What does this picture have to with mail you ask? Not a damn thing. I just enjoy getting a mani/pedi. And in the PI’s a mani/pedi is about $3!!!
Handling mail from 7,000 miles away can be a bit tricky. You can change your address with most companies, but some won’t accept an overseas address (like some credit cards). For some of your mailing needs you will want someone to assist you – and you do want to keep a current US address. (or a wherever you are from address… you know what I mean) Keeping a local address is always a good idea. Many credit cards won’t let you keep your account if you live overseas. They want you to get a local card – wherever that happens to be. Using a mail service that gives you a street address, and using a phone service like Magic Jack, you are all set to receive and activate your credit card from “home”.
When you first move overseas you will need a good mail forwarding service to keep with anything you did not forward properly before you left. Also you may need packages shipped to you, as some online shops won’t ship internationally. If you have some friends or family you may be able to use them to help out. But if you don’t want to be a burden, don’t have anyone reliable, or value your privacy, you may want to pay a mail forwarding service. There are quite a few companies out there and they offer many levels of services.
You will want to weigh your options. How much letter mail will you be receiving? Lot of packages? Just need a US address? They got your needs covered. After going through the choices I found online, I decided on the free account from USABox. It has a Miami address and at the free level has some good account options. As soon as I set it up a friend showed me Traveling Mailbox – which has a Dallas, TX address option. I looked it over and for the cost it doesn’t offer a lot more but I like the idea of keeping a local address so I went for the $15 a month plan with Traveling Mailbox.
I changed my address with my banks to the address provided by Traveling Mailbox. Very shortly thereafter I got an e-mail saying I had received mail. I went to my online account page and there were scans of the envelopes. I picked the ones from the bank and told Traveling Mailbox to open and scan. They very quickly sent me an e-mail containing a pdf of the contents, also the pdf is viewable online. Since it was just a change of address confirmation, as I assumed it was, I told Traveling mailbox to shred it instead of forwarding it. Very easy. No muss, no fuss. Most of the companies seem to work about the same but Traveling Mailbox has one of the better options for scanning. But they do not have as good options for shipping (UPS only? Seriously?!).
In all the services I looked at the package forwarding is a bit expensive but I don’t think I will use it very often. You also want to see how long they will store your mail before they charge a fee. They all keep it at least 30 days. You can let it build up a while and get a shipment of a few items at a time. As you compare services and prices you will see they all offer similar services but some charge a bit differently. The ones that specialize in letter mail charge a bit more for packages but les for scans, generally. You just need to review your needs and find one that fits you.
I really think the longer I am overseas the less I will need a service. I will always want to keep a home address, but may switch to a cheaper service after a couple of years. Try and stay flexible.
Here is a small chart with some of the companies I looked at. Mailbox Forwarding and Traveling Mailbox offer the best for scanning contents. Most don’t charge for shredding. All of these companies scan envelopes, and they all forward letter mail as well as packages. Very few accept faxes and surprisingly many of them will deposit checks for you. Check depositing was something I had not considered but may end up needing it.
I was contacted by Earthdome from http:// http://www.philippines-expats.com as the author of the original chart. I take stuff from all over and don’t keep up with where I got it very well. My apologies. I edited it down some but do not think I added anything – unless I added some mistakes 🙂 And if you want a very friendly, helpful forum you should check out http://www.philippines-expats.com, they are really very helpful.
If anyone sees anything that needs credit please let me know.
|Earth Class Mail||Mailbox Forwarding||Traveling Mailbox||USA2ME||USABox||USAMail 1||US Global Mail|
|Street Address Locations||Delaware, Chicago, Houston, Miami||Grandville, MI.Los Angeles, CA.Pompano Beach, FL||CA, FL, NC, NV, NY, TX,||Houston, TX||Miami, Fl||NY||Miami|
|Shipper Used To Forward Mail||USPS, Fed Ex||USPS, Fed Ex||UPS||USPS, DHL, Fed Ex, UPS||USPS, DHL, Fed Ex, UPS||USPS, DHL, Fed Ex, UPS||USPS, DHL, Fed Ex, UPS|
|Forwards Mail AND Packages||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Scan Contents||Yes, $1.50 B&W, $2.00 color per piece. Up to 15 pages per envelope.||Yes, first 10/25/60 mail pieces per month free||Yes, 75/250 page scans per month||Yes, first 6 pages free.||Yes, $9.99 each letter||Yes, $2 each up to 6 pages, then $0.25/page||Yes, $3 plus $0.50 per page in the envelope|
|Discard & Shred||Yes, $4.95 a month for shredding||Yes||Yes||Available depending on selected plan||Yes||Yes,$2 each, up to 6 pages, then $0.25 per page||Yes|
|Mail Storage||30 days free||30 days free||60 days free||30-60 days free depending on plan.||60 days free||45 Days free||30 days free|
|Accept Faxes||No||Yes||No||Yes||No||Yes, $2 each up to 6 pages, then $0.25/page||No|
|Deposit Checks||Yes, $20 per check||Yes||Yes||No||No||No||No|
|Fees||$19.95 for 100 pieces and $39.95 for 200 pieces monthly plans, $25 setup fee.||$14.95/$29.95/$59.95 monthly plans. Plus $9.95 for FL address or $14.95 for LA address. MI address no extra charge.||$15 for 55 pieces/$25 for 150 pieces monthly plans||Free with $23 setup fee. $10, $33, $44 monthly plans with $15 setup fee.||Free, $10, and $25 monthly plans||$9.99/month||$15, $25, $50 per month plans.|
This list was compiled Dec 2012. Prices are not mine and are not guaranteed! But they are a good reference anyway.