Anytime Mailbox Get Your Physical Mail
on Your Phone

a man in the forest checks his physical mail via his phone

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The folks at Anytime Mailbox wrote in to tell us about their service, where essentially you can get your physical mail delivered to an inbox on your phone.

When we first hit the road in 2008, we used something similar. It was a bit clunky for our needs, given that it was 2008 and cell service in the wild was not exactly the dream it’s largely come to be these days. We ended up ditching it altogether, but the concept has been one we haven’t forgotten. Thus, today we’ll be taking a look at how Anytime Mailbox might be of use to the modern day nomad.

The first thing we’d note, is the pricing. Their homepage states that the service begins at $6.99 / month.

screenshot of Anytime Mailbox's homepage
$6.99 is the starting price shown on Anytime Mailbox’s homepage.

This depends on how you proceed, however.

To get started with ATMB (as they abbreviate the service), you first choose the location where you’d like to receive mail. This is important because physical mail is actually delivered there, and you may want to pick it up in person. So if you’re the type of traveler who spends a lot of time in a given location, you could save some cash by choosing something nearby.

You could also appear to have whatever business keeps you in the George Washingtons have a physical address in a specific city. Maybe you want to look like you’re an Austin local? Choose an address along Texas’ Colorado River and bam, you’re one step closer to being an Austinite.

We first wanted to find out how you could get that $6.99 per month rate, so we looked around and found an address on Santa Clara Street in San Jose, California that started at $6.99. Other locations come with different starting rates, where $9.99 seems to be the average and we saw them starting as high as $39.99 / month, though we didn’t look at every possible location of their hundreds around the world.

Screenshots of Anytime Mailbox's interfaces
Anytime Mailbox works on all of your devices.

For $6.99 in San Jose, you don’t get much, though. Essentially, you just get a black hole to send your mail. If you’ve ever lived at a physical address, and applied for even one credit card, or donated $5 to some non-profit, you’ll know that you will likely receive something like 20 pieces of mail per week just from those types of offers. “0% interest and no transfer fees for 6 months,” will become a familiar trope. “Thanks for the $5,” the Audubon Society mails me, “now we’ll send you five calendars, fifteen sheets of bird stickers and regular weekly mailings asking you for $5 more, presumably so we can afford all of this free crap we’re cutting down trees, leaving birds homeless, to send you.”

This is important, because as nice as it would be to just have this “black hole” for all of this mail to go, how much mail you receive determines how much you’ll pay Anytime Mailbox per month, should you actually want to receive some of this mail in person.

For $6.99, in San Jose at least, you never see any of your mail, and can’t even pay extra to do so. This brings up another important point, Anytime Mailbox doesn’t actually run the hundreds of locations where you can pick mail up.

A representative from ATMB we spoke with explained that each location handles pricing for themselves, so what works for Battle Creek, Michigan may not for San Jose, vice versa and then some. Essentially, Anytime Mailbox handles the bulk of the online portion, with the individual locations setting the pricing themselves. “But my guess,” that representative continued, regarding San Jose’s $6.99 offering, “is they intend for this to be a rental address but you cannot have mail sent to the address.”

We mention this all to clarify that you’ll have two relationships with ATMB’s service, what you pay the company who’s app you’re using, and the people working at the physical location where your mail is sent.

anytime mailbox's interface displayed on an iphone, showing a list of your mail that's waiting for you
ATMB on iPhone.

So all of that said, the lowest priced offering we could find that actually included receiving mail was a $7.99 / month offering out of Dallas, Texas. But…it only included 1 piece of mail per month.

Most of the plans we saw on the site do just that, they include some number of pieces of mail that you can have delivered to the location for the monthly fee, and then another fee for every additional piece of mail over that amount.

Back in San Jose, for $8.99 / month you get 15 pieces of incoming mail, 5 of which they’ll scan the insides of for you, 5 which they’ll forward, and then some other options for how you can get rid of mail and what happens if they have to keep it for you for a few months. Here are four locations to compare this type of pricing for, across the US, followed by more explanations of what all of these terms actually mean.

Anytime Mailbox Pricing

Long story short, we think you’ll spend around $45 / month when everything is said and done, but we’ll run through what seem to be some average locations so you can compare what might be the actual cost based on your volume of mail. We chose these locations and plans as they largely were the most affordable, and had comparable features. Anytime Mailbox offered up their Lewisburg, West Virginia location as an example of average pricing, so we included it as well.

Just want to check it out for yourself? Well, we’d love for you know as much as possible going in, but you can check Anytime Mailbox out here.

