One of the many options that you can add on to your shipment is the ability to track and confirm its delivery. But how much does USPS tracking cost? In some cases this can be a very inexpensive feature, but for volume shipping it can get more costly. Understanding exactly what USPS tracking is, and what you can expect it to do for you, is the only way to decide if you need to spend money on it.

How much does USPS tracking cost?

On the individual package, for any First Class, Priority Mail or Priority Express Mail package, the cost of tracking is very low. It is only $1.05 directly at the post office counter, or you can add it to your online purchase for $0.23. The tracking must be added at the time of shipping. You cannot purchase tracking for packages that are not yet shipped. In other words, you can’t tie it to a shipping number. Once the package has been shipped, you cannot add tracking to it.

What tracking can and cannot do

It is important to understand that tracking a package is not the same as insuring a package or certifying its receipt. Those are all different options that you can choose for your shipment. All tracking does is tell you when a package has left its origination point and has been received by USPS, and when USPS has delivered the package to the address of record.

Why does my package have a tracking number but no tracking updates appear?

This is a common complaint from customers who are using USPS tracking. It comes from a misunderstanding of how tracking is used by USPS. Where FedEx and UPS offer tracking services that update you on the location of the package, USPS only will track the fact that the package was received for shipment and that it was delivered. It may or may not be tracked at the points in between. For most packages, this is enough. For some packages, being able to see where it is on its journey to the destination address is very important, and you may want to opt for different type of delivery service.

How much does USPS tracking cost for commercial accounts?

While offering tracking for your customers may seem like a winning situation for your commercial account, you may want to think twice about it. While Commercial USPS shipping accounts, both standard and Commercial Plus, can get volume discounts on the cost of shipping – there isn’t a comparable discount available on tracking.

That isn’t to say that no discount exists, but that you need to weigh how important tracking will be to your customers. For example, customers that are ordering electronics are going to be inclined to want tracking more than customers who order books. The fragility of the item, and the potential for the item to be an immediate need, should drive your decision about whether or not to pay extra for tracking.