WhatsApp Business Platform is becoming a must-have business tool. With over two billion active users, it’s no surprise everyone is jumping on board. If you’re a medium or large business, you should be leveraging WhatsApp as part of your omnichannel customer service and marketing strategy.

However, that raises a question - how much does the WhatsApp Business Platform cost?

Unfortunately, there is no simple answer to this question, as it is not a flat monthly or annual fee, nor is it a one-time charge. There are multiple factors that come into play.

This blog post will dig into the nitty gritty details of WhatsApp Business Platform pricing.

Difference between WhatsApp Business App & WhatsApp Business Platform (formerly API)

Before discussing the pricing of WhatsApp Business Platform, it is important to understand the difference between WhatsApp Business App and WhatsApp Business Platform. The former is a free app that allows businesses to interact with customers, while the latter is a paid platform that offers more features and capabilities for larger businesses to engage with customers.

Let’s break it down:

WhatsApp Business App

WhatsApp Business Platform

This is a mobile app that can be downloaded for business communications on a small scale.

This is an API-based platform that allows businesses to connect several bots and agents to communicate with customers - either programmatically or manually.

It’s free to download and use.

It has conversation-based pricing.

It’s suitable for small businesses.

It’s suitable for medium and large-scale businesses.

It’s not eligible to apply for WhatsApp Green Tick.

It’s eligible to apply for WhatsApp Green Tick or Verified Badge.

Read more on WhatsApp Business App vs WhatsApp Business Platform (API).

WhatsApp Business Platform conversation based pricing

In February 2022, Meta announced to switch the pricing model of the WhatsApp Business Platform from message-based pricing to conversation-based pricing.

WhatsApp conversations are charged based on a 24 hour conversation session. The timing of a conversation session starts when the first business message is delivered to the customer and it will end after 24 hours. A real conversation with a customer spanning multiple days will cost multiple 24 hour conversation sessions.

Read more on WhatsApp Business Platform 24 Hour Rule

Factors that impact the cost of WhatsApp Business Platform conversation pricing

There are multiple factors that impact the cost of WhatsApp Business Platform:

  • Type of conversation: Conversations on WhatsApp can either be user initiated or business initiated. Pricing is different for each. The first 1000 conversations are free and those coming through certain entry points are also free.
  • Geographic location: WhatsApp conversation rates vary depending on the market, meaning the conversation charges are based on your customer’s country code. So, if you have customers at a global level, this factor can play a crucial role in understanding pricing.
  • Business Solution Provider (BSP): Business Solution Providers are third-party solution providers who provide interfaces through which you leverage the WhatsApp Business Platform. BSPs may charge additional fees on top of WhatsApp rates.
  • Number of 24 hour sessions: WhatsApp offers the first 1000 conversations for free every month.

Types of conversations on WhatsApp Business Platform

User Initiated Conversations

A user initiated conversation session is started when you reply to a message that a customer sends your business. However, for it to be counted as user initiated, you must reply to the customer within 24 hours of their initial message.

A 24 hour conversation session starts when your first reply message is delivered to the customer. Within this 24 hour conversation session, you can send as many free-form messages as you want, and it will not cost anything extra.

Business Initiated Conversations

Business initiated conversations are started by your business. There are two typical reasons why you would need to start a business initiated conversation:

  1. Your business proactively wants to send messages to your customers for order updates, promotional or marketing purposes.
  2. A customer reached out to your business but you were not able to reply within the 24 hour window,and are sending a response after the 24 hour window.

Business initiated conversations require a message template approved by WhatApp and you cannot send free-form messages to your customers.

A 24 hour business initiated conversation session starts from when your first message is delivered to the customer. Once the customer replies to your message, you will be able to send as many free-form messages as you want for the remainder of the 24 hour session.

Free Tier Conversations

WhatsApp offers up to 1000 free conversations every month so that you can start engaging and building experience with your customers without worrying about the cost of those initial conversations.

These free-tier conversations can be either user initiated or business initiated.

The benefit of free tier pricing is offered at WhatsApp Business Account (WABA) level, meaning if multiple numbers are associated with one WABA, it will also have an overall 1000 conversation threshold and not 1000 conversations per number.

The free tier conversations are refreshed every month depending on the timezone applicable to your WABA. 

Free Entry Point Conversations 

There are certain scenarios where conversations are not charged by WhatsApp. 

Call-To-Action (CTA) buttons on ads that lead to WhatsApp: Meta allows you to add a “Send message” CTA button in your Facebook and Instagram ads. When a customer clicks on that button, it will open a conversation thread on WhatsApp and the customer can communicate with your business. These conversations are not charged by WhatsApp.

