Real Talk: Post Office Boxes

Text reads: Real Talk PO Box over a post office box

Post Office Boxes; worth it or not? That answer depends greatly on your needs. There are many benefits and many drawbacks to opening and utilizing a PO Box for your business and/or personal mail. The options are there but the decision is up to you.

Why would you use a PO Box versus your street address?

For personal reasons, many people will opt to use a PO Box for receiving mail for a number of reasons that mostly boil down to safety. Your mail is less likely to be stolen from a PO Box; meaning both those tempting pieces of mail that could provide the thief with your identity and that XBOX you scored online that was shipped. Depending on your area and level of comfort, a PO Box can be a great option.

For business reasons many businesses without a brick-and-mortar location may not want or have a street address where the business should be receiving mail. Having the PO Box not only keeps all the business mail together and separate from any personal mail received at your residence but also provides a set address that can be listed on websites or provided to the masses if needed without the potential of random people showing up on your doorstep.

What is the downside?

There are a few potential drawbacks to having a PO Box. The first is the fee. Depending on where you are located, a PO Box at the US Post Office can run you anywhere between $15-$50 per month or more. Typically, there are a variety of sizes so you can go for the lesser option if you do not expect a large amount of mail or frequent packages. There is also a key deposit that you may need to put down that your local Post Office would require. That is money you will get back, but it can still hurt the wallet when initially starting your PO Box.

US Post offices also have operating hours. Unlike your personal mailbox, you will only have access to your PO Box during the hours that your local office sets in place; so make sure that it is a convenient location with hours that work for you.

Are there other options?

Currently, I only know of one other provider of this type of mailbox: UPS. Check with your local UPS store to see if they offer mailbox services. It may be a more convenient location than the post office and UPS stores generally tend to have longer hours of operation than the post office locations do.

The cost of a UPS mailbox is about the same but there is one excellent benefit that UPS has over the post office: a physical address. There may come a time that something important needs to get delivered and a PO Box address would not be acceptable (you may have a checkbook or a new credit card coming in the mail and those companies will not send those items to a PO Box). UPS uses the actual address of the UPS location so that you can send those items. It can come in handy.

Using your regular mailing address or a PO box is a choice that each individual needs to make for themselves but I hope that I have been able to provide you with a little insight to help you in your decision making. Thanks!

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