Postage meter rental has the potential to save your business time and money when shipping and mailing. But renting a postage meter is a big commitment considering the lease could cost $20 to $200 per month. We’re happy to see you’re doing your research to make sure that you don’t end up with a postage meter that actually wastes your time and money.
This article will walk you through selecting and getting started with a postage meter rental. By the end, you’ll have the knowledge you need to confidently choose and negotiate the best postage meter rental for your business.
Related: Postage Meters – The Ultimate Guide
How Does a Postage Meter Rental Work?
In the United States, you cannot buy a postage meter. Instead, you have to rent. Only five companies in the entire country are permitted to manufacture and lease postage meters, and each postage meter vendor has different contract terms and fees. You have to get quotes from each of these companies to be sure that you’re getting the perfect postage meter for your business.
A few of these companies, like PitneyBowes and Quadient (formerly Neopost), offer longer contracts that make for lower rental rates. Postage meter pricing largely depends on the length of the lease agreement. However, you may not want to commit to a long-term lease upfront. It can be tricky to get out of a lease without paying for it.
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.
Why can’t I buy a postage meter?
Postage meters basically print money. That’s because the United States considers postage a form of currency. Therefore, federal law regulates the creation of postage stamps.
It is the job of USPS – which is an agency of the US government – to regulate who makes and manufactures postage meters. This way, USPS can also control the circulation of postage stamps.
Who should rent a postage meter?
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.
Benefits of a Postage Meter Rental
Postage Meters Save Time
Postage meters are incredibly convenient. You’ll have to put in the work upfront to decide on the right postage meter, but after that, the time you spend on mailing and shipping will be drastically reduced.
Because postage meters have built-in scales, you won’t miscalculate the postage and have to spend time amending the payment discrepancy later. You’ll also avoid waiting in line at the post office because metered mail is ready to go. This means that you can order a free USPS mail pickup from your home or office.
Postage Meters Save Money
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. This might seem like a small number, but these cents add up quickly, especially if you send a high volume of mail. On packages, you can get up to a 40% discount on USPS Flat Rate Boxes. Other discounts are available too, but they depend on who you lease from.
Moreover, when you sign up for your lease, you may be able to negotiate a rate protection guarantee on your postage. Even if USPS raises postage rates during your lease, your own rates won’t go up.
Postage Meters Streamline Operations
Using a postage meter makes it a lot easier to track spending, as well as the number of letters and packages mailed. Many postage meters today have the capacity to send spending and mailing data to an online cloud-based platform. If you want to be able to track postage activity, make sure to ask your postage meter vendor about options for data analytics.
How to Get Started With a Postage Meter
1. Compare Postage Meter Models
When deciding on which postage meter to rent, you have a number of different factors to take into consideration.
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.
One way to test out technical support before choosing a postage meter is to thoroughly read the postage meter description and specifications. Then, contact customer service and have them confirm every claim that they make in the postage meter description. Their answers should be confident, competent, and helpful. You only want to choose a company that knows their product.
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. Each of the five postage meter rental companies has its own hidden fees, and each machine has different requirements. So you need to pay attention to the general fees that the company charges, and the costs that are unique to your model of the postage meter.
3. Negotiate the Lease or Rental Agreement
First of all, 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.
How to Negotiate the Best Deals
Make sure the agreement is all-inclusive: Often, the line items in a postage meter lease or rental agreement do not include pricing. For example, a lease might look like it includes a postage meter reset when postage rates change, but it doesn’t specify that you are responsible for paying to reset your meter.
When you get your lease, question every single line item. This is the best way to avoid hidden fees. In particular, question line items for equipment, the meter resets, postage advances, maintenance, and rate updates.
Ask for a discount: Most of the postage meter rental companies will offer a discount – if you ask. Remember that no sales representative will go out of their way to offer a reduced rate if they don’t have to.
You may find an opportunity to negotiate a lower rate if you’re a new customer or if you rent an older postage meter model. If you see a comparable postage meter at a lower rate from another vendor, ask for a price match.
