Suppose your company sends out many letters or packages every day using USPS. In that case, it makes sense to have a machine to print a stamp on each label rather than have an employee calculate the postage and lick-and-stick a physical postage stamp.
On average, postage meter prices vary between $25 and $230/month to rent or lease, depending on the postage machine‘s features.
Most machines include scales to weigh the package and calculate the postage. In contrast, other features include integrated address lists, thermal printing, and account codes.
Unfortunately, you can‘t buy such a machine. But, you can rent a postage meter from companies approved by the USPS.
Despite the popularity of electronic mail, businesses also require some way of sending physical letters and packages. This is because some rural areas don‘t have internet access for email. In contrast, every household or commercial premise in the country is on a mail route. And, sometimes it‘s essential to send a physical object in the mail.
There are specialist couriers whose business it is to deliver packages. But, you can‘t beat the USPS for infrastructure designed to reach every home in the USA.
Postage Meter Rental & Lease Rates
Okay, hopefully, you‘ve come to terms with the fact that you have to rent a postage meter to process your bulk mail. Now let‘s look at comparing lease contract terms and postage meter rates.
The two main lease types:
- Fixed fee.
- Usage-based fee.
Both lease types have their pros and cons, and both might be suitable for different businesses.
Fixed fee leases are a very straightforward method of offering a machine for rent. You pay a fixed fee per month, but you‘ll have a cap placed on the amount of mail you send. This method is useful if you send out a fairly constant amount of mail.
In contrast, a usage–based fee is useful if your mail varies. Then, you only pay for the amount you send.
Usually, the type of lease ties into which kind of machine you choose, irrespective of the company supplying it.
For example, Pitney Bowes provides a SendPro C200 machine at the time of writing for a fixed fee of about $37/month. Whereas the same company also provides the SendPro P3000. This has a usage-based lease, and the company calculates a custom quote depending on your amount of mail. In comparison, FP USA supplies an entry–level, low–volume machine for about $20/month. Mostly, low–volume machines are small business postage meters, although medium and large–scale companies use them too.
Generally, you won‘t find many usage-based fees advertised online. The companies prefer to provide a custom quotation based on your requirements.
Postage Machine Rental Cost Factors
The cost of renting or leasing a postage meter depends on various factors. Below we’ve highlighted the ones that have the biggest impact on your quote.
Quantity of Metered Mail
You already have a discount per standard letter when using a postage meter. But, you also have further discounts when sending bulk mail. If you send mail in batches of at least 150 letters to a specific ZIP code, you reduce the rate to $0.42 per letter. This amount might not seem a lot. But, if you calculate the difference between this and the retail cost of $0.55, you save $8 per 100 letters. The savings soon add up.
If you intend to send out high volumes of metered mail, it‘s no use hiring a low–volume machine. Be sure you know the expected number of letters you want to send per day. Then lease an appropriately sized machine.
Depending on how many letters per minute a machine can handle will put it into either low, medium, or high volume. Not surprisingly, the high-volume machine’s rental costs are more than those for a low–volume machine.
Another factor to consider is the number of features incorporated into the machine.
- Batch processing is a feature found in medium and high–volume machines. It allows you to separate mail into weight and size, and postal area.
- Semi-automatic and automatic feed machines automate part or all of the feed process. That means they can: close and seal envelopes, print, and apply labels.
- Weighing the mail is important if you have non-standard packages. All but the simplest postage meters have built-in weighing scales. The scales allow the machine to calculate exact postage costs.
- WiFi data connections mean you can use the postage meter anywhere in your building without being restricted by an ethernet cable.
An important point to consider is the cost of maintenance. Even though you lease the machine, the maintenance responsibilities vary depending on your lease contract. You need to know:
- Do you send the faulty equipment to a repair facility?
- Or, do the repair guys come to you?
You might also have terms stating free labor costs but chargeable spare parts.
If your machine uses software, find out if there‘s any tech support. Also, ascertain whether you‘re eligible for free software upgrades.
Some postage meter dealers give you a postage rate protection guarantee when you start the lease. This ensures the postage rates remain the same as when you signed the lease, even if the USPS charges more for postage. However, the rate freeze won‘t stay the same forever, so be aware of how long you have the freeze for.
Rental or Lease Term Length
Standard lease lengths vary from 1 year up to 4 or 5 years. The monthly payments depend on the postage meter prices and the length of time you lease for. But, remember that after the lease finishes, the supplier won‘t put the equipment up for sale like other leased equipment. It‘s against federal law.
