Having your very own mailbox at the post office means your mail stays safe and keeps flowing, whether you’re on the move or don’t have a fixed home address.
But exactly how much is a mailbox at the post office? In this guide, we’ll explore why you might need one, break down the costs, and help you find the perfect fit for your unique needs.
Before we get into how much it will set you back to rent a post office box or PO box, let’s take a quick look at how this type of mailbox works and who it’s best suited for.
How PO Boxes Work
A PO box is a mailbox tucked away in the post office, usually in the lobby. Unlike a residential or commercial mailbox where mail carriers deliver mail and packages at your primary address, you’ll need to swing by the post office during operating hours to pick up deliveries.
The good news is that most post offices keep their doors open 24/7, seven days a week, so accessing your mail at your convenience shouldn’t be a problem.
And here’s the kicker: a PO box is a lockable mailbox that comes with a key, and some post offices even offer combination locks.
If you’d rather not get your mail at home or need a safe spot to receive it, a post office box through the United States Postal Service is an excellent option.
Who Needs a Post Office Box?
A post office box serves several purposes, making it a practical choice for various individuals and situations. Here’s who a PO box is best for and situations where you might need one:
A post office box is an ideal choice for those who want to shield their home addresses from prying eyes.
Whether you’re concerned about identity theft or simply value your personal space, a PO box keeps your residential information confidential.
Small Business Owners
If you’re a small business owner and need to publicly display a mailing address, a PO box can be a valuable asset.
It allows you to maintain the privacy of your home address while still presenting a professional image to your clients and customers.
Maintaining a permanent address can be challenging if you’re constantly on the move or travel extensively. A PO box offers a stable address for essential mail and packages, regardless of your location.
It’s a perfect solution for individuals who don’t have a fixed home base, making it a suitable alternative to residential mailboxes.
Suppose your work requires you to spend extended periods in another town or state. In such cases, a post office box at your temporary location can ensure you receive your mail without interruptions during the rental period.
If you’ve ever experienced the frustration of stolen or damaged mail left on your porch, a PO box provides a secure alternative. Your packages and letters are safely locked away, only accessible with your mailbox key.
Now that we’ve covered why you might need a PO box, let’s move on to the big question: “How much is a mailbox at the post office?” We’ll break down the costs and help you choose the perfect fit for your needs.
What Does It Cost to Get a PO Box?
The cost of renting a post office box starts from as low as $4.67 per month for the smallest size box. However, rental prices vary widely depending on three key factors that you need to consider:
- The size of the mailbox
- The physical location of the box
- The rental period or duration
Size of the Box
The US Postal Service offers various PO box size options, ranging from extra small to extra large.
As you may have guessed, the smaller the box, the lower the rental cost. Keep in mind that not all box sizes are available at every post office location, so it’s usually a good idea to check the available sizes before making your choice.
While rental costs can vary depending on other factors, here’s a lowdown on what each PO box size can handle and how much it’ll set you back every month:
1. Extra Small
The extra-small PO box is perfect for those who need a modest amount of space. Measuring 3” x 5.5”, it can hold 10-15 letters and up to 3 rolled magazines.
Starting at just $4.67 per month, it’s a cost-effective choice for small business owners or households that want a PO box address and don’t mind checking it frequently to ensure it doesn’t overflow with mail.
The small PO box has a dimension of 5” x 5.5”, suitable for folks who receive a bit more mail. It can handle 15 or more letters, 5 rolled magazines, or even a small priority mail flat rate box.
Starting at $6.00 per month, it’s a great pick for small business owners and households that regularly receive letters, bills, and a few bubble envelopes or magazines throughout the week.
Measuring 5.5” x 11”, the medium-sized PO box can accommodate large envelopes, magazines, and even 2 small priority mail flat rate boxes, making it a great choice for those who like their mail to arrive without being folded.
Starting at $9.00 per month, the medium PO box suits small business owners and households that receive multiple pieces of mail daily.
If you do a lot of online shopping and need space for regular mail and packages, the large PO box is the way to go. Measuring 11” x 11”, it can hold small and medium priority mail flat rate boxes and still leave room for 10-15 letters.
Starting at $13.33 per month, this option is ideal for small business owners who receive packages, boxes, or multiple letters daily.
5. Extra Large
Sized at 12” x 22.5”, the extra-large PO box is perfect for small business owners who frequently receive multiple packages and mail of varying sizes.
It is also a fantastic choice for households frequently receiving packages from online retailers.
