Boxes are a shipping staple. They hold large amounts of items, are sturdy and strong, and can be customized to fit your brand.

However, sometimes you don’t need all of the space that a box has to offer. If you are sending out smaller items and want to save money, consider using a bubble mailer. 

Bubble mailers are thin, padded envelopes that come in various sizes and cost less to ship. They still offer protection to your item but without the bulk and higher shipping costs of a box. Bubble mailers can be confusing to ship, whether because of postage, weight limits, or packaging procedures. 

BoxGenie is here to walk you through all you need to know about these thin, flexible box alternatives. 

What Is a Bubble Mailer?

Before we begin, it’s important to understand what a bubble mailer is. A bubble mailer is a paper or plastic envelope lined with a layer of bubble wrap. They come in a wide range of sizes, usually rectangular in dimension. 

There is a difference in size between the exterior and interior of a bubble mailer. Take this into account when selecting the correct mailer for your product. The usable size is the interior space of the envelope – make sure it has enough room for your items. 

Bubble mailers are often referred to as padded envelopes. Padded envelopes are envelopes that use foam, paper, or bubble wrap as a protective layer inside of the envelope. The terms are often used interchangeably. 

However, bubble mailers are padded envelopes, but not all padded envelopes are bubble mailers. 

When to Use a Bubble Mailer

Mailer boxes offer the most protection and stability. However, there are many situations where a bubble mailer is the preferred container for shipping your items.

Bubble mailers are best for small, light, fragile items that need protection while in transit. Flat items, such as books, CDs, jewelry, and documents, fit nicely into the rectangular mailer. These items don’t need the full packaging and space of a shipping box. 

A study done in 2010 found that packages experience as many as 27 drops or tosses on a one-way shipment. Therefore, it is important that your items are protected, even if they don’t fall into the category of fragile items. A bubble mailer offers protection to smaller items that you may not think of as fragile but is still susceptible to breakage. 

Where to Find a Bubble Mailer

You’ve decided you want to use a bubble mailer to ship your fragile items. Now, where can you find one? Do you have to visit an office supply store or your local post office?

The answer is yes and yes. Bubble mailers in a variety of sizes and colors can be found at most retailers or be ordered online. Most come in bulk and cost less than ten dollars. Many carriers even make their own with their name stamped on it. 

Determine what size mailer you’ll need before going shopping for one. This narrows down your options and allows you to compare prices more efficiently. 

How to Pack a Bubble Mailer

Bubble mailers come lined with a protective layer of bubble wrap. For most items, that layer provides sufficient protection. There is no need to add more packing material inside of the mailer.

However, you might still be concerned about the safety of your item. If this is the case, and there is room in the mailer, you can add another layer of bubble wrap or packing paper around your item. 

This provides extra protection, but also extra weight, so weigh your priorities. 

How to Ship a Bubble Mailer

Once you have determined if a bubble mailer is right for you and selected the appropriate one, it’s time to mail it. The process for shipping the mailer depends on whether you are bringing it into a carrier or scheduling a pickup, and how you want to label it. 

Seal Your Bubble Mailer

Before shipping, double-check that the mailer is properly sealed and that there are no holes in the mailer. Items could fall out during transport if the mailer is not sealed well or if it is ripped. 

Label Your Bubble Mailer

The mailer needs to have a label on it to be shipped. If you choose to label it yourself, make sure that all necessary elements are present and legible. Include the delivery address in the center, the return address in the top left corner, and postage in the top right. 

In many cases, however, you will attach a label created by the carrier to the mailer. If you are bringing your mailer to the carrier, you can print the label ahead of time or have it printed by the carrier. 

The carrier will weigh the mailer and price it accordingly. You will provide the carrier with your information, and they will print off a label and attach it to the mailer. 

Send Your Package

If you are having the carrier pick up the mailer, you need to schedule a pickup. Most carriers have you fill out a form on their website, print it out, and attach it to the mailer. The carrier then comes to pick up the package and weighs it at their office. 

Carriers have different prices based on the classifications they assign to weights and sizes. The USPS, for example, considers mailers 0.75 inches or less an envelope and anything greater a package. The mailer is then priced as such. 

Essentially, to ship a mailer, the carrier needs to know the delivery address and package weight.

Cost of Mailing a Bubble Mailer

Like boxes, the cost of mailing a bubble mailer depends on factors such as weight and delivery speed. However, using a bubble mailer to ship your items costs less than using a box.

Cost of the Bubble Mailer

There are two costs to consider when choosing to use a bubble mailer to ship your items. The first is the cost of the mailer itself. Like we said earlier, this depends on the brand, size, and style of the mailer. 

Typically, the smaller and thinner the mailer, the lower the price. Mailers in general cost significantly less than corrugated cardboard boxes. 

Bubble Mailer Shipping Rates

The second, and more complicated cost, is the price for shipping the mailer. This rate varies from carrier to carrier and is based on the item weight and how quickly you want the item to arrive at its destination. 

Not only do the mailers themselves cost less than a shipping box, but they also cost less in shipping fees. The mailers weigh less than the boxes and take up less room, so shipping costs less. 

Happy Shipping

If a box seems too big for your items, don’t be afraid to ship small and use a bubble mailer. Bubble mailers are an easy way to cut down on the cost of shipping when mailing smaller items. They still offer protection to your item as a box would, but cost less to purchase and ship. 

Think outside the box – use a bubble mailer. Visit Box Genie for more shipping products and advice.



  1. First-Class Mail Fact Sheet 
  2. Measurement and Analysis of ‘Small’ Packages in Next-day Air Shipments | CalPoly  
  3. Addressing Your Mail | USPS

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