You will have to pay the actual charge of postage on top of the lease costs.
Insurance on the machine is essential. You will probably find that you have to use a specific insurance company mentioned in the lease contract. This is perhaps easier as you won‘t have to search for a reasonable deal.
Companies often forget to factor in supplies to the overall postage meter rental price when leasing equipment. You might receive a complimentary refill pack when you take out the lease. But usually, you won‘t. Instead, you must factor in the cost of ink, envelopes and stationery, self–adhesive labels, and envelope sealing solution. You might also have to use specific brands for the supplies, especially ink.
Generally, postage meter companies change the postage rate using a software update. The updated–rate database stores the new postage rate for weight, dimensions, and ZIP Code. It also takes into account whether you have a rate protection clause in your contract. The mailing equipment then accesses the new database when calculating postage.
Add sales tax onto the quoted price as with most items. The tax percentage depends on which state your company is based in.
Postage meters are leased to your company, not sold. Therefore the cost of a postage meter shows up in your tax accounts as a lease expenditure. Consequently, they will be tax–deductible. Please speak to your tax advisor before leasing a postage meter as they can advise on your individual circumstances.
Compare Top 5 Best Postage Meter Companies
The Federal government regards postage as currency, which must be protected from forgery. Therefore, the USPS authorizes only five postage meter suppliers in the US.
1. Pitney Bowes
This company is probably the industry leader and has an annual revenue of more than $5 billion. Pitney Bowes manufactures equipment, software, and complete mailing solutions for all sized businesses.
The smallest machine in its product range is the low–volume mailing model, MailStation 2, handling 18 letters/minute, with a basic monthly rental of around $20/month. Medium–volume machines such as the DM400 handle 120 letters/minute. In comparison, the high–volume machines such as DM1100 handle 295 letters/minute.
This company supplies regular software updates to its customers, minimizing the need to upgrade the system. The smallest low–volume machine (IS-280) handles 18 letters/minute, while a typical medium machine such as the IN-610 handles 110 letters/minute. Finally, the highest volume machine (IS-5000/6000) runs up to 300 letters/minute.
3. Hasler Inc.
You‘ll find that Quadient sells Hasler machines in the USA. The company specializes in affordable and technologically advanced postage meters for all business sizes. Hasler‘s entry–level postage meters cost around $25/month. However, the IM280, a typical low–volume machine, handles mail at 18 letters/minute. The IM460, a standard medium–volume machine, handles mail at 60 letters/minute. Finally, the IM5000, a typical high–volume machine, processes mail at 300 letters/minute.
4. FP Mailing Solutions USA
FP Mailing Solutions uses independent distributors when dealing with clients. The smallest postage meter in their product range is the FP PostBase Mini. This one handles 17 letters/minute. But the best deal comes from the FP PostBase Econ, which processes 20 letters/minute. This machine is completely modular and can be added to as your business expands. In contrast, medium–volume equipment such as PostBase Auto handles 95 letters/minute. High–volume machines like PostBase-One processes 150 letters/minute.
5. Data-Pac Mailing Systems
Although having a 35–year trading history, Data-Pac is a relative newcomer as an approved postage meter supplier.
This company supplies equipment, services, and software to businesses of all sizes. Data-Pac provides solutions to all types of mailing companies. One of their products, the DP 100W, handles mail at 200 letters/minute.
Unfortunately, they don‘t publish their rates, preferring that a prospective customer asks for a quote dependent on its requirements.
Stamps vs. Metered Mail Cost Savings
At the time of writing, a stamped standard–sized 1oz letter costs $0.55. Every additional ounce above this costs around $0.15. In comparison, when using a postage meter, your letter costs $0.50.
Postage meters accurately weigh the letter and automatically calculate the postage price, all without human error. Therefore, there aren‘t any underpayments and subsequent penalties.
Postage Machine Benefits
There are many benefits available by using office postage machines.
Typically, sending a 1oz letter costs $0.55 retail. But, you‘ll find that if you use a USPS–approved postage meter, it‘ll cost $0.50.
Furthermore, if your company sends presorted mail in bulk, you‘ll receive an even greater discount (24% cheaper or $0.42 per letter)). That‘s at least 150 letters sent to the same ZIP code. Fortunately, most medium to high-end postage meters can sort these for you.
