How to Mail a Bubble Mailer with USPS (A Comprehensive Guide)

Last Updated on 07/09/2023 by UPS_ Admin

Navigating the world of USPS shipping with bubble mailers? Whether you’re shipping a book or a piece of jewelry, understanding the ins and outs of mailing with these protective envelopes is crucial. Dive into our comprehensive guide on how to effectively use bubble mailers with USPS, from determining mail type, selecting the right service, to efficiently packing your items. Discover how to ensure your items arrive safely without breaking the bank.

How to Mail a Bubble Mailer with USPS
How to Mail a Bubble Mailer with USPS

How to Mail a Bubble Mailer with USPS

  1. Determine the Type of Mail: Check if your bubble mailer counts as an envelope or a package. If it’s considered an envelope and weighs 1 ounce or less, it’s as simple as using a $0.55 forever stamp. However, if it’s seen as a package, the procedure varies.
  2. Choose a USPS Service: Depending on the urgency, value, and weight of your mailer, you can select from various USPS services:
  3. Weigh Your Mailer: To determine the cost, weigh your bubble mailer. Most USPS services are based on weight and distance.
  4. Purchase Shipping: Either visit your local post office or buy your shipping online from the USPS website. If uncertain about the service to use, USPS employees can guide you.
  5. Drop Off: After purchasing the appropriate postage, drop off your mailer at the post office or in a USPS collection box if it meets the size requirements.

Understanding Bubble Mailers

What is a Bubble Mailer? A bubble mailer is a paper or plastic envelope equipped with a bubble wrap lining. They provide protection to items during shipping but are lighter and often cheaper than boxes.

Exterior vs. Interior Size: Always consider the usable (interior) size of a bubble mailer. This is where your item will fit.

Padded Envelopes vs. Bubble Mailers: While bubble mailers are a type of padded envelope, not all padded envelopes are bubble mailers.

Protection: Especially for fragile items, bubble mailers are crucial. A 2010 study showed packages might be dropped or tossed up to 27 times during shipment, highlighting the need for protective packaging.

Where to Get Bubble Mailers: They are available at office supply stores, USPS branches, and online retailers.

Key Tips

  • Decide Before Buying: Estimate the size you’ll need before purchasing to make your shopping efficient.
  • Items Suited for Bubble Mailers: They’re ideal for flat items like books, CDs, jewelry, and documents. Given their protective nature, they’re also recommended for items that may not seem fragile but could break.

How Much Does It Cost to Ship a Bubble Mailer with USPS?

Shipping a bubble mailer with USPS can vary in cost, and the final price is influenced by several factors such as the mailer’s size, weight, and the distance it’s traveling.

Key Factors Affecting Cost:

  1. Size and Weight: The weight and size of your bubble mailer are significant factors. USPS determines shipping costs based on these two criteria. Lighter and smaller mailers tend to be cheaper to ship.
    • For instance, a Poly bubble mailer size 8.5 x 10.75″ weighs about 0.8 oz, whereas an 8.5 x 11″ padded mailer weighs 2.2 oz. Lighter bubble mailers such as these can be more economical when considering shipping costs.
  2. Distance: Shipping costs also depend on the distance the package needs to travel. A mailer shipped within the same state or region will typically cost less than one sent across the country.
  3. Shipping Service:
    • First Class Package typically ranges from $3 to $5 for lightweight items. For mailers up to 4 ounces, it can cost around $3.74, equivalent to 7 forever stamps.
    • Priority Mail and other expedited services will have higher rates.
    • Utilizing services like ShipSaving may offer label discounts, potentially reducing shipping costs.
  4. Type of Mailer:
    • Bubble mailers, especially poly bubble mailers, often cost less to ship than boxes since they’re lighter and more compact. A box will generally incur additional costs due to weight and size.
  5. Additional Services: Adding services like tracking, insurance, or signature confirmation will increase the overall cost.

General Cost Estimates:

  • Light bubble mailers with small items might cost around $3-$5.
  • Larger or heavier bubble mailers can range from $4 to $15, depending on the weight, size, and shipping service chosen.

Does USPS Give Free Bubble Mailers?

Yes, the USPS provides free shipping supplies to its customers, including boxes, stickers, forms, and more. Specifically, they offer:

  • Free Pre-printed Envelopes and Boxes: These are available for shipping items through Priority Mail and Priority Mail Express. They are eco-friendly and include Tyvek® mailers.
  • Priority Mail Flat Rate® Padded Envelope: This is a free padded envelope lined with bubble padding for extra protection, making it ideal for flat rate shipping.
  • Ordering Online: Customers can order free boxes and envelopes online at the USPS store, referred to as The Postal Store®. The USPS even offers free delivery of these supplies directly to your door. Typically, boxes come in packs of 10 or 25, so customers should consider this quantity when placing their order.
  • How to Order: Navigate to, and select “Supplies” or hover over “Shop” in the top navigation and select “Shipping Supplies.” From there, customers can order free supplies by selecting “Free Shipping Supplies” in the left-hand navigation.

