Costs and Billing Options
Postage meters and mailing systems will vary in cost, depending on the equipment you choose, the volume of mail you send, and the billing mechanism you use for your meter.
Supply and Equipment Costs
Supplies, such as envelope sealer, ink, and other materials, can be purchased in bulk or automatically ordered from a mailing system vendor or other source. Mailing equipment that works with your meter, such as postal scales, collating or folding attachments, or bulk mailing accessories, can be purchased or leased. As a general rule, leasing works best for businesses that need highly specialized or expensive equipment, or equipment that needs to be updated or maintained frequently. Digital scales and other mailing equipment can also be purchased recycled.
The lease of the postage meter itself is also a cost you need to consider. Meters are leased to businesses only through approved providers (see the USPS website for a complete list) or through independent brokers that carry these companies’ products. Most postage meter leases run less than $30/month. You’ll often need to sign a contract for the use of the meter for a certain period of time, though not all vendors require this. Make sure the contract clearly specifies your responsibilities as far as payment and keeping the meter “filled,” or any alternative billing arrangement. Keep in mind that this is just the cost of the meter itself- you’ll still need to pay for the actual postage necessary to send packages and mail.
Postage Meter Billing Options
Since postage meters themselves are leased, not purchased, you’ll incur a monthly cost for the use of the meter itself. You’ll also need to pay for the actual postage- rates for these costs are set by the US Postal service and are updated periodically. Most postage meter providers offer “Pay-as-you-go” plans and “Pre-pay” arrangements.
Pay-as-you-go: Using this option, the meter tracks your postage use for a set time period (usually monthly) and you are billed when the period ends. Most postage meter companies charge a fee for this service, usually less than $20 monthly.
Pre-pay: You can refill your meter (usually up to $1,000) online or by mailing a check to the USPS. The USPS also allows automatic debit from a checking account or automatic deductions from your bank account to ensure your meter always has postage available.
Both options can work out well for businesses with different mailing requirements. It’s a good idea to run down the actual numbers- calculate the monthly costs, including the meter lease plus any associated billing expenses (if using a pay-as-you-go-option), and compare this amount to the cost of using an off-site shipment facility. Pre-pay options are typically better for businesses with smaller outgoing mail volume.