Ultimate Guide

WhatsApp API Pricing: The Ultimate Guide [January 2024]

Román Filgueira
April 17, 2023

How much does WhatsApp Business cost? When it comes to WhatsApp API pricing, this can be difficult to calculate. To avoid running into unnecessary expenses, businesses should be familiar with this topic. In this blog post, we will explain the current WhatsApp Business API pricing model, the additional costs you will face and the cheapest WhatsApp API partner for your business.

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WhatsApp API Pricing in 2024: Is WhatsApp Business API Free?

The WhatsApp Business App pricing model is simple - it’s free! But this is not the case for the WhatsApp Business Platform, also known as WhatsApp API. In this section, we’ll help you understand the cost of WhatsApp API for messaging.

WhatsApp Business Pricing in 2024: What Costs To Expect

To understand the costs associated with the WhatsApp API, you need to know how the API works. Firstly, businesses need to obtain WhatsApp API access. The cost of this access varies based on the hosting type: WhatsApp On-premises API or WhatsApp Cloud API.

The WhatsApp On-premises API is typically hosted on a Business Solution Provider’s (BSP) server. This means that BSPs have complete control over the charges they impose on businesses. These charges vary based on factors like WhatsApp API access fees, hosting type, message fees and more.

This image shows what is the cost of WhatsApp Business. The WhatsApp business costo includes WhatsApp API fees, partner API pricing and messaging inbox cost
How much is WhatsApp Business API? The total WhatsApp business price depends on the items above

WhatsApp Cloud API, on the other hand, is hosted on Meta's cloud servers. Businesses can get WhatsApp Cloud API access through WhatsApp BSPs or directly from Meta. Because APIs do not have interfaces, businesses need to integrate them with a messaging software to send and receive messages.

To summarize, the WhatsApp Business API has three costs associated with it:

  1. BSP fees
  2. Messaging software costs
  3. WhatsApp conversation charges

We’ll start by breaking down the WhatsApp conversation charges.

WhatsApp Business API Pricing in 2024: WhatsApp Conversation Rates Explained

WhatsApp implements a conversation-based pricing model, where charges are applied per conversation. Central to this model is a 24-hour customer service window, designed to encourage prompt responses and maintain a fluid conversational flow.

You might be curious about how this 24-hour window influences WhatsApp pricing. Continue reading for a detailed explanation.

WhatsApp Business API Pricing: User vs Business-initiated Conversations

User-initiated conversations, also known as service conversations occur when customers send the first message. The conversation charge is applied when a business responds to a user within the 24-hour customer service window. There are no additional charges regardless of the number of messages you send within the 24h window.

This image shows WhatsApp API pricing conversation based system. The WhatsApp for business pricing model features two types of conversation as shown in the image
The two conversation types under the current WhatsApp Business pricing model

In contrast, business-initiated conversations are charged when a business sends a message to start or continue a conversation outside the 24-hour customer service window. To do so, you must use a pre-approved message template for one of the three use cases: Utility, Authentication and Marketing.

<call-out> You can customize message templates with placeholders, media headers and Quick Reply and Call-to-Action buttons to increase engagement. <call-out>

Factors that Affect How WhatsApp Charges per Conversation

We’ve covered the basics of WhatsApp conversation-based pricing. Now, let’s go over the factors that affect how conversations are charged.

1. User vs business-initiated Conversations

WhatsApp prices user and business-initiated conversations differently. As a rule of thumb, user-initiated conversations are generally cheaper than business-initiated ones. This is because WhatsApp wants to incentivize effective customer support on their platform.

2. Initiated Conversation Category

Conversation charges differ based on the initiated conversation category. When you send a message template, a new conversation of the same category is opened, and you are charged according to it. Templates with mixed content (utility and marketing) or unclear content are categorized as marketing.

If a business sends message templates from different categories within an ongoing business-initiated conversation, they will be charged two separate prices based on the conversation categories involved.

Similarly, if a business sends a template message in an ongoing service conversation or replies to a customer with a template message, a new conversation based on the template category will be initiated. However, sending multiple templates of the same category will not result in additional charges.

