What Is a Digital Mailbox and How Do They Work?

January 11, 2021

What Is a Digital Mailbox and How Do They Work?

While many aspects of everyday life in the United States have gone digital, a physical mailing address remains vital for individuals and businesses. However, thanks to the advent of digital or virtual mailboxes, anyone can keep a physical mailing address while managing their mail online. 

For a monthly fee, virtual mailboxes provide users a physical mailing address to receive their mail. Once received, the virtual mailbox provider scans the mail and uploads it to a user interface where the subscriber decides what to do with it. Unlike a P.O. box., virtual mailboxes can receive mail from any carrier. 

If you have ever wondered what a digital mailbox is, we've got the information you need. Keep reading to learn how these digital mail services work, how to set one up, and if using one is right for your home or business.

What Is a Digital Mailbox?

A digital mailbox, also known as a virtual or cloud-based mailbox, is a service provided to help people better receive, track, and organize their mail from anywhere in the world with an internet connection. Most virtual mailbox providers offer a variety of address locations to choose from, which is especially helpful for businesses that need a physical mailing address in multiple cities or states. 

Once users have selected a virtual mailbox provider and picked their address location, they can start receiving mail, the same as any other address. The provider receives your mail, scans the outside of the envelope or package, and uploads that scan to an app. The user sees the scans in the app and chooses what to do next.

Depending on the service provider, users can ask to have their mail opened and scanned, forwarded to a new address, shredded, recycled, and more. This lets digital mailbox users manage and organize their mail anytime and from anywhere with an internet connection.

How Do Digital Mailboxes Work?

Digital mailboxes are pretty straightforward once you understand how they work. Below are the basics, but the specifics may depend on the provider and plan you select.

  1. Pick a digital mailbox provider
  2. Select a plan and services needed
  3. Choose the mailing address
  4. Sit back while your mail is received, scanned, and stored
  5. Select what to do with the mail next, including:
    • Open and digitally scan inside of the mail for review
    • Forward mail to a new address
    • Store the mail until a later date

Digital Mailbox Services

While most digital mailbox providers will offer basic mail receiving and scanning for a monthly or annual fee, most will also offer various additional services, which may or may not be included with your plan. Do your homework before choosing your digital mailbox provider to see which of the following services they include: 

  •  Mail forwarding
  •  Mail shredding
  •  Letter forwarding
  •  Package forwarding
  •  Mail recycling
  •  Mail disposal
  •  Opening
  •  Digital scans
  •  Check deposit services
  •  Real-time mail notifications
  •  Package and mail storage

How Much Does a Digital Mailbox Cost?

Digital mailbox prices can vary depending on several factors. The provider, the plan you choose, and the volume of mail you receive will all impact your rate. Likewise, prices can vary depending on additional options and services.  

On average, individual plans cost between $20 and $50, while business plans can range between $50 and $150 a month. Some providers may also give you a free trial period before you buy or offer a discount for paying for an entire year upfront.

Pros & Cons of a Digital Mailbox

Before paying for your virtual mailbox, you may want to weigh the service's pros and cons.

Digital Mailbox Pros

The pros of using a digital mailbox for your home or business address include:

  • Use a real physical address
  • Travel while continuing to receive mail
  • Receive packages from all carriers (USPS, UPS, DHL, FedEx)
  • Lower shipping fees with package consolidation
  • Forward your mail domestically or internationally
  • Keep your mail organized
  • Access your mail online 24/7
  • Cut down on clutter and junk mail
  • Enjoy increased privacy by keeping your home address off business mail and listings
  • Minimize the risk of having your mail lost or stolen

Digital Mailbox Cons

The cons of using a digital mailbox for your home or business address may include:

  • Additional costs
  • A smartphone, tablet, or computer is required
  • Packages must be forwarded, stored, or picked up

Who Uses a Digital Mailbox?

