OpenAI is an AI research company that created a number of really cool AI tools, including ChatGPT. They are working on some other fancy AI tech, but it’s their appropriately hyped ChatGPT tool that has been getting most of the attention.
ChatGPT is an advanced AI language model that has been trained on huge amounts of text from the internet. The chat interface allows you to enter a prompt, normally in the form of a question or instruction, and then ChatGPT responds as if there’s some really clever guy on the other end.
Most people are familiar with the web interface for ChatGPT, but OpenAI is also available via APIs to integrate ChatGPT into custom software solutions.
While Google revolutionized the internet with its search function, ChatGPT has totally changed how we look for answers on the internet. Instead of clicking through links in search results hoping to find our answer, ChatGPT gives the answer to us straight away.
It also has a generative ability that is even more impressive. You can use ChatGPT to produce creative content like poetry, short stories, or even a script.
Is this article too long to read? Copy and paste it into ChatGPT and ask it to summarize it for you.
The list of applications for using ChatGPT is pretty much only limited by your imagination. You should be using ChatGPT if you:
- Are looking for a quick answer to any question
- Want a complex concept explained in a simple way
- Want to learn a new language
- Need some code written
- Want to brainstorm some ideas for a story you’re writing
ChatGPT has gone through a few iterations, with some options available for free while others are paid options.
Let’s take a quick look at how ChatGPT pricing works. We’ll cover the API access first and then the web interface.
ChatGPT API pricing explained
If you know what an API (Application Programming Interface) is and plan to use one, then read on. If you only plan on using the web interface, then skip to the next paragraph.
OpenAI offers API access to 3 main use cases with a few different language models. Their pricing works on a pay-as-you-go basis, charged per thousand tokens that are processed.
The ChatGPT API breaks words up into smaller pieces called tokens. The length of a token varies, but it’s normally around 4 characters long. So in English, an average of about 750 words represents 1,000 tokens.
To get an idea of how many tokens your prompt would use, you can use OpenAI’s Tokenizer.
The response to your prompt can be limited in your call to the API if you want to limit the cost of completion. The longer the response, the more you’ll pay for the round trip.
You get charged an amount for the tokens passed in sending both the prompt and, depending on the model, a different amount for the completion of the response.
We’ll get to the specific pricing for the different GPT models lower down, but here’s an example to give you an idea of what basic prompts and responses would cost.
Prompt: What is the highest mountain on Earth? (8 tokens)
Response: The highest mountain on Earth is Mount Everest. It is located in the Himalayas and has an elevation of 8,848.86 meters (29,031.7 feet) above sea level. Mount Everest is a popular destination for mountaineers and has captivated the imagination of people around the world. (63 tokens)
Using the Chat model with gpt-3.5-turbo costs $0.002/1k tokens. The total amount of tokens used for the prompt and the response was 71, so this operation would cost $0.142. Choosing a more expensive model can actually work out cheaper. The cheaper models sometimes require longer prompts to get the results you’re after. Longer prompts mean more tokens and more money.
Chat GPT pricing options
The web interface for ChatGPT comes either as a free version with a soft limit or a paid subscription with more power and options.
For light general use, the free version is great and will be fine for most people. If you want to send more prompts, want access when the server is busy, and have more accurate and up-to-date responses, then you’ll need to get a paid subscription.
Chat GPT Free
The free web version of ChatGPT uses the GPT3.5 instead of the more powerful GPT4 model. Your free access comes with some limitations, though.
It’s a text-only solution, so although it’s really good at natural language processing, it can’t process audio or images. You enter a prompt, and it will respond with what it thinks is the appropriate response. You can ask it simple questions or use its generative capabilities to write content, code, or even poetry.
The free version comes with a certain usage threshold, too. When the servers get busy during peak demand times, you won’t be able to use it. It’s also important to remember that whenever a service is free, you are the product. In this case, your prompts and interactions are being used to train the language model.
The free version has only been trained on internet content up to September 2021. So don’t expect responses to be up to date.
If you’re looking to experiment with ChatGPT, write some content, poetry, or even code, then the free version works just fine.
If you need to have priority access or solutions to trickier problems, then you’ll need to pay a few bucks.
Chat GPT Plus
ChatGPT Pro has been rebranded as ChatGPT Plus and is available as a paid subscription of $20/month. It uses the more powerful GPT4 model, which opens up more functionality.
GPT4 is a multimodal model, so now, instead of only processing text, it can also process images. With ChatGPT Plus, you can upload an image of a spreadsheet or a graph and ask it questions related to the data.
Your paid subscription gives you priority access even when the servers get really busy, as well as early access to new features.
The responses to your prompts are also quicker. Like the free version, though, ChatGPT Plus doesn’t have info beyond September 2021, but its responses are more accurate.
If you’re using ChatGPT for business, the speed, accuracy, and ability to process images easily justify the $20 monthly fee.
ChatGPT API language models
The OpenAI API uses a variety of different language models. We’ll take a look at the pricing model for each of the 4 used in the GPT-3 instruct models.
Instruct models are optimized to follow single-turn instructions rather than conversational chat and will be the ones most commonly used in applications that require an API.
