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WhatsApp Business API Pricing: The Ultimate Guide [February 2022]

Román Filgueira García
Content Writer, Respond.io
February 16, 2022

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, additional costs you will face, as well as the cheapest WhatsApp API partner for your business.

How WhatsApp Business API Pricing Works

The WhatsApp Business App pricing model is simple - it’s free! But this is not the case for WhatsApp API. To really understand the cost of WhatsApp API for messaging, you must first be familiar with the other associated costs of using the API.

As WhatsApp does not give end-users direct access to their API, you need to go through an intermediary called WhatsApp Partner or Business Solution Provider (BSP) to get a WhatsApp API account.

Once you have a WhatsApp API account, connect the WhatsApp API endpoint to a messaging inbox like respond.io to start messaging. You can start for free and upgrade as your business needs arise.

What is the cost of WhatsApp Business
Using WhatsApp API involves third-party costs

WhatsApp Business charges BSPs for WhatsApp API. Then, BSPs will pass that cost on to end-users while also adding their own fees. For example, certain partners charge a set-up fee. Charging a markup per message is also a common practice among BSPs.

In short, using WhatsApp API involves fees from both WhatsApp and the BSP of choice. If it’s still confusing, don’t fret. In the following section, we’ll dive deeper into this topic.

Introduction to WhatsApp Business API Pricing

WhatsApp API pricing has changed over time. Up until January 2022, WhatsApp API fees were on a per-notification basis. The cost of Message Templates varied by region, while Session Messages were free.

WhatsApp API Business Pricing
WhatsApp API pricing is no longer notification-based

But from February 1st, 2022 onwards, the WhatsApp Business API price is conversation-based. This means WhatsApp now charges per conversation rather than per notification. Now, let's have a detailed look at the pricing model and how charges are calculated.

WhatsApp Business API Pricing: How Conversation-based Pricing Works

Compared to sending messages or traditionally opening and closing tickets, conversations enable relationship building with customers. To give customers a fast and conversational experience, rates are now based on 24-hour conversation sessions.

Like notification-based pricing, conversation prices also vary depending on the user’s country code. But, what does a WhatsApp user mean in this context? It’s the person or entity who messages a business.

The current WhatsApp Business Pricing divides conversations into two categories:

  • User-initiated conversations: The user sends the first message. This type of conversation is initiated when a business responds to a user within the 24h session.
  • Business-initiated conversations: The business sends the first message or continues a conversation outside the 24h session. This type of conversation can only be started with pre-approved message templates.

Conversation rates are different for user-and business-initiated conversations. You can check out the costs here.

WhatsApp API pricing conversation based
The two conversation types under the current WhatsApp Business pricing model

Each WhatsApp Business Account (WABA) will receive 1000 Free Tier conversations monthly, which can be user-or business-initiated. If you have more than one number linked to your WABA account, the 1000 free conversations are shared between all your numbers.

Here’s another way to save costs with the current WhatsApp API pricing model: When a user messages a business via Ads that click to WhatsApp or Facebook Page CTA buttons, the first conversation from that entry point is free of charge.

WhatsApp Business API Pricing by Partner

In the previous section, we broke down how WhatsApp charges per conversation. Now it’s time to talk about pricing from the BSPs’ end. What type of fees can we expect from WhatsApp Partners?

On top of charging you the WhatsApp fees, these are the pricing models used by the main BSPs that work with respond.io.

  • Per-message
  • Message bundle
  • Per-monthly active users
WhatsApp Business Pricing models
Some common BSPs pricing practices

Despite WhatsApp API pricing changes in February 2022, some BSPs decided to stick to their original prices. Let’s introduce these partners and explain how their pricing model works together with the current WhatsApp Business pricing.

MessageBird WhatsApp Pricing

MessageBird offers businesses four different Solution Plans based on monthly active contacts. They have their own message fees on top of the WhatsApp conversation pricing.

MessageBird WhatsApp Pricing
MessageBird WhatsApp pricing in a nutshell

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

WhatsApp Twilio Pricing

Twillio 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”.

Twilio WhatsApp API Pricing
Twilio WhatsApp API Pricing in a nutshell

On top of WhatsApp conversation fees, Twilio charges a $0.005 flat fee per message sent and also per message received. This markup applies to both WhatsApp Template Message pricing and Session Message pricing.

The Cheapest WhatsApp API Pricing: 360dialog

Looking for a cheap WhatsApp API? Then you’ll like this. Respond.io users can now get 360dialog WhatsApp API for an exclusive price of $5/month on top of WhatsApp Conversation fees. For everybody else, 360dialog offers three different monthly plans.

