Franking machine rental: what you need to know

If you are not ready to buy, but still need to frank your mail, renting a machine may be a good idea. Find out why today

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Written and reviewed by:
Bryn Glover - Startups

Now you’ve decided that the situation and timing is right to add a franking machine to your list of office equipment, one of the biggest decisions to make is choosing a payment plan which best suits your long-term financial goals.

Should your company buy, rent or lease a franking machine?

You might prefer an option that avoids an up-front outlay of capital and favours better cashflow, but you might equally enjoy a conservative approach which escapes long-term commitment.

Pay the full franking machine price and you’ll reap the benefits of ownership, but the supplier of your choice of machine will likely offer some alternative options which you’d best know about. Their market strategy could give your business some worthwhile benefits which you’d be loath to pass by.

Read through the sections ahead and you should find some of your queries about payment choices have been answered.

Whether you’re already experiencing the cost-saving and efficiency of using a franking machine and desire additional or upgraded machines, or you’re looking to get your first machine, we’ve got all the information you’ll need to help you make the decision.

If you’re ready to compare franking machine quotes now, fill our our two-minute questionnaire by answering a few questions about your requirements. Then, we’ll know which quotes will be useful to you.

Why rent a franking machine?

There are several reasons why renting rather than buying is a good business strategy.

Renting a franking machine

Paying for a franking machine on a monthly rental basis will allow the balance of that cash to be used for other expenses. It still allows you to utilise the decreased postal rates immediately.

Believe it or not, the rental company might even discount the cost of maintenance if you choose the rental option.

The company renting the machine to you would prefer to keep the machine in working order so that your company will continue to buy ink and other products as they are used. Once the machine stops, that source of profit also does. They might even realise more profit from those sales than from the sale of the machine or from repairs. The machine supplier will likely include future repairs in the rental price – just so they can continue to supply what the machine consumes, for a fee.

Buying a franking machine

Purchasing a franking machine at full price which will handle your company’s full volume of mail may require a few thousand pounds of capital. Companies that are just getting started or trying to grow might be better served by keeping that capital in the business – cashflow is crucial for a small business.

Purchasing a franking machine does not signal an end to the ongoing outlay of funds, in any case. Operating costs for ink, labels, late post envelopes or even maintenance and repair continue after the machine has been installed in your business.

Your franking machine supplier of choice has, as part of their market strategy, the desire to maintain business relations with your company. They want to make future sales to replace the ink your machine uses to print postage and provide you with labels and other products the machine uses.

If you buy a machine, you must provide maintenance after the sale either by purchasing a contract, or paying along the way as things go wrong.


Find out about other options on our franking machines for small business page.

What franking machine rental prices can you expect to pay?

This sounds like an easily answered question, but in the franking machine market, there are nearly as many answers as there are suppliers. Each one has different reasons for including – or excluding – items from the monthly price.

Which machine you choose to rent is likely to be determined mostly by the amount of the monthly cost, but it’s not the only factor. Doing your bit and checking into what each supplier charges, what costs they include in the rental price and what costs they do not include is essential to getting the best deal.

What costs can you expect?

Ink cartridges – Each time you frank a piece of mail, you’ll be expending ink from a cartridge. The ink these machines use must be authorised by Royal Mail. This might make the cartridges for the machine you choose more expensive than those for a typical printer.

Self-adhering tape – For oversize packets which don’t fit in the maximum thickness clearance (usually under 10mm) needed to go through the machine themselves, you’ll use a self-adhering tape to transfer the franked label to the packet being sent.

Machine capability – Of course, the purchase price of the machine will affect the rental cost more than other factors. Selecting a machine capable of higher volumes, faster speeds and greater packet weighing capacity will add to the price and so the cost of hiring. So too will choosing added features such as automatic feeders, sealers and output trays.

What hiring options do you have?