However, it’s worth noting that while the USPS offers various free shipping supplies, they do not provide free poly mailers. They do, however, offer similar items like the aforementioned padded envelopes.

Is A Bubble Mailer A Package Or Envelope?

A bubble mailer can qualify as either a package or an envelope based on its thickness:

  • If the bubble mailer is less than ¾ of an inch thick, it is considered an envelope.
  • If it’s thicker than ¾ of an inch, it is categorized as a package.

To determine the correct classification for your bubble mailer, you should package your items, seal the envelope, and then measure the mailer at its thickest point. Ensure accurate measurement at the widest part to correctly calculate shipping costs.

Can I use my own bubble mailer for USPS?

Yes, you can use your own bubble mailer for USPS. However, there are a few things you need to consider:

  1. Classification: Your bubble mailer can be classified as either an envelope or a package based on its thickness.
  2. Weight and Postage: If your bubble mailer is considered an envelope and weighs 1 ounce or less, you can use a $0.55 forever stamp and drop it off at your post office as usual.
  3. Thickness Requirements: The total thickness of your bubble mailer should be at least 3/4 of an inch if you intend to use USPS shipping services. One of the preferred methods for shipping bubble mailers with this thickness is the USPS First Class Package Service.
  4. Potential Surcharges with UPS: It’s important to note that if you’re considering using UPS instead of USPS, UPS prefers items that can be easily scanned. Bubble mailers or items less than 1″ thick might be subject to additional handling fees, as mentioned in a statement from May 12, 2022.

You can certainly use your own bubble mailer for USPS, but it’s essential to ensure it meets the criteria regarding weight, thickness, and postage to avoid any issues or additional costs.

How do I get a free USPS bubble mailer?

To obtain a free bubble mailer from USPS, you’ll need to request the Priority Mail or Priority Mail Express bubble envelopes. These mailers are provided at no cost, but it’s crucial to note that they are intended specifically for the shipping service indicated on the packaging. Using them for other, potentially cheaper, shipping services is not permitted.

To order these free bubble mailers:

  1. Navigate to The Postal Store®.
  2. Hover over “Shop” in the top navigation and select “Shipping Supplies.”
  3. Then, choose “Free Shipping Supplies” from the left-hand navigation.

However, if you’re not planning to use Priority Mail services, bubble mailers will need to be purchased. For instance, USPS offers packs of 24 small bubble mailers at a cost of $35.80, medium-sized ones for $43.80, and larger ones priced at $79.

For those shipping frequently with USPS, it’s worth noting that the post office offers a wide variety of free shipping supplies, including various box sizes and shipping speeds. Many of these free shipping supplies, such as padded envelopes and standard cardboard envelopes, can be ordered online or picked up from a local post office, as mentioned in a source from Jan 27, 2022.

How to Pack a Bubble Mailer

Bubble mailers are equipped with a protective bubble wrap lining, ensuring most items get adequate protection without needing extra padding inside the mailer. However, if you still have concerns about the safety of your item, consider the following steps:

  1. Additional Protection: If there’s space inside the mailer, you can wrap your item with an extra layer of bubble wrap or packing paper to provide additional protection. Remember, extra packing materials can add weight, potentially increasing shipping costs.
  2. Inserting Your Item: Given the cushioned padding inside the bubble mailer, some items might have a snug fit. This internal padding acts as a protective barrier against potential damage during shipping.
  3. Consider Thickness: As of June 7, 2021, if the total thickness of your filled bubble mailer is 3/4 inches or more, USPS will classify it as a package.
  4. Packaging Details: USPS focuses on your outer packaging. If you’re shipping a box inside a poly mailer or envelope, that’s permissible. However, avoid tightly taping or shrink-wrapping a bag or envelope around a box and considering it an envelope.
  5. YouTube Tutorial: There’s a YouTube channel that demonstrated how to efficiently pack both an envelope and a poly mailer. The video breaks down the types of mailers available and the best methods to pack two common items: an extension cord and a hat.
    • Poly Mailers: These are ideal for non-breakable items like fabrics. When selecting a poly mailer, choose one slightly larger than the item to ensure it fits comfortably.
    • Craft Bubble Mailers: These are suitable for items that require additional protection like an extension cord. Craft mailers are not only cheaper but also provide a padded protection to prevent scratches or damage.

Using bubble mailers can be a versatile and cost-effective shipping solution, especially for those selling on platforms like eBay, Amazon, or Etsy. Not every item requires a box, and bubble mailers can often be a more affordable choice


When mailing with USPS, bubble mailers are a versatile choice for many items, offering protection and affordability. To ship efficiently, determine if your mailer is an envelope or package, choose the right USPS service, weigh it for accurate pricing, and consult USPS guidelines or personnel for assistance. Whether shipping books, CDs, or delicate items, bubble mailers provide a reliable, cost-effective solution. Remember to consider thickness, weight, and distance when calculating costs. While USPS offers free Priority Mail bubble envelopes, others must be purchased. Properly packing ensures maximum protection for shipped items.

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