  San Jose, CA Dallas, TX Astoria, NY Dania Beach, FL Lewisburg, WV
Monthly Fee $9.99 $9.99 $9.99 $9.99 $9.99
Incoming Mail 30 / mo
50¢ each add’l
30 / mo
$1 each add’l
30 / mo
35¢ each add’l
30 / mo
50¢ each add’l
30 / mo
35¢ each add’l
Scanned Mail* 10 pages
$1 each add’l
0 included
25¢ per page
5 pages
50¢ each add’l
5 / mo**
50¢ each add’l
5 / mo
50¢ each add’l
Forwarded Mail 50¢ each
+shipping
$5 each
+ shipping
$3 each
+ shipping
$4 each
+ shipping
$5 each
+ shipping
Recycled 5 / mo
25¢ each add’l
5¢ per piece Unlimited 5 / mo
30¢ each add’l
Unlimited
Shredded 5 / mo
50¢ each add’l
10¢ per piece 5 / mo
25¢ each add’l
5 / mo
30¢ each add’l
15¢ each

* To be clear, they will scan the outside of your mail up to the # included in the “Incoming Mail” column. “Scanned Mail” refers to them opening and scanning the inside for you.
** This is actually more convoluted, Dania Beach will open and scan 5 pieces of mail per month, up to 30 pages total per month, with a limit of 11 pages per request. It’s 50¢ extra if you go over any of those limits.

What You’d Likely Spend

So based on this, to actually only spend $9.99 / month, the following would need to apply:

  1. You never received more than 30 pieces of mail per month. How real this is depends on how closely you guard your address. Mailing companies love to share your information, so one credit card application becomes 10 pieces of mail easily, even hospitals and the United States Postal Service themselves will share your address with others. We counted, and after living in one location for 18 months, our family received at least 35 pieces of mail, 99% of which is junk, every week. Sometimes we’d receive ten pieces of mail in a single day, when an Army recruiter or every college in the nation discovered that our son was nearing his high school graduation. To be fair to ATMB, though, there are other price points, where you can receive more mail per month, which we think are more realistic, see below.
  2. Only about a third of that was important enough to see the inside contents. This is the easiest one to meet, since the vast majority of the mail you get will be absolutely unsolicited.
  3. You never wanted any of it physically forwarded to you. If your mail is like our own situation, you’d need closer to 5 pieces of mail forwarded to you at a max. Paying the shipping is absolutely reasonable, and any mail service will charge you for forwarding mail to you. There’s also a chance that one mail forwarding could include multiple pieces of mail, say if you had it all forwarded at the end of the month, which would save you Anytime Mailbox fees and postage.

The table above is the minimum these locations offer, but this is likely a more accurate representation of what you’d pay in real world scenarios:

  San Jose, CA Dallas, TX Astoria, NY Dania Beach, FL Lewisburg, WV
Monthly Fee $18.99 $19.99 $29.99 $29.99 $29.99
Incoming Mail 100 100 125 125 125
Scanned Mail* 15 pages incl $3.75 / 15 pages 20 pages incl 20 pages incl 20 pages incl
Forwarded Mail 5 incl
+ shipping
$25 for 5
+ shipping
$15 for 5
+ shipping
$20 for 5
+ shipping
$25 for 5
+ shipping
Total $18.99 / mo $48.74 $44.99 $49.99 $54.99

We’re skipping out on the shredding and recycling services here, since it’s hard to quantify these based on your particular concerns about your information’s privacy and the environment in general, but even at $45 / month, it’s not the most expensive bill you’ll ever pay.

Interestingly, Anytime Mailbox’s example of the average pricing, in Lewisburg, is the most expensive.

When it comes to how much you’ll spend on shipping when they forward packages to you, this is impossible to know since 10 letters can cost less than one large package, but the app does allow you to choose which type of mail service (think the difference between UPS Ground or Next Day Air) you’d like your mail sent with.

Additional Services

Shredding & Recycling

But, there is the shredding and recycling. Astoria’s offering promises unlimited recycling, which would be ideal. What do the other locations do if you don’t want your mail shredded or recycled? Just toss it all in the garbage? I mean, they seem to indicate that they have a recycling bin, so they won’t use it for your mail if you don’t pay them a quarter to do so? This is one of those, “you’ll never know” factors. How can you be sure they toss a letter in the recycling instead of the trash? Or would they have recycled it anyway, even if you didn’t request the service? Just something to think about.

The rep I spoke with did state, “We recommend locations do not charge for recycling, and most do not charge,” though that most do not charge didn’t appear to be the case in our research.

