How Much Does a Postage Meter Cost in 2023?

Sabrina Dougall
Heleana Neil, Business Services editor

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Postage meter rental rates typically start at around $20 per month for the most basic machines, rising to over $1,000 per month for dedicated mail processing stations. On top of the rental fees, there are extra costs to think about such as ink, paper, and maintenance.

This guide will explain everything you need to know about postage costs. We’ll also demonstrate the value of these machines by showing you how much your business could save in the long run.

Alternatively, you can cut to the chase and find out the most accurate postage meter cost for your business through our free quote-finding tool. Simply answer a few questions, and we’ll match you with the most suitable postage meter companies who’ll offer clear pricing information and bespoke, no-obligation quotes.

postage meter rates

Explore postage meter rates below, and find out how much your business could save in 2023

Postage Meter Rates

First Class mail sent with a postage meter is eligible for lower United States Postal Service (USPS) rates. Whereas the retail rate for sending a First Class letter (1 oz.) is $0.63, the postage meter rate is $0.60 – a 4% saving.

Where Can I Lease a Postage Meter?

Currently, only four companies are authorized to supply postage meters in the United States.

These companies are: Pitney Bowes, FP Mailing Solutions, Quadient, and Data-Pac Mailing Systems.

Postage Meter Suppliers in the US

  • Pitney Bowes
  • FP Mailing Solutions
  • Quadient
  • Data-Pac Mailing Systems

Postage Meter Pricing Breakdown

What exactly are you paying for when you lease a postage meter?

Postage meter costs fall into four main categories:

  1. Lease costs
  2. Postage costs
  3. Mailing supplies costs
  4. Maintenance and repair costs

Let’s take a closer look at each cost type.

Cost 1: The Lease

Since it’s impossible to buy a postage meter, your best bet is to get one on a lease. That means paying an authorized supplier a small fee every month to rent one of their machines.

Fixed Fee vs Usage-based Leases

Some suppliers charge fixed fees, while others bill based on usage (the volume of mail you process). The type of lease you can get often depends on the particular type of postage meter you’re interested in. In fact, they’ll usually put together a custom quote that’s tied to the amount of mail you use it for.

Fixed fee leases are the most straightforward option when you want to place a hard cap on your monthly spend. A usage-based fee structure makes sense when you send varying volumes of mail each month and you want your bill to reflect this.

The Bottom Line

Anywhere from $20 to $1,200+ per month, depending on the supplier, model and sometimes your usage.

Expert Tip

When you’re comparing postage meter lease prices, research beyond the websites of postage meter companies themselves. Speaking to suppliers on the phone is the best way to negotiate preferential pricing and find out about special offers they might not advertise online.

Get specific postage meter quotes for your business

Cost 2: The Postage

As we mentioned earlier, a first class stamp for a letter weighing 1oz costs 63¢ (the retail rate).

If you used a postage meter to process the same letter, you’d pay just 60¢.

That’s already a 4% reduction on your direct mail costs.

Presorted Mail Discounts

It gets better. An even cheaper set of Commercial Rates are available for businesses that send mail in bulk. To qualify for these rates, you’ll need to presort your mail before passing it over to the USPS for delivery.

Now, when it comes to presorted mail, there’s bad news, good news, and really good news.

The bad news is that to qualify for the lowest rates, you need to sort your mail quite carefully. Presorted First Class batches need to contain at least 500 pieces. But for advertising mail (known as USPS Marketing Mail), the minimum is only 200 pieces.

The good news is that any good mid-level postage meter can presort everything for you.

And the really good news?

With five-digit presorting, postage is 24% cheaper than regular First Class mail.

Rate Protection Guarantees

As if that wasn’t good enough, you can sweet talk some postage meter companies into offering rate protection guarantees. This means that your supplier will freeze metered postage rates at their current level when you sign the lease. So, if you sign a 36 month lease when the rate is 60¢ for a 1oz letter, USPS postage rate hikes during your contract won’t affect you.

USPS Business Fees

You should, however, be aware of several fees that apply if you want to take advantage of Commercial Rates. For every class of mail you wish to send in bulk from a particular post office, you will need to pay an annual fee of $265. So you should choose one post office and stick to it for the year.

You need a permit to use a postage meter for commercial mailing, however, there is no application fee for this.

The Bottom Line

USPS postage rates vary according to (1) package dimensions, (2) weight, (3) distance sent and (4) shipping speed. Here’s a table of all the factors you'd need to qualify for First Class mail:

Type of mail
PostcardsLettersFlats (large envelopes)Parcels
Min3-1/2in x 5in x 0.0007in3-1/2in x 5in x 0.0007in6-1/8in x 11-1/2in x 1/4in3in x 6in x 1/4in
Max4-1/4in x 6in x 0.016in6-1/8in x 11-1/2in x 1/4in12in x 15in x 3/4in22in x 18in x 15in
Weight limit
Distance limit
Anywhere in the USAnywhere in the USAnywhere in the USAnywhere in the US
1-5 business days1-5 business days1-5 business days1-5 business days

To send letters exceeding these size, weight or speed criteria, you’ll need a different service. Other USPS mail classes include:

  • Priority Mail Express (delivery next day or two days)
  • Priority Mail (delivery in one to three business days)
  • First Class Package (delivery in two to five days)
  • Media Mail (for discs, audio, video, delivery in two to eight business days)
  • Package Services/USPS Retail Ground (for less urgent or oversized packages, delivery in two to five days from $8.50 or you can calculate exact postage price)

If you’re considering leasing a postage meter, all you need to know at this point is that these services are great for sending large, heavy and/or urgent packages. Using a postage meter to weigh and stamp your mail saves you having to take it to the post office. Plus, once you’ve prepared it, the USPS can collect it straight from your office or warehouse. It doesn’t get much easier than this.

Expert Tip

Read our guides to USPS Priority Mail and Flat Rate Priority Mail pricing to find out how to save money with these services.

Cost 3: The Supplies

Postage meter supplies are another important cost to consider when you’re shopping for quotes. While some suppliers include complimentary ink refills or stationery as standard, others won’t offer anything of the sort. If a supplier’s website doesn’t say whether or not these extras are included in your rental fee, make sure you clarify this over the phone.

The Bottom Line

Here are some typical postage meter stationery costs:

  • Black ink cartridge refill x 1: $110-$214
  • Red ink cartridge refill x1 : $65-$210
  • Postage tape sheets (self-adhesive labels) x 150: $45-$160
  • Envelope sealing solution x 1 gallon: $50
  • Machine cleaning supplies: $40

Be aware that ink cartridge costs vary considerably by brand, model, size, whether bought in multipacks or individually, and yield rate. You should only buy inks that are compatible with your specific postage meter.

Expert Tip

It’s nearly always cheaper to order postage meter supplies through an office supply store. Save money by finding a postage meter supplier whose deals exclude supplies like labels and ink.

Cost 4: The Upkeep

Last but not least, upkeep. When you lease a postage meter, the equipment still belongs to your supplier. In theory, that means they’re responsible for all routine maintenance and repair work.

But in practice? It depends on the specific terms of your lease. All the more reason to do your research and thrash things out fully with suppliers before committing to anything.

Hardware Maintenance and Repair

The main thing you want to know is, does your supplier send repair technicians to you, or do you have to send faulty units back to them for repairs? What kinds of hardware damage does their warranty cover, and what kinds of insurance do they offer?

Software Support

Pitney Bowes, FP, Quadient and Data-Pac all offer mailing automation software. On paper, they all claim to make your mailroom even more efficient. But you should still do your due diligence to find out if that’s really the case. For example, for how long will they continue to release free bug fixes and software updates? And how easy is the software to use? If it’s got a steep learning curve or a confusing design, it could do more harm than good…

The Bottom Line

Generally speaking, postage meter suppliers cover the costs of repairing or replacing faulty units. Mailing automation software from the ‘big three’ suppliers (Pitney Bowes, FP and Quadient) is generally well-supported.

