Difference Between Metered & Stamped Mail

by W D Adkins; Updated September 26, 2017
Group of Letters With Canceled Stamps

The postage stamp is a British invention that’s been around for a long time – since 1840 to be exact. Stamps are actually receipts showing that the delivery charge for a piece of mail has been paid. In the United States, businesses often use metered mail instead of stamps, but the function is the same: The imprint on metered mail also shows the delivery fee has been paid.

Postage Meters Versus Stamps

The most obvious difference between metered and stamped mail is that a stamp is an adhesive-backed piece of paper attached to a letter or package, but a postage meter prints directly on the piece of mail. Stamps are typically used when the number of items to be mailed is relatively small. Businesses can get a United States Postal Service permit for precanceled stamps to eliminate the cancellation step. A postage meter is normally used for bulk mailings, although you can meter an individual first-class letter and most other types of mail if you wish. Payment for metering is usually done through an electronic funds transfer system offered by the USPS, called Postage Now.

About the Author

Based in Atlanta, Georgia, W D Adkins has been writing professionally since 2008. He writes about business, personal finance and careers. Adkins holds master's degrees in history and sociology from Georgia State University. He became a member of the Society of Professional Journalists in 2009.

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