While digital and virtual mailboxes are available to anyone, the most common users include:

  • Business Owners
  • Caregivers for Elderly Parents
  • Digital Nomads
  • Expats
  • International Travelers
  • Military Personnel
  • Remote Workers
  • Snowbirds
  • Students Living Abroad

How to Pick the Best Digital Mailbox

The digital mailbox provider you select should be based on your mail needs. Take a look at things like your budget and how much mail you expect to receive annually. Likewise, think about what type of mail you plan on receiving at this address, such as packages, payments, or personal mail.  

As you review your options, you may also want to consider asking the following questions:

What Services Are Included?

Plans and costs vary based on what services are included. If certain services are a deal-breaker for you, then be sure to ask what's included before signing up.

Package Forwarding

Suppose you plan on receiving packages and boxes in addition to typical letters and envelopes. In that case, you should verify what options are available to you. Verify packages can be received and see what forwarding, storage, and pickup options will be possible.

Package Storage

If you are on the go frequently, you might not have an address to forward your mail to. Can the virtual mailbox provider store your parcels until you are ready to receive them, and if so, how much will it cost?

Check Deposits

Virtual mailboxes for business or remote employees may have payments coming in. In that case, ask if your digital mailbox can offer check deposits so that you can get your hard-earned money even faster.

What Address Locations Are Available?

If you require a specific location for your mailbox, then be sure to check with the provider before signing up. Some virtual mailbox services will only offer physical addresses in a small number of states. Likewise, if you do business in multiple states, verify that you have the option to use multiple locations and addresses so that you can consolidate your mail into a single service.

How Much Will It Cost?

Cost will likely be a significant factor in your selection process. Be sure to go with a mailbox that offers the services you need without breaking your budget. Review your options carefully before deciding. Below are a few of the fees to watch out for when making your selection.

Monthly & Annual Fees

Most digital mailboxes are offered for a monthly or annual fee. These prices can vary. Basic personal plans start at around $10 a month.

Receiving Fees

Plans will specify how many pieces of mail can be received at your address in a given period. Check what's included in your base fee and how much it costs for each additional piece of mail received. 

Scanning Fees

Your plan should include scanning as a basic service, but some providers may cap the number of items they will scan each month at that price.

Storage Fees

If your mail can't be shredded or forwarded, it will need to be stored. The price to store items varies.

Shredding & Disposal Fees

If you no longer need a piece of mail, you will have the option to get rid of it, usually by shredding it to protect potentially sensitive information. Check with your provider if shredding and disposal are included in your monthly or annual fee.

Forwarding Fees

Is mail forwarding included with your monthly fee? Be sure to check how many pieces of mail you can forward each month and how much it will cost.

Do They Provide Other Business Services?

Digital mailboxes are very popular with small business owners. They add professionalism, organization, and security to incoming mail. If you are a business looking for the best digital mailbox, you should also review other business services offered by the provider. Additional services could give you more flexibility and possibly save you money in the long run.

6 Steps to Set Up Your Virtual Mailbox

Setting up a virtual mailbox is simple and requires very little paperwork. You can do most of the process online in a couple of minutes. However, you will need to fill out, notarize, and submit U.S. Postal Form 1583, which could take a few days if you choose to mail it in. 

Steps to set up a digital mailbox may include:

  1. Find a digital mailbox provider
  2. Select a location for your new mailing address
  3. Pick a plan and add on any required services
  4. Pay for your selected plan
  5. Complete and notarize U.S. Postal Form 1583
  6. Enjoy the ease and convenience of your digital mailbox

Let SnapMailbox Help You Get Started

SnapMailbox was borne out of the desire to improve the virtual mailbox space giving the customers what they wanted — flexibility and reasonable pricing. All of our plans include unlimited mail items received, mail scanning, secure shredding, and mail forwarding to save you time and money. Plus, you can give us a try free for 30 days. 

Get started now by signing up for your 30-day, no-risk trial.