3. Customer Country Code

The conversation fees vary based on the country code of your customers. WhatsApp relies on your customers’ country calling code and network prefixes to determine their country.

We have kept a little secret: There are some ways to have free conversations on WhatsApp API. Read on to learn how.

Save Costs with Free Entry Points and Free Service Conversations

Conversations are free when customers initiate them via click to WhatsApp ads or Facebook Page call-to-action buttons. Additionally, the 24-hour customer service window will be extended to 72 hours when customers message you through these free entry points.

During this messaging window, all messages sent are free, including WhatsApp template messages.

That’s not all. Each WhatsApp Business Account (WABA) receives 1,000 free service conversations every month. If you have more than one number linked to your WABA account, 1,000 free conversations will be shared between all your numbers.

With WhatsApp pricing made clear, it’s time to talk about the costs you will face from your BSP of choice.

WhatsApp Business Pricing by Partner

As mentioned earlier, the charges BSPs impose are dependent on the hosting type among other factors. BSPs that offer WhatsApp On-premises API have to pay WhatsApp API fees to WhatsApp and bear server setup and maintenance costs. To gain profit, BSPs will pass these costs to end-users.

The different charges between BSPs that offer WhatsApp On-Premises API and WhatsApp Cloud API

In contrast, BSPs that offer WhatsApp Cloud API impose little to no fees as Meta provides free WhatsApp API access and hosts WhatsApp on its servers. This eliminates any server-related expenses and results in lower costs for both BSPs and end-users.

Regardless of the type of WhatsApp Business API BSPs offer, a majority of them impose additional fees on top of the WhatsApp conversation charges like markups per message or setup fees. While costs differ from one BSP to another, we’ll cover some of the main BSPs in the market and their pricing models in the next section.

MessageBird WhatsApp API Pricing: Markup per Message

Many BSPs impose markups on messages that you send and deliver on WhatsApp and MessageBird is one of them. It offers WhatsApp API access while adding its own message fees on top of the WhatsApp conversation charges.

This image shows the MessageBird WhatsApp Pricing. The Messagebird WhatsApp Business costo involves markups per message.
MessageBird WhatsApp pricing in a nutshell

While WhatsApp conversation charges vary by country, MessageBird adds a $0.005 markup per session message sent by the business. There is also a $0.005 markup per template message, on top of the WhatsApp charges.

Twilio WhatsApp API Pricing: Per-Message

Twilio kept the per-message pricing model after the WhatsApp Business pricing changes. In their own words, “Pay-as-you-go pricing makes sure you only pay for what you use”.

Is Twilio WhatsApp free? This image shows WhatsApp Twilio Pricing, which involves markups per message
Whatsapp Pricing Twilio: Twilio WhatsApp Business API pricing in a nutshell

On top of WhatsApp conversation charges, Twilio charges a $0.005 flat fee per message sent and also per message received. This markup applies to both business-initiated conversations and service conversations.

360dialog WhatsApp API Pricing: Monthly Plans

360dialog offers three monthly plans for WhatsApp API access that range from $53 to $218. Businesses must also pay a hosting fee, which starts at $20 per month. However, it doesn’t add any markup fee on messages sent or received.

360dialog offers three monthly plans for WhatsApp API access that range from $53 to $218. Businesses must also pay a hosting fee which starts from $20 per month. However, it doesn’t add any markup fee on messages sent or received.
360dialog WhatsApp Business API pricing in a nutshell

Since it only provides API access, you'll need to integrate your WhatsApp API with a messaging software like respond.io to actually send and receive messages. As a result, you’ll have to spend up to $73 per month just for WhatsApp API access.

Respond.io WhatsApp Business API: Free WhatsApp API Access

Respond.io is a recognized WhatsApp Business Solution Provider (BSP) and customer conversation management software. It allows you to get free WhatsApp API access, manage your WhatsApp Business Account and receive messages in an omnichannel inbox.

WhatsApp Cloud API pricing: Respond.io WhatsApp Business API pricing

Because respond.io offers WhatsApp Cloud API, businesses only need to pay WhatsApp conversation charges that are made compulsory by WhatsApp. It does not impose any setup, per conversation fee or per message fees.

