In this article, we will be covering the topic of PO Boxes: Is it really an important part of life in the 21st century or are there any better alternatives?
Here’s everything you need to know.
What Is A PO Box?
A Post Office, or PO box, is a mailbox located in one of the 31,000 Post offices across the United States. With over 21 million available, businesses and individuals are able to rent these boxes to receive their mail and packages.
How Much Are PO Boxes?
The price will vary based on the duration of the rent agreement as well as the mailbox size. A P.O box for 6 months will cost as little as $19 and up to $75 in certain locations. For more information on pricing, please visit the official USPS website.
PO Box Sizes
Across all Post Office locations in the US, there are 5 standard PO Box sizes that you can pick from. Each box will come with a different pricing plan.
- X-Small (3″ x 5 1/2″ x 14 3/4″)
- Small (5″ x 5 1/2″ x 14 3/4″)
- Medium (11″ x 5 1/2” x 14 3/4″)
- Large (11″ x 11″ x 14 3/4″)
- X-Large (22 1/2″ x 12″ x 14 3/4″)
Wondering how they can benefit you?
Here are the Pros and Cons to getting a P.O. Box VS the alternative: a Virtual Mailbox
1. Permanent Address
Moving itself is already a hassle; you’re packing up your entire life. But now you have to change the mailing address for your bills and bank statements, not to mention the IRS and other government programs. And what happens if you’re already gone and your bank statement arrived at your old address? Then there’s a possibility of having your identity stolen and used to commit fraud and run up credit cards. With a PO Box there’s no need to update your mailing address every time you move, because it’s permanent.
Your home is for your private life; the fewer strangers knowing where you live, the better. Having a PO Box allows you to give out a mailing address that doesn’t subject you to danger. For example, if you’re a business owner or providing services for someone and they’re far from satisfied, you don’t want that disgruntled customer knowing where you live.
A PO Box is very useful for small business, but it’s not just for protection against angry customers. If you can’t afford an office space, P.O. Box helps you appear more professional in comparison to your home address. It also makes sorting mail easier when the mail for home and business aren’t lumped together
4. Delivery Time
Since PO boxes are located in the post office, it’s delivered much faster than it would be to a residential mailbox. A PO Box removes the wait time that a postman delivering mail to you. Your mail is ready for pickup as early as 11 am.
A PO Box is a lot more secure than a mailbox on the street or in front of an apartment building. It’s under surveillance and locked inside a building. This leaves you less vulnerable to mail thieves who may use your mail to steal your identity. It’s also not exposed to the elements. When Grandma sends you candy, it’s not as fun to eat it when it’s melted from the summer heat or water logged from the rain. Mail delivered to a P.O. Box is only exposed to the light breeze wafting from the air conditioner.
A PO Box isn’t all rainbows and air conditioning though. To make an educated decision you need to understand the disadvantages that PO Boxes have as well.
Here’s a list of cons:
1. You Have to Pick it Up
Having a PO Box means that rather than a short walk to your mailbox, you have to drive all the way to the post office. For some that’s 10 minute drive, for others it’s longer, and it’s especially not fun after a long day of work. However, if you live in a rural area that mail is hard to deliver to, this won’t have a big effect.
2. No 24/7 Access
Many Post offices don’t offer the 24/7 that a residential mailbox does. The times available may not always be the time available for you, especially during the holidays
3. Not Professional
If you’re a small business owner, a PO Box can make you appear less professional. I know what you’re thinking. “You said the exact opposite earlier!” While a PO Box appears more professional than a home address, it’s still indicative that you don’t have an office space. If you want peak professionalism you’ll have to fork over more money for street address.
4. It Overflows
PO Boxes come in different sizes that correlate with their price. You may immediately want to go for the smallest size to save money, but if you do, you’ll need to make that drive to the post office more frequently. If you’re box constantly overflows you’ll be charged with caller service fees that can amount to 500$ over 6 months.
5. No Mail From Other Carriers
It’s federal law that only a postal employee or box user can put anything into their box. As a result, major shipping companies, FedEX and UPS only deliver mail to actual street address. With a PO Box you can end up only being able to receive USPS mail.
6. No Additional Services
The USPS has tried to improve recently. You can now have informed delivery for residential PO Boxes, but it’s still lacking in comparison to the other option you have: a virtual mailbox.
The Alternative: Virtual Mailbox
A virtual mailbox is almost like a PO Box, only better. You get a permanent address, privacy, security, and professionalism. What sets it apart is that it has none of the cons of a PO Box. Once you receive mail at this address, its exterior is uploaded online and you can decide whether to have it opened and scanned, shredded, or forwarded to a different address.
No more driving the post office! See how they compare at a glance:
How to rent a virtual mailbox
Interested in getting more value for your money? Learn more here or follow these 3 easy steps to start renting your own:
How to rent a PO Box
Still interested in signing up for a PO Box? That’s okay, sometimes change can be scary. We’re still here to help though so here’s a guide on how to rent a PO Box in 5 easy steps:
Hope this helps. Give us a buzz if we can help answer any questions for you.