Best Date Stamps

Updated May 2021
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BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.Read more 
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Pros
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How we decided

We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.

32 Models Considered
10 Hours Researched
2 Experts Interviewed
60 Consumers Consulted
Zero products received from manufacturers.

We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.

Buying guide for Best date stamps

If a steady stream of paperwork crosses your desk each week, a date stamp should be part of your office supply arsenal. A date stamp is the easiest way to mark your day-to-day paperwork — receipts, invoices, and such. Not only can a date stamp help you streamline repetitive tasks, but it can add a professional touch to all your office or home documents.

A good date stamp should hold up to near-constant use. For example, a casing made of metal would likely last longer than a casing made of plastic. In fact, all parts of a date stamp, from the wheels used to manipulate the date bands to the self-inking mechanisms to the handle, should be rugged enough to withstand vigorous use.

To get the best date stamp at a fair price, it pays to do a bit of product research. In this guide, we provide the information you need to quickly and easily find the right date stamp for your needs.

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While flimsier than metal, a more environmentally conscious date stamp will be one made from recycled plastic.

Key considerations

Clarity

In addition to durability, another primary consideration is the clarity of the date imprint. A date stamp that is illegible is not worth your money. Notably, print size can vary from one product to another, with some imprints much larger than others.

When buying a date stamp online, it may be difficult to visualize exactly what the imprint would look like. Fortunately, sellers often provide photos to help you figure this out.

Duration

A date stamp is not a lifetime item. Due to the physical limitations of the stamp, there is room for a finite number of years on the band. For the majority of products, that number is 10. While some stamps offer fewer than 10 years, a solid decade of dates is standard. Most consumers prefer to buy a date stamp that handles the highest number of future dates possible.

A date stamp makes a unique and inexpensive gift for a child who is eager to document their school progress or artistic creations.

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Features

Casing

As mentioned, some date stamp casings are made from steel while others are made from plastic. If your date stamp will be subjected to a strenuous daily workout, durable steel is the better choice. However, a date stamp with a steel casing may cost a little more.

Handles

Some date stamps have a handle that you physically grasp; others have a continuous casing, or housing, that you grip while stamping. Handles are typically made of plastic, though other materials are sometimes used. This can include wood, which may appeal to those who seek an old-school aesthetic. Whatever you choose, the handle should fit comfortably in your hand and be strong enough to stand the test of time.

Date bands

Typically made of rubber, the date bands are responsible for the look of the final imprint. There is usually one band for the month, one for the year, and one for the day. The bands are designed to accommodate both single-digit and double-digit dates.

Less often, stamps include bands with common phrases such as Urgent, Approved, Delivered, and other business messages.

Date bands are usually set via a wheeled mechanism. Using this mechanism, you rotate the bands to the correct date. The wheels of the mechanism should be easy to manipulate and secure enough that the bands do not inadvertently slip to the wrong date.

You may be wondering how to avoid getting ink on your fingers when changing the date. The best date stamps often have a band cover, which seals off the bands when the stamp is not in use.

Ink pads

Some date stamps require an additional ink pad to work. The basic procedure here is to stamp the ink pad and then stamp the document. Other date stamps are self-inking. These stamps have an ink pad built in, so no external ink pad is needed. A self-inking stamp is certainly easier to use, but such a purchase may require a bit more thought. Ask yourself the following questions before buying a self-inking stamp:

  • How many impressions is the self-inking pad capable of?
  • Can the pad be replaced? If so, is it easy to replace?
  • Can the pad be refilled by hand with liquid ink?
  • Does the pad dry out easily?

Ink color

Red ink is typical for date stamps, although some have black. Pricier stamps may ship with a selection of ink colors.

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Did You Know?
The self-inking stamp was invented by B.B. Hill in 1886.
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Date stamp prices

Inexpensive: For less than $7, you can expect to find less-durable stamps made of plastic. Stamps in this range tend to require an additional ink pad, although some will be self-inking. Fewer years may be present on the bands, requiring you to replace the stamp sooner. These date stamps are best for casual stampers.

Mid-range: In the $7 to $15 range, you will find a wide assortment of stamps, including some that require an ink pad and some that are self-inking. The housing may be plastic or steel. Some of these stamps feature both date and phrase bands. If you regularly use a date stamp, this price range should meet your needs.

Expensive: Date stamps that cost $15 or more tend to have a durable build and advanced features, such as multiple ink colors, band covers, and sometimes, the ability to customize messages. If you use a date stamp heavily throughout the day, this is the price range you should concentrate on. Most high-end date stamps cost no more than $30.

If you find that the built-in ink pad of your date stamp dries out quickly, try storing it separately when not in use.

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Tips

  • Run some tests to see how long it takes your stamp ink to dry. This knowledge can save you some smudge hassle going forward.
  • Note the date range. Date stamps have an “expiration date.” Buying a date stamp with several years that have already passed may not be in your best interest.
  • Customized messages are sometimes possible. Stamps that offer the ability to create customized messages usually include a collection of removable letters and tweezers for your use.
  • Some date stamps provide you the ability to “re-ink” the stamp either by replacing the pad or adding ink to the existing pad. The easier, less-messy solution is to simply replace the pad, but if you do a lot of stamping, it may be cheaper to buy your own ink and re-ink the existing pad.
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Running into ink-smearing problems with your stamp? The problem may actually be in the quality of the paper you are using and not the stamp itself.

FAQ

Q. Who uses date stamps?

A. If you own or work in business, a date stamp can help you streamline the repetitive task of dating documents. People who work with lots of invoices, receivables, and similar forms appreciate this because it makes their work go faster and also adds a look of credibility and professionalism to paperwork.

For people who strive to organize their household finances, the advantage is similar. You could certainly date paid bills and other items by hand, but a boilerplate stamp may be easier to use, see, and read in the future.

Q. My office is mobile. Can I easily transport a date stamp?

A. Yes, it’s possible to take your date stamp on the go, but you will want to be sure you don’t leave an ink trail everywhere you work. As such, we recommend you opt for a self-inking stamp with a cover that hides the inked bands. This will help prevent the ink from soiling everything the stamp touches. What’s more, you’ll likely appreciate the fact that you don’t need to carry an extra ink pad everywhere you go.

Q. I want a date stamp that uses several colors. How can I find one?

A. Self-inking stamps usually come in just one color. Red and black are common. However, if you are willing to pay a little more, you can find stamps that include a variety of ink colors. Of course, if you purchase a date stamp that uses an ink pad (rather than a built-in pad), you can use whatever color you want.

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