Postage stamps, envelopes, and packaging supplies such as packaging tape and boxes can be purchased at your local United States Postal Service (USPS). While traditionally people have always had to go to the post office to buy stamps, now there are many places where to buy stamps such as retailers and online. Its become much easier to buy stamps near me, despite several post offices closing.
Most of the stores that carry them are popular retailers that you can find in your neighborhood such as Walmart, Rite Aid, Staples, and CVS. There are also some banks that allow you to purchase stamps by the book, just ask your bank teller. Additionally you can purchase stamps online through both the USPS website or through Amazon.
Places to Buy Stamps Near me
- Costco | Find a Store
- Kroger | Find a Store
Office Supply Stores
- Staples | Find a Store
- Amazon | Order Stamps Online
Where to Buy Stamps Near Me?
Well the first place to buy postage stamps near you is the local post office. Below is a map you can use to find a post office near by:
Not everyone has one close by and recently many are closing due to the financial struggles of the post office. If you do not have a post office located near you, then here is a list of the next best options if you need to find where to buy postage stamps near you.
1. Large Retail and Wholesale Stores – Target, Walmart, Costco
Target, Walmart, and Costco are large retailer chains and they are located in most towns and cities. Many are open extended hours and in addition to purchasing stamps, you can also buy envelopes and packaging supplies. Not all Targets and Walmart’s sell them so you can ask customer service for help. The Targets and Walmarts that do sell them are classified as “Super Stores”. If you are not sure if your local branch is super store, call ahead and ask if they sell stamps. Costcos on the other hand should have them available in their business services center.
2. Large Pharmacy Chains – CVS, Walgreens, Rite Aid
Pharmacy stores like Rite Aid, Walgreens, and CVS now carry postal stamps. In addition many of them also carry mailing supplies like packing tape and envelopes. To purchase stamps ask the sales clerk. Small local pharmacy stores will be unlikely to sell them.
3. Large Grocery Store Chains – Safeway, Publix, Kroger, Meijer, Publix, Food Lion, Giant Eagle
Large chain grocery stores like Safeway, Publix, Meijer, Food Lion, Giant Eagle, and Kroger often carry postage stamps along with mailing supplies. For stamps you may need to ask customer service, but for supplies you can usually find half of an aisle dedicated to mailing supplies. these are probably not the only big box grocery stores that carry stamps, you can also inquire at you local Giant, Price Choppers, Shoppers or what ever large grocery store is near by.
4. Large Retail Copy Centers – Staples, Kinkos, Office Depot
Large retail copy centers like Staples, Office Depot, and Kinkos have stamps available for purchase. Some even offer additional services like putting your package together for you in box, with packing bubbles, and taped properly. Those extra services will cost extra on top of the price you pay for postage.
5. Banks – Wells Fargo, US Bank, KeyBank, Fifth Third
Not a lot of banks now sell US postage stamps. You will need to inquire with the teller. At banks, stamps are often sold as single stamps so you really can’t go in and purchase in bulk. Of course going to a bank these days is about as rare as going to your local post office.
6. Gas Stations – Shell, Sunoco, Hess
Many big brand gas stations now carry stamps. The advantage of buying stamps at a gas station is that they are open 24 hours and are at more frequent intervals on the road than other businesses. The next stop you stop in to fill up your tank as the attendant if they sell stamps.
7. Buy Stamps at ATM Machines
Buy stamps at ATM machines. While it is still a new concept, it is slowly growing in popularity. With that being said only brand new ATM machines would have this type of functionality. The only bank branch I have seen do this so far is a Wells Fargo ATM and it was on the west coast of the US.
8. Check Cashing Stores
Many check cashing stores stores sell stamps and envelopes in addition to their normal services. These locations often have better hours than banks and some are even open on Sundays. You can find check cashing stores here.
8. Shipping Stores – UPS Store & Fed Ex
While UPS and Fed Ex are competitors of the postal service they actually carry a wide range of USPS products. In addition to stamps, you can get Priority and Express mail through their services as well.
10. Online – USPS & Amazon
The most convenient way to buy stamps is to purchase them online through the USPS website or through large online retailers like Amazon. When you purchase them online, they get delivered to you via the mail. When you buy postage stamps online it saves the effort of having to run out and get the, however it doesn’t solve your problems if you need a stamp right now for a bill that’s going to be late.
What is a Postage Stamp Used For?
A postage stamp is a proof of purchase that you have paid the freight on your mail. It is a small sticker that you place in the top right corner of a box or envelope. Packages that cost more to deliver may need several US-stamps placed on them depending on the weight of the package or envelope.
Stamps come in many different design formats, with the most common featuring the American flag. Stamps of different price ranges often feature different pictures like animals or historical public figures. In addition there are collectable versions that can feature movie themes or famous cartoon characters. All varities contain some type of featured image along with the denomination of its value. A Forever stamp does not show a monetary value, but says the words “Forever” on it and “First Class”
The ink used for a postage stamps is called indicia ink. This specialized ink allows the US postal service to identify whether or not a stamp is real or fake. When your mail goes through a machine at the postal service the first step of the process is to check the indicia ink. Fake stamps and stamps that have been reused or canceled get rejected and returned to sender.
