WhatsApp API Pricing: Everything you need to know

Understand the pricing model and the pricing components of WhatsApp Business API and WhatsApp Cloud API in this blog.

WhatsApp API Pricing: Everything you need to know

After knowing about WhatsApp API and its features, pricing is the next most important thing to know. Though WhatsApp Business App is free to use, this is not the same with WhatsApp API. So, to understand the entire pricing model for WhatsApp API, you first need to be familiar with the various charges incurred for using the API. In this article, we’ll cover all the topics listed below and break them down into easily understandable bits of information:

  • WhatsApp Business pricing: A basic understanding
  • WhatsApp Business API pricing
  • WhatsApp Cloud API pricing
  • WhatsApp API for Sales team

WhatsApp Business pricing: A basic understanding

WhatsApp has 3 variants for businesses: WhatsApp Business App, WhatsApp Business API, and WhatsApp Cloud API. While the WhatsApp Business App is for small businesses with 1-2 salespeople, WhatsApp Business API and WhatsApp Cloud API is for large-scale messaging. Additionally, WhatsApp Cloud API is hosted on Meta's cloud servers, and WhatsApp Business API  is hosted on a WhatsApp partner's or business's server.

You can visit our blog to know more about WhatsApp Business API and WhatsApp Cloud API. If we look at the two variants from the perspective of the cost, the table below will help you understand the difference in pricing.

Pricing Comparison: WhatsApp Cloud API and WhatsApp Business API

WhatsApp Business API pricing

If you are opting for a WhatsApp Business API account, you need to understand that you can’t access it directly. Instead,  you must purchase a number from a WhatsApp Partner or Business Solution Provider (such as Twilio) and connect it to a WhatsApp-integrated CRM.

WhatsApp Business API pricing includes 3 components: WhatsApp API fees (User-initiates or business-initiated), Partner API pricing, and message inbox price.

The total WhatsApp business price depends on the items above

WhatsApp charges BSPs to host the WhatsApp API on their servers. The expense is transferred to end users, along with BSP costs. Certain partners may even impose a setup fee or a markup per communication. Additionally, connecting to a CRM or a message inbox might cost you.

In short, using on-premise WhatsApp API incurs a price that is a combination of WhatsApp API fees, BSP charges, and messaging inbox costs.

WhatsApp Business API pricing based on partner

We discussed how WhatsApp charges per conversation in the previous section. It is now time to discuss pricing from the perspective of the BSPs. Below are the pricing models used by the BSPs in addition to the WhatsApp fees:

  • Per-message
  • Message bundle
  • Per-monthly active users

In this blog, we are focusing only on the pricing model of Twilio - A WhatsApp business partner.

Pricing by Twilio

Twilio maintains a per-message pricing model or ‘pay-as-you-go pricing’ to ensure that you only pay for what you use.

Twilio WhatsApp Business API Pricing

Twilio charges an amount of $0.005 per message sent and received apart from WhatsApp conversation fees. This markup per message is applied to both WhatsApp Template Message pricing and Session Message pricing.

Make sure you visit our blog on getting WhatsApp API through Twilio for a comprehensive idea about the WhatsApp partner.

WhatsApp Cloud API pricing

Unlike WhatsApp Business API, WhatsApp Cloud API is hosted on Meta servers and is free to access. However, the users will be charged based on conversations. The conversation can be defined as the messages sent between the user and the business within the 24 hours window. This type of conversation-based pricing is segmented into two categories:

  • User-initiated: User-initiated conversations are the conversations initiated by customers. (For example, your customer sends you a query or your prospects request a demo.)  When businesses respond to these messages within the 24-hour messaging window, the charges incurred by the businesses will be user-initiated conversation fees.
  • Business-initiated: Business-initiated conversations are those initiated by businesses or messages sent after the 24-hour messaging window expires. For example, promotional messages sent to a prospect. Business-initiated conversations require message templates.