The models vary in how fast they work, their processing ability, and associated costs.
For most applications, you’d be better off using the GPT-3.5 model, which superseded the GPT-3 models. However, the models below are the only ones that allow for fine-tuned models for now.
This is the fastest and cheapest model and is capable of very simple tasks. It can handle things like like parsing text, address correction, and certain kinds of classification tasks that aren’t too complex.
Cost: $0.0004/1k tokens
Babbage can perform straightforward tasks like simple classification. It can also perform semantic search tasks and rank how well documents match up with search queries. It’s best for moderate classification and semantic search classification.
Cost: $0.0005/1k tokens
Curie strikes a good balance between speed and power. It works well for more nuanced tasks like summarization and sentiment classification.
Cost: $0.002/1k tokens
This is the most powerful of the GPT3 instruct models. If you’re looking for the kind of contextual understanding and responses you get from the web interface of ChatGPT, this model will provide similar performance.
It’s very good with logic problems and understanding the sentiment and intent behind the text.
Cost: $0.02/1k tokens
When you compare these with the cost of using the gpt-3.5-turbo at $0.002/1k tokens, it only makes sense to use these instruct models if you have to have fine-tuned models.
Chat GPT pricing compared to competitors
OpenAI’s ChatGPT web version is great, even if you’re only using the free version. There are a number of competitors that provide similar products with varying abilities.
Here’s a quick look at some ChatGPT alternatives you should try out:
Like ChatGPT Plus, Chatsonic is powered by GPT-4. It has the advantage of being trained on the latest data on the internet, so it will give responses regarding current events and trends.
It’s also multimodal, so it can understand images. But, unlike ChatGPT Plus, it also has the ability to generate images directly in the chat window.
It’s offered as part of the Writesonic AI content creation product.
Free trial – 10,000 words per month – no GPT-4
Paid – Sliding scale starting at $19/month for 100,000 words and GPT-4
Bing Chat is Microsoft’s powerful AI chat interface. It uses GPT-4 and is trained on current internet data. It’s free but a little limited, as you get 20 chats per session and 200 daily chats.
It also provides shorter, less in-depth responses than ChatGPT Free or Plus. The responses are more the kind you’d expect from a customer service chatbot than a proper content generator. Another limitation is that it’s only accessible on Mircosoft’s Edge browser.
Google’s Bard is Google’s new AI chat interface powered by its PaLM 2 language model. When you load the page, you get plenty of reminders that the tool is in Beta, basically hoping you don’t freak out if it gets an answer wrong.
It’s still being tested to see if it’s as good or better than GPT4, but it is trained on a larger data set and is a more lightweight solution. It’s a free tool for now, and you just need a Google account to use it.
Free (for now) – Expect a paid ad-free version at some point
Meta has been experimenting with its AI chat interface called Blenderbot 3. This has been designed in conjunction with OpenAI and is still very much experimental.
It caught a lot of flack for saying crazy stuff or being rude. It’ll probably be replaced pretty soon by a new tool using Meta’s latest Llama language model.
Free – Only available in the USA
Jasper is one of the best AI copywriting tools, and its chat interface works a lot like that of ChatGPT. It is powered by GPT-3.5 but has been tuned to be more suited for business use cases like marketing and sales.
If you’re looking for longer-form answers or AI-created content, then this is a good chat option.
Creator Plan – $49/month
ChatGPT alternative comparison table
For most uses, if you stick with a free GPT-3/GPT-3.5 powered chat like ChatGPT Free, then you’ll get good results. Most users will use these chat interfaces as search assistants, for quick answers, or to create short pieces of content.
If you’re looking for a chat tool that you will use frequently, need up-to-date responses, or want answers to tricky problems or coding, then a paid tool makes sense.
Check the usage and word/character limits for the paid plans to make sure they fit with your expected level of use. This is especially important if you’re planning on making API calls or if you’re planning on fine-tuning a model.
In the near future, the language models these chat interfaces use will become more commoditized. You’ll find a number of tools that will standardize on variations of OpenAI’s models, with some, like Google and Microsoft, opting for more proprietary in-house solutions.
A lot of experimenting is happening in the AI chat space, so it’s really tough to benchmark a specific tool as the best one. Let’s hope it’s an open-source solution rather than a paid one. However, considering the cost of the specialized hardware needed to train and run these models, you’ll either have to pay or be served ads.
How much does Chat GPT cost?
Chat GPT Plus costs $20 per month.
How is Chat GPT billed?
ChatGPT Plus is billed monthly.
What are some Chat GPT alternatives?
Some alternatives to Chat GPT are Bard, Bing Chat, Chatsonic, or Jasper Chat.
Does Chat GPT offer a free trial?
There’s no free trial of Chat GPT Plus. The free version of ChatGPT gives you an idea of the potential of Chat GPT Plus. You just don’t get the GPT-4 powered responses.
What are Open AI GPT tokens?
OpenAI APIs take prompts and responses and break them up into smaller pieces called tokens. The cost to use the API is based on a dollar amount for every 1,000 tokens passed.