There are personalized stamps you can make at home which don’t have indicia ink, these have special codes embedded on them, that can read on a scanner. For these types you can create your own postage at home with you printer. There is no need to go out and find a store that sells stamps.
The existence of stamps has been around now for over 200 years. In the early days before advanced postal technology a postal clerk would handle and sort all the mail by hand at a post office. Now the mail system is full of advanced technology that can perform hand writing analysis to determine where your mail needs to be delivered and then sort it through a machine and set it up in the exact order in needs to be delivered by your local carrier.
It’s actually pretty amazing value that for such a low price you can still send a piece of mail across the world and utilize all of the high end technology so cheaply. It’s not just the machines that are impressive there are countless logistics in place such as trucks, boats, and planes. Actually the USPS actually flies mail on Fed Ex plains and commercial airlines because they do not own their own fleet.
While sending envelopes and the like can be inexpensive and is called First Class Mail there are other classes of mail that are much more pricey and have higher standards. For example there is priority, express, delivery confirmation, certified mail, and registered mail classes. This mail gets prioritized by special clerks in the postal service who specialize in these mail classes. They take extra effort to make sure you get what you paid for.
So what happens when you drop your envelope off to the postal service? First a clerk looks at your mail and validates that it has the correct postage amount and a valid destination. Then they place it in the proper container by groups of zip codes. Next a mail handler loads it onto a truck. The truck driver delivers it to a Processing & Distribution Center (P & DC). At the P & DC your mail gets checked for indicia and several hazmat substances such as anthrax. It then goes through a sorting machine and finds out what general direction it needs to go. If it needs to go to another P & DC in another state it goes on a truck. If it is local, it then gets sorted for the carrier and delivered to the proper post office.
In the case of registered mail which is expensive, your mail or package gets put into a vault that gets monitored by a video camera. Anyone who comes in and out of the vault must sign in or out. The reason being is that the mail in the registry has been paid premium for by the customer for extra protection. If you wanted to send a $10,000 necklace via mail, registered mail is the most secure option. Every piece of registered mail follows a chain of custody that can be tracked to each person that handled it from the first clerk, to the driver, to the carrier.
With the emergence of competing technologies such as email, the demand for buying postage has decreased. Which is also why the amount to buy a postage stamp has increased.
At one time letters were one of the primary methods of communication in this country…parents would write to their sons off at war, sons would write to their girlfriends back home. Those days are long past and have been replaced with phone calls, emails, text messages, and social media.
Postage stamps are just not what they used to be; the backbone of communication in America. However there is still a large population that collects stamps and trades them at shows. Some rare stamps can even go for hundreds of thousands of dollars depending on the year, condition, and rarity.
The US postal stamp does still have its place and it’s not completely obsolete just yet. There are still bills that come in the mail that require a stamp, there are still packages to be sent at Christmas, wedding invitations, and who doesn’t like receiving a birthday card in the mail not matter how old you are. The problem is they are getting harder to find as USPS local post offices are closing and consolidating.
How Much are Postage Stamps?
The answer to the question of how much is a postage stamp depends on the weight of the package you are sending. While the demand for stamps has decreased the cost for stamps has increased. Stamps however are still incredibly inexpensive when you consider the technology and logistics involved in mailing a letter and delivering it on time.
Here are the current costs of postage stamps:
- Mailing domestically – Range $0.30 to $0.90
- First Class mail stamp in 2017 is $0.49
- Each additional ounce $0.21
- For flat rate envelopes and boxes the price ranges up to $25 depending on the size of the box
Where to Buy Stamps on Sale?
These are a government issued document and they don’t have sales like a private business would have. Even buying in bulk from USPS doesn’t save you money. I have seen sales where a grocery store retail chain is selling booklets containing $4.40 worth of postage for $4. The idea is that the chain lures you in with a deal on postage and then can try and sell you other items. Normally when I buy stamps near me, they are not on sale and I buy them in bulk. There are certain places online though that you can get unused stamps at discounted rates.
Here are the bulk options available:
- Buy a Roll of Stamps–10 count
- Buy a Book of Stamps–20 count
- Buy a Coil of Stamps–100 count
The best value is the “Forever Stamp”. Basically the price you pay for the stamp is good forever. So if you pay 49 cents for a stamp today and tomorrow the price for stamps goes to 55 cents, your stamp can still be used to mail a letter despite the fact it had a lower price for postage.
I find when I buy books of Forever stamps to be the most beneficial, since I normally don’t use them that often it’s easier than having to add postage later if the price of postage rises.
Can You Reuse a Stamp?
No you cannot reuse a stamp. Once a stamp is used it is considered to be canceled. Essentially reusing a stamp is basically stealing, although I am sure the postal inspectors will not be knocking on your door unless you have tried doing this thousands of times.
