Whether your business sends out letters or packages, you have both stamped mail and metered mail as options that may work for you. Sending stamped mail involves simply attaching prepurchased stamps. On the other hand, using metered mail involves renting a postage meter to purchase and print the exact postage needed.
When deciding between stamped and metered mail, carefully consider your typical mailing needs and compare the pros and cons of both options.
TL;DR (Too Long; Didn't Read)
Put simply, stamped mail involves buying physical postage stamps that you stick on your mail, while metered mail involves using a postage meter to accurately calculate postage costs and print your proof of purchase.
Basics of Stamped Mail
Available for purchase as sheets, coils and booklets, stamps allow you to send common mail classes such as First Class and Priority Mail by just sticking on stamps that are worth the amount of postage needed. You'll need to weigh your item and carefully estimate any possible surcharges to avoid having the item returned for not having enough postage.
Stamps can be a convenient and economical choice to mail regular letters occasionally. While stamps will never expire anyway, you can purchase special Forever Stamps that work regardless of future First-Class price increases. As of 2020, these stamps cost 55 cents each and allow you to mail a letter of up to 1 ounce. An additional ounce costs 15 cents, and you can purchase partial stamps between 1 and 35 cents to make up for the difference.
To send out stamped mail, you can simply set up a recurring pickup with USPS, drop the letters into a mailbox or take them to the post office. However, adding other services like Registered Mail requires a trip to the post office.
Basics of Metered Mail
When you use metered mail, you obtain a postage meter that prints onto a tape or even directly on your letters. Your business gets a permit to do this in your locale, and once you're set up, you'll pay postage along with fees for mail presorting and the meter itself. You'll only need to visit a post office when you're sending presorted mail or need a service that requires in-person support.
Metered mail works with more mailing classes than stamps. These include USPS Retail Ground, Marketing Mail and Media Mail. You also get access to discounted commercial rates and popular mail add-ons such as insurance and Registered Mail.
The price for metered mail depends on the item's postage class, weight and size. As of 2020, you can send a 1-ounce, First-Class metered letter for 50 cents, a savings of 5 cents compared to one First-Class stamp.
Stamped Mail: Pros and Cons
Postage stamps come with the benefit of simplicity. You can simply pick up the stamps locally or order them online, and you don't have to pay for or learn to use a postage meter. You can simply estimate the weight, attach the right amount of stamps and send your items.
However, using stamps with a fixed value can cost your company more money in the long run. You might feel tempted to just add another stamp or two when you're unsure about the weight. This equals lost money and also more time spent obtaining more stamps. You also don't get to take advantage of the slightly lower commercial rate.
It can also be harder to track your mailing expenses when you use a variety of stamps unless you keep close track of what your business uses.
Metered Mail: Pros and Cons
If you send a lot of mail, metered mail can save your business significant time and money. Not only do you waste less work time and gas from visiting the post office, but you save money since you're ensured to pay only the exact postage needed. You can also easily monitor your postage spending.
While using a postage meter saves you on mailing costs, you do have the extra expense of obtaining the meter. Because you can't legally buy a postage meter, you'll have to pay an ongoing lease or rental fee. There's also the annual presorting fee to consider.
- USPS Delivers: Metered Mail 101: The Benefits of Digital Meters
- Expert Market: USPS Postage Meter Rates
- USPS: Postage Options
- USPS: What Are You Mailing? Domestic
- USPS: Frequently Asked Questions
- USPS: Stamps
- Business.com: Postage Meters: Calculating Costs, Types, Purchasing Tips and Terms
- USPS: What Is a Postage Meter?
- Roel Smart/iStock/Getty Images