Both systems are within a similar monthly cost range (Stamps $15.99, Pitney Bowes $19.99).
The cost of ink in the Stamps system is the cost of your regular ink-jet printer ink, since the Stamps.com® stamps are printed with the same ink you’d use to print anything else.
The Pintey Bowes ink is a specialty cartridge that fits their machine which costs around $50 and is good for about 500-900 impressions or 4-6 months.
Stamps is a cancel-at-will service. You can cancel your subscription anytime, there is no contract and no equipment to return.
The Pitney Bowes 2 ™ Digital Mailing System (after the 60-day trial) does require a rental agreement, and cancelling before your term is up will cause you incur early termination fees. You also must return the meter.
Other Computer Equipment:
The Stamps.com® system requires that you have a PC or a Mac that runs Windows (and has an internet connection) in order to use it as well as a printer that works with it.
The Pitney Bowes meter is self contained, so you don’t have to use a computer with it, however, if you want to use the Shipping Assistant®, you will need to have an internet-connected Windows machine available.
Both systems auto-update so you will not print an incorrect date or an antiquated amount of postage when the rates rise. Both will weigh a piece of mail and automatically calculate the necessary amount of postage it will require to send. Both can have their postage refilled 24 hours a day from the office.
Stamps.com® will check your outbound address for errors and alert you to addresses that may be incorrect. It provides you with rate comparisons by weight and shipping class.
Ease of use:
Both systems, once set up, are pretty easy to use.
Stamps.com® has a lot of customer support/instructional materials about how to create the postage for a variety of parcels, postage types and options. The online software system is very easy to use. Issues with Stamps.com® mostly arise from not properly placing media in the printer. (These are problems like accidentally printing on the back of labels or an envelope, etc.)
Pitney Bowes has little in terms of customer support/instructional materials and relies on its menus being easy-to-navigate. For basic functions, the process of putting postage on an envelope is quicker than the stamps system. The problem of printing on the back of letters or upside down would be reduced to a much more difficult-to-perform user error.
Stamps.com® offers a great variety of things you can do besides print basic postage on an envelope. It can help create mailing lists from your online address-book software. It can print the outbound address on the envelope with the postage, saving time and the potential for error. It allows you to print shipping labels. It alerts you to the necessity for particular USPS forms and provides the forms in digital format. You get a 5lb. capacity scale with your subscription, you can also upgrade to a 25 lb. scale if you do larger packages. There are many more things the Stamps.com® system does.
The Pitney Bowes system is much less versatile. It counts on you doing your addressing and forms. It only supports small parcels that weigh less than 2 lbs and does not have a weight upgrade option (the scale is part of the unit). It supports less postal mail classes and has less options.
Our conclusion is that the Stamps.com® system is overall more robust, and you get more for your money. While it does have the disadvantage of requiring the use of a computer to process the postage, the number of options you have to ship a variety of items is much greater and the ability to do bulk processing is superior. The fact that you don’t have to worry about renting extra equipment or paying additional fees if you decide to cancel is nice.
The Pitney Bowes system is superior to the classic low-tech postage meter but doesn’t offer the same number and sophistication of features as Stamps.com®. If you have a business where you are only going to send pre-addressed envelopes at a standard rate, it does have the advantage of being a bit faster and not tying up an office computer in order to do the mailing, so in that instance it might be a better solution.