[UPDATED 2 JUNE 2015] Purchasing postage through PayPal is cheaper than going to a physical Post Office, and very easy. Since I’ve had many questions about shipping, I thought I would post a quick tutorial for those of you who’ve never shipped through PayPal.
Why is it less expensive?
Paying for and printing a postage label through PayPal rather than going to the Post Office saves you money because you get a cheaper commercial-based postage rate, and a tracking number is included (it costs $1.05 at the Post Office). If you enter an email address when creating a postage label, PayPal even automatically sends the tracking number to the buyer via a shipping notification!
What do I need?
All you need is a printer and a scale (I use this postage scale); you don’t even need any special labels, since you just print the label right on a 8.5×11 piece of paper.
How do I start?
To start the process, just log into PayPal and click “Print Shipping Label” next to the transaction you want to ship. If your package is under 13oz, you’ll select “First Class”; “Package/Thick Envelope” and then enter the weight in ounces.
How much does a First Class package cost?
Here are the First Class mail rates (tracking number is automatically included in this price) when you print and pay for postage through PayPal. Remember to weigh after you have packaged the item, not before. ;)
[Prices updated to reflect the May 2015 postage rate increase]
- 1 through 3 oz = $2.04
- 4 oz = $2.13
- 5 oz = $2.22
- 6 oz = $2.35
- 7 oz = $2.53
- 8 oz = $2.71
- 9 oz = $2.89
- 10 oz = $3.07
- 11oz = $3.25
- 12 oz = $3.44
- 13 oz = $3.63
Now, I would still recommend rounding up when you charge shipping to buyers. For example, I’ll charge $3.00 to $3.50 to ship a 1-5oz package, rather than the $2.04-2.22 in actual First Class postage costs. Why? Because I spend a few cents in poly mailers, tape, ink, and paper each time I package an order.
How much does a Parcel Select Nonpresort package cost?
[UPDATE: This question wasn’t in the original version of the article, because I think Parcel rates are outrageous — but was added along with the May 2015 postage update, because it’s so commonly asked.]
As you can see, once your package weighs more than 13 ounces, you can’t mail First Class anymore. Your options above 13 ounces are either Media Mail, Parcel Select Nonpresort, or Priority Mail. Media Mail is generally only for books, and Parcel Select Nonpresort gets pricey quickly especially if you’re mailing to a ZipCode far away, so I highly recommend the much cheaper Priority Mail flat rate boxes (see end of article). Sometimes, though, you might want the Parcel rate — this is also referred to as Standard Post.
Here are the Parcel Select Nonpresort mail rates (tracking number is automatically included in this price) when you print and pay for postage through PayPal. Remember to weigh after you have packaged the item, not before. ;) Also note that for any given one-pound increment listed below, the prices vary within that range depending on ZipCode, not depending on ounces within the one-pound increment. (For example, for a ZipCode near you, it would cost $5.70 to mail a small package whether that package was 1 oz or 1lb. And for a ZipCode far away from you, it would cost $7.04 to mail a small package whether that package is 1 oz or 1 lb. Media Mail, First Class Mail, and Priority Mail flat rate postage rates do not work this way, but Parcel Select Nonpresort does.)
- 1 oz to 1 lb = ranges from $5.70 to $7.04
- 1 lb, 1 oz to 2 lb = ranges from $5.90 to $10.94
- 2 lb, 1 oz to 3 lb = ranges from $6.65 to $14.22
- 3 lb, 1 oz to 4 lb = ranges from $7.50 to $15.31
- 4 lb, 1 oz to 5 lb = ranges from $8.90 to $16.52
- 5 lb, 1 oz to 6 lb = ranges from $9.55 to $18.65
- 6 lb, 1 oz to 7 lb = ranges from $10.15 to $20.71
- 7 lb, 1 oz to 8 lb = ranges from $10.90 to $23.93
- 8 lb, 1 oz to 9 lb = ranges from $11.40 to $26.74
- 9 lb, 1 oz to 10 lb = ranges from $12.10 to $29.17
- 10 lb, 1 oz to 11 lb = ranges from $12.95 to $32.12
- 50 lb, 1 oz to 51 lb = $31.40 to $103.28*
*Keep in mind that at this kind of weight, your package may exceed the 84″ when you add the length and girth, which means yet another postage increase on top of what you see here.
How much does a Media Mail package cost? Does my package qualify for the Media Mail rate?
[UPDATE: This question wasn’t in the original version of the article, but was added along with the May 2015 postage update, because it’s so commonly asked, especially by homeschoolers reselling their curriculum at the end of the school year.]
Before we get into cost, let’s quickly go over what does and doesn’t qualify as Media Mail.