Avoid evergreen clauses and auto-renewals: Auto-renewals are quite popular among postage meter vendors. Before you sign your lease, you should specify that you do not want an auto-renewal and that the company should contact you towards the end of your lease to find out if you want to renew. Evergreen clauses are contracts that go on indefinitely until you provide notice that you want to cancel. Until you’ve decided that you want to hold on to your postage meter, do not sign an evergreen clause.
If you plan to renew your lease, wait until your current lease is up before signing the new contract. This is because signing a new lease does not cancel out the remaining balance of your old lease. If you’re not careful, you could end up paying two leases at once, even if you’re only using one postage meter.
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 actually use all the postage that you pay for.
Of course, be sure to check with your vendor if there are any fees associated with prepayment and pay-later options. There are less likely to be fees for prepayment. When you prepay the postage, you send a check, wire, or ACH credit to USPS, or you pay through your postage meter vendor. You can also set up automatic bank feeds so that you don’t have to manually add money every month. But you must have money in your account to start mailing.
Best Postage Meter Rental Vendors
It is recommended that you compare rates between at least two postage meter rental companies. So that you can get a good idea as to where to start your search, here is an overview of the top vendors.
Pitney Bowes has been around for over a century and has the largest online presence of the postage meter companies. Therefore, it’s common to start your postage meter search with this company. Unlike some other postage meter companies, Pitney Bowes has options for both small and large businesses.
Pitney Bowes Highlights
Every Pitney Bowes postage meter comes with a at least 30-day free trial – many of the products have a 60 day free trial. This is a big deal, because that means you can sign your long-term contract after making sure that the postage meter is the right one for your business.
Most Popular Postage Meters from Pitney Bowes
SendPro Mailstation: This is one of the lowest-cost meters, starting at just $22.99 per month after a 60 day free trial. The Mailstation is designed for businesses that are mostly mailing letters, though it does have the capability to weigh packages up to five pounds. Users automatically save $.04 on every First-Class letter and can save up to 40% on Priority Mail shipments.
Pitney Bowes SendPro C Lite: The SendPro C Lite is designed for small businesses to operate as efficiently as possible. This meter can process up to 50 letters per minute and calculate exact postage up to five pounds. This meter will save an average of 5.9% on mailing.
The SendPro C Lite also gives access to print USPS Priority Mail shipping labels from any computer. The SendPro C Lite starts at $42.99 and comes with a 60 day free trial.
Quadient (formerly Neopost)
Quadient – which rebranded from Neopost in 2019 – is headquartered in France but has a large presence in the United States. Along with Quadient’s rebranding, the company acquired its postage meter rental competitor Hasler.
Quadient makes highly functional machines, but has also begun to focus on SaaS (Software as a Service) so that customers can gain access to postage and mailing online data.
Because Quadient is partnering and acquiring SaaS companies, Quadient is making it easier to fully track and manage your postage and mailings. Every postage meter model from Quadient gives access to online postage data. You can set even the lowest-priced models to automatically order ink when you are running low.
Most Popular Postage Meters From Quadient
IS-280: The Quadient IS-280 is a lightweight and low-cost machine for businesses with mostly letter mail. It can process up to 18 letters per minute, but the letters must be fed into the machine manually. The whole machine only weighs 6.4 pounds, so it can sit on your desk. The IS-280 starts at $19.75 per month.
iX-3 Series: The iX-3 has a compact design, but a large mail processing capability. It can combine with Quadient’s online shipping platform called Neoship, as well as online expense reporting, so that you can fully track your shipping expenses.
It can process 45 letters per minute with a power-assisted manual letter feeder. And you can choose the weighing platform capacity, ranging from five pounds to seventy pounds. You’ll have to reach out to Quadient for a quote, as the rate differs depending on the weighing scale.
FP Mailing Solutions
FP Mailing Solutions mostly makes postage meters for small and mid-size businesses, but they do have a few mailing solutions for enterprise-level companies. FP has headquarters in Europe and the United States, so you have to make sure that you research and order the products in your home country.