Compare the time it takes an employee to address, weigh, calculate and stick the stamps on your letter to that done by a postage meter. An employee is probably 100 times slower and might make mistakes. Using a machine also allows you to buy your stamps online rather than visit a post office.
Pay the correct postage
It takes time to weigh and check the dimensions of individual letters by hand. And, if you make a mistake and don‘t affix enough stamps, you end up with a penalty. In contrast, even cheap postage meters calculate and print the correct postage every time, much faster than you or I.
Postage rate protection
USPS reviews the postage stamp prices every year if you buy them from the post office. However, Negotiate a rate protection guarantee with your lease. You‘ll then protect your company against continually rising postage rates.
Only one bill
A postage stamp machine connects to the internet. That means you purchase your stamps online from your machine‘s supplier. You receive a bill every month, which helps keep track of your business expenditure.
Management tools, included with the machine, help prevent fraud. They allow managers to set spending caps and employee purchase authorizations.
How Does a Postage Meter Work?
The supplier sets the postage rate through software updates. So, it‘s up to you to specify a maximum spend, if necessary.
The type of machine determines what features are available. If the machine weighs each letter individually, it‘ll vary the printed frank and charge the cost against your total spend. If it doesn‘t weigh each letter, you must manually set the weight. This operation is only possible if all letters are the same.
- The frank is the printed mark specifying the postage, the mail‘s class, the item‘s weight, identifying marks, and the mailing company’s ZIP code. Sometimes the frank also provides tracking information.
- The IBI (Information Based Indicia) is a postage standard used by the USPS for electronic postage payment. Suppose the postage meter prints using the IBI format. In that case, it uses a standard inkjet cartridge but uses special ink. It then produces a franked data matrix barcode containing various pieces of information.
The following steps indicate the usual franking method.
- Place the package on the inbuilt scales.
- Choose the size of the package and which service you want to use.
- Add a message to the package if you want one. Many postage meters allow customization and additional messages.
- The machine automatically calculates the exact postage costs.
- It then prints an envelope or a label with the necessary details.
- You post the mail.
Types of Postage Meters
Three types of postage meters have corresponding levels of throughput. It‘s worthwhile estimating the amount of mail you expect to send before leasing a machine.
Suitable for businesses that send out a maximum of 35 items per week. Generally, they have:
- A handling speed of between 20 to 40 LPM (letters per minute).
- They also have a built-in set of weighing scales able to weigh up to 10lbs.
- And can print custom postage graphics.
These semi-automatic machines are suitable for larger businesses intending to send out a few hundred items per week.
- They can handle mail of varying shapes and sizes.
- And have a handling speed of between 100 and 200 LPM.
- They have a built-in set of scales weighing a maximum of 15lbs. But, you can attach external scales to weigh up to 100lbs.
- Finally, they can print custom postage graphics.
These fully automatic machines are for large mailrooms.
- Most of these machines are fully automatic and have many features.
- They run at speeds of 100 to 350 LPM.
- The built-in set of scales weighs up to a maximum of 15lbs. But, you can attach external scales capable of weighing up to 150lbs.
- Finally, they can print custom postage graphics.
Sending Mail via USPS vs. Private Delivery
USPS is a government agency established by Congress under Article 1, Section 8, Clause 7 of the United States Constitution. Similarly, USPS postage stamps and franks are regarded as currency and limited to USPS use only.
On average, the USPS carries around 55 billion first–class letters and packages per year. In contrast, the three leading private delivery companies handle the following:
- UPS – handles around 4.7 billion items.
- FedEx – handles around 3 billion items.
- Amazon – handles 2.5 billion.
Unlike private companies, the USPS has the infrastructure to deliver to every residential and commercial building in the USA. Furthermore, it costs only $0.55 to send a 1-ounce letter to any part of the country, unlike private companies. However, the USPS collaborates as well as competes with private delivery companies.
Get Postage Meter Quotes From The Best Suppliers
Trying to find a postage meter system for your company can be very time–consuming. To help you out, we‘ve done most of the hard work for you.
Complete the form on this page, and you‘ll receive 2 to 3 quotes from postage meter suppliers.
Jason is a B2B sales veteran spanning 3 decades and Founder of ApprovedCosts. Jason has scaled sales and marketing teams at a variety of enterprises and is a recognized expert in the field. Jason holds an MBA from NYU Stern School of Business.