upper-right is where stamps should be added. Unlike letters, postcards don’t require a return address as if for some reason a postcard can’t be delivered it’s not returned to the sender which is one reason why they’re only $0.56 to send anywhere in the USA in just a few days.

Postcard template showing a message on the left, example recipient name on the right and a "postcard stamp" emblem on the top right.

How Much Does it Cost to Send a Postcard?

To send a postcard from the USA to a recipient in the USA, it costs $0.56. The USPS sells special “postcard stamps” which cost exactly $0.56 but you can also use a typical “forever stamp” if you don’t have any postcard stamps handy. Since forever stamps are worth $0.73, you’ll be overpaying by $0.17.

To send a postcard internationally, it costs $1.65.

What Size Should Postcards Be?

According to the USPS, postcards must be:

  • Rectangular
  • At least 3-1/2 inches high x 5 inches long x 0.007 inch thick
  • No more than 4-1/4 inches high x 6 inches long x 0.016 inches thick

Postcards can’t be square and they must be least 3.5×5” (up to 6”x9”). The maximum thickness of 0.016 inches is about the thickness of 4 sheets of paper.

There isn’t a published maximum weight for postcards, so unlike letters which you have to weigh and round up to the nearest ounce, in theory you don’t need to worry about the weight of a postcard.

Pushing the Envelope of Postcard Rules

I have two pretty cool examples of how the USPS is fairly liberal with its postcard rules, at least when sending them domestically. 

My brother Andy went on a trip to Alaska and picked up this postcard that features a quilt on the front. How cool! The quilt is stitched onto a piece of paper which serves as the writeable back. My brother added two postcard stamps to the postcard but he probably only needed one. The USPS delivered it with no issue!

A photo showing the front and back of a cloth-covered postcard. On the front is a cool blue and green stitched cloth design, and on the back is green paper showing the stitches from the cloth on the front coming through the paper. It reads, "hey Al! I bought this postcard for you in Alaksa because I thought you'd appreciate it. I hope you make it there one day. You'd love it. Bald eagles are everywhere! Love, Andy"

On the upper-right are two ocean themed postcard stamps.

My brother-in-law Matt is an artist living in NYC. Over the summer, he announced an exhibit using entirely recycled materials and sent out these postcards to all of his followers, me being one of them:

A postcard inviting people to an art exhibit featuring recycled art. On the front are two cardboard cut-out animals: A raccoon and a pidgeon. It says ECO SYSTEM LIFE IS TRASH — NEW ARTWORK FROM RECYCLED MATERIALS BY MATTHEW WOODS. It's on a black background with white and great tetx. 

On the back of the postcard it says ECO SYSTEM with a piece of cardboard under the header text. There are 3 lantern flies made of cardboard featured on the postcard. The invitation details with the location in New York are featured.

Matt’s postcard came as a typical postcard printed on card stock (the cardboard you see isn’t actually real). But this gave me the idea to send Matt a postcard made entirely of cardboard. I took an old Amazon box and cut it about 5″x7″ and wrote Matt a message and then sent it to him with just a postcard stamp. Sure enough, it actually arrived!

Have you sent an unusual postcard like this one, or just have comments or questions about sending postcards? Leave a comment below; I read and respond to all comments.

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