Lena ships packages from home often and doesn't see any reason to use fee-based services like ShipStation to buy and print postage.
Can You Buy and Print U. S. Postage Online?
United States postage can be purchased and printed from your home easily using a computer with internet access, a regular printer, and printer paper. Printing your own postage is convenient and can save you a lot of time, especially if you run a small business or ship items frequently.
If you start shipping from home, you won't have to worry about keeping stamps on-hand, and you'll be able to skip the post office lines. Purchasing and printing postage at home has other benefits as well. You can mail your package at any time, you'll often get discounts, and extra services (like delivery tracking) will often be included in the base price of your postage. I love the convenience and speed of printing my postage at home.
The USPS (United States Postal Service) and PayPal are the two best options, in my opinion, for purchasing and printing postage from home. The USPS offers the easiest way to print and ship, but using PayPal shipping is fairly straightforward as well. With USPS, you can ship any Priority or Express Mail package, and both flat-rate and standard shipping options are available. The downside is that this method only works for Priority or Express Mail.
3 Free Options For Buying and Printing "Stamps" at Home
- Flat Rate Shipping via USPS: Flat-rate shipping boxes and envelopes are free, easy to use, and can hold a lot, making this a cost-effective option for some heavier items.
- USPS Priority Mail Standard Shipping: Priority Mail standard shipping allows you to use any packaging you would like, including recycled materials you already possess, if you have a scale that measures ounces.
- PayPal Shipping: PayPal shipping is an easy way to get a variety of postage types if you have a scale that measures ounces.
1. USPS Flat-Rate Mailing
Shipping via USPS using flat-rate envelopes and boxes is my favorite method for sending packages from home. Flat-rate envelopes and boxes come in a range of standard sizes, and the weight limits are very generous for both domestic and international shipping. Essentially, you pay one "flat rate" to ship anything that will fit in your selected box or envelope.
You don't have to weigh your package, so no scale is needed to use the flat-rate print-at-home option. Another benefit is that you will not have to buy your own packaging—the envelopes and boxes are free. You can order them online from the USPS online store (with free shipping) or stop by a local post office and grab some. Keep in mind that there are often more styles and sizes of packaging available online than in the post offices themselves. Once you have your flat-rate shipping package ready, you can print your postage in a few easy steps. You will not need to know postal zones for this method.
How to Print and Ship With a Flat-Rate Mailer
- Get a flat rate mailing package from the post office either online or in person.
- Package up your goods and seal the box or envelope.
- Go to the USPS rate calculator and select from the flat-rate options.
- Open an account and fill out the form.
- If you want the recipient to know that their package is on its way, make sure to click "Notify recipient of shipping."
- Click "Save this to my address book" if you want your recipient's mailing address to be saved for future shipments.
- You do not need a reference number. Leave this field blank if you don't have one to enter.
- If you would like insurance, enter the value of your packed goods.
- Choose the shipping services you would like.
- Enter your payment information.
- You will get to a screen where you can save your postage label as a PDF or print it. If you are having problems printing, you may find that it is easier to save and then print the PDF. I often find that this works best on Safari on my Mac.
- Tape the postage onto your package with clear packing tape. Make sure that it is completely covered with tape so that the label is protected from rain, snow, and scratches.
- You can schedule a home pickup for free, drop the package in a mailbox, or drop it off at your post office. If you do go to the post office, you can skip the line and just hand it over the counter to an employee.
2. USPS Priority or Express Mail (Non-Flat-Rate)
If you cannot use flat-rate mailing materials to mail your package because of its size, or if you have other reasons not to use flat-rate shipping, you can weigh your packaged parcel and print Priority or Express Mail postage for it online.
How to Print and Ship via Priority or Express
- Package your items in whatever box or envelope you feel like using.
- Follow the directions above for shipping a flat-rate package, but instead of selecting a flat-rate option, choose to enter your package's weight. You can use a kitchen food scale, postage scale, or any other scale that can measure ounces to weigh your parcel.
- Enter the weight of your package in the form.
- The computer will give you options based on the weight of the object and the zones of the recipient and the shipper. You will not need to determine the zones, as the computer will figure them out based on the addresses you provided.
- You will be given your shipping options and the associated prices. Pick your option, print your label, and affix it to your package with clear packing tape.
- Give your package to a postal worker, schedule a home pick up, put it in a USPS dropbox, or drop it off at a local post office.
3. PayPal Shipping
PayPal offers First-Class, Express, Priority, Parcel Post, and Media Mail postage on its website. The postage is not easy to find, as it is primarily intended for eBay merchants, but it can be used by anyone with a PayPal account.
