There’s a lot that goes into making this kind of decision.
After all, the mail forwarding service you choose to take advantage of is going to be responsible for handling all of your mail from here on out. Important bills, important packages and parcels, sensitive documents and information – all of the things that the USPS would have handled for you are now going to be going through a separate organization.
This isn’t a decision you can make willy-nilly or on-the-fly.
But that’s why we have put together this in-depth guide.
Below we breakdown a couple of very important things to consider before choosing a mail forwarding service. You’re going to be inundated with options, all of them promising the moon and the stars when it comes to services, results, and benefits.
The only way to effectively break down those choices and find the one perfect for you is to think about the 10 elements highlighted in-depth below.
Ready to get right in to it?
1. How much does mail forwarding cost?
While the cost of a mail forwarding service should never be the primary reason you choose it over another, it is going to be a hugely influential part of your decision.
After all, taking advantage of the USPS services may not cost you anything (upfront, anyway). Plenty of folks have nothing more than the mailbox at the end of their driveway or attached to their front door, and are still able to send and receive mail without headache or hassle.
Making a jump from that “free” service provided by the USPS to one that charges a premium fee – sometimes as high as a few hundred dollars a month – can be jarring. Especially if that service you’re now taking advantage of doesn’t provide all the benefits and options you were expecting.
Definitely look into the price of mail forwarding options to better compare your choices, too.
Look into at least five different services and see how their monthly fees stack up against one another. See which services provide more value for the monthly charge, see which services come up woefully short, and compare these options in as much of an “apples to apples” kind of way as you can.
- How much are you willing to spend for this service? Figure out your budget for the month.
- Be aware of hidden fees or extra charges from different services.
- Be realistic. Research the costs for these services: Membership fees, shipping costs, customers charges, fuel surcharges … Depending on your needs and services, your budget can vary from $20/month to $100+/month.
- Mail forwarding services can make it challenging for a precise price comparison. But here’s the price comparison table for your reference.
2. Can I forward my mail for free? Does it cost money to forward my mail?
There may even be mail forwarding solutions that offer free services you can take advantage of.
Before you jump on board, though, you’ll want to dig beneath the surface of these freebie offers.
You’ll need to make sure that these services are legitimate, these services are trustworthy, and that these services aren’t just an effort to sell you on premium options later down the line.
- Is low cost the most important factor? Or are you willing to pay a little bit more for a faster turnaround and reliability?
- Do you just want your mail automatically shipped on a regular basis? Would you prefer to hold the mail until you want to ship? Would you prefer to have your individual letters scanned to read so you don’t have to pay for shipping?
- Take time to think about the MANY services forwarding companies offer and figure out what applies to you.
3. Is the company reliable?
Company reputation is everything in this industry.
We highlighted this a moment ago, but you are going to be trusting your new mail forwarding service with some pretty sensitive information. Everything sent through the mail is personal and private and you have to be 100% certain that your new mail forwarding operation respects that across the board.
Thankfully, the overwhelming majority of operations in this space are reputable and reliable. Even still, you want to do your research and due diligence to confirm this to be the case before you sign on the dotted line.
Looking to the reputation that these companies have with other customers and clients but also look into the reputation they have throughout the industry. A little bit of research online goes a long way.
- Believe me. You don’t want to miss your next tax notice or check. That’s why when it comes to mail forwarding, most people seek the best bang for their buck, rather than the cheapest service. Reliability matters.
- Read up on the various companies. Google their name as many ways as you can think of. Examples of what you would search include: Company customer reviews, company customer service reviews, company security, company complaints, company hidden fees, company facebook etc. Research is your best friend when making decisions like these.
- Here are some trusted review platforms in the industry: TrustPilot, Google, and BBB. Be sure to read the company’s responses to reviews as well.
4. What can and cannot be sent internationally?
Paying for special mail forwarding services won’t be worth that much if you’re not able to send or receive packages and parcels to destinations all over the world the way you might have with the USPS, UPS, FedEx, or a similar service.
All mail forwarding organizations will have different rules and regulations governing what they are able or willing to send to their clients internationally. It’s not a bad idea to have a look at this list before you sign up.
Nobody wants to find out that their new premium mail forwarding service isn’t able to accommodate their needs when they are overseas. This is especially important for those expatriates or international travelers that want to get their mail while hopping from one global destination to another.
