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There are pros and cons to all the options available for postage. Here are a few pointers to help you figure out if they’re right for your project:

Custom Stamps

(stamps you purchase at places like

  • COST: More than face value of the postage (typically 30–60% more). For a 2 ounce mailing of 2,000 pieces, that jumps from $1,360 to a whopping $2,595 (Based on ordering 2,000 $0.68 custom design stamps from
  • DESIGN: Because you design them, they are the best option to coordinate with your mailing design and support your organization/event branding.
  • CONS: There are copyright issues if even a small part of your design was licensed through a third party graphic supplier such as Shutterstock, iStock, etc. Most places won’t let you order without written permission from your designer or a copy of your license.

Live Stamps

(stamps you buy at or at your local post office)

  • COST: Face value of a stamp.
  • DESIGN: Must choose one of the currently available options.
  • CONS: Sometimes a butterfly (occasionally the only 2 ounce option) just doesn’t go with your theme.

Metered Postage

(your print shop or mail house prints the postage directly on your envelope/mailer)

  • COST: Less than face value of a live stamp. Depending on wether you print First Class or Non-Profit, the savings vary. Non-Profit takes 1–2 weeks to delivery, but can save some serious money (frequently I see my clients save over 50% on postage fees by shipping Non-Profit).
  • DESIGN: Simple barcode. No design options or graphics/images.
  • CONS: It’s not very formal and can look like mass produced, informal, junk mail. Not ideal for event invitations.

The Bottom Line

Live stamps are best for invitations/formal mailings with moderate to high budgets. Custom stamps are best for unlimited budgets. Metered postage is best for high quantity mailers and non-formal communication (postcards, brochures, etc).

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