Check Deposit

Other variations exist as well. San Jose and Astoria won’t deposit a check for you, while Dallas and Dania Beach will. Dallas will charge you $12.95 to do so, though, where Dania Beach does it for $5 a pop.

Local Pickup & Storage

Local pickup is also available, as the Anytime Mailbox rep told me, “Currently, there is no fee for a renter to come in and pick up their mail. However, we are about to launch an option for the mailroom operators to charge for pickup if they so wish. This fee would vary by location, but I’d expect mailroom operators to charge $2-5.”

This is reasonable, since even if you order a package from Amazon, have it delivered by UPS, to a UPS Store, they will charge you $5 – $15 to pick it up. Personally, I find this stupid, but that’s what it is. Though I also find it reasonable for Anytime Mailbox locations to charge this, it’s kind of even more strange, since you’re already paying them to receive and store your packages for you.

Which brings us to the storage aspect. San Jose will store your mail for 30 days, and then charge you $1 / month for each piece of mail you leave there for a longer time period. That’s for an envelope. If you leave an “Extra Large Box” you’ll pay $20 / month for that service.

In Dallas, they only charge you 5¢ for letters older than 30 days, and $2.50 for those extra large boxes. So, while San Jose is clearly the most affordable option when you start choosing larger plans, you need to be on top of having your mail forwarded to you or things really change.

Additional Recipients

Another thing to consider is that at the lowest price points above, only 1 recipient is included. So a husband and wife combo would pay an additional fee to have the second recipient. If you receive mail to a business name, that could up the cost as well. In many cases, you’re better off just getting your own individual plans, since adding a recipient doesn’t double the amount of incoming mail, shreds, etc. your plan includes.

How Does Anytime MailBox Compare to its Competitors?

Remember how I mentioned that we used a somewhat similar service when we started traveling in 2008? That was called Earth Class Mail. We ditched them for Escapees, a tried and true mainstay for many an American RVer. Escapees has been around since the 1980s. Let’s take a quick look at the pricing and service differences.

photo of the outside of a piece of mail
With ATMB, you’ll see a photo of every piece of mail you receive. With Escapees, you only see the mail they physically forward to you at your request.

We’ll use Anytime Mailbox’s Lewisburg, WV location as a comparison, even though we think you can figure out how to get Anytime Mailbox more affordably, just because that’s what the rep said was a pretty regular offering.

  Anytime Mailbox Earth Class Mail Escapees
Monthly Fee $29.99 $129.99 $11.25 (+$100 first year, +$39.95 / year***)
Incoming Mail 125 / month Unlimited Unlimited
Scanned Mail* 20 pages incl 50 pages incl $10 / mo + 50¢ / scan
Forwarded Mail $5 each
+shipping
$3 – $10 each
+ shipping
75¢ – $1 per package (free for letters)
+ shipping
Recycled Unlimited All mail, even shredded, is recycled No mention of recycling, though workampers say yes
Shredded 15¢ each Free Not an option

Right off the bat, you can see that Earth Class Mail is more expensive than Anytime Mailbox, though both offer a similar service — seeing your mail in an app online. Even if you take into account what they offer more of and what they may charge less for, you’d need to do a whole lot of shredding or scanning to justify the costs. That they recycle everything is a nice to know. Still, we’ll leave them behind as, though they offer different services, Anytime Mailbox and Escapees are the clear frontrunners if you don’t want to drop $130 a month on having unwanted paper shredded.

How is Anytime Mailbox Different from Escapees?

The biggest difference is that Escapees doesn’t show up on your phone. With those guys, they get your mail, and–at the $11.25 / month (actually billed at $135 / year, plus the first year’s $100 “enrollment fee.”–will forwarded it to any address in the US you’d like at your request (by phone or email.)***

You also have to be a member of Escapees RV club which, while it comes with additional benefits, does cost an extra $39.95 per year. So in reality, it costs $274.95 for the first year and $174.95 every year after that for their best service. 

Which is what you want, because a huge benefit is that, at their highest service level, they get rid of your junk mail. Which is awesome.

Instead of a nifty app, you just email them with the address where you’d like your mail forwarded, whenever you want it sent to wherever you are. They’ll figure out what’s cheapest, and send it that way, then take that off of a balance you keep with them at all times. If you want it delivered more quickly, you just ask them to do so in the email. Keeping emails cordial keeps the person on the other end the same way, and you’re interacting with a real human as opposed to an app. You can also call or email them, at no extra charge, and ask what mail you have. They’ll literally sit there and go through it with you, a feature we didn’t use often, but which is nice. Not as nice as having it all visible right there on your phone, though.