Stamps are only good for one mailing. You may notice that when you receive a letter there is a round ink stamp that says where your mail originated from and it overlaps onto your postage stamps. This is what is called cancelling the stamp. A clerk or a machine do this so that stamps cannot be reused or resold.
In the early days of technology, a stamp could be faked and slip pass the USPS machines. As I mentioned earlier a postage stamp contains indicia ink. Using a highlighter marker in the top right corner of your envelope could fool a machine. That however is no longer the case and getting caught doing that would lead to trouble anyway. Despite all the technology there are still a lot of hands that touch your mail, if you tried to cheat the system out of postage, most likely a pair of human eyes would catch it somewhere in the process.
What Happens If You Send Mail With Insufficient Postage?
If you try to mail a letter without enough postage, it will be returned to you with a note for insufficient paid postage.
A normal letter with one stamp should only weight up to one ounce. If your letter was slightly over then most likely it will go through. However if you tried to mail something heavy like your tax return with only one stamp, it is coming back to you for sure.
For packages you will see that clerks weigh them when you drop them off. If your package has insufficient postage the clerk will ask you to purchase more stamps.
What Happens If You Apply To Much Postage?
If you put on a package more postage then is required, you are essentially giving away your money. The postal service can’t remove stamps once you have stuck them on. They will cancel your stamps (meaning mark them so you can’t reuse them) and you will have overpaid.
For that reason you should not place two Forever Stamps on an envelope even if its heavy. After the first stamp, adding additional ounces only costs $0.21 per ounce instead of the$0.49 for a one ounce letter. Essentially, if you stick two Forever Stamps on a letter weighing 2 ounces, you would would be paying $0.98 for a letter that should only cost you $0.70.
If you are not sure how much postage to apply to an envelope or package its best to let a postal clerk weigh your package and tell you exactly how much postage to apply.
What is First Class Mail?
First class mail is by far the most popular and cheapest way to have mail delivered by the US Postal Service. First class service allows you to send letters, large envelopes, and post cards. You can also send small boxes first class providing they don’t exceed 15.99 ounces. If your box is over the weight you have to upgrade to the Priority class, which costs more money.
How Long Does It Take to Deliver First Class Mail?
The length of delivery time is dependent on the destination. If you were mailing an envelope with a forever stamp to your friend across town, it should be delivered in one day. Same if you were sending to your friend a few counties over.
On the contrary if you were in New York and were mailing an envelope to your friend in California the delivery time is 3 days. If your friend was in Alaska its 5 days.
The Postal service has a chart of the delivery commitments and should you have any questions about how long it will take, a clerk can answer that for you. If you needed speedier delivery you would have to upgrade from first class to a class like priority or express.
Why Don’t Magazines and Catalogs Have Stamps?
Magazines and catalogs don’t have stamps because they are not first class mail. The businesses pay a discounted rate for large bulk mailings and therefore they also have different delivery commitments. These companies don’t need to worry about where can you buy stamps as the postal service issues them as special code to use in lieu of one.
While these are not First Class mail, this does not technically mean they are not important. These large bulk mailers are were the USPS generates a majority of its income. In addition if you had a paid subscription to Sports Illustrated you would be upset if you did not receive it on time. Magazines are considered second class mail and have stricter delivery times than catalogs which are called standard mail. What the United States Postal Service calls standard mail, you and I call “Junk Mail”.
Do International Packages Require US Stamps?
Yes. This is true for both mail coming into and leaving the country. While most countries do have their own mailing systems, there is an international coordination that happens. Even further there is actually USPS presence in foreign countries. When you want to send a letter out of the country you can’t just throw one Forever stamp on it as the rates differ for international. This will cost you more than 2x the price of normal first class for domestic mailing. International First Class currently costs $1.15.
In 2013 the Post office introduced the Global Forever First-Class Mail International stamp. You can buy these in books of 20. The Global Forever stamp means you only need to pay the current price for any First-Class Mail International 1-ounce letter to any country in the world even if the rates go up. You will not likely find these specialized postage at stores near you, unless you visit a post office.
With that being said you can still mail an international letter without any special postage. You just need to put on 3 Forever stamps, which technically you would be overpaying on postage by $0.32. If you had to send a one ounce international first class letter and you were looking for where to buy stamps near you, I would just get them at a Walmart, bank, or gas station. If you were looking to save the $0.32 then you would have to visit a USPS location to get the postage exactly correct or have a global stamp placed on your letter.
The one extra step that is required when mailing packages into the country is custom forms. These are forms you will need to fill out in addition to purchasing postage. On the customs form you will need to make some basic claims about what is in the package. This system is in place for national security reasons. Should something malicious be mailed, the postal inspection service needs to be able to trace the mail back to its point of origin.
About The Author
James served as a Level 17 Postal Service Supervisor at a Processing and Distribution Center in NY for 6 years. He oversaw mailing operations for over 120 employees on the night shift. Through perseverance and dedication he escaped the life without going postal.