When planning on traveling the world, the question on how to get and read your snail mail comes up, as in: I am currently traveling in Chile, but my bank sends me something – where can they send it to where I would have access to it online?
That’s just one example, but it could also be letters that friends send, postcards, etc. But they could also be mail that you might want to forward, such as replacement credit cards, or paper checks.
Luckily, there is a plethora of services that have the ability to receive your mail, and even scan the contents, store and even forward mail to the address of your choice. One of the most well known virtual mailbox services is Earth Class Mail, and while they received good reviews, I couldn’t see myself paying $50-100/month for their service.
So, I started to look around.
Some criteria I had were:
- Must be reasonably priced
- Real Address (not PO Box)
- Reasonable scanning cost
- Reasonable storage time
- Able to forward mail to the address of my choice.
A bonus point was for a Colorado Address.
After reviewing the major players, I selected TravelingMailbox.com.
Three reasons I picked TravelingMailbox.com
1. Cost Effective
TravelingMailbox only costs $15/month. Compare against Earth Class Mail at a starting price of $50 and the difference becomes clear. Other services such as USGlobalMail and iPostal1 start at around $10, but I passed on them since scans were an additional cost, and not part of the monthly fee. Knowing that I would be having important looking mail scanned on a regular basis I felt there should at least be a minimum number of scans as part of the fee you pay. Which brings me to:
TravelingMailbox has 35 scans included. This is one of the highest number of pages scanned that is rolled into the same monthly fee. Earth Class Mail actually has unlimited scans, but then it also costs a minimum of $50/month. 35 is a pretty generous amount of scans, and so far in my travels I have not used up my quota. Most of the low cost alternatives, such as iPostal1, USGlobalMail and AnytimeMailbox don’t have ANY scans as part of their fee, you have to pay per scan, and at an average of $2/scan it can add up quickly.
3. Mail Storage
TravelingMailbox has a decent amount of time they will store the received mail: 60 days. PostScanMail, AnytimeMailbox and iPostal1 only store mail for 30 days.
TravelingMailbox was the clear winner to me in terms of comparing its price, number of scans included, and mail storage length. Some other considerations you might have would be to see if the service also serves the state that you’d like, but having my mail delivered to a North Carolina address it was a non-issue for me. I mean, you’re traveling anyway, so why do you need a specific state? The only thing that gave me pause was voter registration, but I just used my parent’s address since they lived in Colorado. Problem solved!
If you can afford it, EarthMail may be a clear choice for you, especially if you receive a lot of mail, or need a very large amount of scans, or require HIPAA level security, and so forth. But if you are budget minded, and looking for a good mix of price, number of scans and mail storage, then TravelingMailbox may be the virtual mailbox for you!