WhatsApp Business: All costs of a WhatsApp business account at a glance
More than 50 million businesses already use WhatsApp Business in their customer communications. Over two billion end users are on WhatsApp every day. But what does WhatsApp Business cost and for whom is it worthwhile?
Whatsapp Business enables companies to respond to ever-changing user behaviour and be available to their customers on THE channel they already use every day to interact with friends, family and acquaintances.
Customers today want to be as comfortable as possible. Chat instead of call. Online shopping instead of a local shop. No queues on the phone. No automatic ticket-reply by email, and days of waiting for problem solutions.
The customer wants to feel heard and understood, and to be able to trust that their problem will be reliably solved in a timely manner.
The benefits of WhatsApp for businesses are obvious. But what are the costs involved in offering WhatsApp support, marketing or sales?
In this article, you will get an overview of WhatsApp Business App, WhatsApp Business Premium App and WhatsApp Business Platform and what costs are associated with the three business solutions.
- WhatsApp Business App - Free App for freelancers, self-employed and tiny teams
- Costs of the WhatsApp Business App
- WhatsApp Business Premium - Paid upgraded version of the WhatsApp Business App
- Costs of WhatsApp Business Premium
- WhatsApp Business Platform - Scalable and professional, GDPR compliant, solution for companies and corporates
- Costs of the WhatsApp Business Platform [+Price Table]
- FAQ: Frequently asked questions about the WhatsApp Business pricing model.
Free WhatsApp Business App
The WhatsApp Business App was developed for freelancers and self-employed entrepreneurs. Even small businesses might be able to make good use of this free and basic WhatsApp business version. It is a solution particularly suitable for local businesses that do not have a professional service department, such as your hairdresser, lawyer or farm shop.
The app works similarly to the private WhatsApp app that you know and use in order to write with friends and family. In addition, the WhatsApp Business App offers some handy features for businesses with quick replies, a catalogue and broadcasts with up to 256 addressants.
Source: Google PlayStore WhatsApp App
Disadvantages of the WhatsApp Business App
The WhatsApp Business App is limited to a single employee account - or mobile device - and is therefore not suitable for professional customer service or service and marketing communications at scale. Moreover, you lack the possibility to overview collective customer insights, since no documentation of previous engagement or customer activity is accessible.
If you use the WhatsApp account of the WhatsApp Business App together with several employees, you cannot attribute certain chats to your colleagues. Thus, transparency and documentation are an issue that bottleneck service and sales scaleability.
Depending on the setup, it may also be problematic in terms of data protection. The WhatsApp Business App is legally considered "non-GDPR-compliant".
WhatsApp Business App in summary
- phone numbers and employee accesses: 1
- Linkable devices: up to five
- WhatsApp desktop compatible: Up to four devices
- Assign chats to employees: No
- Approved WhatsApp broadcasts: only 256 addressants
- Sales and support features: Basic features
- Privacy compliant: No
- interoperable integrations: No
- Dashboard access and analytics: No
Costs of the WhatsApp Business App
How much does the WhatsApp Business App cost?
The WhatsApp Business App costs are zero, the WhatsApp Business App is completely free to install and use.
Only one number may be used per WhatsApp Business App account. If you use your existing number, your WhatsApp private account will be converted into a WhatsApp corporate account. The good thing is that this process is reversible. You can therefore switch back from the WhatsApp Business app to the WhatsApp Private app afterwards. In principle, this is not possible with the WhatsApp Business API.
We therefore generally recommend using a new number for WhatsApp Business. This means that you will have to pay for a SIM card and either another mobile phone or a dual-SIM-capable smartphone.
Later - i.e. when scaling to the WhatsApp Business Platform ("API") - this has the advantage of keeping the same number, which is the ideal customer experience for end users.
You'll probably be reluctant to "sacrifice" your private number to achieve this effect later on, when handling too many requests, or addressants, becomes a bottleneck, operating manually the WhatsApp Business App. Moreover, GDPR-compliance usually gets more and more important, the larger a company scales its WhatsApp communications efforts.