- Moving to another country? Then find out what can’t be shipped internationally. It’s so easy to go ahead and purchase products that you were used to, back home. However, what is deemed “normal” where you’re from, may not even be allowed to the new country you call home. It would be a pity to pay for shipping and declarations only to have to abandon the package or pay again to have it returned!
- Different countries can have different regulations. Read about your country here.
5. What is the exchange rate?
Whenever possible you want to make the most of the US dollar, the “universal standard” of currency pretty much everywhere on the planet.
If possible, you want to find global destinations that help you stretch your buying power just by capitalizing on the exchange rate in that particular part of the world.
There are mobile applications and plenty of websites out there to help you keep on top of this critical information. You might even be able to plan your international itinerary around maximizing your money, saving a pile of cash while enjoying life in the lap of luxury at the same time!
- If you are moving internationally, you may find that your dollar goes a lot further where you are now, freeing up some room in your budget. That means, you will have more options for the company you want to work with.
6. What will you be forwarding?
The packages, parcels, envelopes, and boxes you expect to be forwarding on a regular basis will inform your decision to choose one mail forwarding service over another.
If all you need to do are periodic “mail drops” of cards, letters, and envelopes of a more personal nature every now and again security and handling of sensitive information may not be paramount. It’ll always be important, but it might not be the number one factor you have to consider.
If, on the other hand, you expect to run your business internationally with the help of this mail forwarding service the exact opposite is true. You’ll need to pick a company that is secure, safe, and speedy – not to mention reliable – to get you your mail when you need it.
- Does the thought of sending sensitive tax documents overseas make you a bit uneasy? Understandable. Do you receive checks through the mail? What about credit cards?
- Back to the research; how successful is the company’s delivery rate? Are they trustworthy? Do they have any hidden fees that will pop up at time of shipping? Could you trust the company to NOT tamper with items of that nature? These are all important questions to ask yourself.
7. Will the service allow you to use their address for billing?
Some of the best mail forwarding services provide access to “street addresses” you can use as a billing address domestically as well as overseas.
The ability to avoid using a PO Box address while still enjoying the anonymity and security that these kinds of street addresses provide is a big reason people moved to these kinds of services to begin with.
If your company does offer a street address you can use be sure that you are taking advantage of it.
- Though you may be moving, your bills still need to be sent to a US address. Does the forwarding company provide PO boxes or real street addresses? It’s important to understand, that you can only have your bills sent to a street address, not a PO box. Is receiving bills via mail important to you?
8. How is their customer service?
No mail forwarding service is perfect in the odds are you’ll probably have to contact customer service at some point in time.
Make sure that those conversations will be smooth and easy to navigate by choosing a mail forwarding company that as a top-tier customer service department you know you can trust!
- If an issue arises, will it be resolved immediately, in a timely manner, or at the company’s leisure? If you send an email, will it be answered? If you need immediate assistance, do they offer live chat, and is it with a person or a robot?
- Research! Check the company’s website, test out their email and chat services. See how quickly you get a response.
9. What does the service require from me?
- Find out what documents you need to submit. Then ask yourself; what is the purpose of the requirements? Why isn’t a simple change of address through USPS enough? If you need all of this information from me, how do I know my identity is private and secured in your system?
- Ask as many questions as you can think of. All the why’s, what’s, where’s, when’s, what if’s, and maybe’s! Ultimately this is a very important decision to be made, don’t make it in haste!
10. Why is a 1583 form necessary for a mail forwarding company?
- Essentially the 1583 form is for your protection. Because, legally, a mail forwarding company cannot release your mail without the form. Therefore, USPS will NOT allow them to if they don’t have your “permission”.
- The form must be notarized as well. That is another security measure that protects your identity. Think about it; your mail could be sent anywhere!!! However, not just ANYBODY can pick it up. Which means, it’s one less potential headache being avoided.
When researching a mail forwarding company, don’t hesitate to voice your questions and concerns. What works for one person might not work for you. What one company offers as part of their package pricing may not apply to you. There are so many options out there for mail forwarding services. Choosing which one is the right one for you won’t be an easy task. Compare and contrast the companies and figure out which one suits you best!
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