If you’re looking for a BSP that is also a messaging software provider, respond.io is your best bet. Now that you understand the pricing plans offered by popular WhatsApp BSPs, we’ll look at the most common business use cases and how the current WhatsApp Business pricing model affects them.

WhatsApp Business API Pricing by Use Case

Companies often have different teams messaging customers via WhatsApp API and these teams have different messaging habits.

This image shows the different WhatsApp API use cases: Sales, support, marketing, and engineering
The final WhatsApp API cost depends on the use case

In this section, we’ll discuss what costs to expect when using WhatsApp API for sales, support, marketing and engineering.

Conversation-based Pricing for Sales Teams

Sales Teams typically initiate conversations with leads, incurring higher costs for business-initiated conversations. For sales teams with low sales volume but high profit margins per sale, choosing a MAC or monthly plan can be cost-effective, as they often engage in fewer but more profitable conversations.

Conversation-based Pricing for Support Teams

Support Teams primarily respond to inbound inquiries, benefiting from service conversation pricing. WhatsApp only charges for one message in a service conversation if it's replied to within 24 hours, making it more cost-effective for support teams.

However, extra charges apply for conversations extending beyond this window, and support teams must take care to avoid unnecessary charges for spam or irrelevant messages.

Conversation-based Pricing for Marketing Teams

Marketing Teams use WhatsApp to send promotional messages, each counting as a business-initiated conversation. This can be costly, so it's advisable to select a BSP that doesn't charge a markup fee per message. It's important to adhere to WhatsApp's Business Policy to avoid misuse for spam.

Conversation-based Pricing for Operational Technical Implementors

Operational technical implementors (engineering teams) send transactional notifications like payment confirmations or password resets, categorized as business-initiated conversations. Choosing BSPs without additional message costs is recommended to minimize expenses.

In general, transactional notifications are business-initiated conversations, as they are not sent in response to a customer’s message. Business-initiated conversations are more expensive, so BSPs with additional message costs should be avoided.

Now that you understand everything you need about WhatsApp API pricing and the costs associated with it, it’s time to choose the right BSP for your business needs.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is WhatsApp API free?

No. Using WhatsApp Business API involves the following costs:

  1. Messaging software costs
  2. WhatsApp conversation charges
  3. Business Solution Provider fees

What is the WhatsApp Cloud API pricing?

Applying for WhatsApp Cloud API doesn’t cost money. This is important to know, as some BSPs could charge you an unnecessary fee for the application process. However, you’ll still need to pay the WhatsApp conversation charges and messaging software costs to message customers.

What is the cheapest WhatsApp API solution?

We recommend using a cloud-hosted WhatsApp API solution, as it tends to be cheaper. With a respond.io plan, you can get both WhatsApp API and the leading AI-powered customer conversation management software. It’s great value for your money!

WhatsApp API Pricing: Choosing The Right BSP

As a business, paying conversation charges to WhatsApp to chat with customers is inevitable. However, you can avoid additional fees imposed by some WhatsApp BSPs. Unlike other providers, respond.io does not charge any setup fees, hosting fees or markup per message or conversation.

As you may expect, respond.io supports key WhatsApp API features like sending broadcasts to large audiences and setting up interactive messages. However, you’ll also experience plenty of advanced features like AI Agent, a customizable chatbot that learns and improves its responses through training.

Plus, as a recognized Meta Business Partner, respond.io has undergone Meta's assessment for its proficiency in Meta products such as WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger, and Instagram DM. This affiliation comes with several advantages, including enhanced support from Meta, contributing to an elevated level of service for respond.io users.

If you're looking for a WhatsApp BSP that also offers AI-powered conversation management software, sign up for respond.io and get free WhatsApp API access.

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Further Reading

That’s all you need to know about the WhatsApp API cost for businesses. If found this reading interesting, check out the following articles:

Román Filgueira
Content Writer
Román Filgueira, a University of Vigo graduate holding a Bachelor's in Foreign Languages, joined the respond.io team as a Content Writer in 2021. Román offers expert insights on best practices for using messaging apps to drive business growth.
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