Using WhatsApp Business Platform/API for customer communication can be a great way to connect with your customers and improve your business operations. However, it’s important to understand the potential costs involved in using the APIs, as they can sometimes be confusing.
If you need to learn about the basics of WhatsApp Business Platform, please read An Introductory Guide to WhatsApp Business Platform/API first.
Keep in mind that neither WhatsApp Business API nor WhatsApp Cloud API has its own inbox, so you will need to connect it to a team inbox like Rasayel to send and receive messages.
There are two options for accessing the WhatsApp Business Platform/API -
- Through a Business Solution Provider (BSP)
- Through Meta directly (WhatsApp Cloud API)
Both options offer you similar features. If you’re unsure which one is right for your business, send us a WhatsApp message and we’ll guide you through it.
Business Solution Providers (BSPs) - WhatsApp Business API
These are official partners of Meta. When you sign up for a WhatsApp account with a BSP, you gain access to the WhatsApp Business API. Meta’s partner directory contains a full list of official BSPs you can choose from.
WhatsApp Business API features, pricing, and support vary from one BSP or provider to another. To learn more about how to select the right BSP for you, please read the Comparison of WhatsApp Business Solution Providers.
If you create a WhatsApp API account with a BSP, you can expect to pay:
- WhatsApp conversation fees to Meta
- Business Solution Provider (BSP) fee to the BSP
- An inbox or messaging platform to send and receive messages (such as Rasayel)
Meta direct access - WhatsApp Cloud API
You can gain direct access to the WhatsApp Business Platform by creating a WhatsApp Cloud API account. For this, you don’t require a BSP, but will need to set up the account on your own. Here is Rasayel’s guide on how to create a Cloud API account.
If you create a WhatsApp Cloud API with Meta directly, you can expect to pay:
- WhatsApp conversation fees to Meta
- An inbox or messaging platform to send and receive messages (such as Rasayel)
The pricing models for BSPs and inboxes may vary, but Meta WhatsApp’s conversation pricing model remains the same regardless of which BSP, inbox, or other tools you choose.
Meta/WhatsApp’s Pricing Explained
WhatsApp charges businesses per conversation. A conversation is all the messages exchanged between a business and a customer, starting when a business’s first message is delivered until 24 hours later.
All the messages exchanged in this 24 hour period period are associated with one conversation and incur one charge.
There are two main categories of conversations:
- Business-initiated conversation - Your business messages a customer outside the 24-hour window. From when your message is delivered until 24 hours later, all messages sent and received are part of one business-initiated conversation. To start a business-initiated conversation, a business can only send a message template. Once the customer replies, you can send messages with any content and format, including templates. If you’d like to learn about message templates, read How to Make Sure WhatsApp Approves Your Message Template.
- User-initiated conversation - A customer messages you outside the 24-hour window, and you reply to them. From when your first reply is delivered until 24 hours later, all messages sent and received are part of one user-initiated conversation. You can exchange messages with any content and format (free-form messages) and message templates.
Conversation-based Pricing before June 1, 2023
All the messages in one conversation, business-initiated or user-initiated, incur one charge depending on the customer’s country code. You can find a full list of conversation prices based on country codes on Meta’s Conversation-Based Pricing page, under ‘Rate Cards’.
For every WhatsApp Business Account (WABA), the first 1,000 conversations per month, user-initiated or business-initiated, are free. This is regardless of the number of phone numbers connected to the WABA. This is called the free tier and refreshes monthly based on the time zone associated with the WABA.
Conversation-based pricing after June 1, 2023
There will be four types of conversations in total: Service conversations, utility converations, authentication conversations, and marketing conversations.
After June 1, 2023, user-initiated conversations will be called service conversations. Their pricing remains the same, based on your customer’s country code.
Business-initiated conversations will be divided into three types, depending on the type of their starting message template. In total, there will be four types of conversations with their own price based on the customer’s country code:
- Service conversations - Previously known as user-initiated conversations.
- Utility conversations - Are started using Transactional Templates. Templates that are about facilitating a specific, agreed-upon request or transaction or update to a customer about an ongoing transaction, including post-purchase notifications and recurring billing statements, fall into this type.
- Authentication conversations - Are started using One-Time Password (OTP) Templates. Such templates enable businesses to authenticate users with one-time passcodes, potentially at multiple steps in the login process (e.g., account verification, account recovery, integrity challenges).
