How to Buy and Print Postage at Home Without a Monthly Fee
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.