Joonie Jatho / Flickr

These Postal Services Will Check Your (Snail) Mail While You’re Gone

Become reeeeeally good friends with your roommate. Or work those blood-related connections (and change all those addresses to their home). But paying for a service is also an option.

It turns out there are quite a few mail services out there that will check snail mail, scan it online and then will handle any logistics once you’re not physically present to deal with any issues. As an added bonus, some of these places will even forward mail internationally, deposit checks (that’s extra, of course) and hold physical mail for a time.

Prices range: There are free options and go all the way up to $100 per month, so do expect to pay for a decent service. On average, the price for a plan hovered around $38.53 per month.

One thing to keep in mind is the difference between envelope scans, open and scan requests and page scan requests. Envelope scans refer to scanning the front envelope, open and scan requests can include its full contents and numerous pages (though do read the fine print) while page scan requests are limited at that exact number of pages. The only one that goes by page scans is Traveling Mailbox.

For the record, opening up someone else’s mail without their permission is a federal offense punishable up to five years in prison, according to 18 U.S. Code § 1702. I mean, at least until Trump revokes that law too, but whatever.

Comparison of all services.


Plan NameMonthly CostMail & Packages ReceivedOpen & Scan RequestsPhysical Mail Storage
USPS Informed Delivery$0.00100None
PostScan Mail Starter$14.95301030 days
PostScan Mail Standard$24.951004030 days
PostScan Mail Premium$49.9520010030 days
Scan Mailboxes Basic$15.0030560 days for envelopes, 14 days for packages
Scan Mailboxes Standard$25.0011003060 days for envelopes, 14 days for packages
Scan Mailboxes Premium$50.0022007560 days for envelopes, 14 days for packages
Scan Mailboxes Diamond$100.00330017560 days for envelopes, 14 days for packages
Traveling Mailbox Basic$15.004035 460 days
Traveling Mailbox Extended$25.0010080 560 days
Traveling Mailbox Small Business$55.00200180 660 days
Earth Class Mail Residential$49.00101030 days

USPS Informed Delivery

The USPS is not dead. It’s not dead because it’s been trying to implement a new scanned mail service called Informed Delivery for the last couple of years. This completely free option will allow users to see the front of their mail in anticipation of a physical delivery, meaning, they are not actually going to open up the letter and scan the contents for you.

It’s not a great solution for staying on top of mail at home but might be a decent alert system for contacting your mail checker for something that might be really important coming through. (I personally do not like someone to be reading all of my mail. That gives me the privacy heebie jeebies.)

It’s being upgraded to the 21st century. (Epicantus / Flickr)

It’s been piloted for quite a while—since 2005—but there are rumors it could be a nationwide thing this year. (This is the government we are talking about, so perhaps don’t hold your breath.)

PostScan Mail

PostScan Mail is a more traditional mail scanning service that ranges from $14.95 to $49.95 per month, with a variety of different options. (The most popular option is $24.95 per month.) On the bright side, they will hold physical mail for 30 days and will forward mail and packages internationally. It will require customers to change their address to a PostScan Mail facility in order to use the service.

One thing to note: There are extra service fees, and it can get pretty pricey if you go over a selected plan’s allotted open and scan requests at $1.25 per piece.

Scan Mailboxes

Scan Mailboxes is also another reasonable option that falls around the same price points as PostScan Mail and Traveling Mailbox. The main difference in pricing between these companies is that Scan Mailboxes provides two free months on everything but its most basic plan if you sign up for a year. It’s not the cheapest on a monthly basis, but even with a $20 setup fee can work out to be the cheapest option if buying annually.

Traveling Mailbox

For the most part, all of these services tend to have similar pricing tiers. The main difference with Traveling Mailbox is that instead of using open and scan requests, plans are based around the number of pages scanned. These can add up to be quite a bit (I’m thinking credit card statements here, but those are easily set up for paperless statements), so have a good think on the type of mail you’d want scanned.

Earth Class Mail

Starting at $49 per month, Earth Class Mail is by far the most expensive option, though its website does look the best. I mean, branding.

However, unlike the other services, it does offer 256-bit encryption, integration with Bill.com and Dropbox, and PDFs with full-text search. Its clients include Reddit, Lyft, so its customer base does primarily tend to be corporate, which explains the high prices. Do you go for the fancy organic almond butter or the JIF? Cause this is the fancy organic almond butter. Same thing.

6 footnotes

  1. Two months are waived if bought annually.
  2. Two months are waived if bought annually.
  3. Two months are waived if bought annually.
  4. Doesn’t go by scan requests but number of pages scanned.
  5. Doesn’t go by scan requests but number of pages scanned.
  6. Doesn’t go by scan requests but number of pages scanned.

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