Although the above-given options are the pricing models of WhatsApp Cloud API, your first 1,000 conversations each month are free. You will have to add a payment method to your WhatsApp Business account only if you want to exceed 1,000 conversations per month.

Read more about conversation-based pricing here.

The other cost you may incur is connecting WhatsApp Cloud API with a messaging inbox.

*Note- As of June 1, 2023, the older conversation-based pricing will be altered.

Conversation-based pricing updates: Effective June 1, 2023

Starting from June 1st, 2023, four new conversation categories will come into effect: utility, authentication, marketing, and service conversations. These conversation categories will be determined by the type of template message used.

Among these four categories, three of them are business-initiated conversation categories that require customers to opt-in:

  • Utility conversations- Utility conversations enable customers to complete specific requests or transactions, as well as receive updates about ongoing transactions, such as post-purchase notifications and recurring billing statements.
  • Authentication conversations- Authentication conversations can be used to help businesses verify the identity of users by having them enter one-time passcodes at various stages of the login process, including account verification, account recovery, and identity validation.
  • Marketing conversations - Any type of communication that isn't related to verifying a customer's identity or providing a service can be classified as a marketing conversation. These conversations may include promotional offers, information updates, or invitations for customers to respond or take action.

The fourth category of conversation is service conversation. All user-initiated conversations fall under this category, thus helping them to get their queries answered.

Initiating charges for conversation

When a template is sent, it opens a new conversation of its designated category and incurs the charge of that conversation type, unless the template is sent during an open conversation of the same category. For instance, if a utility conversation is ongoing and a marketing template is sent within that conversation, a new and separate marketing conversation will be opened and a marketing conversation charge will be applied.

However, sending multiple templates of the same category within an open conversation does not incur additional charges.

When no other conversation window is available and a company responds to a user with a free-form message within the 24-hour customer service window, service conversations will be launched.

When a template message is sent or replied to in an open service conversation, this will open a new conversation based on the template category, with the exception of free entry point conversations. During the free window, businesses can send multiple templates of different categories without generating a new conversation.

Get a detailed understanding of the updated pricing here.

The rates for conversations between your business and customers vary depending on the customer's country of residence. Whether the conversation is initiated by your business or the customer, the charges can differ from one country to another.

Get country-wise downloadable rate cards for marketing, utility, and service conversations in this blog.

Additional changes in the revised pricing

Implementation of free entry point conversations starting March 1, 2023

As of March 1st, businesses and users who communicate with one another through ads with call-to-action buttons that click to either WhatsApp or a Facebook Page will be able to have free conversations for a longer window of time. This window has been extended from 24 hours to 72 hours, and during this period, no new conversation categories will be allowed to be opened, even if a business sends a template within three days. Ads that click to WhatsApp will still be subject to standard pricing, but the conversation that starts from the ad will be cost-free.

Changes in free tier conversations: Effective June 1, 2023

The WhatsApp Business Platform will now offer 1,000 free user-initiated conversations each month for businesses that are taking the trial. However, conversations started by the business are not included in the free tier. Regardless of the number of phone numbers associated with the business, each WhatsApp Business Account will get 1,000 user-initiated conversations every month, and the free tier will reset each month according to the WABA's time zone.

In the next session, we will take you through the most common business use cases and how the current WhatsApp Business pricing model affects them.

WhatsApp API for sales teams

In growing sales teams, conversations are usually initiated by businesses. For example, a salesperson sends a follow-up to clients or starts a conversation with prospects. Hence, the first component of pricing, WhatsApp API fees are business-initiated, which costs more than the user-initiated pricing model.

The second component of pricing is the charges of BSPs. sales organisations that have opted for WhatsApp Cloud API rather than WhatsApp Business API can be in benefit since WhatsApp Cloud API eliminates the charges of BSPs.

The third component is the message inbox price or CRM price. This component is a constant for WhatsApp Business API as well as WhatsApp Cloud API.

With everything said, we recommended you analyse your business volume and sales requirements before you make the right choice of WhatsApp API and start sending messages with WhatsApp-integrated CRM.