Why stamps that say ‘1st’ stay valid in perpetuity (so hoard ’em)

Stamp prices

Stamp prices

Stamp prices will be hiked on 30 April, so bulk buy "1sts" and "2nds" now and they stay valid so you can beat this. I’ve been yelling this to anyone who’ll listen, but some have questioned whether this will always be the case. So I thought I’d explain.

What’s happening?

From 30 April, 1st class letter-sized stamps will cost 60p (they’re currently 46p) while 2nd class rise to 50p (they’re currently 36p).
Yet provided the stamp says 1st or 2nd, as shown below, rather than an individual price, they’re valid after any rise.

1st class stamp

1st class stamp

2nd class stamp

2nd class stamp

This is a technique we’ve been suggesting for years and it works. So don’t just stock up for Christmas 2012, do it for 2013, 2014, and so on.

To add to that, right now Superdrug and Costco are selling them at reduced prices.

Will 1st class always be valid?

Almost certainly. Before yelling it, we had of course checked with Royal Mail. It says…

Stamps without a specified monetary value are described as Non Value Indicator (NVI) and are typically first and second class stamps. These do not have an expiry date, therefore can be used regardless of the length of time you’ve had them.

"Stamps with a monetary value also do not have an expiry date and can be combined to make up the value of postage required. This has always been the case with stamps and we have no plans to make any changes to this."

Then we checked with Ofcom. It says:

Any changes to terms and conditions for Royal Mail’s customers have to have to be fair and reasonable, which is a regulatory obligation we have imposed as part of this week’s decision on securing the UK postal service."

This pretty plainly means that Royal Mail aren’t planning to pull the rug from underneath people’s feet. If they did, they would then have to prove it is fair and reasonable, or the regulator could kibosh it.

As there is no sell-by date on stamps, my view, and that of people in the know I’ve spoken to, is that it’s an almost watertight argument that it wouldn’t be fair and reasonable if they did start moving the goalposts (at least not without many years of notice).

The great stamp hoard has started

Lots of people have already got in touch to say they’re doing it…

I bought 100 1st class stamps yesterday as I am getting married in 2014. Plan to get another 100 next week."

Bought two books of first and class stamps today! Lady at Morrisons said there had been a rush this week but didn’t know why!"

People are taking your advice – don’t think we’ve ever sold so many stamps in one day. They are a bargain with the 5% off." (From a Superdrug staff member).

Of course, while stocking up is good, do be sure you’ve got the cash, that you’ll use them, and put them somewhere safe (that you’ll remember).