This means you’ll only pay for WhatsApp user- and business-initiated conversation rates. 360dialog doesn’t add any markup fee on messages sent or received. As the cheapest WhatsApp API provider, this is our recommended choice.

360dialog WhatsApp Pricing
360dialog doesn’t charge additional per-message fees

We've covered the current WhatsApp API pricing model and BSP pricing practices. Next, we’ll deal with the most common business use cases and how the WhatsApp Business pricing change affects the cost of using WhatsApp API.

WhatsApp Business API Pricing by Use Case

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

WhatsApp API use cases
Different teams, different messaging practices

The following are some common company use cases, and how they are affected by the current WhatsApp API pricing model. We’ll also give a recommendation on what type of Partner pricing model suits each use case.

Conversation-based Pricing for Sales Teams

Salespeople need to follow up with their clients. This means they often start the conversation when they get a lead. These conversations are usually business-initiated, which are more expensive compared to user-initiated ones.

WhatsApp Business Pricing Sales
Things to keep in mind when using WhatsApp API for Sales

With 1,000 free conversations per month, the conversation-based pricing model benefits businesses with low sales volume but high-profit margin per sale. Why? Because these businesses only have conversations with a few clients per month.

We recommend MAC plans for sales teams working for low volume, high margin businesses. While the monthly plan is better for high volume, low margin businesses with many conversations per month.

Conversation-based Pricing for Support Teams

Support teams are responsible for responding to inquiries quickly, without the need to start a conversation often. For that, they will benefit from the current WhatsApp API Pricing based on 24h messaging sessions.

Because businesses are only charged for one user-initiated message within 24 hours when they reply, they can make use of this window to solve customer inquiries without worrying about the number of messages sent and received.

In scenarios where resolutions go beyond the 24h session, companies will be charged for additional user-and business-initiated conversations.

WhatsApp Business Pricing Support
Things to keep in mind when using WhatsApp API for Support

To avoid incurring unnecessary WhatsApp charges, support agents can choose to not reply to inbound conversations they consider irrelevant.

They should also be careful with automated greeting messages and away messages. If a business message is sent after a customer sends the first message, this will result in a user-initiated conversation, with costs involved.

A monthly plan is the best choice for a support team. For a fixed price, support agents can send as many messages as they need within the 24h sessions without facing markup fees per message.

Since support agents exchange multiple messages with customers, choosing a BSP that charges a markup per message is not ideal.

Conversation-based Pricing for Marketing Teams

Marketing Teams need to send promotional messages to their audiences. They are not concerned with replying to contacts.

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.

Marketing teams should be aware of this: While there is no additional cost to send subsequent messages after the first business-initiated message, WhatsApp Business Policy is strict about businesses using the platform for spam.

WhatsApp for Marketing
Things to keep in mind when using WhatsApp API for Marketing

Since business-initiated conversations can be expensive, marketing teams should try to save on costs by choosing a partner that doesn’t charge a markup fee per message sent. For low volumes of business-initiated conversations, paying for message bundles works.

However, companies that need to send large volumes of business-initiated conversations will benefit from a monthly plan with unlimited messages without markup fees.

Conversation-based Pricing for Operational Technical Implementors

Operational technical implementors are engineers that monitor and process operational data. They mainly use transactional notifications. These notifications are sent to contacts as needed to confirm a payment, reset a password, etc.

Transactional notifications are unlikely to be user-initiated conversations. This means that operational technical implementors mostly have business-initiated conversations.

Business-initiated conversations are more expensive, so BSPs with additional message costs should be avoided. Unlike marketing teams, operational technical implementors can’t estimate how many business-initiated conversations they'll have.

WhatsApp for Engineers
Things to keep in mind when using WhatsApp API for Engineering

Paying for a monthly plan with unlimited messages and no markup fees ensures that operational technical implementors can start business-initiated conversations when necessary, without worrying about racking up the bill.

WhatsApp API Pricing: What’s Next

Most likely, you are using the WhatsApp channel for Sales, Support, Marketing, and Notifications. So here's the best overall Partner we recommend.

Unlike many other Partners, 360dialog doesn't add a markup to WhatsApp charges. Simply put, you'll be paying a monthly fee plus conversation prices.

For these reasons, 360dialog is the cheapest WhatsApp API. And with respond.io, you can now get it for a bargain price at just $5 per month. To get started with 360dialog WhatsApp API, sign up for an account today.

Further Reading

If you want to learn more about WhatsApp for Business, check out these articles:

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