- Marketing conversations - If you send a Marketing Template that includes promotions or offers, informational updates, or invitations for customers to respond/take action, you have started a marketing conversation. Any conversation that does not qualify as utility or authentication is a marketing conversation.
Each of these conversation types has its own pricing based on the country code of your customer’s phone number. For example, If your customer’s country code is the UAE, here is how you’ll be charged:
- 0.0190 EUR for a service conversation
- 0.0198 USD for a utility and authentication conversation
- 0.0340 USD for a marketing conversation
You can find a full list of conversation prices based on country, region and conversation type on Meta’s Conversation-Based Pricing page, under ‘Rate Cards’.
Sending a messaging template in another conversation type incurs a charge.
Before June 1, 2023 businesses must send message templates to start a business-initiated conversation. They could also use message templates at any other point in a conversation without incurring additional charges.
After June 1, 2023, if you send a message template of one type (for example, marketing) in an open conversation of another type (for example, service conversation), you are charged for both categories of conversations; the marketing conversation and the service conversation. If you send a template of one type in an open conversation of the same type, you will not be charged extra.
In the example below, the business sends a transactional message template. It starts a utility conversation which ends 24 hours later. Within the open conversation, they send a marketing template too. If the customer’s country code is Brazil, the business is charged:
- 0.035 USD for a utility conversation
- 0.0625 USD for a marketing conversation
Each of the two conversations ends 24 hours after their starting template was sent.
Here the business sends a transactional message template. This starts a utility conversation. Then, the business sends another transactional message template. This does not count as a new conversation, as they are of the same type. The business is charged for one utility conversation only (0.035 USD for Brazil):
Your free monthly tier will change.
This will come to effect starting March 1, 2023 for businesses relying on a Business Solution Provider (BSP) for accessing Meta’s APIs. For every other business, it will come to effect starting June 1, 2023.
Your first 1,000 service conversations (user-initiated conversations) every month are free. Business-initiated conversations will no longer be included in the free tier. The free conversations apply to the entire WhatsApp Business Account (WABA), even if it contains multiple phone numbers. If you have two WhatsApp numbers, you are still limited to 1,000 free service conversations in total.
To be able to send and receive messages using WhatsApp Business API, you need a messaging platform or an inbox. Rasayel, as an example, is a team inbox that helps you sell to and support your customers over WhatsApp. You can also run marketing campaigns, build a WhatsApp chatbot, send automated notifications, auto-assign teammates to customers based on rules that you define, integrate it with Zapier, HubSpot, or Shopify, and more.
Our pricing plans are simple:
Basic Plan ($200 per month)
It’s suitable for small teams with moderate messaging volume.
- For up to 5 team members
- $20 per additional member
- You can connect up to 5 channels (either multiple WhatsApp channels or Instagram, Facebook, Telegram, and more)
- Unlimited contacts
- Unlimited messages
- Importing contacts
- Have it in your browser or as a mobile app for android and ios devices
Premium Plan ($300 per month)
It’s suitable for high volume teams with complex workflows.
- For up to 10 team members
- $20 per additional member
- You can connect up to 50 channels (either multiple WhatsApp channels or Instagram, Facebook, Telegram and more)
It has all of the features of the basic plan plus the following features:
- Assignments rules
- Custom views
- Auto notifications
- Ability to integrate with Shopify, HubSpot and Zapier
- Priority support via email or chat
- Onboarding support
Enterprise Plan (Custom pricing)
This is the option for teams that need a custom-tailored plan. It has the same features as the premium plan plus the following:
- It can be customized for the number of team members you have
- You can connect unlimited channels
- We provide training, onboarding, priority support, and other services
Business Solution Providers (BSPs) Pricing Comparison
WhatsApp Business Solution Providers have different pricing models, and features vary from provider to another. Moreover, some providers give you access to the API only as a package with their software; therefore, you cannot use your platform of choice with them. One must consider all of these differences before selecting a provider.
In general, WhatsApp solution providers follow one of these three pricing models:
- Per message fee – You are charged for each message sent and each message received
- Per message bundle fee – You are charged for every group of messages
- Flat rate fee – Regardless of the number of messages you send or receive, you pay a fixed rate per month
Here are the pricing plans of three official business solution providers that Rasayel works with:
Their pricing plans depend on whether you are an end user of the API or a partner looking to provide the API for end users. They have three pricing plans that are available publicly, and a discounted price for partners. For more information, please get in touch with them.
