Feb
01

Print Postage on Paypal without a Money Transaction

I love the United States Postal Service (USPS) advertising campaign. It targets online small business owners and home entrepreneurs. So many times I am reminded of the benefits of using USPS: schedule a pickup, print labels online, buy supplies online, order free Priority and Express Mail supplies online, etc. But there is something lacking in one particular feature. USPS offers users the convenience to print and pay for postage online. The only caveat is that you can only purchase postage for (the more expensive) Priority and Express Mail. They leave out First Class, Media, and Parcel Post Shipping, which are the budget shipping options. If an eBay seller wants to maximize the profit of an auction he or she will ship with the lowest possible rate. USPS does not let us do this!

 


Alternatives
There are other alternatives that allow you to print both premium and budget postage online. Pitney Bowes and Stamps.com are the most notable. However, in addition to the cost of the postage itself, these companies also charge a monthly usage fee. Unless you ship more than 50 items, this expense is just another financial burden.

PayPal
paypal_button.jpgIn 2005, PayPal partnered with Pitney Bowes to encourage more eBay sellers to accept online payments through its service. This was a godsend for sellers like me! Basically, the service allowed them to buy any type of domestic and Canada postage online without any monthly fee. The only limitation was that parcel recipients had to have sent you money. For example, I could buy postage for sending a package to a buyer who just paid me via PayPal. On the other hand, I could not buy postage for sending a parcel to my mom. She would have to first send me money - regardless of the amount - and then I could mail her my gift.

paypal_options.jpg

PayPal Shipping Hack
However, PayPal's way of limiting postage recipients is not foolproof. I read about this hack in the FatWallet Forums.There is a way of circumventing that "whitelist." The URL of the PayPal postage page is a long complex string composed of a "cmd," "info," "return," and "whence" variable. The only thing I understand from that is the "cmd". With this variable, I assume that PayPal communicates between views the general page of what we are supposed to see. Any additional variables would just be specifics to make the page more meaningful. For example, if you go to "My Account." There is one variable, "cmd." Its value is "_account."

Suppose we take the URL string for the postage field and only transmit the "cmd" variable. The URL will look like this:

CODE:
  1. https://www.paypal.com/us/cgi-bin/webscr?cmd=_ship-now

Just copy and paste this URL in the address bar. Sometimes, Paypal will first prompt your for your login information. When you finally visit the postage page, you are greeted with form where you can specify the recipient. Here's a before and after of this mini hack.

Before

paypal_before.jpg

After

paypal_after.jpg

Now, you will never have to make a trip to the post office!

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49 Responses to “Print Postage on Paypal without a Money Transaction”

  1. Randy Crawford Says:

    Hi,

    Thanks for the great tip about buying postage on Paypal!

    Do you know of any way to make this work to print dymo labels using a Macintosh? Currently, the paypal window says it doesn't support label printing on Mac, but I was hoping you would know some sort of workaround similar to the one above, I can always print out on my inkjet, but the important thing is all the time it will save going to the post office. Great Tip!!!

    Thanks,
    --Randy

  2. blogger Says:

    sorry randy. i don't really know that much about macs. what you can probably do is a user agent hack or windows virtualization. i wrote about it in my other blog on the freeware review.

  3. William Says:

    Great job! Thanks

  4. SarahVTPR Says:

    OMG! I LOVE U, this is the most fantastic hack ever!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  5. Laura Says:

    Unfortunately, this postage is about .35 more(including the .18 mandatory delivery confirmation) than it would be to mail at the post office but if it is about convenience, it's great! Beats having to go into paypal, click ship another label and then imput all the info.I wish Amazon had a postage option as well! Why don't they????
    Thanks for the link!

  6. WENDY SKINNER Says:

    Hi I found this article really helpful. Thankyou do much, I always new there had to be a way. I think is silly how you had to wait for a payment to be able to use the online postage.

  7. Lichen & Lychee Jewelry Says:

    Great hack! I've just added it to my blog with props to you of course.

    http://lichenandlychee.com/2010/05/06/print-postage-on-paypal-without-a-money-transaction/

  8. Print Postage on Paypal without a Money Transaction « Lichen & Lychee Jewelry Says:

    [...] I just read about this great little hack on http://www.hackernotcracker.com. [...]

  9. Andy Says:

    Awesome. Now, does anyone know how to speed up the label printing? The java applet is painfully slow. Worse is that when printing labels for multiple shipments is that it isn't optimized in any way-- you have to load each label as if it was the first one. I'm surprised that it doesn't require I install a 5-1/4" drive just so it can give it a spin before each label.

  10. Josh Says:

    I can't thank you enough for this bit of info. I have been searching and searching for an alternative to stamps.com (I dont use it, way to expensive for the small guy). I have always just sent myself money from one paypal account to another and then shipped from that transaction... Thanks again!

  11. Bill Says:

    Wonderful Hack, thanks for sharing. It still works in Nov 2010. I doubt that Ebay/PayPal cares if we use this circumvention - I imagine they had to restrict its use to internal transactions because of the agreement with the P.O.

  12. CJ Says:

    Great info - thanks! Still worked Jan2011.

  13. JMS Says:

    Still works Feb 2011, labeled ebay though, which may be strange if you aren't mailing an ebay package. Saves the gas and time lining up at post office if you want tracking on your mail.

  14. jo Says:

    wow - works in uk too! thanks

  15. Jeff Says:

    Sweet! May 31, 2011 and still works. Thank you thank you thank you! As far as I'm concerned, this is the single most valuable hack info I have ever found! Way to go!!

  16. Dave Lockman Says:

    A wonderful excellent hack! Still working as of July 29, 2011. We sell software, and occasionally have to mail out a CD to a customer. This is a great tool for our small operation. Thank you so much for sharing it!

  17. MilesT Says:

    This also works for the UK, just substitute /us/ in the URL for /uk/, to print postage for Royal Mail and Parcelforce.

    The only downside: Some of the cheaper Royal Mail products are not available: Second Class generally, and Large Letter rate also seems to be missing (both of which give discounts over first class letter/packet rates, and standard parcel rate). Similarly, if you select a non-UK address, the list of shipping services doesn't include the cheaper surface post or printed papers rates.

    These cheaper services seem to be available on RM's own online postage website (which doesn't accept paypal).

    Larger parcels are best quoted/purchased using one of the many UK based parcel comparison websites, some of which give discounts even on RM's own products. (For light users, to most addresses, RM isn't competitive between 750g and 1kg, and over 2kg, some competitors collect, others have drop-off points)

    Of course, if you post lots, a franking machine will give a discount on all sevices.

  18. blueyedgirl Says:

    YOU ROCK!!Worked Nov 2011 and YAYYYYYY!!

  19. Name (required) Says:

    thx! can't belive it's still working in 2011

    make sure to change the /us/ for /ca/ if you're in canada

    I got different results... business rates with /ca/ and not with /us/

  20. Deborah Says:

    I wondered if anyone had been able to do this same thing with the new Regional Rate Boxes that the postoffice is offering - I love them! and they are a huge savings to my friends and me!

  21. Jack Says:

    I second that I wish there was a way to include the new paypal shipping with regional rates.

  22. Carrie Says:

    Still working in Nov 2012!!
    THANK YOU! THANK YOU! THANK YOU! Awesome!!!!

  23. shawna Says:

    Still wokring 2013!!!
    This is awesome, ive been looking to try and do this for a long time, but it just doesnt let us -.-
    but YAY now i can!

    just wish it would let us print canada post letter post tho.

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