As technologically and digitally advanced as our world has become, there are still some Stone Age outliers lurking in society, like grocery stores that still accept personal checks.
Another form of payment that has been around for decades is Collect on Delivery, which – believe it or not – the United States Postal Service still offers to its customers.
What is USPS Collect on Delivery?
USPS Collect on Delivery is a service where the recipient gives payment for the item to the postal carrier. Once the payment has been taken from the postal carrier, it is then forwarded to the mailer. Additionally, the mailer pays postage and fees for an item to be delivered to a recipient. The COD fee correlates to the amount needing collection.
To learn more about this somewhat-outdated practice, which mail services are eligible for COD, how the fees are derived and what form of payment you can render if you receive an item COD, keep reading for all the details!
How Does USPS Collect On Delivery Work?
Collect on Delivery, sometimes known as Cash on Delivery, or COD either way, has been an accepted service via the United States Postal Service for over a century.
According to ShippingSchool.com, this method of commerce was “quite popular” when Internet buying and selling was first getting on its feet.
It appears that it was a way of getting around using a credit card, so in that context, its popularity makes sense – no one knew if they could trust eBay with that sensitive info.
It has since faded out of vogue, but there are still populations in this country without access to bank cards or credit cards, so USPS continues to offer COD.
Who knows for how long they will continue to do so, but in the meantime, it’s an interesting way to exchange money for goods, if a bit of a head-scratcher these days.
Here is an explanation of how USPS Collect on Delivery, or COD, works, from both the sender and the recipient’s perspective.
So you have your buyer’s promise that they will pay upon receipt of the package? Good, because you’ll need it with COD.
As the sender, you shoulder pretty much all the financial burden, including the cost of the item, the fee for the COD service, the postage, and any shipping extras.
COD shipments can be sent via Priority Express, Priority, First-Class, First-Class Package (Retail and Commercial), Retail Ground, and more.
The amount to be collected cannot be more than $1,000.
Along with your parcel, you will have to fill out PS Form 3816. You can get this form at your local Post Office.
In fact, if you live in a city, you will have to make a trip to the Post Office anyway to complete the shipment, because only Post Offices or rural carriers can take COD shipments.
You cannot drop off your COD shipment in a street mailbox, a Post Office maildrop, and you cannot give it to a city carrier.
COD shipments automatically come with USPS Tracking, but you can choose other add-on services as well, such as Return Receipt or Hold for Pickup.
Yes, you can choose if you want the COD item to be held for pick-up, versus delivered to the recipient’s house (where they might miss the delivery attempts).
The fee for COD service is based on the amount to be collected. It starts at $8.60 for $.01 to $50 collected, and ranges up toward $31.85 for $1,000 to be collected.
You can find the entire fee scale here.
When the mail carrier knocks and it’s time to pay, you have a few payment options:
- Cash (hence it being called Cash on Delivery sometimes)
- Personal check
- Pin-based debit card
- Money order
If you pay with cash, it will be converted to a money order, and you must pay the fee for a money order.
Money orders and checks will be forwarded to the sender, via First-Class mail.
If you are not home when the COD shipment is delivered, your mail carrier will try again the next day.
After it has been determined that the shipment cannot be delivered, your Post Office will hold the package for 10 days.
What Mail Services Are Eligible For USPS Collect On Delivery?
Per USPS.com, the following mail services are eligible for a Collect on Delivery transaction:
- Priority Mail Express (1-Day and 2-Day service only)
- Priority Mail
- First-Class Mail
- First-Class Package Service-Retail
- First-Class Package Service-Commercial
- USPS Retail Ground
- Media Mail
- Library Mail
- Bound Printed Matter
- Parcel Select (except Parcel Select Lightweight)
Note that international shipments are not eligible for COD.
What Are The USPS Collect On Delivery Fees?
Collect on Delivery fees are fairly affordable, but they can get pricier the larger the amount that needs to be collected.
Below is the full scale, which can also be found at USPS.com here. The first set of numbers is the amount due on delivery, and the second column is the applicable fee.
- $0.01 to $50.00 pays $8.60
- 01 to 100.00 pays 10.70
- 01 to 200.00 pays 13.05
- 01 to 300.00 pays 15.40
- 01 to 400.00 pays 17.75
- 01 to 500.00 pays 20.10
- 01 to 600.00 pays 22.45
- 01 to 700.00 pays 24.80
- 01 to 800.00 pays 27.15
- 01 to 900.00 pays 29.50
- 01 to 1,000.00 pays 31.85
What Forms Of Payment Can You Use When You Receive A USPS Collect On Delivery Shipment?
Despite once being called Cash on Delivery, the recipient is not on the hook to pay solely with cash.
Acceptable forms of payment include cash, personal check, pin-based debit card and money order.
Money orders, as it happens, can be purchased at the Post Office, so if you are going there anyway to retrieve your COD shipment, that could be a convenient form of payment.
If you receive mail from a rural carrier, cash or a check are going to be your best options.
To find out more about USPS, you can also read our posts on whether or not USPS delivers to PO boxes, if USPS delivers to door, and the USPS click-n-ship.
While USPS Collect on Delivery may seem archaic, the service, where payment for an items is rendered at the time of delivery and the mailer assumes the vast majority of the financial risk, is still in operation for a reason.
Next time you have a buyer without access to a bank account, consider selling via USPS COD.