FP Mailing Solutions Highlights
Much like Quadient, FP has shifted a lot of focus towards creating easy online management systems for users. FP’s online management platform is called Vision360. Within this platform, users can access postal analytics and print accompanying PDF reports.
PostBase Mini: This is one of the most compact postage meter options that we have come across. It can process up to 17 letters per minute and has a five pound integrated scale. The ink cartridge lasts a long time, but you do have to buy the in directly from FP. You’ll have to contact FP for an accurate pricing quote, but the PostBase Mini generally rents for about $20 per month.
PostBase Vision Semi-Auto: The Vision Semi-Auto has a semi-automatic envelope feed, an integrated tape dispenser, automatic USPS postage rate updates, and the ability to print custom graphics. The Vision Semi-Auto has two capacity options: the S3 and the S5. The S3 can print 35 letters per minute and weigh packages up to five pounds, while the S5 can print 50 letters per minute and handle packages up to ten pounds. You’ll have to ask FP for a custom pricing quote.
DataPac is the newest manufacturer of postage meters, as well as one of the most affordable postage meters vendors. They make some of the most sturdy and reliable postage meter hardware, with all manufacturing inside the United States. However, DataPac’s rental agreements are known to have hidden costs, so be sure to go over every line item before signing your contract.
DataPac develops meters that can process mail very quickly, so it’s a good company to look at if your goal is to save time on mailing. While the competition aims to add value by developing online postage management options, DataPac has worked on refining its postage meters.
EZ Mailer: The EZ Mailer can process 140 letters per minute, users can choose between a 25 pound and 70 pound scale. With the EZ Mailer, you can also qualify for commercial rate discounts, which saves $.95 per Priority Mail mailpiece. Prices are not disclosed online, but you can request a custom quote on DataPac’s website.
The Curve: This is one of the most well-reviewed postage meters. With an automatic letter feed, it can process over 11 thousand pieces of mail per hour. This model has a built-in 70 pound scale, and a built-in printer that can produce 4×6” USPS shipping labels.
Most DataPac models — including The Curve — take a low-cost ink, which costs an alleged 75% less than that of the competition. Although pricing is not disclosed online, rates are an estimated $200 – $400 per month, depending on add-on features.
Tips for Saving Money on Postage Meter Rentals
Save on Supplies
Fees for supplies — like ink cartridges — can add a significant amount to your monthly postage meter cost. One way to reduce these additional costs is to buy your supplies in bulk. Most vendors are willing to negotiate a reduced rate for larger orders of ink cartridges and meter tape.
Most postage meter users buy directly through the manufacturer, but you should also consider checking third-party postage meter supply options. For example, some office supply stores may carry ink cartridges that will work with your postage meter. Of course, you have to check that your postage meter is compatible with third-party products. Check your contract for a binding agreement that requires you to only buy from your postage meter vendor.
Don’t Pay Avoidable Fees
This may sound obvious, but it’s easy for any business owner to let bills get away from them. Most postage meter vendors will charge late fees. So always review invoices and schedule payments on time.
You can also avoid fees by negotiating to have the vendor pay for certain standard fees. For example, you’ll usually have to pay the shipping when you return your postage meter. Before you sign your contract, ask that the vendor pay the shipping return costs.
Watch for Overcharges
Unfortunately, overcharges from postage meter vendors are quite common. This is partly because every contract is so different. For example, if you are supposed to get a discounted corporate rate for postage meter supplies, then make sure this is reflected in your invoices.
You have a responsibility to make sure that you don’t pay more than you bargained for. If you catch an overcharge, be sure to reach out to the vendor for a refund.
Final Word on Leasing a Postage Meter
Finding the right postage meter requires an upfront investment of research. You have to:
- Know the amount of mail you plan to send.
- Price out the postage meters and compare rates between vendors
- Negotiate an affordable contract.
But with due diligence, you can lease a postage meter that saves time and money in the long term.
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Elisa is a digital marketer and freelance writer specializing in the areas of business, sustainability, and sailboats.