Rasayel’s partner price (US$15) If you choose Rasayel as your WhatsApp inbox and 360dialog as your BSP, the cost of 360dialog is reduced to US$15 per month. This is regardless of the number of messages you send and receive or the number of team members you have. Please, WhatsApp us at +13024070488 or email us at email@example.com for more information on this.
API only (starting €49) A suitable starting point for most businesses.
Professional (€99) Same as the API-only package, with premium customer support.
Enterprise (starting €200) Best for large companies with ultra-high bandwidth.
The above prices don’t include WhatsApp fees for your conversations. Those fees are passed on to you at the end of every month as part of your 360dialog bill.
Twilio charges $0.005 per user-initiated, business-initiated, and session message for all countries. This fee does not include the fee you need to pay WhatsApp for your conversations.
If your messaging volume is low (less than 3000 messages a month) or unpredictable, Twilio could be a cost-effective option.
You can estimate the cost for your business on Twillio’s pricing page.
MessageBird charges $0.005 per user-initiated, business-initiated, and session message for all countries. This fee does not include the fee you need to pay WhatsApp for your conversations.
If your messaging volume is low or unpredictable, MessageBird could be a cost-effective option.
For more information on MessageBird’s pricing, visit their website.
Which Business Solution Provider pricing model is the right one for you?
Having a good estimate of how many messages you send and receive per month helps you decide on the pricing model and provider that suits you best.
Per-message pricing is suitable for businesses with a low volume of messages (less than 3000 for the BSPs mentioned here) and fixed-rate pricing is suitable for businesses with a high volume.
Here is the cost comparison of the BSPs for three different monthly messaging volumes (excluding WhatsApp’s conversation fee and Rasayel’s monthly fee):
As seen in the table, if you send and receive up to 3,000 messages, including message templates, MessageBird and Twilio are more cost-effective. With a volume of more than 3,000, the cost for these providers increases considerably.
How to Reduce Your Costs of Using the WhatsApp Business API
Estimate your messaging volume before choosing a BSP.
If your messaging volume is small, a BSP that charges you per message could be the right option. However, consider whether your business and messaging volume are going to grow in the future. A BSP that charges per message may not continue to be cost-effective in the long run.
Do not reply to spam messages.
WhatsApp doesn’t charge you if a customer starts a conversation with you. It charges you only if you respond to their message (user-initiated conversation). Therefore, you need to choose which customer messages are worth replying to so that you don’t unnecessarily incur a charge. At the same time, you must ensure customer satisfaction by attending to valid inquiries. With Rasayel’s inbox rules, you can weed out messages to some extent based on the criteria that you define. This way, you focus your time on customer inquiries that are worthwhile.
Automate auto-reply messages wisely.
If you have automated welcome and away messages that get sent right after customers’ first messages, they incur a user-initiated conversation cost (unless you have not crossed 1000 conversations). If your BSP charges you per message and you don’t have a high number of customer inquiries per month, using these messages could be a good idea. On the other hand, with a similar BSP and a high volume of customer inquiries, auto-replies could become too expensive.
Resolve customer issues within the 24-hour customer service window.
All messages exchanged between your business and a customer in a 24-hour customer service window are associated with one conversation (one charge). If you have a customer support team, it’s more cost-effective to resolve customer inquiries within 24 hours. One way to do this is by using a WhatsApp chatbot to help customers self-serve. A human agent can attend to them if the bot cannot resolve their issue.
You can benefit from Rasayel’s bots if you choose our premium or enterprise plan.
It’s important to keep in mind the various costs involved in using WhatsApp for your business:
- WhatsApp conversation fee
- WhatsApp Business Solution provider fee
- Messaging tool or team inbox fee
While pricing varies from provider to another, so do the features and support they offer, so make sure you take your time in finding the right solution for your business - not just the cheapest one.
If you need help selecting the right solution for your team, or to learn more about how WhatsApp can help you grow your business, please reach out to us on WhatsApp at +13024070488.
We also offer a free consultation session where we go through your use case, answer any questions you have about WhatsApp, and help you build a strategy to make the best out of the platform. Book a call with us below. We’d love to speak with you: For Europe, Middle East, and Africa For North and South America