You can choose from:

New machines

  • Come with the same warranties as if purchased

Used machines

  • Don’t offer the same warranties as machines you buy
  • Second-hand machines are likely to feature outdated technology

Remanufactured machines

  • Have been taken apart by technicians who replace the worn part
  • Most remanufactured machines come with limited guarantees about condition and working status

Cost: Which questions should you ask the supplier?

One of the added benefits of using a franking machine is improving the professional look of your mail by having the machine print a unique logo or message on each franked piece.

Digital images

Does the supplier charge for making a digital image for printing, and if so, how much and after how many free ones? Some machines can store some of these messages – for example, your brand’s message or promotional material printed on the envelope – so ask if the machine you’re considering does.

Setup and installation

Find out if the rent includes the setup and installation of the machine. Many of the entry level machines that you’ll see for hire are simple enough, with relatively few options to consider during initial setup.

Many of us in this electronic age could muddle through the process, but if your business lacks a team member comfortable with this, setup by the dealer – or at least phone support – might be needed.

Service and support

Once installed, will the rent include the cost of service and support? If not, you’ll want to know what the supplier’s prices are and how those costs are spread over the life of the relationship. If the machine becomes unreliable, will they replace it?

Ink cartridges

How many ink cartridges are included? Some rental prices include replacement ink cartridges.

If the deal you’re considering doesn’t, you’ll need to find out how many pieces can be franked from a single cartridge, how much replacements cost and if they could expire before being emptied, meaning the remaining ink can’t be used.

Recredit process

When it’s time to re-credit your machine with postage, you’ll have to go through the supplier.

Higher end machines can accomplish this through a Local Area Network (LAN) using the shared communications or wireless connection. But most entry level machines require a phone connection – possibly incurring a charge for the call.

Even using a LAN, the supplier may charge an additional fee for the privilege of buying postage. Find out the way in which the machine is re-credited and how much it costs.

The fee might commence immediately, after a certain number of toppings up per year or not at all. Ask the supplier when the fee begins before reaching an agreement. Finish your research ahead of time to make the best decision.

What are the choices for franking machines to rent?

There are relatively few major franking machine suppliers to the UK, but they supply a multitude of machines with varying mixes of features.

Part of your pre-purchase research should include finding out:

  • How many pieces of mail does your company send per month?
  • Which labour-saving features would you like your franking machine to include?
  • Answers to the bespoke enquiries into what each supplier’s rental costs cover

Using a website that specialises in doing the comparison shopping for you can save you the pain of doing it yourself. It can also be a critical choice since those few suppliers do not make it easy to find the answers to all of your queries.

Pitney Bowes DM160i

Offering a maximum processing speed of 40 pieces of mail per minute, the DM160i machine from Pitney Bowes is a SMART machine.

It utilises a constant connection to Pitney Bowes that eliminates the dial up costs or line rental you’d have with an analogue machine, making re-crediting and updates significantly faster.

You’ll get improved postal accounting with 25 available accounts. The integrated weighing platform has a fairly workable capacity of 2.5kg, but the machine can interface with platforms with 7kg, 12kg or even 35kg capability.

  • Maximum processing speed of 40 pieces of mail per minute
  • Constant connection to Pitney Bowes for faster recredits and updates
  • There are 25 available accounts
  • Integrated weighing platform of 2.5kg, with 7kg, 12kg or 35kg capabilities

Mailcoms Mailbase

Moving up in volume, capable of handling about 100 pieces per day, the Mailbase machine will give you semi-automatic feeding of up to 40 pieces of mail per minute.

It has a catch tray for completed letters and clearance for envelopes up to 9.5mm thick, all of which are features well above most entry-level machines.

The 2.5kg capacity standard weighing platform is typical, but this brand offers Wi-Fi connectivity which will save phone call charges.

It also has smart meter technology to ensure full compliance with the VAT Applied Services from Royal Mail. A Royal Mail license is included free of charge too.

The company boasts a UK-based call centre for support.