WhatsApp Business Premium: Paid upgraded variant of the WhatsApp Business App
WhatsApp Business Premium is a new and not-yet-rolled-out subscription model of WhatsApp Business. It aims to expand the range of functions of the WhatsApp Business App. We believe, that META tries to make it easier for businesses to unlock WhatsApp for themselves professionally, whilst at the same time making it easier and more obvious to later upgrade towards the paid WhatsApp Business Platform option. Right now, this step is too steep, since the WhatsApp Business App and WhatsApp Business Platform have been quite far apart regarding accessibility and features offered.
Currently, two features are unlocked by a subscription to WhatsApp Business Premium:
- 11 available devices: The WhatsApp Business App has a device maximum of five, split into one mobile and four optional desktop-based accesses. WhatsApp Business Premium users may make use of up to 11 devices, including the smartphone the App is installed on. As in the basic WhatsApp Business App version, only one smartphone is being used, all other devices must be desktop-based. Tablets are excluded. Chats can be assigned to specific employees to better structure and enable team collaboration.
- "WhatsApp website" of your company: An automatedly generated "WhatsApp website" includes your brand name and profile picture, as in the basic WhatsApp Business App version. In the WhatsApp Business Premium version, opening hours, your business address, a link to your website, and the WhatsApp product catalogue are now added. In the WhatsApp Business App, the link to your company website is created based on the telephone number. This is a link that has the anatomy of https://wa.me and serves as a chatstart link to generate leads and invite your audience to start chatting with your WhatsApp business account. In WhatsApp Business Premium, you can also choose your own custom link name that leads to your company overview. The "WhatsApp website" is composed of the information that you can optionally store in the WhatsApp Business App. Here, you can regard your user experience similar to creating a Facebook Business Page. It is automatically updated, meaning that you may for example change the opening hours in your WhatsApp Business profile, and the changes will automatically be reflected on your "WhatsApp website".
WhatsApp Business Premium is not yet widely available in German-speaking countries, as of September 2023.
This new feature is worth a thought for your company, if you are satisfied with the range of functions of the WahtsApp Business App, but would like to get more employees involved and keep a better overview of who answers which chats. Also, be aware that if it is just a matter of time to switch to the WhatsApp Business Platform anyways, you might wanna skip the step of teaching and onboarding your employees to the - still limited and not GDPR-compliant WhatsApp Business version of WhatsApp Business Premium.
WhatsApp Business Premium is not suitable for medium-sized and large companies. It still lacks many support functions that are standard in professional chat support, such as employee routing, forwarding and chatbots. For this, WhatsApp offers the WhatsApp Business Platform - formerly the WhatsApp API, or, WhatsApp Business API. Via a dashboard interface such as Chatarmin, you can link your WhatsApp business account accessible in your Facebook Business Account, with a business software for WhatsApp - built upon the WhatsApp Business Platform.
The data protection situation also remains problematic with WhatsApp Premium. By accessing the phone book of the connected smartphone, numbers are passed on to WhatsApp without authorisation. This is also ruled out by the use of the API, whereas the WhatsApp Business Platform is end-to-end encrypted and relies upon sub-service providers hosting their data warehouses and server infrastructure in different instances of the US, Europe and Ireland. Optionally, the WhatsApp Business Platform lets Chatarmin host the WhatsApp Business Platform end-to-end-encrypted and on-premise, making it technically and proprietarily impossible both for META as well as Chatarmin to access you company's secret and sensitive internal user data.
WhatsApp Business Premium App at a glance
- Employee accounts: 1
- Linkable devices: up to 11
- Assign chats to employees: Yes
- Approved WhatsApp broadcasts: No
- Sales and support features: Advanced basic features
- Privacy compliant: No
- interoperable integrations: No
What does WhatsApp Business Premium cost?