Starting at $23.67 per month, this biggest-sized box offers ample space to handle it all ― think of it as having your very own package drop box at the post office.
Location of the Box
The cost of a PO box can vary based on where you’re renting one. The postal service classifies locations as “competitive” and “market dominant.”
In competitive locations, which are often big cities, you’ll find higher rental fees. Generally, the larger the city, the heftier the price tag on the PO box.
For example, a small PO box in a rural town might set you back $26 for a 3-month rental, while the same-sized box in a bustling metropolis could cost you over $40 for the same period.
Additionally, it’s worth noting that PO box prices can change annually in locations where the postal service has enough control over the market to set prices without competing influences.
For a detailed breakdown of rental fees based on location, check out the full United States Postal Service price list here.
Depending on the post office, you can choose rental terms of three, six, or twelve months. However, remember that some post offices may exclusively offer year-long rental terms.
If you know you’ll need a PO box for a year or more, you can save costs by opting for an annual rental right from the get-go. Paying upfront for six to twelve months usually offers you the best deal.
Keep in mind that constantly renewing the PO box for shorter rental periods can be a bit heavier on your wallet.
Choosing the Right Fit for Your Needs
Picking the perfect PO box isn’t rocket science, but it does require some careful consideration based on your situation. Here are some key factors to keep in mind when deciding the right fit:
- Location: The location of the post office matters, especially if you plan to check your mail frequently. Opting for a spot way out of your regular path can turn convenience into a bit of a headache. To make life a tad easier for yourself, pick a post office that’s a stone’s throw from your home or workplace.
- Box size: We’ve already covered the various box sizes available at post offices. You don’t want to pay for extra room you won’t use, so think about how much mail and packages you usually get and what you expect to get in the future before choosing a size that fits just right.
- Rental duration: Consider how frequently you’ll need the PO box and weigh the pros and cons of each rental term to decide on the most cost-effective rental duration. Remember that if you go for the 3-month rental term, you must stick with automatic renewals with no opt-opt. But with the 6- or 12-month plans, you can decide whether to opt out of auto-renewal.
- Payment methods: Post offices usually keep things flexible when it comes to paying up, whether you prefer swiping your card, issuing checks, or paying cash. However, some post offices may not have your preferred payment method, so it’s a good idea to check with your local post office to confirm what payment methods are supported.
PO Box Limits: What You Need to Consider
No doubt, having a mailbox at the post office offers convenience, but it’s important to be aware of the constraints. Before you go ahead and rent a PO box, keep the following in mind:
Permanent Address Requirement
Renting a PO box typically hinges on having a fixed, physical address. This requirement can be challenging if you’re a digital nomad or frequent traveler without a conventional, permanent residence.
Business Registration Constraints
When it comes to using a PO box for business registration, you might hit a snag in most US states. In many cases, you’ll be required to provide a physical street address for business registration.
This is a consideration for small business owners and startups seeking budget-friendly options, as they’ll need to navigate the requirement for a physical address.
Selective Carrier Acceptance
While PO boxes handle regular mail admirably, some prominent carriers, like FedEx and UPS, may not be compatible with them.
You might want to rethink renting a mailbox at the post office if you depend on these carriers for vital package deliveries.
It’s important to factor in the above limitations as you figure out whether a PO box suits your unique mailbox needs.
PO Box Alternatives
If you find these limitations challenging to work around, don’t worry. There are alternative solutions available to help you manage your mail more effectively.
Here are some alternative solutions for managing mail when PO boxes aren’t the best fit:
- Virtual mailbox services: Consider using a virtual mailbox service that provides a physical street address. These services receive and scan your mail, allowing you to access it online from anywhere.
- Co-working spaces: Some co-working spaces offer mail-handling services for their members, which can be a great solution for entrepreneurs and remote workers.
- Mail forwarding services: Checkout mail forwarding services that can reroute your mail and packages to your current location, even if you’re on the move.
- Package lockers: Many urban areas offer package lockers, which provide secure storage for package deliveries. Check if your location has access to these services.
- Friends or family: If you have friends or family with a stable address, you might consider using their address for important mail or package deliveries.
How much is a mailbox at the post office? The exact amount comes down to where you live, what size mailbox you need, and for how long you want it. Prices can go from anywhere around $4.67 to roughly $24 each month.
Remember to factor in your situation ― whether you’re a frequent traveler, a small business owner, or simply looking for a secure way to receive your mail ― before choosing a mailbox solution to match your needs.