  • Can handle about 100 pieces per day
  • Semi-automatic feeding of up to 40 pieces of mail per minute
  • Wi-Fi connectivity
  • Royal Mail – free license and smart meter technology

Pitney Bowes DM125i

Another Pitney Bowes model, the DM125i could be ideal, with the functionality to process up to 30 letters per minute.

It offers semi-automatic feeding with an output tray for ‘pass through’ franking (where the mail passes through the machine and is collected in a tray), a nice feature that’s hand-friendly.

This is a SMART machine that allows the option of dial up connections for re-credits and updates. The price of the call can be avoided by the alternate method of connecting to the internet.

The machine has a 2.5kg integrated weighing platform. It can accommodate mail of up to 9.5mm in thickness.

Whilst not a ‘high’ volume franking machine (which you aren’t likely to find for hire), the advantage of this model is its digital capabilities.

  • Process up to 30 letters per minute
  • ‘Pass through’ franking with semi-automatic feeding and output tray
  • Smart machine that can use the internet for recredits and updates
  • A 2.5kg integrated weighing platform and maximum 9.5mm thickness capacity

What about franking machine leasing?

Another choice for payment arrangement is leasing.

What’s the difference between leasing and renting?

As in renting, a lease allows a company to benefit from cheaper postal rates upon installation without suffering the large initial outlay of funds required for a purchase. The improved cashflow is immediate.

Rentals don’t typically require long term agreements or credit worthiness.

Plus, renting tends to have a given term for lower priced machines due to the lower risk for the user, and they frequently involve second-hand or refurbished machines of perhaps older technology. When you’re done with the machine, it goes back to the supplier.

If your business needs only a low volume capacity machine as a starter or you’re unsure of how well a franking machine will fit your needs in the long term, the ease of entering or exiting a rental arrangement might be best.

How does leasing work?

Leases are a bit trickier. They require a formal agreement with a finance company or the supplier. If the need arises for you to terminate the arrangement, some sort of make-up payment is the norm, or the agreement might be rolled into another agreement.

The latter might work if you’re a new company trying to carefully regulate cashflow in order to allow for increases in business. As mailing volume increases and a higher capacity franking machine becomes necessary, the lease may continue with updated terms for an upgraded model.

Small businesses already experiencing the need for higher capacity, more expensive franking machines might find better terms with a lease since the supplier is better protected.

The benefit to the supplier through a long-term business arrangement is the same as for rentals. The more a supplier might sell consumables, such as replacement ink cartridges, the more they like it.

If your business sends high volumes of mail, or frequently needs to upgrade your machine, a lease might be the better choice.

Franking machine rental in a nutshell

We’ve provided an overview of the franking machine rental options available to you as a small business owner.

This has included looking at what determines the rental cost, as well as providing insight into some of the top products on the market. We also looked at how renting and leasing a machine differ.

Here are some franking machine rental key takeaways:

  • Renting a franking machine offers your business flexibility and cashflow options
  • Costs include the rental price of the machine itself, as well as ink cartridges, self-adhering tape and machine capability
  • Hiring options include new, used and remanufactured machines
  • Ask the supplier questions about the cost breakdown
  • The UK has only a few major franking machine suppliers
  • Leasing offers a longer term hiring arrangement, with a formal agreement

What are the next steps for choosing a franking machine rental provider?

The information on this page should help to make clear what sort of franking machine lease and rental options are available. For more tailored information though, you should speak to suppliers and experts today – Startups can help here.

To get in touch with franking machine suppliers, take two minutes to fill our our franking machines form. Doing so is free, quick and easy, and it will give us the information about your requirements that we need to match you with quotes that make sense.

Written by:
Bryn Glover - Startups
Bryn Glover has been Editor of since 2017. Running the site's content strategy, Bryn spends a lot of time speaking to entrepreneurs and preparing for Startups' annual editorial campaigns. Having worked in journalism for just under a decade, Bryn wrote for sites like The Times, Reader's Digest, Independent and Times Higher Education before moving into the small business world.
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