WhatsApp Premium is currently only available to selected WhatsApp business users. You can easily check whether you belong by opening the settings in the WhatsApp Business app.
If the menu item "Premium" is listed here, you can already take out the subscription. Sign up for a free trial month here.
WhatsApp does not yet publicly communicate the prices for the premium subscription.
WhatsApp is creating more and more options to make WhatsApp Business in its variants more attractive for businesses.
WhatsApp Business Platform: Formerly WhatsApp Business API.
The WhatsApp Business Platform is theoretically infinitely scalable, making it the only viable method for large companies with structures, teams and larger databases. As soon as compliance guidelines are an issue, it is necessary for a company to talk exclusively about the use of the WhatsApp Business Platform, when it comes to professional WhatsApp usage of a WhatsApp business account. For this, the two "small alternatives" of WhatsApp business accounts - the WhatsApp Business App and WhatsApp Business Premium - are without exception insufficient.
The WhatsApp Business Platform is used via Chatarmin by large companies with professional service, marketing and/or sales teams. From top retailers like BAUHAUS or Nah&Frisch, to digital sales machines like elopage, to eCommerce D2C brands with up to eight or nine-figure revenues like waterdrop® or olakala.
The WhatsApp Business Platform is scalable and can be flexibly and system-integratively adapted to your business processes and infrastructure.
Imaging the differences between the non-API and API solutions for WhatsApp business accounts.
Through the connected customer messaging software, you can use WhatsApp with advanced sales and service functions such as automated skill-based routing to the most suitable customer support employee, automatic translations based on AI or also just if/else logics identifying the origin and phone number of the respective addressant, and support automation in the form of WhatsApp chatbots that can be programmed in a UI/UX-friendly way via static Chatbot FAQ's, or dynamic AI-Chatbots.
Only the WhatsApp Business Platform lets you send approved WhatsApp newsletters and WhatsApp campaigns. Most importantly, the Whatsapp Business Platform is DSGVO compliant, making it the secure option for WhatsApp support in the enterprise.
WhatsApp Business Platform at a glance
- Employee accounts: any number
- Linkable devices: any number
- Assign chats to employees: Yes
- Approved WhatsApp newsletters: Yes
- Sales and support features: Professional features for customer communication
- Privacy compliant: Yes
- API integrations with your CRM, shop system, ERP, and co.
What does the WhatsApp Business Platform cost?
Unlike the WhatsApp Business App, the WhatsApp Business Platform is not available free of charge due to its range of functions and focus on data protection. Furthermore, the pricing differs from the WhatsApp Business Platform due to the "conversational billing" of the WhatsApp Business Platform.
|WhatsApp Business Account||Type of billing||Additional costs|
|Business Premium||subscription model||none|
|Business Platform||Conversations||Business Service Provider|
an overview over the pricing models of the different WhatsApp business account types
Unlike the app, the WhatsApp Business Platform is not available free of charge due to its range of functions, its limited availability without making use of a Business Service Provider such as Chatarmin, and its focus on data protection.
Costs arise on the one hand through the monthly package price for the customer messaging software, and on the other hand - should you have more than 1,000 support or user-initiated conversations per month - also for the conversations held. Find META's conversational costs in the official WhatsApp Business Platform documentation here. Let's go through the individual cost items in detail.
Monthly costs of the WhatsApp Business Platform.
While you have to download and set up the free WhatsApp Business App yourself, you get access to a WhatsApp Business Platform via the respective customer messaging providers, i.e. official WhatsApp partners such as Chatarmin.
The costs for using the Platform vary greatly depending on the provider you choose, so it's worth comparing. With SinchEngage or hello-charles, for example, costs start at €399.00 per month.
Chatarmin offers the WhatsApp channel for as little as €99.00 per month from the starter package, cancellable monthly and with no minimum contract period. This makes Chatarmin one of the cheapest, most popular and most flexible WhatsApp Business Platform partners on the market.
