How Much is a P.O. Box?

In 2020, there were almost 160 million P.O. Boxes in the United States. The number is growing by approximately 1 million or more each year, indicating a growing need for this postal service. If you share this need, you’ll want to familiarize yourself with USPS P.O. Box prices before committing to getting one. 

Let’s explore the pricing structure of a Post Office box so you can make an informed decision.

When you look into how much P.O. Boxes cost, you’ll realize that the answer is not straightforward. The prices are determined by box size, location, and length of contract. And other factors affect the total payment, too.

In this blog, we’ll take a look at the pricing structure of USPS P.O. Boxes. This will help you decide if a P.O. Box is for you, and if so, to choose the best option according to your budget and needs. We’ll also explore alternatives to P.O. Boxes and how they stack up, price-wise.

What is a P.O. Box?

  • A P.O. Box, or post office box, is a lockable box that can be found inside a Post Office.
  • Each box has a unique address where you can have your mail or packages delivered.
  • This box may be located in the lobby of the Post Office location or installed along its wall.
  • Many Post Office locations allow for P.O. Box access all hours of the day and seven days a week. However, specific hours will vary by location.
  • When you get a USPS P.O. Box, the Post Office will assign a box with a unique P.O. Box number to you and you’ll get two keys for accessing your box. 

P.O. Box Prices According to Size

  • P.O. Boxes come in five sizes. Choose one according to your budget, the amount and types of mail you receive, and whether you’re able to pick up your mail regularly.
  • P.O. boxes are generally 14.75 inches in depth.
  • Take note that not all sizes are available in all locations, but standard sizes are as follows:
  • Size 1 – XS
    • The smallest P.O. Box size measures 3 by 5.5 inches. It can hold 10 to 15 letters and three rolled magazines.
    • If you don’t have packages delivered or don’t receive mail often, this P.O. Box size may fit your needs.
    • This size is also ideal for those who can pick up their mail from the Post Office regularly, as it’s less likely to get full often.
    • Depending on the location and length of the contract, the smallest Post Office box costs at least $4.67 per month.
  • Size 2 – S
    • The second Post Office box size measures 5 x 5.5 inches.
    • Its starting price is $6.00 per month. In some locations, this size can cost as high as $38.50 per month for a 6-month plan.
    • A P.O. Box this size can fit at least 15 letters, up to five rolled magazines, or one small box. If your household or business receives multiple letters, bills, and bubble envelopes weekly, this small-sized postal box should work for you.
  • Size 3 – M
    • The third postal box size has a starting price of $9.00 per month. It measures 5.5 x 11 inches.
    • If you’re subscribed to several magazines and often have small packages delivered, this is the size you might consider at your local Post Office.
    • This medium-sized P.O. Box is ideal for small business owners or families that receive mail and packages daily.
    • If you also receive documents or printed materials that you don’t want to be folded, this is the P.O. Box size you should select.
  • Size 4 – L
    • With a minimum price of $13.33 per month, the Size L P.O. Box measures 11 x 11 inches.
    • In some locations, this large-size box can go as high as $71 per month for a 6-month contract.
    • This size allows for small and medium flat rate boxes. A small flat rate box measures roughly 8 x 5 x 1 inches.
    • A medium box comes in two sizes: 11 x 8½ x 5½ inches and 13⅝ x 11⅞ x 3⅜ inches. Even if this Size 4 P.O. Box already has these parcels inside, it’ll still have enough space for up to 15 letters.
  • Size 5 – XL
    • The largest USPS P.O. Box size is also the most expensive. Its rate starts at around $23.00 per month.
    • In some locations, this size can go as high as $106.50 per month for a contract of six months.
    • Measuring 12 x 22.5 inches, this is the perfect P.O. Box for businesses that receive a large amount of parcels or bubble envelopes and/or numerous letters each month.
    • It’s also ideal for households that may not be able to check their postal box often, or have packages delivered often from online shops.

P.O. Box Price According to Length of Contract

You can sign up for a P.O. Box with a 3, 6, or 12-month contract:

  • Much like the various sizes above, the contract period offered will largely depend on your local Post Office.
  • Some Post Office locations offer only 1-year contracts. It’s advisable to visit the nearest Post Office to get more information about what rental periods are available for you.
  • You can get the best P.O. Box deal if you choose a long plan, since it’ll cost you more to renew your contract every three months repeatedly.
    • For example, a 3-month Size 1 P.O. Box can cost $92 but has a $160 rate for the longer, 6-month contract. You’ll pay $30.66 every month for the 3-month plan, but its 6-month equivalent will cost $26.66 monthly.

