Many businesses today already have a postage meter or are considering it. Postage meters have the potential to save your company time and money when it comes to shipping and mailing. Postage meters rates are lower because they cost USPS less to process, and some of those savings get passed on to you. With metered mail, your business will save $.04 on letters.
In the United States, you cannot buy a postage meter. Your only option is to rent. Only five companies in the country are permitted to manufacture and lease postage meters. Each meter vendor will have different contract terms and fees.
The upside of renting a postage meter is that when your lease is over, you can upgrade. In this way, renting a postage meter is more flexible than if you could purchase one. If your business decides to ship large packages, you can always upgrade to a postage meter that handles larger weights and volumes.
Businesses that spend more than $50 per month on mail will probably benefit from a postage meter. Not only are metered mail rates discounted (in 2021 they are $.04 less than stamped mail), but mail processing time is reduced.
You should also know that postage meters can be used on all classes of mail except periodicals. If you only mail periodicals, then you should not rent a postage meter.
How to Get Started with a Postage Meter
- Compare Postage Meter Models
Now that you have done your homework, there are several different factors to take into consideration when deciding which postage meter to rent.
Features and specifications: The features and specifications that you need largely depend on the volume and size of the mail that you plan to send. There’s a big difference between postage meters designed for printing letter postage, and postage meters designed for printing postage to large packages. You need to keep in mind the maximum weight that your business mails on a regular basis, and that your postage meter will handle your forecasted volume of mail.
Technical support: Make sure that the company you lease from offers good technical support because chances are high that at some point you will need help with setup or maintenance.
Total cost of lease/ rental agreement: Unfortunately, there can be a lot of hidden fees that make the total cost of your lease or rental agreement higher than the base price. Pay attention to the general fees that the company charges, and the costs that are unique to your model of the postage meter.
2. Negotiate the Lease or Rental Agreement
First, you need to understand the difference between a lease and a rental agreement. A lease is essentially a long-term rental. When you lease a postage meter, you sign a long-term contract. The rate that you pay will not change for the duration of the lease agreement. Therefore, leasing a postage meter usually means that you’ll pay less money than you would pay if you were renting.
When you rent a postage meter, you’ll have to pay a deposit. And your rate can change at any time. Usually, rates don’t change during the first year of your rental, but there’s no guarantee. The upside of renting over leasing is that if you choose to cancel your rental, you’ll only pay the liquidation charge. With a lease, you’ll owe the remaining balance in your contract.
3. Get Your Account Number and Obtain a Permit
Your account number is a code given to you by your postage meter vendor that will allow you to access important information about your contract, as well as the data analytics collected by your postage meter. You will receive this number after you have signed your lease.
Obtaining a permit is one of the most overlooked steps in getting started with a postage meter. According to USPS, you must obtain a permit to use your postage meter in the city of mailing. This helps USPS regulate who prints postage, and where they do it. The good news is that there is no application fee, and you can apply through your nearest USPS post office.
Because you can only mail in cities where you have a permit for doing so, don’t plan on traveling with your postage meter. When you get your postage meter, you should plan to always print and mail from the same location.
4. Load Your Postage Meter with Money
With most of the postage meter companies, you can prepay for your postage. Prepaying will lock in your postage meter rate, even if USPS raises rates during your contract. However, some companies like Quadient allow you to send your mail first and then pay the company back at the end of the month. This is a good option if you want to make sure that you use all the postage that you pay for.