You can find an overview of the features and costs of the most popular WhatsApp CRMS such as SinchEngage (formerly Messengerpeople), hello-charles and Chatarmin here in this article. Furthermore, you can find an extensive list and analysis of 11 relevant WhatsApp marketing tools at a glance here in the linked blogpost.
Charges per conversation
WhatsApp charges a small amount of cents per conversation. A conversation reflects a 24-hour-time-window upon chatstart by the business, or, upon a business answering to a client message within 24hrs. Only if you exceed the monthly free quota of 1,000 service, or, user-initiated, conversations. Please note that this free quota can only be used for service chats, i.e. conversations where a customer contacts your company first. You can find a detailed explanation of the free 1,000 monthly service conversations in META's official WhatsApp Business Platform pricing documentation.
If you write to customers proactively, for example a message with your latest prospectus, the free units cannot be counted for this.
What counts as "entertainment"?
A paid conversation includes a 24-hour session that starts as soon as the company writes to a customer or responds to a customer's message. All messages sent and received within this 24-hour service window are covered by the session fee.
What does a conversation cost?
If you have used up the 1000 user-initiated free conversations for the current month, charges will apply. These are calculated in a globally transparent way depending on the area code of your end customer and the use case of the conversation. Unfortunately, META has over-complicated this monetisation model, and as of June 2023, has made it even more unnecessarily complicated.
User-initiated conversations, which are usually classic support requests and conversations, cost €0.0679 in Germany. In Austria and Switzerland, the cost for a user-initiated conversation is €0.0329, and €0.0490 per marketing conversation initiated by the company.
Germany is thus one of the most expensive WhatsApp countries after the Netherlands. We hope for improvement in the form of price corrections on the part of META.
Conversations initiated by the company are divided by WhatsApp into three use cases:
Each use case is accompanied by different fees.
In Germany, the costs for a transaction are also €0.0679, an authentication costs €0.0636 and for a marketing conversation, the company charges a sinfully expensive €0.1131.
According to the official META documentation, conversations of different categories can be initiated in parallel or overlap. If you answer a customer's support question at 11 a.m., a business-initiated conversation in the support category opens at that time. If you send to them a marketing campaign at 18:00, a business-initiated conversation of the marketing category opens. Both conversations trigger chargeable, 24-hour time windows. So until 11:00 the next day, you can send as many support templates ("pre-verified campaign templates"). The same applies to the marketing conversation time slot opened at 18:00.
WhatsApp Business Platform - price table 2023
|NEW PRICES AS OF 01 JUNE 2023||USER-INITIATED CONVERSATION (SERVICE CHAT)||BUSINESS-INITIATED CONVERSATION (TRANSACTION - AUTHENTICATION - MARKETING)|
|Germany||€0.0679||€0.0707 - €0.0572 - €0.1131|
|Austria||€0,0329||€0,0348 - €0,0313 - €0,0490|
|Switzerland||€0,0329||€0,0348 - €0,0313 - €0,0490|
Note: As your messages are sent via your chosen customer messaging platform, the respective provider charges a processing fee per conversation. With Userlike this is at the lowest limit with €0,001, with zoko it is about €0.006, with hello-charles and SinchEngage it is a whopping €0.07. Chatarmin's services are free of any conversational premium. We believe, that the WhatsApp Business Platform's conversational pricing is already high enough.**_
This factor is the biggest cost lever when scaling your WhatsApp marketing activities, you should carefully watch out for it and wisely calculate it, planning to scale your WhatsApp communications efforts via the WhatsApp Business Platform, choosing your Business Service Provider.
**What are the WhatsApp Business PlatformI ("API") costs?
The dashboard interface, mostly a desktop browser app, is provided by one of WhatsApp's software partner companies (WhatsApp Business Solution Providers) such as Chatarmin. We enable the company account to be linked to the software partners' WhatsApp business platform. Accordingly, the monthly costs for using the WhatsApp Business Platform depend on the package prices of the respective provider. In addition, there may be the costs per conversation, which WhatsApp charges.