Request no-obligation quotes on postage meters now

Expert Tip

Don’t hesitate to ask postage meter companies how they handle service and repairs.

How Much Time Do Postage Meters Save?

To answer that question, we thought it would be useful to compare how long it takes to add postage to mail by hand vs with a postage meter.

Using data from the National Small Business Poll, we estimated how much time an average small business that sends 600 pieces of mail each month would save with the help of a postage meter:

ActionAverage Time Taken by HandAverage Time Taken by Postage Meter
Make a round trip to the post office to buy stamps**30 minutesTopping up your postage balance online takes seconds
Weigh 600 pieces of mail one by one and write down the required amount of postage200 minutes5 minutes to load a semi or fully-automated postage meter tray with mail – it will do the rest
Apply the appropriate number of stamps to every piece of mail200 minutesZero staff time required, and your postage meter will complete the job in under half an hour
TOTAL7.2 hours5 minutes

**This assumes a round trip distance of five miles, an average driving speed of 30MPH, and 20 minutes spent inside the post office.

The Bottom Line

Going by this conservative estimate, the average small business is looking at a minimum of one full day wasted on postage each month. That’s an entire day that your direct marketing team could be spending on acquiring new customers.

How Do I Choose Between Suppliers?

We’ve already looked at how fee structures vary from one supplier to the next. If you want to get the best deal, comparison shopping is a must.

Use our free price quote gathering tool to find the best supplier offers for your needs and budget.

In particular, look out for dealer incentives that can help you control costs.

Many suppliers offer free trials of their postage meters that you can use to aid your decision. These typically last between 30 and 90 days, depending on how good you are at negotiating. Free trials are a great way to ‘try before you buy’, but don’t forget to cancel before the end of the trial period to avoid paying unwanted fees.

A rushed decision could lock your business into an expensive and unnecessary contract. Err on the side of caution, since it’s usually easier – not to mention cheaper – to upgrade later than to rent “too much” machine from the start.

Best Value Postage Meters

Best for Small Businesses

FP PostBase auto

The FP PostBase auto is an excellent solution for ambitious enterprises with modest mailing needs.

Speed: 95 letters per minute
Best for: Mid-sized businesses needing speed, but not to the tune of tens of thousands of letters per hour

Overall Rating :

Best for Large Businesses

Quadient IS-6000

The IS-6000 is a complete mailroom automation solution that packs an award-winning punch.

Speed: 300 letters per minute
Best for: Large companies sending ultra-high volumes of mail

Overall Rating :
▶ Full review: Quadient postage meters

Next Steps

To recap, here are the main benefits of renting or leasing a postage meter:

  • Postage costs are 4% cheaper for First Class
  • Or up to 24% cheaper for presorted five-digit mail under Commercial Rates
  • Save up to a day of time each month
  • Insulation from postage costs rises with rate protection guarantees
  • More visibility over postage costs with easy online tracking
  • No more ‘guesstimating’ weights – you pay the right amount every time
  • Secure mailroom software reduces fraud and abuse

On balance, the potential savings heavily outweigh every postage meter cost.

Written by:
Sabrina Dougall
Sabrina Dougall Web Marketing Expert

Sabrina is a business journalist whose career began in news reporting. She has a master’s in Investigative Journalism from City University London, and her work has appeared in The Times, The Daily Express, Money Saving Expert, Camden New Journal, Global Trade Review, and Computer Business Review. She specializes in writing about SEO (search engine optimization). Having run her own small business, Sabrina knows first-hand how critical digital marketing is to building a client base and local reputation.

Reviewed by:
Heleana Neil, Business Services editor
Heleana Neil Business Services Editor

Heleana Neil specialises in Business Services, managing the strategy and production of content for SMBs, helping businesses with the challenges and opportunities they face today. Covering everything from payroll to payment processing, Heleana uses her expertise to help business owners make better, informed decisions and grow their companies.