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, as well as the cheapest WhatsApp API partner for your business.
WhatsApp API Pricing: Is WhatsApp Business API Free?
WhatsApp Business Pricing: 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 which vary based on factors like WhatsApp API access fees, hosting type, markups on conversation-based pricing and more.
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.
Since APIs do not have interfaces, businesses need to integrate them with a messaging software to send and receive messages. WhatsApp charges a fee known as conversation-based pricing for these conversations.
To summarize, the WhatsApp Business API has three costs associated with it: BSP fees, WhatsApp conversation charges and messaging software costs. Now, let's look at how WhatsApp’s conversation-based pricing model works.
WhatsApp Business API Pricing: WhatsApp Conversation Rates Explained
To ensure speedy responses and a seamless conversational experience, the pricing model for WhatsApp API is based on a 24-hour customer service window. There are two categories, each with different pricing:
- 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 24h customer service window.
- Business-initiated conversations are messages that a business sends to start or continue a conversation outside the 24h customer service window. This conversation can only be initiated with pre-approved message templates. Message templates can be customized with placeholders, media headers as well as Quick Reply and Call-to-Action buttons. WhatsApp has a set of rules that govern what can go into a WhatsApp message template and how it should look.
Note that these conversation rates vary depending on the user’s country code. In this context, a WhatsApp user refers to customers who send a message to a business.
Each WhatsApp Business Account (WABA) will receive 1,000 free conversations every month, which can be user or business-initiated conversations. Note that effective June 1, 2023, the 1,000 free conversations will only be limited to service conversations.
If you have more than one number linked to your WABA account, 1,000 free conversations will be shared between all your numbers.
As of March 1, 2023, businesses are not charged for conversations initiated by users 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 said, let's look closer at the conversation charges.
WhatsApp API Pricing: Service Conversations
Service conversations or user-initiated conversations are initiated by customers. However, WhatsApp only charges businesses when they reply to the message. Once a customer sends a message, a 24-hour customer service window opens and businesses can send any type of message within that window.
If businesses send message templates during this service conversation, they will be charged for business-initiated conversations. Let’s go into the details of this conversation pricing below.
WhatsApp API Pricing: Business-Initiated Conversations
WhatsApp message templates were initially limited to transactional or utility notifications to prevent businesses from spamming customers with unsolicited messages.
However, WhatsApp has now broadened its range of message templates by including two new categories, namely marketing and authentication. As of 1st June 2023, the three business-initiated conversation categories are marketing conversations, utility conversations and authentication conversations. Let’s dive into each category.
Marketing conversations may include:
- Promotional offers
- Product announcements to increase awareness and engagement
- Informational updates
- Invitations for customers to respond or take action
Utility conversations keep customers updated with important information. They include:
- Account and order updates
- Transaction confirmations
- Transaction updates
- Post-purchase notifications
Authentication conversations facilitate secure account access by sending customers verification codes or one-time passwords during:
- Account verification
- Account recovery
- Integrity challenges
Conversation charges differ based on the message template category. When a template is delivered, a new conversation of that category is opened and businesses are charged according to that category.
If a business sends message templates from different categories within an ongoing business-initiated conversation, they will be charged two separate pricing based on the conversation categories involved. However, sending multiple templates of the same category will not result in additional charges.
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. Note that this does not apply when replying to messages that come from the free entry points discussed earlier.
Now that you know everything about WhatsApp conversation-based pricing, let’s look at some common BSPs costs.
WhatsApp Business Pricing by Partner
As mentioned earlier, the charges BSPs impose are dependent on the hosting type. 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 while also imposing a markup on WhatsApp’s conversation-based pricing.
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 per message markup or setup fees. This is despite the pricing changes introduced by WhatsApp in February 2022.
In the following section, we will introduce some BSPs and their pricing models, including respond.io.
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.
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. We’ll show you why as we go through the charges other BSPs impose.
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.
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”.
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 from $20 per month. However, it doesn’t add any markup fee on messages sent or received.
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.
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.
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
Salespeople often start a conversation once they get a lead. These conversations are usually business-initiated, which are more expensive than service conversations.
With 1,000 free monthly conversations, the current WhatsApp API pricing model benefits businesses with low sales volume but a high-profit margin per sale, as these businesses only have conversations with a few clients per month but earn significant revenue from them.
Conversation-based Pricing for Support Teams
Support teams are responsible for responding to inquiries quickly. Since they mostly reply to inbound conversations, they will benefit from service conversation pricing.
Because WhatsApp only charges businesses for one message in a service conversation if they reply within 24 hours, support teams can use this window to solve customer inquiries without worrying about the number of messages sent and received.
If resolutions go beyond the 24-hour window, WhatsApp will charge additional user or business-initiated conversation charges.
For this reason, it’s important for support agents to avoid replying to spam messages or irrelevant inbound conversations to prevent incurring unnecessary WhatsApp charges.
They should also be careful with automated greeting messages and away messages. If you send an automated message in response to the first customer message, WhatsApp will charge you for service conversation.
Conversation-based Pricing for Marketing Teams
Marketing teams use WhatsApp to broadcast promotional messages to their audiences. Each message sent by a marketing team counts as a business-initiated conversation. For this reason, sending messages en masse can become quite pricey with the current WhatsApp Business pricing model.
While there is no additional cost to send subsequent messages after the first business-initiated message, WhatsApp's Business Policy is strict about businesses using the platform for spam.
Since business-initiated conversations can be expensive, marketing teams should try to save on costs by choosing a BSP that doesn’t charge a markup fee per message sent.
Conversation-based Pricing for Operational Technical Implementors
Operational technical implementors are engineers that monitor and process operational data. They use WhatsApp to send transactional notifications to confirm payments, reset passwords and more.
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.
WhatsApp API Pricing: Choosing The Right BSP
As a business, paying conversation charges to WhatsApp for chatting 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.
If you're looking for a WhatsApp BSP that also offers messaging software, sign up for respond.io and get free WhatsApp API access. With respond.io, you can enjoy all of WhatsApp's features like sending broadcasts, setting up interactive messages and streamlining business processes with advanced automation.
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