Home-based businesses, startups, and remote/online businesses often rent a private mailbox to separate their business and private home address from being public. While renting a private mailbox is an effective and inexpensive way of ensuring privacy, it comes with certain disadvantages.

Another alternative to a private mailbox is a virtual mailbox. It fills the basic needs of a private mailbox in regards to privacy, security, and getting a professional business image plus much more for your business.

Here is how a private mailbox and virtual mailbox are different and how a virtual mailbox is a far superior solution. You can stay on top of your mail and packages, but you’ll be able to do it remotely and from anywhere.

What is a Private Mailbox?

Private mailbox providers are located in retail centers or plazas and leased mailboxes linked to a store address. You can rent this type of mailbox from places such as The UPS Store, PostNet, Postal Annex, or any locally owned mailbox rental company.

What Can You Get With a Private Mailbox?

A private mailbox offers a few useful services for managing mail, including the following:

  • You can receive packages from all carriers.
  • You get a real physical street address.
  • Mail and packages are signed and held by the mailbox provider, which minimizes the risks of theft.
  • 24-hour access to your physical mailbox so you can pick up mail whenever it’s convenient.

What is a Virtual Mailbox?

A virtual mailbox is a service that allows you to get your postal mail and packages online. Once you’ve picked a permanent street address location for your business, then all of your mail pieces are scanned and uploaded to your online mailbox. You can view your mail using any device and decide whether to store, forward, or discard each item.

What Can You Get With a Virtual Mailbox?

A virtual mailbox comes with a list of powerful features:

  • Permanent address to receive mail and packages from all carriers such as USPS, UPS, or FedEx - You can use this address on your driver’s license and business filings.
  • Mail scanning is done using rigorous privacy measures ensuring your mail is delivered to you electronically. Enjoy faster delivery of your mail and manage your physical mail just like email.
  • Forward mail and packages anywhere in the world. You can also choose to have items combined and sent as one bundle, thereby lowering the cost.
  • Physical mail stored in a secure area, accessible only to authorized employees who have undergone a background check

What is the Difference Between a Private Mailbox and a Virtual Mailbox?

The main difference is that a private mailbox provider requires you to be there in person to pick up your delivered mail and packages. Therefore, you will have to travel to the location every time to get your mail and packages. By contrast, a virtual mailbox avoids the hassle of commuting since all of your mail is available in real-time and online.

Virtual Mailbox Advantages

A virtual mailbox resolves all the disadvantages of a private mailbox. Not only does a virtual mailbox cover all the benefits of a private mailbox, but it also comes with additional features that make it a much better way of managing mail as a whole.

Manage Mail Remotely

Every delivered piece of mail is scanned and sent to your online mailbox. This allows you to handle your mail anywhere at any time on any device. Log into your online mailbox account and instruct the virtual mailbox provider on what to do such as open, forward, shred or hold on to the item until you decide what to do with it at a later date.

You don't have to worry about traveling to a location to get your mail, unlike a private mailbox that requires you to drive to their location for pickup.

Since a virtual mailbox allows you to manage your mail and packages remotely, you can address important bills, legal and time-sensitive documents in real-time. You’ll also be able to eliminate junk mail and only view important mail pieces

Save Time by Digitally Storing Mail

Digitally store all-important mail pieces for the long term instead of collecting piles of physical mail.

By digitally storing mail, you will manage all documents for future reference and tax purposes. You won't need to waste time to sift through years of physical paper just to find what you need. With a virtual mailbox, you’ll quickly search your mail PDFs on your computer whenever you need to find a particular piece of mail. For example, if you are looking for “utilities,” then all the PDF files containing that word will show up.

Streamline workflow and automate tedious administrative tasks when it comes to snail mail and package delivery. Mail scanning is automated with a virtual mailbox so you don’t do any work whereas, with a private mailbox, you must manually request which specific mail pieces to be scanned for an additional fee. A private mailbox also does not streamline your record-keeping in one place. You’ll still have to maintain both your physical mail and scanned mail separately.

Check Deposit Services

As an added bonus, you can also deposit checks into your virtual mailbox. You can deposit checks that you receive in your virtual mailbox without ever having to go to a bank. Once a check is delivered to your virtual mailbox, you can request to have it deposited into your bank account, and then it will be processed into your defaulted bank for payment.

The one disadvantage to note for a virtual mailbox is that there are additional costs incurred by having to forward mail compared to picking up mail.

Which Business Address Option is Best?

Choosing the right address option will help you manage your business more efficiently, which is why you should weigh the pros and cons of both business address solutions to find the best fit for you and your business.

Who Will Benefit Most From a Private Mailbox?

A private mailbox is a convenient option for anyone who lives very close to a private mailbox facility. It’s also very cost-effective as mail and packages can be picked up without paying extra fees. Therefore, if you run a home business and care about your privacy, and don’t mind traveling to pick up your mail and packages, then you’ll benefit from a private mailbox.

Who Will Benefit Most From a Virtual Mailbox?

A virtual mailbox is an excellent way of managing your mail and packages remotely. It lets you concentrate on the more crucial aspects of running your business and less on administrative tasks. There are many different reasons people find benefits in using a virtual mailbox. These include the following:

  • You want to convey the appearance of having a physical office space without the need to have a commercial office space.
  • You care about portraying a professional business image. If you search for a private mailbox on Google, you’ll be shown a mailbox store in a retail plaza, which is not very professional. In comparison, a virtual mailbox with a respectable commercial address will lend an air of prestige to your company when searched by customers.
  • You have a home business and wish to keep your personal information private.
  • You are an international company looking to have a commercial presence in the United States.
  • You run a remote small business.
  • You travel often for your business.
  • You care about staying connected.

Get a Virtual Mailbox For Your Business

Even if you have a private mailbox facility nearby, a virtual mailbox is still the better option. It offers all of the advantages of a private mailbox and more without any of the drawbacks.