Postage Meters vs Traditional Stamps: Which Should You Choose?

Stack of white envelopes

Stamps vs postage meter – the former is easier but the latter is $0.05 cheaper per First Class letter. If you're mailing in bulk then you should definitely choose a postage meter for your business.

In this guide we'll cover the main differences in logistics, costs and benefits of using stamps versus a postage meter.

If you'd prefer to compare postage meter prices specifically for your business, feel free to access our custom quote-finding tool. Simply provide a few details and we'll contact trusted postage meter suppliers to contact you with tailored pricing offers.


Metered Mail vs Stamped Mail

The difference between the two is that stamped mail involves sticking on paper stamps by hand, while metered mail goes through a machine that prints a postage mark directly onto each piece of mail.

Here's a reference guide of possible cost savings to your business, if you switched from USPS stamps to a postage meter:

Mail Type Stamped Mail CostPostage Meter CostSaving
First Class Letter (1oz or less)$0.58$0.539%
Priority Mail Legal Flat Rate Envelope $9.25 (Retail)$8.05 (Commercial Base Rate)13%
Priority Mail Express Padded Flat Rate Envelope$27.50 (Retail)$23.95 (Commercial Base Rate)13%

Remember, you have to meet certain criteria to qualify for the USPS Commercial Base Rate plus there's some set up admin and fees involved. But postage meter suppliers are often more than happy to sort this out for you, and if you mail in bulk then those juicy savings could be coming home sooner than you think.

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Stamps vs postage meters is a hotly contested debate. But here, we settle that debate once and for all.

Sending metered mail is wiser for businesses, as postage meters can calculate exact postage costs based on the precise size and weight of your item. For a quick example, Data-Pac's Shape Based technology even accounts for the puff of air in your padded envelope, so you'll never pay more than you should for your business mail.

Here's a visual summary of our main reasons for favoring postage meters over stamps:

Cost-Effective?Reliable?Convenient?
Traditional stamps
Postage meters

Read on to find out about the benefits of using a postage meter in more detail.

Metered mail vs stamped mail

Why Should I use a Postage Meter?

So, why did we give postage meters three ticks?

For starters, a postage meter enables you to print your own postage on most mail items from the comfort of your own office chair.

Not only do you cut the time spent dealing with mail, you also completely cut the cost of running your company car to the Post Office and back.

Postage systems can also calculate the exact postage costs. Handily, most have a weighing scale included, which removes the risk of over or under paying, making them far more reliable than traditional stamps.

Many machines can process over 100 letters each minute and, due to reduced rates for metered mail, the postage paid on each item works out slightly cheaper than it would be if a stamp was used.

Over the course of a year, this price difference could lead to fairly significant savings, although the exact value of these savings depends on your company’s volume of mail. That's to say, the overall postage meter cost depends on how many items of mail your business handles on a daily basis.

If you want a postage meter for stamping bulk mailings, then you also need to apply for a permit at an additional cost of around $200, valid for one year.

Did You Know?

The USPS offers a 5¢ discount, per letter, for sending mail First Class with a postage meter rather than a stamp.


Why Should I use Stamps?

You shouldn't. We're very anti-stamps here. (Just kidding).

For businesses mailing 10 or fewer letters per week, the traditional stamp method works just fine – it’s a low-tech method with fixed costs (that is, until the price of stamps goes up again, but that's a whole other thing)…

Now to address the first cross for stamps on the chart above: convenience.

The major drawback to using stamps is loss of time. Assuming you've remembered to buy the correct stamps (online or at a post office branch), you need to affix them onto each item of mail – a nightmare if you need to process hundreds of mail items. Think of the paper cuts.

By contrast, postage meters are connected to the internet, so they'll always calculate the most up-to-date postage cost and process as many items of mail as you've credit in your account for.

Calculating the cost of stamps costs for bulky or heavy items can be difficult and time-consuming. Given it’s a human task, you risk miscalculating your costs which introduces us to the second cross on the above chart: reliability.

The more items you post, the greater the risk of cost calculation errors – particularly as humans can get tired, whereas machines don't.

And it’s not just the risk of overpaying: underpaying is just as costly for your business – especially when you consider the impact of an item not reaching its destination.

You can also read about how the prices vary when comparing postage meters to Stamps.com.

Considering a postage meter for your business?

Next Steps

Using a postage meter can save your business time and money. It’s simple. While stamps are adequate for most personal postal errands, postage meters can’t be beaten for time, cost and reliability.

Keen to upgrade your existing postage meter, or lease a new one for the first time? We can help you out. Simply describe your mailing needs on our free tool (it only takes a minute), and we’ll match your business with postage meter suppliers that best suit your requirements.

They’ll then be in touch with free, non-obligation quotes for you to compare.

Sabrina Dougall

Sabrina writes about tech for business as well as consumer software. She covers topics ranging from digital marketing to ecommerce fulfilment, security systems, franking machines, and more. Having run her own successful small business, Sabrina knows first-hand how much there is to keep on top of. Writing with your company’s needs in mind, she distils truly useful product information (without the sales pitch).