Facebook page CTA buttons: You can also add CTA buttons to posts on your Facebook page which can lead to a WhatsApp conversation. These such conversations would be free as well.

Important note: Keep in mind that these free entry-point conversations can only be user initiated and not business initiated. Also, only the first conversation that’s initiated through the entry point is free, and not the subsequent ones. This means that after the first 24 hour session, any new conversation sessions would be charged as usual.

WhatsApp Business Platform conversations & pricing explained with examples

For illustrative purposes, we’ll be using a fictional customer, Anne, and hypothetical company names - Commercial Air and Uptown Cosmetics.

In the below examples, we’ll see different scenarios and explain they are charged.

User initiated conversations

Scenario #1: Customer care or support inquiry completed within a single 24 hour conversation session.

  1. The customer, Anne, sends a message to Commercial Air at 1:09 PM asking a question about the reservation status. No cost to Commercial Air yet.
  2. Commercial Air responds to the message on the same day at 03:30 PM, and this starts a user initiated conversation. Now, Commercial Air has a 24 hour conversation session starting from 3:30 PM to send as many messages as it wants and it will cost a single charge to Commercial Air for user initiated conversation (as long as it’s completed within 24 hours).
  3. Anne responds to thank them and Commercial Air sends another message to reply with “You’re welcome!” at 03:45 PM. This will not add any extra cost to Commercial Air.

Costs: In this scenario, Commercial Air will be charged only for a single user initiated conversation.

Note: If Commercial Air would want to send any message to Anne on the next day after 3:30 PM, it will incur a separate cost for business initiated conversation. Also, they will need to send a message template instead of a free-form message.

Scenario #2: User initiated conversation followed by a business initiated conversation.

  1. The customer, Anne, wants to inquire about the delivery status of her order from Uptown Cosmetics. She sends a message at 1:13 PM.
  2. Uptown Cosmetics replies to Anne within seconds using a bot and provides her with an estimated delivery date. This reply costs a single user initiated conversation.
  3. On the next day, at 03:45 PM, Uptown Cosmetics wants to provide the status update on Anne’s order but the 24 hour conversation session is over. So, Uptown Cosmetics starts a business initiated conversation and sends a template message confirming the delivery of Anne’s order.

Costs: In this scenario, Uptown Cosmetics has to incur the cost of two conversations. One user initiated conversation and one business initiated conversation.

Business initiated Conversations

Scenario #3: Business starts the conversation with an opt-in confirmation.

  1. Uptown Cosmetics receives an order from Anne and sends a transactional message to her with the order confirmation. Along with this message, they also confirm if Anne would like to be notified about the shipment. At 8:15 AM, the message is delivered and it starts a business initiated conversation.
  2. Anne opts in for additional order notifications by replying - Yes. Uptown Cosmetics replies to thank the customer (at 9:12 AM) and it ends the conversation.

Costs: Uptown Cosmetics will have to pay for a single business initiated conversation only.

Scenario #4: Business uses message templates to proactively notify the customer.

  1. Commercial Air wants to notify Anne that her flight has been delayed by 30 minutes. Commercial Air uses a message template to send this message at 1:05 PM and it starts a business initiated conversation.
  2. The next morning, at 8:15 AM, Commercial Air sends another message to Anne using a template with the information related to her flight departure and gate. 

Costs: Since the 24 hour conversation session is not over yet, both of these messages will be charged as a single business initiated conversation.

FAQs about WhatsApp Business Platform Pricing

Are the conversations initiated through a Facebook Page’s CTA button or Ads that lead to WhatsApp being considered within 1000 free messages?
No, the 1000 free messages are separate from the conversations that initiate through a Facebook Page’s CTA button or Ads that lead to WhatsApp.

What if a business does not reply to the customer after a user initiated message?
If a business doesn’t reply to a customer at all, due to any given reason, the business won’t be charged anything.

How much does the WhatsApp Business Platform cost?
WhatsApp Business Platform is free as a tool but WhatsApp charges different rates per user initiated and business initiated conversation for every 24 hour conversation session.

If I have two numbers associated with a WhatsApp Business Account, will I get 1000 free messages for each number?
No. The free tier threshold of 1000 messages applies at the WABA level. Regardless of how many numbers are associated with your WABA, the threshold will remain for a total of 1000 messages only.

If I am required to send multiple messages to a customer within the 24 hour conversation session, will I be charged more for it?
No. Once the 24 hour conversation window starts for either user initiated or business initiated conversation, you can send as many messages as you want within those 24 hours, and you will be charged only once for the entire 24 hour conversation session.