When it comes to the discounted rate, the following items are a YES:
- Books of 8+ pages
- Sheet music or music books
- Objective testing materials
- Scripts and manuscripts
- Certain film strips and audio recordings
- Educational charts
- Loose-leaf binders — only if for hospitals, doctors, and medical students
Here are some more details about what items are allowed under the Media Mail rate.
These guidelines are kind of a sticking point for a lot of people. But here’s what’s at stake. When you’re mailing something at the Media Mail postage rate, you’re literally agreeing to let the USPS open and inspect your package at any point during the mailing process, right up until when your recipient takes possession of the package. What does this mean? It means if the USPS opens your package and sees something that doesn’t fall under this category, they’ll either return the package to you, where you have to pay for postage all over again, or they’ll add a bill to the parcel, and your recipient will have to pay extra to receive it. (And yes, this isn’t just an idle threat. The USPS really and truly does this. And they don’t do such a good job of taping up the gaping holes they rip in the package to inspect, either.)
If USPS opens the package and deems it unworthy of the discounted Media rate, it naturally causes delays. And delays, if they’re significant enough, sometimes cause buyers to open PayPal disputes, since the package hasn’t arrived yet. I’m just not willing to risk my reputation as a seller over a small amount of Media Mail postage savings. That said, when you truly are mailing “bound printed matter” AKA plain old books, the discount is tremendous!
Unlike First Class Mail, where prices correspond to ounces, Media Mail postage works in whole pound increments. Anything less than 16 ounces is considered 1 pound.
Here are the Media Mail rates (each price listed below includes the non-optional, but awesome, $0.23 Delivery Confirmation tracking fee), when you print and pay for postage through PayPal. Remember to weigh after you have packaged the item, not before. ;)
- 1 oz to 1 lb = $2.72
- 1 lb, 1 oz to 2 lbs = $3.22
- 2 lbs, 1 oz to 3 lb = $3.72
- 3 lb, 1 oz to 4 lb = $4.22
- 4 lb, 1 oz to 5 lb = $4.72
- 5 lb, 1 oz to 6 lb = $5.22
- 6 lb, 1 oz to 7 lb = $5.72
- 7 lb, 1 oz to 8 lb = $6.22
- 8 lb, 1 oz to 9 lb = $6.72
- 9 lb, 1 oz to 10 lb = $7.22
- 10 lb, 1 oz to 11 lb = $7.72
- 50 lb, 1 oz to 51 lb = $27.72
There’s definitely a pattern to this rate! :)
How should I package my item?
To keep your shipping costs down, use plastic poly mailing bags instead of boxes. You can order poly mailers on Amazon quite inexpensively. An added bonus? They’re water resistant, and they don’t take up much space to store!
This is the self-sealing brand I use, and I’ve not had a single issue with the strength or durability:
Does the Post Office give away shipping supplies like poly mailers or boxes for free?
[UPDATE: This question wasn’t in the original version of the article, but I’m adding it to the list here because I repeatedly receive this question.] The answer is no, and yes. No, you cannot obtain poly mailers or regular boxes for free from the Post Office, you must purchase those yourself. And yes, you can request Priority Mail boxes from the USPS/Post Office. They are completely free. (Of course, Priority Mail boxes can only legally be used for Priority Mail, which brings me to the next Q+A on the list…)
What if my package weights more than 13 ounces?
If your package is over 13oz, it does not qualify as Media Mail, you don’t want to pay Parcel Select Nonpresort prices, but you still want to print postage through PayPal, then you should use a Priority Mail flat rate box. This is a really good deal, because heavy packages get expensive quickly unless you use the “slow-boat” Standard Post option [formerly Parcel Post]). The Post Office provides Priority Mail flat rate boxes for free, and you can pay for and print the postage label through Paypal. Again, you get a discount if you do that instead of paying postage at the Post Post Office.
How much is postage for the flat rate boxes?
Here are the Priority Mail flat rates, and again, a tracking number is included:
[Prices updated to reflect the May 2015 postage rate increase; however please note the PayPal postage price for these did not actually increase.]
- A flat rate envelope is $5.05 through PayPal, and $5.75 at the PO
- A small flat rate box is $5.25 through PayPal, and $5.95 at the PO
- A medium flat rate box is $11.30 through PayPal, and $12.65 through the PO
- A large box is $15.80 through PayPal, and $17.90 through the PO
How do I mail the packages?
To mail your packages after you’ve attached the postage-paid label to them, just put them in a USPS collection box (a Blue Box); You don’t need to go to the Post Office at all!
If you have additional questions, please leave them in the comments and I’ll do my best to answer! And if you found this helpful, why not click here to get this post’s Permalink, then pin it to Pinterest? :)
Disclosure of Material Connection: Some links above are “affiliate links” provided in conjunction with my participation in Amazon.com’s Associates Program. This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission. Please be assured, I only recommend products or services I use personally, and I will always disclose any such links.