A Postage Meter (also called a Postage Machine, or Meter Service) is a large table-top printing machine that prints postage onto envelopes and/or the labels that you place on your packages. The machine also includes a scale for you to weigh your mail. Once your mail has been weighed, the exact price of postage is calculated. This prevents over-paying on postage.
Modern postage systems have the advantage of digital connectivity. With access to the internet and local networks, postage meters can access information, facilitate transactions, and share data with businesses’ accounting and analytics applications. This allows businesses to stay on track with which departments are spending the most on postage.
What is metered mail?
When mail is ‘metered’, it means that a stamp has been applied directly onto the envelope or package. This is what’s called the metering process. This stamp (or postage impression) shows official approval that the mail has been paid for in advance. It also means that the sender does not need to apply a traditional postage stamp. The metered stamp may include a customized image such as the sender’s business logo.
- For those who ship letters, flats (large envelopes), or small packages in bulk volumes, postage meters can help save money, time, and trips to the post office. Compared to ordinary stamps, metering services allow businesses to save up to 24% on shipping costs.
- Meters are self-servicing devices; printing postage and tracking costs can be done from the comfort of a home or office. This greatly reduces the number of trips to the post office.
- A business’s overall mailing costs are deducted from one pre-funded account balance. These charges are tracked, and reports display which departments are spending the most on postage. As postage is a form of currency, its monetary value will regularly fluctuate. The postage meter will track the cost of postage, and price changes are calculated in real-time.
- The postage that is printed is also official in appearance. Businesses can stamp their customized logo, brand tagline, or special offers directly onto their envelopes or packages. Mail that looks professional can help businesses gain authority and trust.
- Various postal services have lower charges for metered mail. Compared to retail rates, between 3 to 5 cents are saved on every letter of metered mail you send. If you are sending mail in bulk, these savings add up.
- Postage Meter distributors often provide discounts on shipping. Commercial Shipping Rates, for instance, are available for businesses that send out mail in bulk. To qualify for this discount, senders need to presort their mail before handing it off to the postal service for delivery.
*Note: each time a sender sends mail in bulk from a particular post office, they need to pay an annual fee. It’s best that senders choose one post office for the year.
How much do postage meters cost? And how to get your own
In the United States, you cannot purchase a postage meter. Individuals and businesses hoping to get a postage meter must lease one from an authorized supplier. Since postage is a form of currency, it is liable to fraud.
There are five suppliers that are authorized to lease postage meters. These are: Quadient (formerly Neopost), Pitney Bowes, FP Mailing Solutions, Hasler Inc., and Data Pack Mailing Systems.
Postage meters are typically signed out for a one- or two-year contract. Rental fees are paid monthly. The average rental fee is between $20 to $50 USD for basic postage meters. For more advanced machines, the average rental fee can exceed $200 USD per month and go all the way up to $1,000 USD per month.
In addition to the monthly rental fee, there is a yearly fee of $200 USD to license the postage meter. Once the rental fee and the yearly leasing fee are covered, users will need to pay for ink and paper.
The cost that a user will spend on postage will depend on the size and weight of the mail that the user wishes to send, as well as the postage class that the user selects. Users may also have to pay for maintenance and repair fee.
How does a postage meter work?
The machine includes a large, full-color touchscreen display. On the screen, users will be guided through a simple, step-by-step procedure for weighing, and metering their mail. Users determine the postal class type and shipping date to be displayed on the postage.
An automatic conveyor track smoothly feeds your mail through the metering process. Postage is printed directly onto the envelope, or onto a label to be affixed onto a package. Once the mail is weighed, stamped, and sealed closed, the envelopes are dropped into an exit tray.
- The quantity of mail you can meter is optional – the sender can decide between stamping mail individually or in large volumes.
- Using Postage Meters reduces the chances of fraudulent charges occurring by removing cash and check payment methods. Postage is securely paid via one pre-funded account balance.
- Postage is refillable on demand so users don’t need to worry about running out of postage in high mailing periods. The system also monitors ink usage and can place orders before ink runs out.
As e-commerce continues to soar, and many people continue to work from home, it’s in business’s best interest to simplify their mailing process. Pivoting from the traditional stamp method to metered mail will remove obstacles, and save money and time spent waiting in line at the post office.