PO Boxes vs. Virtual Mailboxes

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You’re likely investigating which option you should choose for sending your mail to a different address.

While most of us are familiar with PO boxes, a newer competitor has entered the ring—virtual address services.


In short, virtual mailboxes provide more options and flexibility for small business owners and personal use. However, you will need to explore what both services offer before making your decision.

These services allow you to manage your mail remotely and forward your packages at affordable rates, while you can only send mail to PO boxes. However, there are a lot more differences between these services.

When exploring this article, you’ll learn the differences between a PO box vs. a virtual address.

That way, you can decide which service you need to receive mail.

6 Differences Between a Virtual Address and a PO Box

While there are many differences between virtual address services and a PO box, there are some significant reasons why one service dominates the other on various fronts.

These reasons will most affect you when determining which service offers the most value.

1. Services Provided

With a PO box, you don’t have access to close to as many perks as you get with a virtual address provider.

So while you may not use many of these services, you’re putting your money to better use by going with a remote mail service provider.

Some services that you’ll have access to include:

  • Remote check deposits
  • Mailing item scanning
  • Virtual addresses in various countries
  • Secure mail shredding

2. Access to Your Mail

Whether you’re a busy person whose days are packed or are going out of town, it’ll be hard for you to make your way to a post office to check your PO box.

Because of this, you may miss important letters or have your mail sent back to the sender.

However, with virtual mailing services, the providers handle all of the mail for you and store it for a while. Afterward, you’ll “receive” your snail mail via email so you can read it whenever you have a free moment.

If you need the mailing item you received, you can always have your remote mail provider forward the item to your home address.

3. Whether You Have a Real Street Address

PO boxes don’t give you an actual street address, unlike virtual address services, which can pose some issues.

For instance, private shipping companies that require signatures for particular mailing items won’t send mail to virtual addresses.

Moreover, it’ll appear more credible with a street address if you’re using it as a small business owner. If you go with a company with addresses that are CAN-SPAM Act compliant, then you can also use the addresses for emailing list campaigns.

4. Price of the Services and the Value They Deliver

Some virtual mail services come with many fees; however, PO boxes have many fees as well.

First off, with PO boxes, you have to pay per additional key. You’ll have to pay a somewhat hefty fee if you lose any keys.

Moreover, you’ll have to pay fees based on the size of the mailbox you get with a PO box, which starts at $19 and goes up to $75 per month. Also, you’ll need to pay for the gas to reach these locations, waste time in traffic, and put yourself at risk of getting in a car accident.

I believe that you get more value from virtual mailboxes. This is because they offer more features for a lower price. Meanwhile, you can access everything remotely.

5. Package Handling

As mentioned, virtual mailing providers don’t have private mailing provider restrictions like PO boxes.

However, some restrictions that you may encounter with PO boxes include that they can only receive packages from USPS instead of carriers like UPS, FedEx, and DHL.

However, virtual mailboxes can receive packages from any carrier.

Keep in mind that unless the virtual address facility is nearby, you must forward your package somewhere else.

This means that you’ll need to wait longer to receive a package rather than picking it up from the post office the day your parcel arrives.

6. Mail Safety

First off, when having a PO box, you’ll have to worry about your mail overfilling. From there, the carrier may pull out the mail and store it elsewhere until you pick it up. This may pose risks. 

However, in general, both PO boxes and virtual mailboxes are secure. Both have security measures installed to ensure no one tampers with your mail.

The one area that may put PO boxes behind is keys.

If someone were to snatch your key or somehow duplicate your key, then someone could get into your PO box and potentially steal your mail.

Each Service Provides Unique Benefits; Which Best Suits You?

While virtual mailboxes may offer the most benefits due to their flexibility, PO boxes still fulfill many applications.

You may even find it beneficial to have a PO box for packages and virtual mailboxes for everything else.

However, it’s up to you to decide which service is best for your needs.

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