P.O. Box Price According to Location

The price of a P.O. Box can also vary according to location.

The USPS categorizes a Post Office location as “competitive” or “market dominant.”

  • Competitive
    • In a Competitive Post Office location, as the name suggests, there are other mailbox service or mail delivery businesses in the area. The prices of these P.O. Boxes will be higher, but they also sometimes come with additional services.
  • For example, you may get electronic notification, signature on file, or extended service hours if you choose a P.O. Box in a competitive location.
  • How much is a P.O. Box in a Competitive location? Well, it depends on the box size and to what fee group the box belongs.
    • For the smallest P.O. Box size, the price ranges from $69.00 to $160.00 for the 6-month plan, and $39.00 to $92.00 for the 3-month period.
    • If you want the XL size, your options range from $232.00 to $639.00 for a 6-month plan.
    • For the shorter 3-month plan, an XL size P.O. Box in a Competitive location will cost you between $133.00 and $367.00.
  • Market Dominant
    • A P.O. Box in a Market Dominant location has a much lower rate than one in a competitive Post Office. In this type of location, the USPS dominates the market.
    • P.O. Boxes are divided into seven fee groups under the Market Dominant location category:
      • A small-size P.O. Box can cost between $28.00 and $74 for a 6-month plan.
      • If you pick a 3-month contract, your fee for a small box can be as low as $18.00 or as high as $45.00, depending on the fee group.
      • For the biggest P.O. Box size, the fee ranges from $142.00 to $532.00 for a 6-month plan. A shorter contract goes from $86.00 to $319.00.

Additional P.O. Box Fees

Aside from the basic cost of each P.O. Box, you may also incur additional fees when you sign up for one.

  • If you choose a P.O. Box at a Market Dominant location, you’ll pay a $5.00 deposit for each key. In a Competitive location, however, there’s no need to pay a key deposit.
  • If, for some reason, you misplace your key, you’ll be charged $12.00 each for the P.O. Box key replacements. Furthermore, a lock replacement and late payment fee are $25.00. These apply to both Competitive and Market Dominant P.O. Boxes.

USPS P.O. Box Price Summary

These are updated 2023 P.O. Box prices provided by USPS:

P.O. Box Benefits and Disadvantages

Armed with the pricing structure of P.O. Boxes and what factors determine the final fees, you may be starting to feel that you’re ready to sign up. But before you do that, it’s important to consider and explore the pros and cons of P.O. Boxes first. This way, you’ll have all the details you need to make a smart decision.

  • Why You Should Get a P.O. Box
    • Secure Mail and Package – A P.O. Box is one way to keep your postal mail and deliveries safe. They’ll be delivered to a secure Post Office location, not to your porch where pirates may pass by and have their way with your precious parcels.
    • Home Address Privacy – By using a P.O. Box as your mailing address, you keep your residence safe and protected from nefarious people who may harbor ill intent. A P.O. Box lowers your chances of mail theft and its sobering and exhausting consequences, such as identity theft and fraud.
    • Permanent Address – A P.O. Box serves as your permanent address, even if you move to a new residence. If you’re traveling, your mail and packages will go to your box and not follow you around, creating extra stress.
  • Disadvantages of a P.O. Box
    • Physical Mail and Package Pickup – Even with a P.O. Box, you’ll still need to go to the Post Office to pick up your mail and packages. If you’re a small business owner who wears many hats, this can eat away a significant chunk of your time.
    • A P.O. Box Gets Full Fast – If you don’t physically check your P.O. Box regularly, it’ll get full and overflow. This often results in letters being returned to the sender, which can lead to more undesirable inconveniences.
    • P.O. Boxes Only Receive USPS Mail – Generally, only USPS mail and packages can be delivered to a P.O. Box. If your mail is coming via FedEx or UPS, your P.O. Box is not a viable address for receiving it.
    • Can’t Receive Mail Requiring Signature – Private carriers typically require a street address or a physical address to deliver your goods, and in many cases they require someone to sign for deliveries. A Post Office employee isn’t authorized to do so.

P.O. Box Alternatives and How Much They Cost

Given the information above, you’ll likely be able to make a sound decision about whether a P.O. Box is right for you.

