Postage labels v.s. stamps: what is your opinion?

I have been thinking about this topic since the beginning of 2020.

When I joined postcrossing last year, the post offices in Hong Kong still offered stamps in stamp vending machines. Several months later, I realized that they stopped doing so. Instead, they replaced beautiful stamps with boring postage labels, which disappointed me a lot (I know labels have some advantages over stamps, but it just feels different when you stick stamps on your postcards. Also, I have a chop that is specially designed for stamps. Now I can hardly use it :face_with_head_bandage:)

Of course, it’s still possible to buy stamps online and at the post office (as well as convenient stores), but the staff will obviously get annoyed and suggest you using postage labels if you ask for stamps. Moreover, I have difficulty always buying stamps online - I don’t have a credit card and you’ll have to wait for weeks before the stamps are delivered to your house.

When I received postcards from other countries they’re very often with stamps, so I think maybe stamps are still popular in other countries. Therefore, I’m interested in knowing your opinion on postage labels:

  1. Does your country have similar things like the postage label vending machines?
  2. Do you prefer postage labels or stamps? Why?
  3. What is your feeling when you receive a postcard with postage label? Do you find stamp as an important element of postcard?

Thanks for reading and I look forward to your answer :smile:

  1. No, we don’t have
  2. I prefer stamps because they are beautiful and you can learn something from it
  3. A little bit disappointed but it is better than written card in envelope
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  1. Yes
  2. I prefer stamps because I guess I’m still a little old fashioned and I view it as more personal–the sender picks the stamps.
  3. There is some disappointment, but I understand that not everyone has the same access to stamps.

(Edited to add: It is almost ridiculously easy to get stamps in the US. They sell stamps everywhere, including the grocery and office supply stores aside from the post office. I almost never have to think about labels. I do, however, order online for stamps that are not available at my local post office, but I always take into account the mailing times so I end up ordering ahead or pre-ordering if I know new stamps are coming out.)

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Thank you for this topic!

I am told that the US has–or at least used to have–postage label printing machines, although I cannot recall seeing any myself (at least not where I have lived). There are services that allow you to print your own postage labels on a home printer.

I do prefer to use stamps for their decorative appeal and “personalized” feel, but I also have easy access to them. Online orders have arrived relatively quickly, and I already had a plentiful stash when I started Postcrossing.

To answer your last question, I would not be bothered at all by a postcard with a postage label. I would assume the sender had easier access to labels rather than stamps, which is very understandable. As long as the postage was paid, the sender has done his or her job! I have received all kinds of cards with all kinds of postage, and I am always thrilled that they have arrived safely. To me, the message is the most important element–anything else is a welcome bonus! :smiling_face_with_three_hearts:


No, I didn’t even know postage vending machines are a thing before I joined forum. In fact, so far that I know postage labels are not really used here unless you are sending a packet with weight over 2 kg or using the “send direct” online service (which means you have to print out the label yourself). Even the bigger envelopes get stamps when I take them to drop off.

I prefer stamps. They look prettier and often tell its own history which adds the value on the card and completes it.

Although I prefer stamps, I would not get too upset if postcard arrives with label. If it is rare country I might do a small sigh and head shake, but I do understand that using labels can be the only possibility for some members and it is not big enough issue to get all upset about.

Yea we have various kind of postage label here in China, With definitives and commemorative one.


To answer your questions:

  1. Does your country have similar things like the postage label vending machines?

Yes, and it was actually designed with convenience in mind.

  1. Do you prefer postage labels or stamps? Why?

As a philatelist, I prefer stamps for sure, because I feel that you can learn so much about a country from a stamp as well. Just something as simple as the country’s local name for the country, or national costumes. I also feel that this is not only a commemoration of the country’s events or culture, but also an avenue for stamp artists to showcase their work.

  1. What is your feeling when you receive a postcard with postage label? Do you find stamp as an important element of postcard?

I feel a little sad, of course, since I would very much prefer stamps. But that also comes with the understanding that not everyone has access to stamps, and not everyone has the same level of love for stamps like I do. I do feel that the stamps give the postcard an additional touch, but this is Postcrossing after all and the objective is to send postcards, so you can’t fault anyone for using postage labels anyway.

For me, stamps are rather accessible through our post offices, but they usually only sell the definitives or limited series of stamps. I will head down to the philatelic store to get more series of stamps with a range of themes, so that I can try to match them with the postcards I send too.

A postcard is each Postcrosser’s work of art in that sense, so to each our own, but I would try to use stamps as a decorative element to the Postcrossers I send to. :grin:

We don’t have vending machines. We do have a system where you pay for the postage online, they give you a code and you put that on the card in the space where you would normally put the stamp. I think it’s kind of cool, and convenient.

Well, I prefer to use stamps, because they are bascially like stickers. :laughing:

I’m fine with receiving cards with a postage label. I am not a philatelist and if someone has somehow personalised the backside in another way, that is great too.