How to Print and Ship With PayPal
- Visit this page and log into your PayPal account.
- Package your parcel and tape it shut.
- Weigh your parcel on a scale and enter the weight (in ounces) on the PayPal form.
- Choose the shipping type for your item.
- Click "next" and print out the label. If you are having problems with printing, you can save the postage to PDF and then print the label from the PDF viewer.
- Unless you chose PayPal's UPS option, drop your parcel off at the post office, put it in a dropbox, or schedule a home pick up with USPS.
Please leave any comments you have about your experiences with these services below. If you know of any other options for printing your own postage at home without a monthly fee, please share those in the comments as well. Happy shipping!
This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. Content is for informational or entertainment purposes only and does not substitute for personal counsel or professional advice in business, financial, legal, or technical matters.
Rick Johnson on April 27, 2020:
Do you have to print postage in color
Tony Howard on April 23, 2020:
This is just frustration and agreement with folks below.
In an age where using the internet can accomplish amazing things never dreamed of by mankind, we cannot print one simple first class stamp without a monthly fee or some other time consuming bull dung. 99% of the time my post office stamp machine does not have any. All the convenience stores inconveniently do not have them so I stand in line like a bozo for half an hour to buy one flipping stamp. SShheese!
Ashley on April 07, 2020:
Thank you! I just wanted to ship some things first class or medial mail and could not find a free solution! Paypal to the rescue! Just printed my first one and it worked fine. No fees.
Chris on January 11, 2020:
This is fakenews. There is no service that lets you print regular first class mail (ie a POSTAGE STAMP) onto an envelope at home without paying a hefty monthly fee.
Shipping labels for packages can be done everywhere, but no one has yet to simply offer the ability to print a stamp without a monthly fee
pj brown on November 20, 2019:
thanks for this info, the negative about usps click and ship is they only want business from priority and express mail shippers. I prefer using First Class with free tracking especially when I don't need insurance. Paypal fits perfectly.
Pat on November 09, 2019:
I wasn’t even able to print out my 9 free postage stamps. It ask for everything except my firstborn yet wouldn’t take me to the drop down button to pick my stamps. I don’t want to be manipulated . If it’s a good plan I will use it by choice if it’s doable. And I’m not tech savvy so spell it out.
Joyce on July 22, 2019:
Thank you for the link to PayPal shipping labels. I hunted for hours and could not find it.
floridabill on March 12, 2019:
Both help with postage, but manager is designed for e-commerce sellers.
Caleb Murdock on March 12, 2019:
I just investigated the whole thing (in March, 2019), and here is what I found out:
Stamps.com owns Endicia now, and they are raising their monthly fees in tandem (to $17.99 plus tax, which they can now charge even if they don't own property in your state). However, both services still have a $9.99 offering which has all the important features you will need to print postage and labels at home (but with some conveniences of the full-priced plans eliminated).
Pitney-Bowes has a similar service which costs $14.99. Their discount service is $8.99 (but ends up costing a couple dollars more because they charge you 3.5% on all postage purchases). Their software isn't as intuitive as Endicia (the one I use), so I decided to stick with Endicia's cheaper service. Surprisingly, Pitney-Bowes' $8.99 service has all the functionality of their $14.99 service; but since their software is clunky, I still recommend Endicia's or Stamps.com's $9.99 service. (As I said, I haven't tried Stamps.com's software but I assume it is similar to Endicia's.)
As the article above said: Labels can be printed (for both First Class and Priority mail) on the PayPal site without paying any monthly or additional fee. On the USPS site, you can print only Priority labels. (For those who don't know, First Class is for packages or documents under a pound, and Priority is for a pound or more.)
Important tip: International First Class does not stop at one pound, and it is cheaper than Priority International at all package weights.
There is a company called VIPparcel which allows you to print both First Class and Priority labels, but you must ask them to give you the lower commercial rates -- otherwise, you will end up paying the same rate as if you went to the post office window.
Regarding EasyPost, exchanging a half-dozen emails with them did not clarify exactly what services they offer. I suspect their services are really designed for high-volume mailers.
If you need help setting up your home-based mailroom, I am happy to advise you for free at caleb[at]purebeads.com. I've been mailing packages from home since 2002. (If it is not okay to give my email address in a comment, then just delete this paragraph.)
Trish on March 09, 2019:
Thank you so much!!
Mitchell on February 16, 2019:
no extra fees and discounted postage
ivonne on January 24, 2019:
Thank you! very useful information.
Tatiana on February 12, 2018:
Thank You so much for this!
elblondee on December 31, 2015:
I primarily mail catalogs which costs a couple bucks. Is there a way for me to print postage without service fees? Thanks!