**How many conversations are free per month?
1,000 service conversations are always free on a monthly basis. So you can have up to 1,000 support chats, which can last up to 24 hours before a new conversation unit is charged. Freelancers and single-member teams can usually get by with the free quota, so there are no extra costs on top of the WhatsApp Business Platform Service Provider package price.
Can I also use the free conversations for WhatsApp campaigns?
No, if you want to send marketing or other business-initiated messages, you will have to pay from the first conversation. Here again is the WhatsApp Business Platform pricing table:
New pricing model: how have WhatsApp Business prices changed?
Since June 2023, WhatsApp has changed the pricing model for the WhatsApp Business Platform. Previously, there were only two fee categories: "user-initiated" conversations and "business-initiated" conversations. We used to love the model, simply due to its simplicity. Since 01 June 2023, conversations are divided into four different categories:
- Service (business-initiated)
- Utility (business-initiated)
- Authentication (business-initiated)
- Marketing (business-initiated)
In our opinion, META has just unnecessarily complicated the conversational pricing of the WhatsApp Business Platform. The good news is that Austria and Switzerland became significantly cheaper on 01 June 2023. Germany remained unchanged in price. We assume that META wanted to have a corrective effect on the (partly insufficient) development of the expansion of the WhatsApp Business Platform throughout our latitudes. The new pricing model is intended to motivate companies to open up further use cases via the WhatsApp Business Platform: service, authentication, transactions, etc. Unfortunately, this has not been achieved to any significant extent to date. Or, have you ever been asked to 2-FA your signup via WhatsApp yet?
There is also a new regulation for Click-to-WhatsApp ads, which allows free conversations of up to 72 hours. However, since this use case is still extremely undeveloped, we will not go into detail. We just linked a blogpost, if you feel like reading more about scaling WhatsApp as a new-customer-acquisition channel. The data is limited, and the learnings are rare, to say the least. We are yet to establish an impressive case study on WhatsApp ads.
Source: Chatarmin / WhatsApp Business API META Costs
You can find an overview of the WhatsApp Business API costs above or directly at META.
What are "free entry points"?
Free entry points allow businesses to take their customers to a WhatsApp chat with the click of a button and have the first conversation for free. Free entry points are currently:
- Click-to-WhatsApp ads on Facebook or Instagram
- Call-to-action button on the Facebook business page.
- Since the introduction of the new pricing model, the free conversation is even open for 72 hours instead of the previous 24 hours.
Note: As with the regular entry points, you must respond to the contact within 24 hours to be allowed to reply to them with free session messages. Otherwise, only message templates can be used. Any type of message template is allowed.
By signing up for the free REWE WhatsApp flyer, REWE will not incur any variable WhatsApp costs for the time being.
Does "user-initiated conversation" mean that I pay when a customer sends me a message? Even if I don't reply at all?
No, "User-initiated" does not mean that you as a business pay for WhatsApp messages from customers. Only when you reply within 24 hours and thus start a session is this considered a "user-initiated conversation". You do not pay if, for example, you receive an unsolicited message and leave it uncommented. Receiving messages from your customers is always free with the WhatsApp Business Platform, formerly "WhatsApp API".
You can find a current price overview of WhatsApp in the Meta for Developers documentation.
How do I integrate WhatsApp into support, sales and/or marketing as easily and cost-effectively as possible?.
Chatarmin's WhatsApp Business Platform is GDPR compliant, suitable for businesses of all sizes and available for as little as €99,00 per month - including our WhatsApp Campaigns feature, which allows you to send your customers unique WhatsApp campaigns in the form of newsletters, brochures or individual offers. You can find a detailed overview of our services in our Chatarmin pricing section. Feel free to join #teamarmin right away.
Book your 25-minute WhatsApp consulting call with me here. Let's get you started with WhatsApp marketing, together: