Is franking the cheapest way to send a letter?

Franking your post will save your business between 6% and 12% compared with the cost of stamps – and even more if your machine is Mailmark-enabled.

If you’re looking for the cheapest way to send post, then you should think about using a franking machine.

A franking machine measures your postage costs more accurately than humans, as well as being time efficient. Above all, your post qualifies for lower postage costs than buying stamps because you are doing some of the post office’s work for them.

This article contains everything you need to know about cheap postage solutions for your business. Scroll down to find out how much you could be saving, and let us know what you need to get free franking machine quotes.

Is franking the cheapest way to send post for your business?

Depending on your specific business, the answer is yes or no. So there’s a few costs to consider.

However, most businesses sending over 80 items of post every week will definitely save money in the long run.

Saving your business money is one of the best franking machine benefits. Franking machine postage rates are set between 2% and 15% lower than stamped postage prices. You will save at least 11p on the cost of posting a standard letter First Class, and 8p or more on Second Class postage.

With the above in mind, you could save up to £2,761 per year on First Class postage costs or £2,008 on Second Class if your business sends 100 items of post each working day.

Franking machine progressing through mail

A franking machine will save you between 2% and 15% on the cost of sending post

How much does a franking machine cost?

A mid-range franking machine will cost around £1,500 to buy, plus the cost of ink cartridges and other maintenance bits. So, taking the example above, where a company sends around 1,000 letters each month with savings of nearly £2,800 annually, a franking machine will pay for itself within roughly two years.

For a top of the range model, built to process thousands of letters an hour, you can pay up to £20,000. Of course, the savings will scale according to the length of time you’ll keep the machine and the volume of post your company sends.

If you’d prefer to spread the cost of a franking machine rather than pay a lump sum upfront, there are plenty of suppliers who give the option to rent or lease a franking machine.

Rental prices start from as little as £16 per month — though the price will vary depending on the volume of mail-outs. Typical contract lengths are between 12 months and five years, with longer contracts offering lower monthly rates.

▶ Find out more: Franking Machine Costs Guide

Royal Mail franking prices

If you’re looking for the cheapest way to send lots of letters, a franking machine offers unrivalled savings.

Here’s a breakdown of the latest Royal Mail standard postage pricing and how much money you could save by switching to franking:

Postal charges for letters: compare postage rates
Royal Mail UK deliveryStandard pricesStandard franking prices% saved
1st Class standard letter (up to 100g)£0.95£0.8412%
2nd Class standard letter (up to 100g)£0.68£0.6012%

And if you’re looking for cheap international letter postage the savings are just as impressive:

Franking machines: international postage costs
Royal Mail international standard deliveryStandard pricesStandard franking prices% saved
International standard letter (up to 20g)£1.85£1.755%
International large letter Europe (up to 100g)£3.25£3.056%
International large letter rest of the world (up to 100g)£4.20£4.005%

There are also fantastic savings to be had on next day delivery:

Franking machines: next day postage costs
Royal Mail UKStandard pricesStandard franking prices% saved
UK guaranteed next day delivery by 1pm (up to 100g, with £500 insurance)£6.80£6.357%
UK guaranteed next day delivery by 9am (up to 100g, with £500 insurance)£25.95£22.4514%

And for critical deliveries, there’s a franking “signed for” service to give you that extra peace of mind:

Franking machines: Signed for postage costs
Royal Mail UK deliveryStandard pricesStandard franking prices% saved
Royal Mail Signed for First Class (letter up to 100g)£2.35£2.245%

Mailmark franking: the cheapest way to mail a letter

Want to spend even less on your post? Enter: Mailmark.

Mailmark is Royal Mail’s newest, cheapest and most efficient franking mark. Rather than the traditional “crown and die” mark used by standard franking machines, Mailmark franking uses a machine readable barcode, which enables post to be tracked an distributed more efficiently.

Because it makes their lives so much easier, Royal Mail are keen for businesses to move to Mailmark franking as soon as possible. So keen, in fact, that they’ve set Mailmark franking prices even lower than regular franking prices:

Mailmark franking vs standard franking
Royal Mail UK deliveryStandard franking pricesMailmark franking prices% saved
1st Class Standard Letter (Up to 100g)£0.84£0.787%
2nd Class Standard Letter (up to 100g)£0.60£0.5115%

Prices correct as of last update.

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Getting up and running with a franking machine

Step 1: Choosing a supplier

It’s essential that your franking machine is Royal Mail approved, so the first step is to choose a legitimate supplier. If you’d like some help, fill in the form at the top of the page and we’ll match you with the most suitable suppliers for your business.

Step 2: Applying for a license

Once you have your franking machine, you’ll need to apply for a license before you can start sending mail. Not to worry, though – your provider can help you do this.

Step 3: Arranging credit

If you have a good idea of the volume of mail your business sends monthly, it pays to set up a direct debit credit account. Again, your provider will be able to help you do this.

Step 4: Starting mailing — how to post a franked letter in the UK

So you’ve got everything set up. But how do you actually go about posting your franked mail? Well, it’s no different to posting regular mail; you can either take it to the Post Office or arrange for it to be collected. To avoid additional charges, though, you need to ensure your post is sorted by class, size and destination, and that parcels are presented in mail bags.

Franking machine maintenance and running costs

Just like you would to your staff, you’ll need to look after your franking machine in order to keep it working at its best.

The advantage of renting or leasing a franking machine is that maintenance is usually included in the monthly fee. So if anything goes wrong with your machine, your provider will fix or replace it free of charge.

In addition to any maintenance costs, bear in mind there will also be running costs for:

  • Ink cartridges — £80-230 each
  • Labels — £15 (plus VAT) for 1,000
  • Self-sealing envelopes — £18 for 1,000

Next steps: Get franking machine quotes

Expert Market is one of the UK’s leading franking machine comparison companies, and we’re here to help you get the best deal for your business.

Simply fill in our form and we’ll match you up to four top suppliers, who will provide quotes tailored to your specific needs.

Our quote finder service is completely free, it only takes a minute, and there’s no obligation to go with any of the providers you talk to.

Save by Comparing Franking Quotes from Leading Suppliers
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Written by:
Sabrina Dougall
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 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.