In January 2012, the Post Office will bring more than just holiday bills. It will cost a penny more to mail those bills beginning on January 22nd, as the cash-strapped US Post Office has announced a rate increase which will bring the cost of first class mail to 45 cents.

In July, the Post Office announced its plan to consider closing nearly 3,700 branches, including 12 in Michigan. The fate of Flint's downtown branch remains unknown. Other cost-cutting proposals have included scaling back delivery from six to five days per week.

Last month the Post Office announced its plans to toss out the rule that stamps only honor dead people, in an attempt to engage young people with snail mail.

In 2010, the Post Office lost $8 billion, and figures are expected to be worse for 2011.

Under the law the post office cannot raise prices more than the rate of inflation, which is 2.1 percent, unless it gets special permission from the independent Postal Regulatory Commission. The PRC last year turned down such a request.

In addition to the first-class mail rate increase, other rates will increase in January as well:

  • Postcards will go up 3 cents to 32 cents.
  • Mailing a letter to Mexico or Canada will cost 85 cents, which is a nickel increase.
  • Letters to other foreign countries will go up 7 cents to $1.05