general / saving on usps shipping

This post is for anyone who uses United States Postal Service (USPS). I mostly ship for eBay through PayPal, but very rarely I have to ship a return not using a return label, or a present. (I previously blogged about reselling/shipping here.)

(1) Padded Flat Rate Envelopes. These Priority Mail padded flat rate envelopes are great. I rarely go to a post office, so I can’t comment on whether any post offices have them but I’ve never seen these padded envelopes at a post office before. It’s best for shipping from one coast to the other, or items over a pound that doesn’t need cushioning. If something needs cushioning and it fits, I put a box within the padded envelope. You can order these envelopes for free online along with other Priority Mail supplies. I always have some handy along with the flat rate envelopes for flat items, e.g. documents.

(2) Cheaper Rates on PayPal. Take advantage of USPS commercial rates when you purchase a shipping label on PayPal. It’s almost a dollar difference for a padded flat rate envelope within the US. With international priority mail, the difference is pretty significant. When it comes to shipping expenses, every bit counts and I prefer to keep them low, especially if it doesn’t require much work.

(3) First Class Mail on PayPal. If you’re shipping something under a pound (<16 ounces) and you’re not in a rush, use First Class Mail. It only takes a few days extra than Priority Mail. You can’t print first class postage on USPS.com but you can ship and print it through PayPal. Note, in post offices you can only ship First Class Mail up to 14 ounces. The <16 ounces is for commercial accounts.

to shop / paypal ‘return shipping on us’ = free returns!

PayPal has had this program in place for a while, but I didn’t notice it until recently. If you’re like me and you like to shop, sometimes have to cough up money for returns, and you don’t mind checking out via PayPal… activate Return Shipping on Us.

All the fine print is here.

  • US PayPal accounts only.
  • Purchase paid fully on PayPal.
  • Save your shipping receipt — easiest if you print postage online and save a PDF of the label with postage fee and address. (If you didn’t know, you can print labels directly from PayPal.)
  • You don’t need to activate the offer before you make a purchase, but you need to activate it before you submit a refund request. The shipping refund request is processed by a third party.
  • Get up to 12 refunds, cap of $30/refund, and 1 refund per transaction ID. This is super generous.

P.S. I often checkout with PayPal because I’m too lazy to get my cc. I have it semi-memorized but fraud often makes me change numbers more often then I’d prefer. I’ve never had any issues with shopping or getting returns credited with PayPal.