Jean Francois from Los Angeles, California on December 30, 2015:
We have notice that USPS has done many improvements lately for their online integration for stamp buying, address forwarding and even phone apps to manage all these... but personally have experience some bugs, and sometimes get charged twice for little mistakes using their online suite. Use it but just be careful.
Lena Welch (author) from USA on November 25, 2015:
I will have to take the stamps.com one down. Thanks for letting me know! I am guessing they have ditched it in favor of subscription only services.
Snakeguy on October 16, 2015:
This article was helpful. I had used Stamps.com in the past but unsubscribed because I wasn't using enough. The link referring to their "lite plan" doesn't resolve and I find no information about such plan on Internet searches. Using PayPal for shipping was new to me and I was able to use that in order to print a First Class shipping label. Thanks...
Lena Welch (author) from USA on June 18, 2015:
I looked into it and I think it is gone. You can still use the PayPal link for postage. This website contacted me a while back about joining this article. I haven't tried the site but it appears to be legit. Let me know if you try it. http://vipparcel.com/
Kristie on April 08, 2015:
ive had an account with Stamps.com for a couple of years. First at $15.99/mo, then $9.99 when I discovered they had a personal use program. I called today to close the account as I realized I just wasn't using it and the $9.99 was best used for groceries. I asked today if there was a plan with ZERO monthly charge. "NO." responded agent. HERE, I read there IS that plan. On to investigate. I love the convenience, however the $9.99 could be a few days worth of groceries for a disabled retired person..... Thanks.
Alaskaforest on September 11, 2014:
Thanks so much. You are so appreciated! Not only was I able to print a First Class USPS label on PayPal, I was also able to sign up for the no monthly fee Stamps.com account with free samples coming in the mail. You've helped me save a lot of valuable time & money.
Lena Welch (author) from USA on July 23, 2014:
Most of their plans do charge. The only way around that is the special HP plan. Try the link in this article. I was very surprised when my printer had info for the as needed plan.
lricatta03 on July 22, 2014:
I tried stamps.com it is not free, they charge $15.99 a month.
Lena Welch (author) from USA on February 07, 2014:
I have never tried the multiple shipments. I love the Paypal trick though! They do seem to charge a slight handling fee. It is very small though. If you are doing priority mail, use the post office as they actually give you a discount for avoiding their lines.
Amazon now lets you ship through them as well, but only when you are shipping a sale.
I am glad that this was helpful. It was one of the best discoveries that I have found on the Internet!
Glenn Stok from Long Island, NY on February 05, 2014:
With all the years I've been shipping products and getting paid via PayPal, I never knew I could print the labels and pay the postage directly in PayPal. I have always done it through USPS. But doing it directly in PayPal is a lot easier, because I don't have to enter the shipping information since it's there already.
I even noticed that PayPal will handle multiple shipments in one step. And one can even select first class and media mail, which is not an option directly from USPS. It's a mystery why not.
Your hub was very helpful. Thank you for describing this Lena. I'm surprised that PayPal doesn't mention it. Like you said, they keep it hidden.
Lena Welch (author) from USA on December 07, 2013:
Amen to that! I use the PayPal trick all of the time, but just going to the USPS would be so much easier! Stamps.com also could let us do pay as you go, but they don't! I don't get it at all.
DLBurkhart on December 06, 2013:
Thank you so much, Lena. This has helped me overcome such a large amount of hassle.
Now, if we could just understand why the postal service won't let us print first-class and media mail postage...
Lena Welch (author) from USA on June 05, 2013:
Which one does she use? Does she have to pay a monthly fee?
Deb Welch on June 05, 2013:
Useful Hub. My daughter uses this at home postage system and saves money. Great information. Very interesting. Thanks.
Lena Welch (author) from USA on January 04, 2013:
Your welcome! I love printing my USPS postage at home. It is so much more flexible time wise.
RTalloni on January 04, 2013:
Thanks for posting this helpful info on methods of printing postage at home. This will be a time saver for many people.
Lena Welch (author) from USA on January 04, 2013:
I am glad that you enjoyed it.
Hem Chander Rana from New Delhi on January 04, 2013:
Nice article my friends , I learned a new thing today :D
Lena Welch (author) from USA on December 31, 2012:
I wonder if that is because it isn't an active hub for 24 hours. Interesting. Hopefully that corrects itself. Thanks for stopping by!
GoldenThreadPress on December 31, 2012:
For some reason I couldn't find Hub on your site but I could access it via my iPhone. Anyway great information and will have to check this out for myself! Voted Up!--Deb