But before you head off to the nearest Post Office to sign up for one, take a look at a couple of P.O. Box alternatives first:

  • Virtual Mailboxes
    • A virtual mailbox service provides remote access and management of your postal mail and packages.
    • This modern P.O. Box alternative allows you to manage your mail using your phone or computer, no matter where you are.
    • One of the many advantages of a virtual mailbox over a P.O. Box is that it gives you a list of action items or requests immediately, and right on your phone, for convenient mail management.
      • For example, when your virtual mailbox operator receives your mail, you can request that they open and scan it so that you can read the mail.
      • You can also ask that they forward it to another address, shred it, recycle it, or hold it for you to pick up at your convenience.
  • Anytime Mailbox virtual mailboxes cost as low as $9.99 per month.
  • UPS Store Mailbox
    • A UPS Store Mailbox is another P.O. Box alternative to consider. The service is similar to a P.O. Box, but with a few additional features.
      • The UPS Store mailboxes give you 24/7 access, and they’ll notify you by text when a package or mail arrives for you.
      • They also accept packages from all carriers. Prices for a UPS Store Mailbox vary significantly by location, so you’ll have to do the additional legwork to determine the best value.
  • Storage Locker Service
    • Another alternative to a P.O. Box is a storage locker service. These are businesses that offer lockers where you can have your mail and packages delivered.
    • Not all storage locker businesses offer mail services, however, so it’s best to do your homework before signing up.

P.O. Box Price FAQs

How Do I Pay for a P.O. Box?

  • There are several ways that you can pay for your P.O. Box:
    • Online via debit or credit card.
    • Via a USPS self-service kiosk or by sending a check or money order payable to the U.S. Postal Service.
    • Paying in person for a P.O. Box is also accepted. Go to the Post Office where your P.O. Box is located and you can process the payment there using cash, check, debit, or credit card.

Can I Get a P.O. Box Online?

  • You can get a P.O. Box and complete the application online.
    • On the USPS website, use the search bar to find a P.O. Box near you.
    • After you select a location, size, and payment method, complete the online application form.
    • Print the form and bring it, together with two forms of U.S. identification, to the Post Office where your box is located. Do this within 30 days.
    • The Post Office staff will verify your identity and will then provide you with the box keys.

Can I get a P.O. Box in a Different State?

  • Yes. You can apply for a P.O. Box in a different city or state. However, as part of the application and identity verification process, you’re still required to visit the Post Office in person with the required documents and to pick up your keys.

How Do I Renew My P.O. Box?

  • Depending on your need, you can extend your P.O. Box contract period from six months to one year.
    • Take note, however, that if you choose the 3-month period, your plan will be enrolled in automatic renewal. You can’t opt-out. For the longer plans, you have the option not to renew automatically.

Can I Renew My P.O. Box Online?

  • Yes. You can renew your P.O. Box online.
    • You do so by paying for your plan using your credit or debit card. Go to the “Manage P.O. Box” page of your USPS account and then click Renew P.O. Box.

How Do I Close My P.O. Box?

  • There are two ways to close your P.O. Box account:
    • Online by going to your USPS account > Manage P.O. Box.
    • In person by visiting the Post Office where your box is located to personally close your account.

Can I Get a Refund if I Cancel or Close my P.O. Box?

  • If you haven’t activated your P.O. Box, you’ll receive a full refund after 30 days of inactivity. A P.O. Box is considered inactive if you have applied for it but never picked up the keys.
  • If you activated the P.O. Box (by applying and subsequently picking up the keys), you’re not eligible for a refund if you have the short 3-month plan. You can still close the P.O. Box online or in person, but you won’t get your money back. Better be sure you’re all in before you get a plan.
  • If you get a 6- or 12-month plan, you can get a refund. If you close your account within the first three months of a 6-month plan, you can get a 50% refund. If you cancel starting in the 4th month, your payment won’t be refunded.
  • With a 12-month plan, you’ll get a 75% refund if you cancel within the first three months.
    • If you cancel from months four to six, you’lll get a 50% refund.
    • Within months seven to nine, you’ll receive only a 25% refund.
    • But if you cancel at the beginning of the 10th month, none of your payment will be refunded.

Can I Get a Free P.O. Box?

  • In certain, very rare situations you can get a free P.O. Box. Your physical or business location must meet the following requirements:
    • It’s within the geographic delivery boundaries of the Post Office.
    • It can be a potential letter carrier delivery point of service.
    • USPS does not offer letter carrier delivery to your location.
    • You don’t receive mail delivery via an out-of-bounds delivery receptacle.
  • Don’t apply for a P.O. Box online if you meet the above criteria. Instead, go to the Post Office in person and inquire about getting a free P.O. Box.