As to the “benefits” of being a member otherwise, we have been members for years and never take advantage of the other “benefits” our $39.95 membership entails. These include access to events (for an additional fee), $99 / year roadside assistance, and access to a few RV parks they have around the country.

After your first year, Escapees is much cheaper than Anytime Mailbox, and it’s even cheaper for the first year when you compare services (Escapees is $23 / month the first year, all included, where Anytime Mailbox is $30 for less mail, plus significantly more expensive when you have your mail forwarded.)

Still, part of what you pay for is the convenience of the ATMB service, which is no doubt appealing to many a traveler, and those many millennials who haven’t bothered to log into email since their parents thought it was a genius idea to get them one of the first Gmail accounts.

“They only offer three addresses,” the Anytime Mailbox rep also added, comparing their service to Escapees, “Sounds to me like they just forward everything to you, presumably at the renter’s expense. Assuming a renter were to choose our recommended bronze plan of $9.99/mo,” he notes that you can often get a free month by paying annually, ” so it would actually be more affordable to use Anytime Mailbox for any length of time under 5 years. Plus, if paying monthly, the renter can cancel at any [time] and not be out their money for the rest of the year.” Escapees doesn’t offer a refund if you cancel early, but that logic does also negate the “one free month” concept mentioned. Escapees also doesn’t just send you everything, as mentioned previously.

If you receive very little mail and have next to nothing forwarded to you physically, there’s a possibility that you could save by using Anytime Mailbox. We don’t think that’s likely to be the case in most situations, though.

What Anytime Mailbox Has to Say

Editor’s Note: The following is a written piece they created for this article.

Use A Virtual Mailbox to Manage Life On The Road

If you’re enjoying life on the open road, the last thing on your mind might be your mail.

After all — you’ve got limited space in there. The thought of those credit card offers and whatever other junk mail you get piling up may give you some anxiety. Avoiding clutter is a big part of the freedom you enjoy on the road.

But then you get back home and have to sort through the pile you put on hold or had your neighbor collect.

Guess what? There’s a better way.

With a virtual mailbox, you can manage your physical mail without even having to come home off the road. You’ll get a real, dedicated mailbox that is separate from your home address that you can sort, shred, or read right in your convenient mobile app.

Here are a few reasons a virtual mailbox makes sense for those struck with wanderlust.

1. Manage Your Mail From Wherever You Are

The allure of the nomadic lifestyle is life on the open road. The absolute freedom. You’re living life completely untethered.

But your mail is still coming. Sure, you can ignore it and deal with the pile once you get home, but that’s not exactly a nice “welcome back to reality” moment, is it?

Instead, with a virtual mailbox, you can occasionally open your Anytime Mailbox app whenever you’re connected to the real world. Simply sort through your mail, file it, open it, shred it, or recycle, all through your phone. Then when you get back home you won’t have a pile to deal with.

2. Keep Your Home Safe While You’re Away

Nothing says “no one is home” quite like a pile of newspapers and mail accumulating on the front porch. This leaves your home vulnerable to break-in and is a horrifying scenario for anyone on the road.

Chronic travellers typically keep their ducks in a row and have their mail handled, but it’s an easy thing to forget when you’re packing up and planning your next adventure. Rather than burden your neighbors with the task of gathering your mail, you can instead use a virtual mailbox.

With a virtual mailbox, you can keep your home address private. Anytime Mailbox uses a real address at a local mailbox business center rather than using your actual address. This means mail will never actually be delivered to your door, an added layer of safety that protects your information and keeps your home safe while you’re away.

3. Unmatched Convenience

The convenience factor is the biggest reason a virtual mailbox is perfect for life on the road.

You can continue to live your life and manage your mail while you’re away. Take actions right there in your phone to open and scan mail, shred anything that contains sensitive information, and recycle the junk mail you don’t need. The best part? You can do it all from your phone in just minutes.

Summary

For travelers, a virtual mailbox from Anytime Mailbox could be the best thing to add to your travel gear. It allows you to easily stay in touch with your physical mail and ensure you don’t miss anything while you’re on the road. You’ll avoid having to deal with that pesky pile of mail when you get home and can keep your address and personal information safe while you’re away.

That’s a lot of wins! You can try Anytime Mailbox for just $9.99 a month. Get your subscription today and happy trails!


End of pitch there. 🙂 So what’s the ultimate verdict?

If you’re solely concerned with the cost, Anytime Mailbox isn’t likely the best option, and you’d be better off with Escapees.

If it’s all about convenience for you, especially that of seeing pictures of the outside of all of your packages, than no doubt Anytime Mailbox is the best of these types of services we’ve seen in over a decade of travel.

And now for the affiliate links…

Get Anytime Mailbox here.