If for some reason I wasn’t able to buy stamps, or they would make it cheaper to send a card with a code, I would probably spend more time decorating the backside. :slight_smile:

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1 - Yes, there are postage vending machines and I find them very convenient. The labels here in Singapore actually look pretty cool as they have a small design on them. The ones in the UK had at the very least the Queen and sometimes some other design too.
The ones in Italy don’t have any design and are pretty big, I once had a written card and it was hard to find postage for Asia (a common problem in Italy unless you are really into stamps and know where to get them, and I am only ever there for short periods so I knew nothing about it - things were different and easier when I was doing correspondence in the past century) and the label at the post office (not a machine, way too advanced for Italy ;)) was waaay too big so I had to get myself an envelope and paste a gazillion stamps to make up the cost. Anyway…

2 - I don’t really have a preference. Stamps are “normal” and more traditional and labels are convenient and can be kind of cool. I find it ingenious when they have a design on them! I guess I am easily pleased… :laughing:)

3 - I don’t have a feeling about it. I often use labels myself if the recipient doesn’t show a love for stamps, because I find them convenient and as I said the ones in Singapore just look kind of cool to me (I have photos which I will try to edit into this post later).
I personally do not care about stamps, they are a means to an end to me: they show that postage was paid to carry the mail to the intended place. Ok, if they are pretty I will think wow, pretty, and that’s it. I do understand that people appreciate them as historical and aesthetic items, and for a lot of other reasons, but sometimes I find it stressful when Postcrossers put a lot of emphasis on them. Sure, if I have nice stamps I will gladly use them for those who love stamps, and I will spare them the label (unless it is all I have, but I have learnt to stock up on stamps at the philatelic store too), but while I understand it can be seen as an important part of the postcard, it is not what Postcrossing is about (to be clear, I mean those rare ones whose profiles are all about the stamps).
In its own way, to me the label tells a story too - not as elaborately as a stamp, but ultimately it doesn’t matter to me.

Incidentally, I very rarely received postcards with labels on them. I even feel pretty bad when my cards have lots of really cool stamps on them as it is kind of wasted on me! :joy:

I just received a postcard from Azores with a postage label used. I already have 11 postcards with Azores with beautiful stamps used. So I am not disappointed but I would be if it is the only postcard that I have received from Azores. Stamps and stamp cancellations make a postcard more interesting for me as these will vary but a postal label may be a standard printout. Also I found some postal label ink fades away over time.


I think here they only put those labels on if you got to the post office with a parcel. Luckly we still have plenty of beautiful stamps available.

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Yeah here in portugal we have labels like the one @SLLiew showed, but also some with different designs sold in automatic machines and I found some people like those.
See an example here: Gum vs. Self-adhesive: Lick or stick?

Personally I prefer stamps but I understand it’s easier for some people to use labels, and it made me discover some different and interesting. :grinning:

There were label machines in Poland, at least at some post offices but they were available for a short period of time and were phased out a long time ago.

For now, we have stamps, available in post offices or in the online shop. If there are no stamps available at a post office (it happens, rarely, but it does), the postal worker will just write on the card/envelope that the correct amount was paid.

From next year, no stamps will be allowed on registered mail, I think we will be getting some labels for these items but maybe it will only be the barcode that is already in use.

  • Does your country have similar things like the postage label vending machines?

We have vending machines, but they don’t sell labels. What you can get there is a special kind of stamp which has a colourful design preprinted on it and the value will be added when you purchase it. I never use them, although they are kind of alright. Labels also exist, but aren’t used a lot by people, rather by companies.

  • Do you prefer postage labels or stamps? Why?

I clearly prefer stamps, because they can be incredibly beautiful and interesting. I’m often fascinated by the different designs.

  • What is your feeling when you receive a postcard with postage label? Do you find stamp as an important element of postcard?

I have to admit that labels are a bit disappointing, but then I know that not everyone cares (and labels do the job) or has easy access to stamps. It’s not something I get upset about, it’s just the initial thought of “What a pity!” - and then I move on.

We have these postmarks with postage and cityview in Guangzhou, China. :smiling_face_with_three_hearts:


That looks great! It is unique and represents the culture. Unlike the Hong Kong one, which is only plain white :face_with_head_bandage:
Actually if the postage labels had been better designed, I wouldn’t have been that disappointed.

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Does your country have similar things like the postage label vending machines?

We have labels you can buy at the counter or print them yourself online. Our vending machines sell variable value stamps with these two pretty nice designs:

Do you prefer postage labels or stamps? Why?

For private mail I strongly prefer stamps, because they tell something about the country. And they’re decorative, too. Mostly labels are a lot bigger than stamps (but depends on the country) and therefore take quite some precious space on a small postcard.

What is your feeling when you receive a postcard with postage label? Do you find stamp as an important element of postcard?

I’m a bit sad when they’re with labels as it feels as something is missing. For me stamps are an important element of a postcard.


Does your country have similar things like the postage label vending machines?
These self service kiosks in US Post Offices print mailing labels. Unlike normal stamps, the labels from these kiosks come in only a single black and white design.

When I send postcards I prefer to use stamps. That said, the post office was so busy during the holidays that self-service kiosks were the only reasonable option. As far as receiving postcards, I don’t have a preference.

What is your feeling when you receive a postcard with postage label? Do you find stamp as an important element of postcard?

I have no preference for the cards I receive. I think it’s interesting to see how the mail runs, and these automated labels are a big part of that.

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I am a stamp collector so I am biased on this topic. Labels are disappointing to me, if I receive them on a letter I recycle it.

Does your country have similar things like the postage label vending machines?
I think there are some but I have never seen them in my area. Canada has many franchise and Canada Post-run outlets to buy stamps, they are very widely available.

What is your feeling when you receive a postcard with postage label? Do you find stamp as an important element of postcard?
I’m sad when I receive a label. For me, stamps are a very important element, sometimes even more important than the card. Using something other than a label takes more effort. If we, who are exchanging mail, do not use stamps, they will not be circulated or even printed as frequently. To combat the risk of labels, I always suggest buying in bulk and then having a nice selection available (to save you a trip for a single stamp/label). Postal rates are published online so it’s easy to know what you need to include on a postcard.

We have the black and white vending machine for labels, but I don’t use them. They are not pushed on us either.

I much prefer to receive postcards with stamps on them. They add a great deal to the charm of the card. I like to customize them to the recipient’s interests when I can.

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